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!
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!
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.
There’s a lot to write – but there’s a lot of everything to do, so as usual I’ll do what I can and go back and flesh things out later. There’s a lot of video and audio content from various presentations and gatherings to sort through and post, but it takes time and people to do it. You can see the ways I’m starting to flesh things out and seek help with them in the Time For the World 2013 proposal. We’ll soon be making the first informal Mutual Aid Network functional enough to seek contribution of skills and other resources on that platform.
And a lot of what I’m busy with is getting ready for the 3rd and last leg of my Dreamworld Sharing Economy tour, which starts this Thursday! I’m posting details here, but in a (long!) nutshell:
I start with a trip to Chicago, seeing the premier of Broken Fences, directed by my good friend Ann Filmer. Friday we do skill shares and a sharing economy discussion in Evanston, then Trade School Evanston/CTX Collaboration Launch Party where we celebrate the new collaboration between the Chicago Time Exchange and the Evanston Trade School, and I play some music along with other local artists.
The next day a timebank picnic in Lansing, Michigan and that night a show in Detroit at a great venue, Trinosophes, at a benefit for local radio station WHFR. Cool! The next day a timebank gathering, a potluck, that Monday a lunch meeting with Detroit city managers. Wed. I’ll attend the launch of the new Pontiac Michigan TimeBank! Thur. I play in Canton Ohio, Friday I have an evening event with the Kent Community TimeBank, Saturday a daytime training with Kent folks (with Abby Greer!) then a show in Akron that night.
On to Ithaca New York to meet with Scott Morris and other sharing economy, Ithaca hours, Ithaca timebankers folks. Then to Amherst to talk with Emily Kawano of Solidarity Economy Network.
Really exciting things in the northeast – Boston for 2 great events on Oct. 1, Dartmouth for 2 great events Oct. 2, Providence Rhode Island to see the amazing Lisa Conlan and New Hope Care Exchange, a show in Brooklyn Oct. 4, NYC current timebanking practitioners training Oct. 5, new timebank training in Media PA Oct. 6. Oct 7 + 8 I’ll work with the great Kathy Perlow (Lehigh Valley Care Exchange) on making training materials and video about Neighbor-to-Neighbor Care Teams (which we’re making here in Dane County so I really need to know!). October 9 I’ll take a train to Newark and then fly to Istanbul Turkey for GIFTIVAL!
Upon my return I’ll work with Paul Glover (founder of Ithaca Hours and much more) to learn about and document his efforts and brainstorm about connections between cooperative economic models and practices (which I need to learn about as we’re doing this here in Dane County). Then gathering with timebank, Bnote, and other interested folks in Baltimore, doing some events with the legendary Edgar Cahn in Washington DC and nearby, and working with Edgar and other organizers to document community and racial justice initiatives happening there, and create learning materials on the topic.
I play a show in DC Oct. 25 then hightail it to Tampa Bay for timebank events on Oct. 27 and 28, then hightail it to New Orleans for a timebank gathering Oct. 29. Will stay through Halloween, then to St. Louis for a timebank gathering and show Nov. 2.
Then I’ll be happy to return home and buckle down to build our local MANs.
Yesterday I met with a fantastic lawyer specializing in cooperative law. He will help us build a great MAN, one that can easily spin off others at all different scales. We can make it work and he will help. I’ll be working on Articles of Incorporation over the next few weeks and get it going for real upon my return in November.
And all this is in addition to, in support of, and due to the beautiful developments within and around the Dane County TimeBank as we embark on our PowerTime II energy project with the Allied Community Coop, build neighbor-to-neighbor Care Teams in Sun Prairie, build on our youth court successes by creating our first adult peer court!, connect with more economic tools to increase our impact and improve our sustainability, etc etc. We have a great staff, including Co-Director (promoted from Asst. Director last year) Lorrie Hurckes, who make it possible for me to travel so much this year and who along with our members make all the great stuff happen.
Speaking of making great stuff happen, we had a lovely anonymous donor come through with $10,000 for us, which unlocked $10,000 of our $20,000 challenge grant from Kailo Fund. Hooray! We’re looking for $11,500 more to fund the rest of our year. More gets us more possibilities to commission more work from more people so don’t be shy about giving HUGE amounts. You can donate here to support the tour, or donate to the general Time for the World fund here.
We have a lot of work to do and would love to have your feedback, moral support and/or contributions.
Thanks for reading!
