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 —