Share Skills at MAN Up Skillshare Summit! Madison WI 8/22-8/28


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!!

Thanks much

MAN in the St. Louis Post Dispatch today!

I’m pleased to report that there’s a big article on Mutual Aid Networks, STL_article_pictimebanking, 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!!


Report from Eastward timebank/MAN/music tour late Sept.


As some of you know, I made an attempt to do an east coast tour in late September, which was cut short by an opportunity to head to British Columbia for the Impact Economy Summit. I’ll write a separate post on that but for now, a report on the eastward jaunt…

IMG_6869 IMG_6870 IMG_6890 Well, first I’ll back up to the Monday before I left, September 21, when the Community Response Team held a panel meeting to address the problem of police shootings in our neighborhood. It’s relevant here because action like this factors into our ideas about a Mutual Aid Network for the Creative Destruction of the US Prison Industrial Complex. You can read more about that here.


A few days later I drove to Yellow Springs Ohio where I was asked IMG_6894to present a workshop on timebanking and Mutual Aid Networks at the Arthur Morgan Institute’s Community Solutions conference, Climate Crisis Solutions: Tools for Transition.

Saturday morning Kat Walter and I did a workshop to show how timebanking can work and then brainstorm about local applications.

IMG_6907After that I headed to my sister Gwynne and niece Ariel’s house in Dayton. I visited the great arts magnet school where Gwynne IMG_6913teaches art, IMG_6909Stivers, Gwynne and I watched the blood moon eclipse from her back deck, we all chatted about Ariel’s really cool ideas about how to use timebanking to help bring a grocery store to a food desert, and had a good and relaxing time.

I went back to Yellow Springs on September 29 to do a workshop on Mutual Aid Networks. That was IMG_6918cool. We mainly focused on how to start timebanking effectively, how we can apply it to solve problems or build community capacity, and how the framework of Mutual Aid Networks can take it all farther. And my sister generously offered to help me with drawing in the future… :)

That evening I drove to my parents’ house in Akron and had a short but sweet visit with them the next day.

Then jaunted to Kent to have dinner with the wonderful Abby Greer of Crooked River Alliance of TimeBanks. Then played a show the TimeBank hosted at the Stone Tavern. That was tons of fun! and I somehow failed to take any pictures there…

IMG_6922Next day drove 7 hours to New York to play a show at Caffe Vivaldi. On a IMG_6921beautiful grand piano. A really cool crew showed up including Alessandra whom I’d recently met at Giftival in Rome, Mashi Blech the timebank goddess of NYC, Eric and Annie who had come to the MAN Up summit, dear old friends Tracy and Sabrina and Ignacio (new old friend), friends of friends and a handful of strangers (or whatever the kids are calling them these days).

I stayed up late with Sabrina, then got up the next day to drive 2 hours to see Kathy Perlow, Hasshan and Janelle of the Lehigh Valley MAN pilot. I got to hear Hasshan and Janelle’s vision for building this wellness andIMG_6926 justice-oriented community capacity development project, based in a federally IMG_6923qualified health center. It’s really cool! You’ll get a chance to learn more about it soon as we bring all our pilot sites online in a visible way, coming soon (November).

After that I drove as quickly as I could back across the country to Chicago, where I got to see my great friends Ann, Barry and Hannah, and see the play they’ve all been working on, MERCHILD, at 16th Street Theater in Berwyn. See it this weekend (last chance!) if you live anywhere near there! Very powerful.

and flew out early the next morning for Whistler, British Columbia, for the Impact Economy Summit. Which I’ll write about next…

MAN Up Summit, set to launch in August! plus web summit, upcoming UK trip


Things continue to move at lightning pace here in MANland. That’s a good thing!

We just embarked on a web summit, an online learning journey to help us all get grounded in what Mutual Aid Networks are and what they can do for us and our various and intersecting communities.

