I stayed with my friend Naomi who used to work at Mother Fool’s, the coffeehouse I co-own with Jon Hain in Madison.
I was really pleased to find that she lives with some of the wonderful people I met on my last trip to Bristol. And we quickly connected with Richard and Chris for dinner the first night I was there. After my last Bristol visit, which included a timebanking discussion at their Zen Center Aro Ling, Chris set up a timebank (through Time/Bank by e-flux) as part of a BMW/Tate Live Thought Workshop.
Since then Chris and Richard traveled to Berlin and learned about the Social Muscle Club (SMC). This Berlin-based project contains some of the main elements of timebanking but is more immediate, focusing on a give and receive game designed to make fairly instantaneous connections, plus performance as a means of deeper engagement and communication. They decided to take Social Muscle Club to Bristol, and will co-host an SMC event at the end of the Ausform Micro-fest on November 29, just before the Micro-fest’s closing party. It’ll be really cool! Which I know because Chris and Richard did me the great favor of scheduling the practice event for while I was in town.
Ten people, most of whom will be helping to facilitate the event, gathered at Chris and Richard’s house to try out the SMC format. What a wonderful thing! We played a give and receive game, similar to ones we do in timebanking but much more immediate (you’re supposed to write down offers and requests that can realistically be fulfilled within the next few days), interspersed with a couple performance gifts. The first performance was by Elena and it was really incredible. She’ll do a version of it at the event on the 29th, so I won’t spoil any of it here. It took my breath away. One of many reasons for you to go to this if you can! And I also offered a performance gift, a version of my song Everyone Singing which we sang as a round, with 3 people playing wine glasses. It was a lovely way for me to experience the song.
Highlights among the exchanges included someone receiving a clarinet and promise of lessons, someone who might find some temporary housing, and a whole slew of other synchronicities. Followed by a group photo in some goofy hats… 🙂
I spent the next day at the UK Conference of Independent Currencies, hosted by the Bristol Pound and celebrating the launch of the Guild of Independent Currencies. Leander Bindewald and Jem Bendell both presented, and Matthew Slater and I also each got up to say a few words. We all focused on various aspects of connecting different types of currencies in coherent ecosystems and the overall need to accurately identify our goals and the appropriate tools with which to meet them. Then to gain and/or create the support (technical, evaluative, educational, social) necessary to operate effectively in this realm. (or something… I’m probably not doing a great job of representing other people’s talks – but I gave a quick and dirty overview of the MAN)
Met some great people and got good ideas and perspective about what’s happening in the complementary currency world, and hopefully shared something helpful with them.
That night we said farewell to Jem and Leander, and Matthew and I stayed on – he went to day 2 of the conference and I stayed at Naomi’s and caught up on writing, played piano and hung out with Aga.
then off the Exeter to meet and stay with James Priest, a Sociocracy trainer…
More on that later.