From August 22-28 Mutual Aid Networks will be hosting people from around the world in Madison Wisconsin for a Skillshare summit. We will design the week to create opportunities for many people doing many amazing projects to share what they do in ways that are replicable.
Here is an invitation to the summit overall.
Here is an invitation to contribute skillshare ideas. We’ll be working through that process over time, this will provide the initial link to throw your hat in the ring.
I hope you can join us!!
I’m writing to fill you in on a lot of news.
First, I’m very happy to report that I’ll be in Brussels this Friday May 13 at the home of the wonderful Anne Snick, whose work on work we reference a lot in the MAN. We’ll do workshops beginning at 10am that day to orient participants to Mutual Aid Networks, then to explore the potential for the MAN structure to help meet local goals. Kate MacDonald, steward of the Hull UK MAN pilot site, will join me in presenting.
Then I play a house concert at 8pm! I’m very excited. Anne has arranged for me to have a nice (electric, I’m presuming) piano to play, and a trumpet, and I’ll bring my looper. I’ve been practicing a lot and have recently learned a Regina Spektor song I can’t stop playing. So I think it’ll be a fantastic evening. Anne will play a little guitar and who knows what else might happen? Do you or someone you know live in or near Brussels? Then email me and I’ll pass on the invitation.
From Brussels Kate and I will go to Paris to join in a CollabCamp hosted by Daniel Harris (whom I met at the Impact Economy Summit) and a couple cohorts, then Leander Bindewald and I are presenting at the OuiShare Fest in Paris. Huzzah!
From Paris I go to California – San Francisco then Monterey then back to San Fran – for an immersion training for my new BALLE Fellowship. Exciting! Raines Cohen of East Bay Co-Housing is helping to host a MAN workshop there on the evening of May 27 and possibly the day of May 28. Please let me know if you’d like to go, and also if you’d like to host some kind of concert there on May 28.
And here’s a brief overview of what else is on tap: Early June we’ll host an action-oriented Mapping Summit in Madison, geared toward identifying existing resources and needs (including something amounting to a Robust Basic Income for people in the area we choose to cover) and then showing how creative resource sharing and exchange could provide for much much more equitable distribution. Then using that information and the tools we’re developing to actually do it.
One of our Board members, Mike Giroux, is working on a west coast tour for June also, so stay tuned if you’re out that way.
July I’ll head east again for the Traveling MAN Interdependence Day Tour – to Detroit, Lansing, New York (including the CommonBound Conference), Pennsylvania, Providence, Massachusetts, New Jersey…We’ll be doing trainings, skillshares, leadership development among pilot stewards, and public events. Let me know if you want to help and if you want your city to be a stop. I think I’m staying on the northeast side of things for this one, and doing my best to build in a little more down time than I did last tour (or I’ll die :)).
August 9-14 is the World Social Forum in Montreal, where we aim to present during a thread on the Commons that we’ve been helping (a tiny bit) to plan.
Late August we’ll host the next MAN Up Summit – this one’s a skillshare. We’ll have people show how they do their amazing projects, in a way that makes it easy for others to replicate. Everyone will learn how to use and help shape our Mutual Aid Platform (MAP) software to manage and share projects and to access and share resources.
September I’m planning to spend in the UK, doing leadership development work and helping host a MAN Up UK Summit in Hull, and also traveling to other potential pilot sites in Manchester, Totnes, and beyond.
…and there’s more but this is a solid start and I need to finish writing and get on with my weekend…
All in all it’s shaping up to be a really cool year. Hope to see you somewhere along the way.
Thanks for paying attention
p.s. If you want to see what we’ve been up to over the last year (in a more condensed form than just going back and reading all these blog posts, which could be your most in-depth orientation) check out the activity report I just did for one of our funders. I know there’s still stuff missing from it but it’s nice to see how far we’ve come!
And now to start to bring us up to date on my tour reports…
I drove from Dayton straight to the lovely home of lovely humans Edgar Cahn and Chris Gray. It was great to catch up with them! Edgar gave me an article he’s been working on, on the Midas Monoculture. We spent a little time talking, much of the next day catching up on work, and then they hosted a lovely gathering with the DC TimeBank. They also go by DCTB (like the Dane County TimeBank). We had a meal, learned what’s going on in their timebank and the timebank at Bread for the City, which Deborah has been working hard on in the couple years since I’ve had the pleasure to meet her. Then I presented about our DCTB and Mutual Aid Networks. And had some great conversation with the people there. Especially interested in Emma’s ideas and contributions to child education.