Please join us! Every Wednesday into August and likely beyond. Yesterday (July 1) was the premier session, an overview of Mutual Aid Networks, a summary of how we expect the series to go, and a preview of how we’ll lead into our MAN Up Summit August 20-28. Which will culminate in the ‘grand opening’ public launch of the Main MAN and some of our initial pilot sites.

Stay tuned for more info on the summit, but you can make plans to come to Madison Wisconsin that week. If you live in Madison you’re welcome to offer your home to our out-of-town guests. We’ll experiment with MAN-style sharing and reciprocity (i.e. you could ask for timebank hours, other resources to recognize your generosity) to support the people traveling here to share their skills and ideas. We’re expecting Julien Dussart, a Wezer programmer and complementary currency leader coming from France, James Priest, a Sociocracy leader and trainer coming from the UK, Stephen Hinton, Founder of Transition Sweden and board member of the JAK cooperative bank, plus MAN partners and community leaders from Detroit, St. Louis, Pennsylvania, Chicago and more. And if we’re lucky Nigeria by way of India – our newest Advisory Board member Bayo Akomolafe. Very exciting! We’ll learn a lot and get a lot of work done. Deep trainings, deep collaborative explorations, our first Main MAN general membership meeting, a MAN Up simulation game, and celebrations! You’re probably wondering how you can help out, besides coming and offering up housing. Well, you can help us pay for people’s travel and other related expenses. Like space, food, all the other supplies that go into making a great party and getting serious work done.

You can help by going here, giving money, and sharing this link with everyone you know.

ddd_stillIn other news, on Sunday Lorrie Hurckes (Dane County TimeBank Co-Director and Youth Court Coordinator, plus my Ladyscissors bandmate) and I embark on a trip to the UK. This will be a trip for work, fun and music. We’ll do some timebanking, restorative justice, and MAN events, plus a few shows. The impetus for the trip initially was (is) the Leading Wellbeing International Research Festival, where I’ll be doing a little session on DCTB and how we can apply and expand on our models globally via MANs – with Leander Bindewald (Time For the World collaborator circa 2011)! Plus playing some music, with Lorrie joining on a few songs. Plus Lorrie and I will be presenting a paper titled: The Creative Destruction of the US Prison Industrial Complex: We Can Do It!  I’m very excited about this paper, and then about going ahead and doing it once we have it written up properly. :)

This festival has a lot of focus on leadership development which is great timing, especially as Lorrie takes on more leadership in DCTB (where she’s already a major force, and picking up more of my slack all the time) as I shift my work focus from there to a full-time focus on MANs and music. Generally applying MAN practices to do exactly what I want to with my life. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to do that soon too, and we can learn how together – that’s the point of the whole thing.

I digress. Before the festival we’ll hit London, Milton Keynes, Bath, Totnes, and Bristol, connecting with timebankers/co-opers/MAN-curious/restorative justicers. After the festival in the Lake District (and hiking and kayaking and those kinds of things) we go to Hull, another MAN pilot site. I’m very excited to see all the things they have going on there, which include a timebank and a city-sponsored cryptocurrency, Hull Coin, designed to support residents in poverty. And I/we have a show at the Adelphi on July 22!

A nice way to end the trip. We fly out again July 23.rock for rj

And then come back to some Ladyscissors shows, including our set at my (and our host’s) birthday party, the Rock for Restorative Justice benefit for DCTB’s RJ projects. August 8.

Followed by the MAN Up summit later in August!!!

More on that as it develops. Meanwhile, don’t forget to give till it hurts :)

Thanks for reading,


p.s. a little bonus present for getting all the way to the end

St. Louis and New Orleans learning trip report – Allied Community Coop, Mutual Aid Networks, Restorative Justice

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Some of the leaders of Madison’s Allied Community Coop (ACC) had the great fortune to take a learning trip to St. Louis and New Orleans. Thanks so much to the Willy Street Coop, Rebecca Kemble, and our other generous donors who helped make it happen!

