Report #1 from the Western North America leg of the Sharing Economy Tour


I’m writing from Pasadena CA where I’ve just finished the LA stop on the Dreamworld Sharing Economy Tour. Splendid!

First things first, then an update. I have less than a week left on my tour crowdfunding campaign and would like to encourage you to donate what you can and/or share with others who may be interested. We have a $20K challenge grant to help fund all of our work for the next 6 months. We need to raise the match! And everything you do to make a dent in travel costs goes toward stretching our money further as we work to implement all the good things we’re learning.

Now for the update:

This tour started with shows in Iowa City and Des Moines IA, then a family visit in Colorado and hiking in the desert.

Lee and Jon's courtyard
Lee and Jon’s courtyard

Once I arrived in LA the Sharing Economy part started. We lived the Sharing Economy in style staying with timebankers extraordinaires Lee and Jon in a beautiful 1937 house near Glendale. They were spectacular hosts, as were the other timebankers who provided amazing vegan meals (brought over with every detail considered and instructions for putting them together as little works of delicious art, by someone who happened to be a former regular at my coffeehouse in Madison! just a coincidence discovered later). And it was a joy to see all the things they were doing with the timebank, including going out for a very productive fruit harvest that brought back laundry baskets full of fresh oranges and grapefruit plus a fantastic fruit (whose name I can’t remember – something like sepato, from southern Mexico, tastes like coconut custard and has sharp fangs around the pit that need to be removed) that was new to me. And when I started a rip in the seam of the pants I wear for my shows, we walked them over to another member’s house, right in the neighborhood, who sewed them right back up. What a fantastic group of people, using the timebank in all kinds of cool ways.

I played a show to a great and appreciative group of Arroyo SECO timebankers at the Pop-Hop bookstore on Friday July 26. It was lovely.IMG_20130727_203926_406

On the 27th Autumn Rooney of Arroyo SECO and the CA Federation of TimeBanks organized a gathering at the Not Talent Show at Thank You For Coming. One of the best not-talent shows I’ve ever seen!

LA-trainingOn Sunday July 28th about 30 people gathered for a TimeBanking Coordinator training. This was an excellent group and we learned a lot together. We’ll share the detailed notes when we receive them from our gracious volunteer notetaker Christina.

And for now here’s a summary:

We started by hearing who everyone was, what work they’re doing in this area, and what they wanted to get from the day together.

Then we did a somewhat abbreviate version of the timebank yarn game, in order to show everyone how it works and encourage them to use it at their own outreach events.

After that we went over some of the nuts and bolts of starting a timebank, especially those things that need to be figured out before launching. Those were:

  • Establishing your vision, mission and objectives and using those to guide how you organize
  • Establishing basic governance and decision-making processes
  • Thinking through – thoroughly and thoughtfully, with guidance from a good cross-section of community members – if you will conduct background checks and if so how you will handle them
  • Finding people who can fill the needed leadership functions
  • Plans for continuous leadership development

Then we discussed engaging partners and stakeholders. We did a game where we determined a mission for our hypothetical timebank, identified who would need to be involved in order to meet our goals, another round to determine who we might haveLA-mission_game forgotten in round 1, and then brainstormed about how we would use our timebank hours to engage the various parties in helping us to meet our mission. Our mission for the day was to create an inter-connected community that could be self-sustaining and would grow food on all available un- or under-utilized land. The goal of this exercise is to help people imagine how various parties can engage and also to see how all participants’ resources, no matter how seemingly unrelated to the mission, serve to form a resource base to help meet your community goals.

After a nice lunch break with delicious food provided by yet another timebank member, we reconvened and practiced doing elevator pitches (brief talk to convince a new contact to get involved) targeted to specific audiences or stakeholders. People did a great job with these.

Throughout the day I gave examples of how Dane County TimeBank members have dreamed up cool ways to use the timebank to ‘hire’ their neighbors to implement projects – our Youth Court, pending Adult Peer Court, PowerTime Energy Project, Wellness Project, Inclusion work and more.

We closed out the day answering more burning questions, ending up with

“How can we support each other better and what can I do to help?”

And were excited to hear lots of ideas and commitments to working together further.

A top suggestion was to partner newer timebanks with mentors in the region, expanding our pool of mentors to include more participants in local timebanks to take the pressure off the main organizers of those timebanks. Several participants offered to help and I committed to supporting this by providing our training/peer support form so we can develop a catalog of who’s available for what kinds of help.

We also found some new people to help us tackle the thornier issues around software, especially the inter-trading issue (enabling people to easily exchange hours between different timebank systems and software platforms).

All in all an extremely fruitful day! And in yet another really cool space, Fais Do Do. Found lots of very funky little spaces on this trip and am looking forward to visiting all of them, and the CA timebankers, again.

Next stop: San Francisco where I’ll meet with people from RSF Social Finance and the Sustainable Economies Law Center, in order to work out more detail about how Mutual Aid Networks can really fly.

then Santa Cruz for a day-long workshop/discussion followed by a house concert, then back to Berkeley for more sharing economy gatherings and my birthday show!

Here’s a link to more resources about my tour – including the menu of what I can offer and links to the schedule in progress and a form for participants to share what they’d like to focus on.

And I’m entering all the stops here so you can find them in one place, music + sharing economy events.

I hope to see you somewhere on this journey!




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