After the timebank gathering I went with my friends Natalie and Sandra – both wonderful poets! – to an author event with Mitchell Jackson and Leslie Jamison at a very fancy new coffeehouse. After that Natalie and I had a nice meal at an also-very-fancy Thai restaurant across the street. All a little upscale for my own personal tastes. Then walking back across the street I noticed that the fancy new coffeehouse is directly next door to Bread for the City, the cool organization that houses Deborah’s timebank, and last I was here had been right in the middle of the neighborhood it was serving. They had just been talking about its gentrification at the (other) DCTB gathering, and how we can expect that to push people out of the neighborhood. This cycle will always repeat until we make an economy that doesn’t naturally push that direction. Super sad to see.
From DC I drove to Bethlehem PA to work with Kathy Perlow and the team at Neighborhood Health Centers of Lehigh Valley (NHCLV) on exploring more partnerships for their MAN pilot site – first meeting with organizers of their fledgling (stage 2b! – learned that at the Up & Coming Food Coop Conference), Bethlehem Food Coop, then with Martin with Alliance For Sustainable Communities.
Both of those meetings were enjoyable and promising. We will invite Coop partners to our next gathering and hope to make some solid connections that can get good food to people while expanding the support available to coop development. Martin offered to list the Lehigh Valley MAN in the Alliance’s directory of local sustainability-oriented organizations, and we will explore further partnerships as we develop action on the ground.
The next day we spent at NHCLV, first meeting with Hasshan Batts, who’s one of the main staff working on developing the MAN, and Melissa Craig, NHCLV Executive Director. After that we headed to the clinic to meet with Abby Letcher, the Chief Medical Officer, an MSW intern named Stevie, and Gloria Velazquez, Social Services Director. Hasshan and Janelle Zalenko, the person who has been working with the local hospital-based timebank, developed a beautiful vision and plan of action they presented the last time I was here. They’ve made a lot of progress toward implementing it and we were able to get down to the nitty gritty of what we need to take the next steps. Exciting stuff!
After that I drove to Philadelphia to meet up with the awesome Paul Glover, founder of Ithaca HOURS and about a million other cool projects. He’s been living and making great things happen in Philly for several years now. The small yet powerful gathering was hosted by Weavers Way Coop, a lovely food coop that has several locations and is looking to expand its reach into the community through timebanking. Betsy Wallace of Philadelphia’s Time4Time Exchange is helping them toward that vision, and Bettina of Weavers Way is a total powerhouse. And we had the great fortune of being joined by Eric Chisler, who I met when he came to last August’s MAN Up Summit and how is now living in Harrisburg and ready to help start and pollinate projects around PA.
After the gathering we ate at an amazing vegan soul food restaurant called The Nile Cafe. Delicious! It’s been around for 21 years.
Then Eric and I drove to Media to stay with Marie Goodwin, the great timebanker/transitioner/activist/generally awesome person doing awesome things and among them working as Charles Eisenstein’s assistant (for lack of a better term). She and her family (husband Chris helped with making TimeBanks USA’s Community Weaver 3 software look good) had some people over, some of whom I’ve met on other visits, and we had a nice backyard fire and fun time. Just a little break for fun and company.
And I went on the next morning to a bigger break for fun and company, in NYC where I had ZERO obligations other than to see some friends. One of those friends was Mashi Blech who ran the ElderPlan timebank, then the timebank of Visiting Nurses Service of NY, and now ArchCare, the timebank housed in the Arch Diocese. She’s always doing amazing things and it’s always lovely to catch up with her. We ate some good food at Wild Ginger and walked around Brooklyn, crossing from Williamsburg to Bushwick so I could get some vegan donuts. Yum! and fun!
I had a wonderful time with my friend Sabrina, who’s a doctor at the VA Hospital and who has great ideas for connecting homeless veterans with more consistent medical care. I stayed with my old friend from Madison, Tracy, and her husband from Argentina, which was great fun (and they have their own ideas of cool things they want to do in the community, and lots of skills to bring to the table along with fluency in Spanish).