Coop leaders who went were Cassandra Sonko, ACC Board President; Sina Davis, ACC Board member and former ACC Coordinator; Gloria Farr, ACC Board Member and representative of Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development and Allied Wellness Center; Lavern Harrison, newly hired ACC staff; and me, ACC Board Treasurer and representative of Dane County TimeBank.

We had a very full agenda! First we had breakfast with the fantastic Renee Marver, one of the organizers of the very first modern timebank in the United States, Grace Hill Settlement House’s MORE Time Dollar Exchange. The neighbors and staff at Grace Hill worked together in 1981 to invent Service Credits, which became known as time dollars and then timebank hours over time. But it was their own creative approach to making up for big cuts in government support of vulnerable people, and the massive success they had is a testament to the strength of that vision. Renee was able to share a lot of their story and the awesome programs they ran, which included a Neighborhood College, six timebank stores, support for vulnerable neighbors, inter-generational care and exchange, and much more. The MORE exchange had tens of thousands of members in photo 4  neighborhoods throughout St. Louis in its heyday.

After changes in agency leadership much of that activity ceased, but the Patch Neighborhood Center is still going strong. We visited and learned about their timebank store, where neighbors get new toiletries and cleaning supplies for the hours they work in the community, the “Little IMG_5514Macy’s” thrift store where they sell secondhand clothing to support their operational costs, their inter-generational gatherings that connect seniors and kids, their daycare, the fieldIMG_5517 trips they organize, and mostly, the fact that the neighbors run the show. There are a couple staff who started as participants in activities there and have been around 12+ years – including Debbie, who I’ve met at a couple conferences and our previous field trip back in 2007. Great to see people doing what they love!

The leaders of St. Louis’ wonderful timebank, the Cowry Collective, and a new MORE, Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment, organized two discussions with us. The first was focused IMG_5549on Restorative Justice and included members of the Coalition to Abolish the Prison Industrial Complex, plus people active in juvenile justice as advocates and also as professionals (an arts teacher at the juvenile detention center which seems open to innovation). We had a very stimulating discussion where each of our individual experiences were able to spawn ideas relevant to each other’s projects. For example, we learned about ‘neighborhood accountability boards’ being put into place by St. Louis’ formal juvenile justice system. Pieces of that structure could apply here in Madison, but initiated at the community level which will give us more freedom to keep kids’ needs front and center. We were able to suggest some ways to involve more youth as leaders there and to advocate for some creative approaches that could involve timebanking to help build skills and resources.

The next day we were joined by a few of the same people and a couple new ones for a conversation about Mutual Aid Networks and how that structure could be applied to help us all take our work farther. We talked with attendees about the MAN Up Summit in August and about pursuing further collaborations. We’re all excited to see what unfolds.

Immediately after the MAN discussion we hit the road to get a start on the drive to beautiful New IMG_5556Orleans. It’s 10 hours from St. Louis and we decided to stop near Memphis, so we could take a quick trip by Graceland in the morning just for fun.

Then we arrived in New Orleans just in time for the NOLA Timebank potluck that Gretchen Zalkind, NOLA TimeBank founder and coordinator, IMG_5565organized in conjunction with our visit. This was great! There were organizers of local cooperative businesses, our hosts at Conserve Our Resource Economy (CORE), people ready to engage in the neighborhood in new ways. We shared a lot of our experience with Allied Coop and had open discussion about how we could all take our work farther.

The next morning we visited BackstreetACC-backstreet-clubIMG_5589 IMG_5608Cultural Museum, one of my very favorite places and where I first learned of Mutual Aid    Societies and Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs, my inspiration for the cooperative savings and community investment pools piece of Mutual Aid Networks. I was really IMG_5596excited to take IMG_5598my fellow ACC leaders there so they could see the real deal, and think IMG_5601about how they want to apply it in their own lives and neighborhood. We got a great tour and learned a lot. Plus we had the good fortune to have a Jazz Funeral pass nearby while we were there. The museum guides went out with us to see it, and told us that jazz funerals welcome everyone to join in celebration of the life of the person about to be buried. It was very festive and very beautiful.

