Lots of MAN news


I’m writing to fill you in on a lot of news.Brussels_show

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!

Last tour report – Detroit part I, Lansing, Detroit part II – last stops on MAN Up 2016 Tour #1

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…IMG_7729

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.

IMG_7741The evening of April 4 MATB hosted a big potluck IMG_7743dinner 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 IMG_7748strategy 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.

IMG_7757First, 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 IMG_7787investment 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.

IMG_7795After 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 IMG_7793was 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.

IMG_7785And I gave a workshop on Mutual Aid Networks. It was great! Well-attended, a very IMG_7786engaged 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!


Bloomington – Louisville – Dayton Tour Stops Report


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,IMG_7516 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.

IMG_7503First, 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.

IMG_7518There 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. IMG_7511

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 IMG_7508rest 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.

IMG_7562I 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 IMG_7541IMG_7534Table 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.

IMG_7593On 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 IMG_7592go. 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. sun

Crowdfund Campaign starts Tuesday! 7am


Our crowdfunding campaign starts Tuesday December 1 at 7am CST at generosity.com. Please be ready to help as soon as it starts! We need our friends to help plant seeds.

I’ll send another reminder with details, in time for you to take action.

I’m excited to share our new video with you! I’ve been working hard on it, with my friend Marina Kelly who’s earned a lot of timebank hours the last couple weeks… You’ll likely recognize some faces and voices, stay tuned…

And you’re welcome to start stocking up on  MAN swag right away too, at http://www.cafepress.com/mutualaidnetworks – we’ll be adding more designs soon too!

Thanks for all your support. Things are getting exciting!

MANning Up – from BALLE Conference in Phoenix to Allied Coop Field Trip to St. Louis and New Orleans


I’m writing from an airplane on my way back from aptly-named Phoenix Arizona.
Aptly named because the only other time I was in Phoenix, in the ‘90s, I thought it was nothing but hellacious sprawl. But this time I went for the BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies) Conference and experienced something completely different. I took a fast and cheap light rail train from the airport to a block from my hotel, and was immersed in a really vibrant, walkable, multi-modal transit-having (what envy I have!) sweet and friendly downtown. And I came to understand that this transformation has a lot to do with Local First Arizona, the hosts of this BALLE conference.

There’s a lot more to write about the conference and I bet lots of people will write it more eloquently. So I’m going to say a few highlights and then move on to other news…nola

First highlight that isn’t conference related but I just have to mention – I was just treated to a most spectacular view of beautiful craggy mountaintops as we flew over (maybe the Superstitions?). Always get a window seat!

The major highlight of the conference, besides the beautiful people I met and plan to keep in touch with, was its focus on equity. This morning I was moved to tears a few times, especially by Van Jones and Adrienne Maree Brown (I need to buy her book Octavia’s Brood).

I came to the conference to do a 5-minute presentation on Mutual Aid Networks during the Community Capital session. Then spent two 20-minute sessions going in-depth with those who wanted to talk with me. It was really cool. As often happens, I had a few notes of things I really wanted to say during my 5 minutes, then ended up saying completely different things. But it seemed to work out OK, and I made some very fruitful connections with people who seem likely to pilot and partner with us.

And now I’m on my way home, having left the conference slightly early because tomorrow my band Ladyscissors has an out-of-town show and then Sunday we leave for the Allied Community Coop learning and skill-share FIELD TRIP!!! I’m very excited.

stl_flyerFive leaders of the Allied Coop (4 board and 1 new staffer) will travel to St. Louis and New Orleans to learn and share about cooperatives, mutual aid networks, timebanking, mutual aid societies (African-American tradition of money-pooling for mutual support, pre-cursor to modern insurance which coopted the model for profit), and more. Including the Neighborhood College program that my friend Renee Marver helped run at the MORE Timebank in the 80s and 90s, the first modern timebank in the US.

All this is on the heels of last Friday’s soft launch of the Main MAN, our umbrella Mutual Aid Network. So we’re starting to get real. And it feels great!

I’ll sign off now to get a little rest in the midst of this whirlwind couple weeks, but I thank you for reading and look forward to sharing more later.

Time to get ready to shape and enjoy the beautiful new world we’re all working hard to create. I’m proud to know you!

Allied Coop ready to rock!


So much has happened/is happening with the Allied Community Coop that it’s hard to keep up with reports, but I’ll try…

Shortly after our Allied Coop kickoff at Taste of Allied we learned that the neighborhood pharmacy and store Walgreen’s would be leaving the neighborhood soon.

Unfortunately, Walgreen’s is the only place left there selling anything like food, and the food sold at Walgreen’s is not sufficiently nutritious or priced appropriately to meet people’s grocery needs.

So the food desert situation that was already urgent has become more of an emergency.

Allied Coop would like to help! Our mission is the overall health and wellness of the neighborhood and you can’t get closer to that than food.

So we’re taking a bit of a detour from our PowerTime energy project to focus on how we can cooperate to get fresh healthy affordable food into the neighborhood.

