Report #2 from Western US leg of tour – LA to San Francisco

Hello again,

As often happens I’ve gotten a little backed up in posting here, because there’s been so much going on at all these stops. So this post will take us through the end of the LA visit, through our meetings with RSF Social Finance and Sustainable Economy Law Center folks.

My last night in LA we went to an open mic at Kulak’s Woodshed. The place is volunteer run and runs a tight ship, makes a 3-caIMG_20130729_214210_841mera DVD of your performance you can buy for $20 which helps sustain them. I heard some great music and enjoyed playing Skin for the people. I love finding places like this. Between Kulak’s, Fais Do Do (where the training was held), Thank You For Coming (where the Not Talent show was) and Pop-Hop (bookstore where I played my show the first night) I found some of the coolest spots in LA. Not to mention the Museum of Jurassic Technology. I was exposed to a new brand of LA absurdism that I like a lot!

From thereIMG_20130801_151405_965 Greg Bloom (who’s been joining in for parts of this trip to learn and help out) and I went to San Francisco to meet with John Bloom and Kelley Buhles of RSF Social Finance and Chris Tittle and Yassi Eskandari-Qajar of Sustainable Economies Law Center, to talk about our ideas for Mutual Aid Networks, get their insights and perspectives, and explore ways that we might cooperate down the road. This was very productive, at least for me. Not least that I had to explain it clearly and go into more detail than I’ve had the opportunity to do so far. We picked apart some of the mechanics of the money pooling and allocation piece, and I learned in more detail about potential approaches, pitfalls and impacts. RSF currently performs a lot of the types of functions we’d like this piece in the MANs to perform and can be an extremely valuable resource in our education here.

This is the drawing I made to illustrate what we’re talking about:

That evening (Aug. 1) was the conveniently scheduled Mutual Aid Societies presentation and legal clinic at Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC). Great timing! IMG_20130801_194202_793 IMG_20130801_185531_060First I had a brief legal clinic with the great Janelle Orsi, Executive Director of SELC. She gave me a pretty big list of questions to work through about legal structures that can support the work we want to accomplish. A number of potential obstacles, all of them surmountable. I continue to feel we’re on the right track. 🙂 And the presentation on Mutual Aid Societies was very heartening, learning about lending circles, giving circles and gift circles. The lending circle that really caught my attention was the Mission Asset Fund. This is a lending circle in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood with 2000 members who have pooled and lent $2 million to each other interest free. Each participant puts in an agreed-upon amount of money each month, usually $100-$200 but sometimes $50. Participants draw numbers at the beginning of the process to determine who gets the pool of money in any given month. Participants can switch numbers if they like. When it’s one participant’s turn they get the entire sum of money to use as they wish.

So many of these lessons can apply as we put together the pieces to create a caring, sustainable regenerative economy. I look forward to learning and sharing more with you as we go!

Until next time,



ps coming soon… Santa Cruz sharing economy gathering, then Berkeley with the East Bay Co-Housing and Bay Area Community Exchange folks!

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