IMG_5617Later that day I left my cohorts to get some rest and hang out with a IMG_5627Louisiana-based friend while I went to meet Anna Boyer (part of NOLA Timebank also) at the C4Tech & Design Coop where she’s a worker owner. Very cool cooperative business begun in 2008, and I learned details about how it’s run that will really come in handy for our various MAN efforts. C4 Tech has three divisions – a computer repair shop that mainly caters to neighborhood residents (and resonates with a long-standing plan to work with our local Union Tech Coop to build computer repair capacity in Allied Drive). They have a website and graphic design department that works with businesses, non-profits, and eIMG_5620ducational institutions. And they have an IT support department that works with similar clients from around the world. Each division has a separate but overlapping budget and each division manages its own revenue itself, paying agreed-upon base wages and distributing a quarterly profit share.

We spent the rest of the evening seeing the sights of NOLA, then hit the road the next morning for the epic 15-hour drive home. I walked in my door at 2am. Good times!

And good thing we had this fun break, and learned so much about our potential. Because the Allied Coop is the only applicant for a $300K forgivable loan the city is offering to subsidize a grocery store in the Allied Drive neighborhood. The RFP they put out doesn’t completely match up with our vision and circumstances, but being the only applicant we’ll be in good shape to have some serious discussions with the City about how they could help us move forward with a neighborhood-grown and -owned project.

Thanks for reading this massive missive. More soon on continuing developments…


Vienna and Rome – Music and Gifts


I am writing this feeling very refreshed and optimistic. Maybe shocking, considering circumstances around the world. And this doesn’t mean that I’m not taking very seriously the grave injustices and tragedies occurring at the moment. On the contrary, it’s because I take them so seriously that I go to gatherings like Giftival, which just took place in Rome last week.

But first, Vienna…

Pinacoteca_release_door-picOnce I learned that I’d be traveling overseas, when I’d accepted the invitation to Giftival, I decided to see what else I could do while across the ocean. I asked my good friend and music producer, Ed Reardon, if he would want to schedule a show for me in Vienna where he’s lived for the last year, and where he produced my new CD ‘every thing everything.’

Ed booked a show for me, with him as a very special guest on guitar for 4 songs, at his friend Claudia’s art gallery, Pinacoteca. This was a show to celebrate the release of ‘every thing everything.’ And it was quite a celebration! The venue was small, lovely, old and intimate and was full of very attentive and enthusiastic people. What a treat! Vienna is my new favorite place to play. :) I suppose its distance will cause it to remain a rare and special treat.

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my lovely hosts, Ed and Astrid

Another rare and special treat about Vienna (among many) is its embrace of arts and intellectual photo 5-11culture, and its devotion to leisure. My friends referred to it as the Viennese Lifestyle, and I enjoy it quite a lot! One factor that helps create this condition is that their government supports the arts. And helps make art and culture available to everyone in a way that’s unpretentious and doesn’t require people to have to ask for special help based on need.

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the salon at the studio

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improv at Celeste

For example, the rent for art studios and galleries is paid by the government, so the tenants don’t have to rely on selling enough work to make rent plus try to be paid for their time, not to mention other expenses like supplies, events, publicity… The Vienna Opera has a huge projection screen on its outside wall and anyone can watch the opera for free, and can reserve an outdoor seat for 2 euro. And on and on. The stars on the sidewalks are of renowned composers. My friends host a monthly salon/lecture series where everyone shows up to hear a talk, drink beer and smoke cigarettes (lots of smoking, maybe one downside but I can’t argue with its ability to create a great atmosphere for lingering and chatting) in an artist’s studio. Free jazz improv at Celeste is another impetus for a regular night out. The Naschmarkt outdoor market is always full of people with plenty of time to sit outside and drink at its outdoor cafes. (And one of the neighbors in a swank building across the street has posted, in one big letter per window – ‘STOP DRINKING’)

Vienna was a lovely break, just playing music and spending time with old and new friends. It was really good for me to get away, as the last months at home have been very full of work and lots of difficult situations and tensions around the police shooting of Tony Robinson, an unarmed bi-racial teen, in my neighborhood. There is a lot to say about that shooting and conditions that led to it, but I won’t say it here at this time. Instead I’m moving on to Giftival in Rome.