So next time I go to NYC we’ll have a gathering about how we might support each other. Maybe some MAN possibilities, maybe simply timebanking connections. Seems like there’s a lot of synergy.
And that’s the big thing I’m learning on this trip. We’re ready in all these locations to take some solid steps into action. I’ve decided it makes tons of sense to do this same circuit in July, pulling people together to spring into action. By then we at the Main MAN will have some concrete tools to make it all much easier than it would be today, and we’ll also have time to plan larger gatherings with more specific agendas. Lots of leadership development, communications skillshares, learning to use the budgeting and project development and exchange tools we will have gotten into much better shape by then. Very exciting!
— OK, that’s waaay more than long enough. Stay tuned for the next leg of the trip – New Jersey, Providence, and Detroit Part I – coming soon —
And tomorrow in Providence Rhode Island we’ll hold a MAN collaboration brainstorming meal and meeting, gathering beginning at 7pmEST and discussion at 8pmEST. If you’re in or around Providence and want to join in person, please email email@example.com. If you want to join virtually we’ll begin a web meeting (at gotomeeting, with our standard call-in information available here, at 8pmEST.
After Providence, next tour stops are Detroit then Lansing then Detroit again, for the NASSE forum.
In the meantime I’ll be working to finish my reports for the last few stops of the tour, underway but needing more time for writing. Plus news about how things are shaping up on the MAN front overall, which is excellently!
I just wanted to get this out to you in case you or people you know are in or near W. Milford New Jersey or Providence Rhode Island.
Thanks for reading
As promised, here are the reports on my tour stops in Bloomington Indiana, Louisville and Kenton County Kentucky, and Dayton Ohio. It’s been a whirlwind…
After leaving St. Louis, where we were graced with a great article on Mutual Aid Networks on the FRONT PAGE above the fold! of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, I headed to Bloomington Indiana for the Up & Coming Food Coop Conference. I went to this as part of the Board of Madison’s Allied Community Coop, the first MAN pilot site in Madison and the birthplace of several of the ideas that led to MANs.
I learned a lot of really valuable stuff at this conference, which I’ll do my best to encapsulate here. I also met great people doing great work, as usual.
First, I went to a workshop on creating the timeline for your cooperative’s development.It’s really worth noting that most of the going advice that the cooperative development people are used to giving is geared toward maximizing likelihood of financial success in a model rooted in late capitalism, and is hard to apply to efforts that are rooted in a mission of feeding people who need food, and soon. The presenters are working hard to acknowledge and address this problem, but everyone has a lot to learn about how to create conditions for people in low-income food deserts, with little or no access to seed capital or means to access some of the specialized expertise needed – or time to devote to the massive amounts of work required to organize most anything, let alone a large operation like a grocery store – to build their own options.
There were several cooperatives there who are working in conditions similar to Allied Coop, and it was really cool to connect with them and learn the cool things they’re doing.
The timeline workshop was enormously instructive, going step by step into how you get a coop off the ground. It will really help to guide our work moving forward.
I also attended a workshop on finding and working with lenders and one on planning a capital campaign, both really eye-opening and good to understand more about how these kinds of large projects are funded, and what kind of relationship organizers are expected to have with funders.
My colleagues from the Allied Board participated in a forum on cooperatives in low-income communities, building your coop’s leadership team, laying your coop’s foundation, and several of us attended the workshop on conventional food distribution.
The rest of the crew needed to leave to get back to Madison, but I got to go to Malik Yakini‘s workshop on fostering a racially just food system, which was great. He’s doing so many things, many of which we’ve dreamed of and have been working toward in Allied. I hope to connect with him again soon in Detroit! during the NASSE forum. I also attended a great workshop with Renaissance Coop, a fantastic project just breaking ground in a food desert in Greensboro NC. They’re superstars right now, working to light the way for more grassroots efforts in communities that have been decimated by dog-eat-dog capitalism.
After the conference closed I met up with Paul Burt, who found and got interested in Mutual Aid Networks because he has lots of ideas that dovetail with what we’ve been developing. He’s already been helping with great ideas for system design and applications and solid suggestions for getting our communications with the outside world into better shape. Working on it! Now with his help.
I drove from Bloomington to Louisville that night, and went to the home of the wonderful Beth Thorpe! and her husband John, and dogs Lily and Mocha. Lovely family and visit.
Sunday evening we went to the Louisville TimeBank potluck, a pie-themed one for Pi Day. They did lots of cool things there, including a free table, cool re-purposed name tags made by one of their members, and I spoke about MANs and we generally had a good time.
The next day Stephanie Barnett hosted a lunch meeting at the awesome pay-it-forward Table restaurant. There we met up with a lawyer and an accountant who are active with Louisville’s Compassionate City initiative (Kathy Perlow and I came for the launch!), and the director of Center for Non-Profit Excellence. We discussed how timebanking could further their efforts to foster collaboration among Compassionate City partners, and how Beth might be able to help. We also talked about Stephanie making her project into another health and wellness-oriented MAN pilot. Cool!
On Tuesday I went to Dayton to stay with my sister Gwynne and niece Ariel – who’s having a baby this June! So it was especially great to see her at this time.
Wednesday I spent working in the Kenton County Kentucky Planning and Development Services building, where Alex Koppelman hosted a meeting of potential partners in timebanking (and where I completely forgot to take pictures). Participants there are focused on: building networks of support among rural residents, supporting veterans and other homecomers, creating a more ecologically sustainable county, and enhancing natural supports in human services. We explored how timebanking can help meet their goals. We touched briefly on Mutual Aid Networks, but at this point timebanking can go a long way toward supporting their work, and will be plenty to do for now. Alex knew me from having studied DCTB in the course of his PhD work, and sees possible applications in through his work now as Associate Planner for Kenton County.
On Thursday my sister Gwynne hosted a gathering at the Dayton church where she serves as music director. This was really cool! We had a full table of really engaged people, bringing the kind of diversity of skills and connections that could really make something go. From their wonderful pastor Cheryl to Maria of Su Casa, to Karen who works in the court system, to the many church members who have a variety of talents and experience, we had what we needed to have the group just offer up a great plan of action and start taking on roles to move it forward. Pretty great.
— On from there to Washington DC, Allentown and Bethlehem PA, Philadelphia PA, and NYC for a visit (and catching up on this report writing)… which I’ll report on soon. For now it’s more important to get outside while it’s sunny.
I’m pleased to report that there’s a big article on Mutual Aid Networks, timebanking, and the super cool projects working in both, on the front page of today’s St. Louis Post Dispatch. Hooray!
Featuring the Cowry Collective, Solidarity Economy Network, Missourians Organized for Reform and Empowerment, Grace Hill Settlement House, Dane County TimeBank and DCTB Youth Courts, and much much more. Check it out!!
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted, just because I’ve been too busy living, working, driving, visiting…
It’s been FANTASTIC so far. Seeing some very beloved people (including my parents and my 99-year-old grandma), enjoying the working and learning parts, and being treated to some beautiful fall foliage as I’m getting out east (I’m writing this from Northampton MA where I’m staying with a great old college friend)
I’ll post about the first couple stops so this doesn’t get TOO unwieldy (or maybe it does but it could be worse), then pick up next time with Ohio onward.
I began this leg of the tour on Sept. 20 in Chicago at a SkillShare at Lara Oppenheimer’s (Chicago Time Exchange Coordinator) house. A great little event, one I’d like to try at home. They’d put out a call for timebank members to offer to teach a skill. We started with Qi Gong, then space organizing, then went on to Labyrinth Drawing. Then I spoke a bit about our timebank’s history and future and we discussed a number of issues from member engagement to leadership development to applied timebanking. It was a really good time, and we ended it with a potluck.
After a brief rest we headed over to the Trade School Evanston. This isn’t what you might think – I’d thought it might be a school that teaches trades. Instead it’s much cooler. It’s part of a global movement and the way it works is this: someone proposes a class they’d like to teach and says what they’d like to receive in return. The compensation might be massage, classes, transportation, food, whatever. The Trade School and the Time Exchange see their mutual benefits and are now launching a collaboration.
The evening was really really lovely. The space is cool – two of the founders live there and it’s clearly a hub of creative, collective activity. This evening they had a big spread of delicious food and a great singer-songwriter, Mindy, who played and sang beautifully, then brief talks about the Time Exchange and the Trade School, followed by a set of Stephanie Rearick Jr. People were really attentive and appreciative throughout, and it was also a really fun party.
