From Providence I drove to see my parents in Ohio and on the way received the first big clue that my car was about to shuffle off this mortal coil…
But that’s a different story. Next MAN stop was Detroit.
I got to Kim Hodge’s house the evening of April 1. Kim is a dynamo organizer, founder of the Lathrup Village TimeBank and the Michigan Alliance of TimeBanks (MATB), and coordinator of the Pontiac SUN TimeBank. It was great to see her! And as usual she had organized several timebank events, which I was very happy to be in town for.
First was the April 2 MATB coordinators roundtable. We focused on organizational partnerships and I shared how my experience has played out at DCTB, and heard about the experience of the Michigan organizers. We have a lot in common in our approaches. I think the most useful thing I seemed to share was the notion that you don’t need to spend a bunch of time trying to recruit a partner who isn’t enthusiastic because it isn’t worth it. Sometimes it’s nice for us just to help each other take some pressure off ourselves…
The next day I caught up on writing and other work and checked out some cool things around Detroit.
Then April 4 Kim took me to lunch with the wonderful Jennie Dennison-Budak, Tony Budak’s (Mahoning Valley TimeBank founder and lovely guy in his own right) wife whom I’d somehow never met before. I learned a ton from her! She’s been involved in really related work for a long time.
The evening of April 4 MATB hosted a big potluck dinner with special guest speaker Philippe Granger from Rushey Green (London UK) TimeBanks. It was great to see Philippe as usual. the potluck was really well attended by people who were excited to learn from Philippe’s presentation, about how his timebank builds natural health and wellness supports.
April 5-7 I spent in Lansing, in a variety of activities in support of their fledgling MAN pilot site with MAN pilot steward and board member extraordinaire, Scott Murto. And the always-wonderful Edge Brussel, who also happened to come rescue me when my car gasped its final breath, conveniently just a couple blocks from my Lansing destination.
First was the MidMichigan TimeBank’s potluck. This was a lovely gathering of folks, really geared toward how to get more participation in their timebank events. We had a little discussion about how to find activities that would be fun for different audiences, and rotate through them so we reach lots of different kinds of people in our outreach. I also shared with the group the basic overview of MANs.
During the days I was there we also held a strategy discussion and a mapping exercise, which yielded this (one of my typical messy whiteboard pix, but contains some helpful notes) –
And hosted a timebank orientation for the staff at Clean Water Action, where a number of people have become inspired to participate in the timebank and MAN development having been inspired by Scott.
I left my car with a sweet mechanic in Lansing who had pronounced it dead on arrival after it stopped completely (only 2 blocks from my destination, at the end of the tour when I had other people to ride with, so there’s that..)
April 8 Scott and I headed to Detroit for the NASSE Forum. It was incredible.
First, this was by far the most diverse – age, race, background – group I’ve seen at an economic conference. And the programming was excellent.
The first panel included Laura Flanders and Gar Alperovitz, two heroes of mine. I accosted Gar at the end to ask him to serve on the MAN Advisory Board. I feel his message dovetails completely with what we’re doing. We’ll keep you posted when we get an answer. Either way, his work is awesome and I encourage you to listen to him whenever you have a chance.
Julia Ho (our St. Louis pilot site steward) brought a crew of 30 people(!) from St. Louis. Including from HOSCO food coop, Roots housing coop, Citizen Carpentry coop, and much more. I attended HOSCO’s workshop which was extremely inspiring. I look forward to their coming to Madison to share their skills with us.
I also went to a workshop on savings pools hosted by a group that creates them, Philanthropiece, one on building networks and coalitions, building investment through selling non-voting cooperative shares (presented by Equal Exchange), and especially exciting was a workshop on New Culture, New Work by Frithjof Bergmann. I’ve wanted to connect with him for a long time! Very inspiring.
After that last workshop of the day, Blair Evans gave a tour of the Fab Lab on site, called Incite Focus. It’s amazing. And I was excited to learn that Blair really likes the police-referred timebank-supported youth court model, at least as much as he was able to learn about it from the brief time we had together. He works a lot with court-referred youth now. We hope to connect in the future around creating more opportunities and less detention for young people.
And I gave a workshop on Mutual Aid Networks. It was great! Well-attended, a very engaged audience. I made some connections that are very special to me, and which I expect to be quite fruitful.
The last night of the Forum Reggie Flowers hosted a wonderful party in this super cool house that he’s refurbishing, called Alt Space. Really incredible – him, the space, the people there.
And between my workshop and mingling during the Forum and meeting people at the party, we have now developed exactly the lovely connections with wonderful people with a variety of talents and focal points in order to develop a MAN pilot site there, and – near and dear to me – explore a partnership with Madison and St. Louis on community justice issues. Like the one laid out here, perhaps.
We’ll be kicking off the July Interdependence Day Tour with a retreat/workshops/house concert at Alt Space on July 4 or 5. But that will be in my next post, about the exciting events upcoming…
For now, I conclude the final report on MAN UP 2016 Tour #1. As usual I came home feeling the world is bursting with possibility. Now it’s time to get down to brass tacks and make it all work. Stay tuned for how we move forward with that.
And thanks for paying attention!
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 —
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.
Builders Workshop #7: Healthy Community Economy Part II was a great wrap-up of our explorations, from the Healthy Community Economy Part I workshop as well as the intervening Economic Democracy Conference, of how multiple currency/cooperative economic models could work in concert to achieve powerful community goals. In the Economic Democracy Conference open space Action Summit session we applied this thinking to the outcome of food security.
In Builders Workshop #7 we applied similar thinking and modeling to the goal of reduced fossil fuel consumption.
We had 14 people in attendance. While smaller in number than other Builders Workshops, this group proved to be a perfect size and makeup for the work that we needed to do. I was particularly excited that David Boetcher, an IBEW electrician who co-presented (with Justice Castaneda of MIT Colabs and Chris Meyer of Sector67 co-working space) the New Approaches to Science and Industry workshop at the Economic Democracy Conference, attended and contributed his knowledge of energy systems, surrounding economies and potential partners.
First we gave a slide presentation that recapped and expanded on pieces from Healthy Community Economy Part I.
It’s shared here.
Then we decided to use a case study of a hypothetical community goal in order to see how we might apply different cooperative economic tools to different pieces of the systems we’d need to affect to achieve our desired outcome. The group chose reduced fossil fuel consumption as the focus area. This is what we came up with, sort of a general map of where each piece would be employed to corral various types of resources, finishing with people taking on pieces to research/explore potential partnerships. In the rough maps in the first and second slides M$ stands for Madison Hours and/or price-based mutual credit; T$ stands for timebank hours. The first map was the brainstorm, the second was an attempt to show some chronological representation of how you would develop the project.
As you’ll see from the third photo, we were blessed with participants who offered to carry some work forward! So some of us will be researching existing renewable energy/efficiency efforts, some will research JAK-style bank community saving and lending possibilities, some will be meeting with local businesses to pursue price-based mutual credit and Madison Hours possibilities, and some will be meeting to explore a potential energy project here in Madison.
Stay tuned for further developments…
And follow it all on Build For the World (and post your own projects there – we need to learn from each other!), http://buildftw.org
Thanks for reading,