Giftival was a continuation of the amorphous group process begun in Istanbul October 2013, one of the loveliest times I’ve ever had. This Giftival took place in Rome with many of the same people as in Istanbul, along with many new people. Here is a near-complete list of this year’s participants.

I’m not going to write a lot of detail about what happened, I’ll just focus more on larger impressions.

The first 3 days we spent at the Maternal Roots of the Gift Economy conference, where I learned a lot but yearned to spend more time with some of the presenters, each of whom had only 15 minutes to present with no workshop time or space. But it was enough to gain some tremendous insights along with a thirst for more, and ways to go more in-depth later. The highlights for me were reports from indigenous people of the Americas and Africa, about their own matrifocal and gift cultures.

Giftival occurred over the subsequent three days, which had its pros and cons. A pro was that we had just been immersed in ideas about the topic we were there to explore. A con was that many of our brains and bodies were somewhat exhausted by the time we began.

Giftival is a hard thing to explain. It’s quite amorphous in the agenda, again with pros and cons. On the whole we had lots of magical, high quality time together.

Here are some highlights:

photo 4-1photo 3-8Rome.   photo 5-7

photo 2-9Also – We got to know each other deeply, partly through dancing, singing and playing. We shared practices and tools in several open space sessions. We mapped our various projects and photo 3-4added offers and needs, to begin identifying ways to collaborate. We visited photo 4-5some agiftival_project_mapmazing sites in Rome, including the Pantheon where we had a tour from our friend and archaeologist Marie Goodwin. Then we made a human circle around the floor under the Oculus, joined by new friends who helped us complete it, and then created a beautiful sound. And that night started a photo 5-4big dance party on the square where Giordano photo 4Bruno was burned at the stake, near the monument commemorating him. A tribute. Pat McCabe – Lakota name translating to Woman Stands Shining – led us in an incredibly moving healing ceremony, where she invited the holy people from around the world and we asked them for help. We certainly need it. And I left feeling it will be provided.

And for me the most wonderfully valuable thing about this gathering was of course the people I met. I’ve found some very remarkable new collaborators to work with on Mutual Aid Networks, including more people who have come up with nearly the same vision and are creating beautiful complementary pieces that will help create it. Super exciting!

Many of them are interested in coming to Madison for MAN Up month this August! So yes, I’ll be pursuing the biggest and most exciting plan that I’ve been wanting to aim for. Stay tuned for details on that.

And I’ll be setting up a few MAN overview and engagement web meetings to get our new friends up to speed, and introduce new participants to those who have already connected. Please sign up here if you want to receive an invitation (and haven’t yet signed up).

If you want to catch up on context read the rest of this blog, where you can also find an overview of Mutual Aid Networks.

Yes, we’re still working toward pulling together our web presence and member policies, but we still expect to soft launch within the month and then be ready for a proper launch during MAN Up month in August – where we’ll offer lots of training and workshops, opportunities to develop collaborations, and tool-building work sprints. Plus a MAN Up simulation game.

And lots more between now and then.

Thanks for reading this long-ass blog, and please stay tuned…


Mutual Aid Networks overview and engagement web meeting

Hello all!

This is a quick note to let you know that we’ll be hosting a 3-hour web meeting in order to launch some work groups to develop and implement Mutual Aid Networks. This is for people who want to know all about it and likely plug in to do some work. I’ll also make notes and recording available later.

To sign up on the Mutual Aid Network email notification list:

To participate in the web meeting scheduling poll:

When it’s scheduled I’ll post another notice. And will post the link to the notes and recording afterward.

More news later this week,