We’ve spoken with managers and staff at Willy Street Coop and they’d love to help us! Our dream is to partner with them and many others to create a neighborhood center/neighborhood-scale grocery, starting with a buying club and organized ride shares to help with people’s immediate needs while we build capacity for a store owned by and for the neighborhood.

There are a lot of things in the works, changing day by day. So we’ll need to be very agile and ready to roll with things. And we’re feeling pretty hopeful. On Monday Oct. 20 three of us from Allied Coop attended a meeting with Mayor Soglin, city staff, and other stakeholders and got a promising reception to our ideas for neighborhood community economic development. More on that later as we learn how it will play out…

photo 3-2 photo 4-2 photo 5-1We hosted a Town Hall meeting on Friday October 17 in order to learn what neighbors and potential partners would like to make happen. We used the training we received from Art of Hosting and formatted it as a Pro Action cafe. It was really well attended and really fruitful. Here are the notes in their entirety (please read them if you’re working on this project), and here are some highlights:

Participants were asked to introduce themselves and give brief comments on their  particular interests:

•    We need to improve pedestrian safety during the construction, especially before winter makes it worse.
•    Concern about the lack of a pharmacy and a grocery
•    Need access to food when we need it, not limited to certain days/hours
•    We may need to fight for a store
•    Second Harvest’s removal of the mobile pantry is a problem
•    The Fresh Market truck didn’t work out too well
•    If we own the store, and the community works at the store, it will help stop theft
•    We need a spokesperson, who can speak for everyone
•    We need to organize

Then we split into tables of 5 people apiece, and each group discussed the following questions, changing tables between questions so everyone was with a different group each time. The questions were:

What can we do right now?

What could we do in the long run?

What are you willing to do, or to ask someone you know to do?

The short-term and long-term goals and action steps that emerged were:

Short term

  • Create survey for the neighborhood, about shopping preferences and habits. Cassandra will create this and is starting it now.
  • Organize the neighborhood. We will host a monthly workshop/discussion to move this forward consistently. They will be the third Saturday of each month, 12-1:30pm, location TBA. The first will be November 15. In addition, Florenzo will be an active advocate and Alderperson Maurice Cheeks will advocate for us in city government.
  • Organize ride shares to stores. Katy will help as a driver
  • Secure subsidized cab rides for people needing them to shop
  • Work with NIP and Green Cab to get vehicles for shopping excursions
  • Work to get gas cards for ride sharing and buying club
  • Work to get surplus food from Epic and CAC gardens, others. Joe will help with this
  • Conduct outreach with pharmacies and residents to coordinate alternatives for obtaining medications
  • Get more people to help coordinate the free sandwich program currently offered, to add more capacity and serve more people
  • Secure donations from corporations and organizations to help fund these efforts. Laurie offered to help with this

Long term

  • Get policy makers to recognize food as a right
  • Create a Coop grocery store with a pharmacy!
  • Emulate Walnut Way in Milwaukee
  • City staff working to get discount grocer in Walgreen’s space
  • Work with Willy Street Coop to create neighborhood coop business incubator
  • Secure city policies and incentives to bring businesses to Allied
  • Tell a new story of the Allied Drive neighborhood

photo 1-5 photo 2-5Willy Street Co-op is willing to put “boots on the ground” to help start a grocery and Anne Reynolds of UW Center for Cooperatives will help with coop development, and will advocate for us on the Food Policy Council.
Cassandra will write a survey (more notes on the flip charts) and work with Ruth Rohlich to get it translated.  Stephanie asked people to volunteer to go door-to-door.

The issue should go before the Allied Task Force, and Barry will take it there.

Alice will help in any way possible, as will many of the participants.

November 15, Noon – 1:30, meet to develop a plan

Allied Coop Board meets first Thur. each month, 2-4pm. Whole group discussions/workshops 3rd Saturday each month, 12-1:30pm, location TBA.

Thanks for reading! We’re feeling hopeful, and alive with possibilities. We’ll be looking for your support and encouragement as we go.

Very exciting meeting yesterday. We are ready to rock.

Yesterday the Time For The World skeleton crew hosted a meeting with Dane County, Wisconsin (Madison) based officials including Madison Municipal Judge and County Executive, journalists, organizers, tech professionals, cooperative movement organizers and experts, University staff and faculty and other inspiring individuals. Edgar Cahn, founder of timebanking and Founder and Chair of TimeBanks USA, was a special guest.

Many inspiring ideas came from this meeting and we will be following up on collaborative projects with many of the participants.

Our goal is to build a better way to build a better world, then catalyze the collaboration needed to make it reality. We intend to scale our efforts in Dane County way up while actively sharing information with other communities undertaking similar projects in areas around the world. We’re terribly excited and hope you are too.

Please join us if you like. We’ll be publishing a lot more as we get time in the coming weeks, including video from the meeting, notes, and a thorough description of and funding proposal for the Time For The World project.

In the meantime, read this article to learn more (thanks, Ruth Conniff!) We’re excited to be featured by The Progessive and plan to work with and for people of all political, social and economic stripes. That’s what inspires us about timebanking – it cuts across all these tired old dividing lines and connects us as humans. No losers in this game, that’s part of what makes it so much fun.