A bonus for me: The lovely hosts gave me a little vintage electric organ they’d trash-picked earlier. It’s really cool! Sounds great. Someone pointed out I should play a Halloween show on it, it has that kind of sound.
Next day I got up ungodly early and drove 4 hours to East Lansing Michigan, where I gave a little presentation at the Greater Lansing TimeBank’s picnic. The drive was no fun at all but the picnic was! Edge Brussel (videographer from Builders Workshops 4 and 6) organized it and there were about 20 really engaging people in attendance. It was on a sunny day in a park with another nice spread of food. I shared stories of our timebank’s history, our project approach, some of the ways we’re connecting things we’ve learned in order to become more effective. I introduced them briefly to BuildFTW and the MAN. They asked a lot of good questions, with a lot of focus on our youth courts (very common aspect for people to be excited about, and with good reason!).
After a short nap I went on to Detroit, one of my favorite cities, where I played a benefit for their local community-supported radio station WHFR. This is in a really cool venue with a great reputation, Trinosophes (Pere Ubu played there the night before!). It was a really good time. The other bands were fantastic and the WHFR folks are a lot of fun.
Next day was our timebank training. Jennie Weakley, coordinator of Southwest Detroit TimeBank, hosted at her office. We were joined by about 10 people, including two teens who work with the timebank and help out Bridging Communities (a host organization). We focused on how to use timebanking to accomplish community goals and did the visioning exercise I like to do at these (I need a good name for it! used to call it ‘the messy game,’ a ridiculously nondescript title). This group’s mission was to create safer communities with engaged people, less isolation and more integration. Here are the flip charts we generated:
And we focused the discussion a bit on what would help make this effort feel valuable to youth. It was great to have the two teenagers with us! They brought us some really helpful perspective.
On Monday I joined some Detroit-area timebank leaders at a luncheon with city managers, assistant city managers and a mayor representing five Detroit suburbs.
It was quite a fruitful meeting! These Detroit suburbs are part of a collaboration called the Woodward 5. Two of them already have timebanks, one has discussed it over the last couple years but hasn’t implemented it, and two have none. By the end of our discussion they were saying they want to create some kind of collaboration to make timebanking happen throughout the 5, and the next day we learned that the Ferndale timebank was awarded a small grant toward this end. Exciting!
On Tuesday I went to the new home of the now-forming New Work Collective, a collective household in Southeast Detroit. I met Ty, one of the organizers, at our Sunday training. That’s where we learned that we are both working on how to redesign work. I went to his house to talk with him and the rest of the collective members more in-depth. 5-8 (the number grew as we went) of us talked about the MAN. I mainly described it, the thinking behind it, how timebank can bootstrap it, etc. Then we had a discussion about how it can apply to what they’re doing and some of what we’re doing in Madison. There are a lot of exciting possibilities and I hope to explore it more with them, and try some stuff out. I wish I’d taken pictures here (and the Lansing potluck too!) but alas, I just forgot.
I did remember to take pictures at Trumbullplex, the anarchist housing and theater collective that’s one of my favorite spaces in Detroit. I went with Edge Brussel and Whitney Bembenek. Whitney was part of the Dane County TimeBank when she lived in Madison and has since moved to Detroit. She’s wonderful, and it was great to be able to introduce her to Edge and Trumbullplex at the same time.
I left Detroit Wed. morning and went 1/2 hour north to Pontiac Michigan for the launch of the Pontiac SUN TimeBank at its host site, Oakland Family Services. Kim Hodge (wonderful organizer of the Michigan Alliance of TimeBanks) is shepherding this project and has helped pull together a beautiful team! 10 people from the Steering Committee each did a piece of the presentation, including some matching games and discussion. The energy in the room was amazing! The people were all so excited and so overflowing with warmth and joy. I kept thinking of the word ‘joyous’ throughout and I’ll say it was one of the most joyous occasions I’ve ever had the opportunity to experience. I’m really excited for them and impressed with what they’ve done already.
From there I headed to Ohio, which I’ll write about in another post so this doesn’t sprawl even more…
Thanks for reading!