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.
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.
Five 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!