While much of Time For the World’s focus has broadened to be about redesigning work at human scale, and most of the public talks I’ve done over the last six months or so have emphasized this, I realize that I’ve posted very little about it so far. Paradoxically, that’s because work redesign has become so important to our efforts and thinking that it’s taking us a long time to write it all up how we want to. But I want to share some thoughts with you now as we move toward making good work a way of life.
There’s an infinite amount of work to do, to repair the destruction we’ve wrought and build new life-sustaining and regenerating systems and structures. There are not an infinite number of ‘jobs’ to be had, let alone an infinite number of jobs being offered that don’t contribute to the wholesale destruction of our planet and its living communities. Reducing unemployment by bolstering a cannibalist economy is not a worthy goal.
In our experience with economic redesign work we’ve realized that it’s very easy to become heavily tool-focused, obsessing about accounting and currency design while forgetting to evaluate the ends to which we’re designing. We’ve seen a need to continually, explicitly draw attention and design principles to human and community outcomes, and only think about boosting economies if they’re providing good work. Even more important, we see a need to use economic tools to pull parts of life out of the transactional economy and back into the commons.
We’ve recently figured out some ways we can combine various tools and approaches – namely, a cooperative ownership structure, principles of co-production and commons governance, project facilitation training and support combined with timebanking, price-based mutual credit and cooperative saving/lending/investment models – to build a system that pools and allocates resources as an engine for generating and rewarding good work.
Good work should be fun and creative. Good work should provide the opportunity for people to do what we’re passionate about, or simply enjoy, or enable us to take a slower pace if we choose. A good system will create incentives for people to contribute to their communities and commons in the ways that play to their strengths. Peer support in co-productive networks will provide guidance in making cooperative decisions and carrying out successful projects that help people to fulfill their goals, sharing successes and failures for mutual learning along the way.
We think we can design this by doing it. We’ve set up a bare-bones Mutual Aid Network so we can commission work from each other in building an infrastructure, offering each other time credit to start and working toward adding broader resource pooling and exchange mechanisms. And I’ll be meeting with people around the country, during my Sharing Economy Tour, to hammer out legal issues, financial structures, potential partnerships, and learn ways people would like to apply this thinking in the field. We’d love for you to help shape this if you’re interested. Start by signing up at the Mutual Aid Network and we’ll collectively take it from there.
Much more to come
We are pleased to announce that on Friday, March 29th at 7pm Bernard Lietaer and Jacqui Dunne will be in town to give a free, public talk as part of the tour for their new book, Rethinking Money. The talk, sponsored by the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, the Dane County TimeBank, and Time For the World, will take place at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery at 7pm.
Rethinking Money points out that there is a way, in fact a thousand ways, to stop our current juggernaut towards global self-destruction. There is a system of solutions already in place in localities throughout the world where terrible problems have existed. The changes came about, not through the redistribution of wealth, increased conventional taxation, bond measures or enlightened self-interest from corporate entities, but rather, by people simply rethinking the concept of money. With that restructuring, everything changed.
Leitaer and Dunn offer remedies for Government, Business and Entrepreneurship, NGOs and the Civil Society, and the private citizen. The book also presents clear validation, speaking plainly and directly to general interest readers. This work promises to strike a deep chord with audiences eager to find meaningful, thought-provoking answers.
The following day, Lietaer and Dunn will lead an in-depth workshop on how we can achieve local resilience by developing and expanding on current efforts. The workshop will be held in the US Bank Conference Room at 1 South Pinckney Street, from 10am to 4pm. To register for the workshop, please visit http://www.eventbrite.com/event/5351454344. Registration is free and optional, but it will help us plan appropriately.
* * *
Bernard Lietaer is an international expert in the design and implementation of currency systems. He co-designed and implemented the convergence mechanism to the single European currency system (the Euro) and served as president of the Electronic Payment System at the National Bank of Belgium (the Belgian Central Bank). He co-founded and managed GaiaCorp, a top performing currency fund whose profits funded investments in environmental projects. A former professor of International Finance at the University of Louvain, he is currently a Research Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Resources of the University of California at Berkeley.
Jacqui Dunne is an award-winning journalist from Ireland, founder and CEO of Danu Resource, and an emerging leader in helping entrepreneurs develop technologies and initiatives that restore the earth’s equilibrium globally. The company serves as a fiscal agent for funding, and works as the interface between the donors and the projects. Danu’s unique value is its ability to work from a future reference point that draws out the greatness, and builds upon the strengths, of both the donor and the recipient, thus creating a flourishing paradigm shift for a quadruple bottom-line –people, planet, profits and power within.
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,