A month into the second leg of this long tour, I feel like writing a few reflections on the tour so far. It’s been nice to drive through the mountains by myself and think over the last 2 weeks. And listen to music. Have been hearing David Bowie’s new album The Next Day over and over and over, which is just how I like it. It’s great!
I realized today that I’ve done over 20 sharing economy meetings/trainings/gatherings/talks in the tour so far and there are around 30 total confirmed with more on the way (if all goes well). Some of the very most valuable times have been when I’ve stayed with people and been able to hang out and talk in-depth about whatever we want to.. but it’s all been very valuable.
And one thing I’ve been doing that’s newer to me: when I’ve had days or nights off I’ve gone to more effort to reach out to people for lodging in exchange for informal talks, or finding last-minute shows in smaller cities in exchange for lodging and a little money, or playing open mics and/or busking. I’m doing a little better than breaking even on expenses so far, and should come out a little over (really just a little) – but financially, that’s not great because it doesn’t count all the expense that went into recording and printing CDs and shirts, and it would ideally be paying enough of my salary to wean me off grant money. I’ve been doing a crowdfunding campaign but I don’t really know how to do it properly, nor do I have the time or nerve to push it far. So I’ll look for help with that in the future.
Another thing I’m doing on this tour is trying to keep really good track of the money I save through getting stuff, food and lodging in exchange for money, training, ideas, tools, support, music etc, or simply and beautifully from people’s generosity. Will write that up later after it’s all done and calculated, as a learning tool toward the MANs and just for fun.
I’ve been making myself busk occasionally, although that can be a bit more trouble than it’s worth in some ways. Other ways it’s totally worthwhile just for the surrealness of the experience. In London I hauled my heavy flight case full of equipment around by myself because the people who were going to meet me there weren’t able to make it (I might have decided not to go if I’d known I couldn’t just leave my stuff somewhere and go scout a location) and set up completely TWICE before each time a security person came over and told me busking was forbidden there or that you needed a permit (this after I’d looked up the laws – the first was private property which I didn’t see posted, the second was in a place the first security guard told me you don’t need a permit. Again, as soon as I set up all my stuff – and that’s my Rearick Jr. stuff, so keyboard, looper, mic, mic stand, amp, trumpet – he told me to go. I didn’t need a permit on top of the bridge (Jubilee bridge? Or Victoria? By Royal Festival Hall and that huge ferris wheel). That turned out to be quite lovely – the sun was sparkling on the water, the bridge itself is cool, and strange to have passersby stopping, taking pictures, taking video, ignoring me, yelling drunkenly into the mic, putting money in my case, not putting money in my case (especially the yeller!).. Made 8 euros, not so great for money but good for learning and experiencing something weird and new.
When I busked in Santa Cruz I played about ½ hour (and made a few bucks, not too many but OK for ½ hour playing accordion in the afternoon) before I learned it’s OK on that street without a permit, just like the rules I’d gotten a print of, but it wasn’t OK to sit on a public bench. I needed to go plug my meter anyway so I went back to the car and saw I’d just missed it and gotten a $38 ticket! But Raines of Berkeley Co-Housing paid it for me the next day as his contribution to the tour. Thanks Raines! 🙂
After I learned my route went through Bend OR on a night off I contacted the co-housing people there, at the suggestion of Mira Luna (a founder of Bay Area Community Exchange), and stayed in their guestroom, enjoyed a potluck dinner with them and held a little talk on cooperative/sharing economies. They were pretty jazzed about the possibilities of timebanking for their co-housing. I got to learn about their co-housing community – a big one, with 39 households on over 7 acres, with a communally farmed garden I was offered some of the bounty of (forgot to take it!).
Another reflection: talk about the Mutual Aid Networks (MANs) and redesigning work has really resonated with young people (and people of all ages really). That’s good, they need more opportunities, it’d be great to help them create their own.
Rick of Bay Area Community Exchange and his housemates were great to talk to. We talked a lot about the MANs there. One of his housemates, Sean, had had an idea for becoming a community-supported engineer, sort of like how artists used to have patrons. I like it! I’m hoping that with the MANs everyone can be a community-supported everything – professional, artist, caregiver, care-needer, person needing respite, problem-solver, tinkerer, whatever…
It’s just simply invaluable to see so much of the world (also went to UK, France and the Netherlands on this tour and hope to go to Istanbul and maybe even Austria and/or the Philippines, longer shots) and meet so many like-minded, active, engaged and fun people. And contribute however I can to their efforts, and vice versa.
Last few random reflections:
One lovely phrase that keeps coming up over and over throughout the trips – a quote (but not always knowingly) from Leonard Cohen “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” Some people have told me they make cracks in things to let the light in. Others have said it as a quote, others in different ways. It’s been beautiful. There’s a crack like that in the wall on the cover of Up The Wall.
And a life-highlight experience afforded by this tour: Seeing Yoko Ono (my hero!) play an amazing show in London.
And, there are a lot of dead, dying and unhealthy trees and forests along the way. And bigger than usual fires in Idaho and elsewhere, and more drought. And I’m contributing by driving a gas-powered vehicle around the country, and flying. Doing my best to off-set that through my diet and how I live otherwise.
Still I feel pretty optimistic. People all around the world seem to be coming to similar conclusions all at once. If we can link up quickly and effectively we can unleash some pretty serious problem-solving dreamworld-building capacity. Let’s do it.
We have nothing better to do!
oh, and speaking of ‘nothing better to do’ here are some assorted photos from what I’ve done in my free time: