I’ve been having a wonderful time on the road (or in the air), meeting people, learning a lot, giving talks and workshops on building a sharing economy through cooperative practices.
After an all-night flight I arrived in London and took a train straight to the festival, where it was chilly, grey and muddy. I was provided with a really nice camping spot and gear courtesy of Camplight, a great little organization that rescues camping equipment abandoned at festivals, cleans it up and provides a set-up tent with sleeping bag and air mattress. And they usually have their own solar showers too (there was a bit of a water shortage at Sunrise this year though).
I arrived without any British pounds and my ATM card wasn’t working. Fortunately the Bristol Pound people were at the festival and were willing to exchange euros for Bristol pounds which I could then spend at the festival. Once again community currency saves the day!
On Friday the weather cleared up and got beautifully sunny for the rest of the festival. And the mud started to dry up.
Friday at 5pm I did my Redesigning Work and the Economy talk in the Green Talks Dome. A couple dozen people played the timebanking yarn game (most were new to the idea) and discussed their own visions for what they’d like to accomplish in their communities. Then we talked about how we can pull together various types of efforts to build a more comprehensive and effective system. Some of the participants have local efforts near them they can tap into, others are looking to build their own. And some were there just to learn. Many are in the process of redesigning their own work lives and were looking for ideas.
On Saturday I had the pleasure of participating in a roundtable discussion at the Solar Cinema, with a representative from Positive Money, a man who works on sustainability issues with large corporations, and Jon Cousins who has extensive experience with timebanking and is very active in Green politics. This was a really cool and wide-ranging discussion that opened all of our minds in various ways. The corporate consultant was very intrigued by our collective speculations about how the world would look if people were doing the work they’re passionate about. At one point the conversation turned to proposals for a universal basic cost-of-living stipend and we imagined what jobs would be difficult to fill in those circumstances and why, ultimately coming to the conclusion that crappy work should pay well. And that many jobs we consider to be undesirable would likely get done out of a sense of stewardship. Jon gave the example that people at the festival clean the toilets because they want clean toilets to use; one of the other participants gave the very striking example of people who volunteer to monitor nuclear waste, putting their lives on the line because they recognize the urgent importance of the task. One of my favorite conversations yet this trip!
Sunday was the festival’s last day and I had the pleasure of playing a set at the cafe next to the Green Talks Dome. It was quite a lovely evening.
Other highlights of the festival: lots of workshops – making rocket stoves, carving chalk, building with pallets – lots of ways to play, lots of wonderful people.
Next up I went to stay a night with Leesa Daymond, a lovely woman I met through Community Forge (the group who provides the open source software we use in the Dane County TimeBank. She provided a very sweet respite after all the chilly camping.
—On to Paris!
I took a train straight to the planning meeting for our evening event. Sybille Saint Girons and Danielle Orsi, more great people I met through Community Forge, and I discussed how we’d approach the evening. Then we held a workshop/discussion with about 15 people running or participating in LETS (Local Exchange Trading Systems – very much like timebanks, sometimes less strict on the non-negotiability requirements) around France.
I shared our experiences with Dane County TimeBank, particularly our focus on projects. Then Sybille led a brilliant exercise where we shared the three qualities each of us wanted to see in the world. Many of them overlapped, as you might imagine. Then we broke into groups of three and each group brainstormed possible keys to making those qualities into reality. We wrote each key on a post-it which then went on a table where like ones were clustered together. Participants selected those that seemed most useful, then broke into work groups to proceed with creating or strengthening the keys identified. Examples are: good governance, communication, good use of technology, etc.
Next evening was a Community Forge skype to plan for an after-Hague work party (which I can’t attend, unfortunately, because I already have my ticket home). Day after that was a training on administering Community Forge software. Then we broke into two groups, one of which delved into more technical details and questions about the software, and the other played the Build a Better World Game! In case you’re not familiar with it, this is a game we’re creating to help build people’s skills in using the assets and needs in a given community to collaborate toward common goals. It was fun
to play with these folks and get their feedback on how to make the game more adaptable linguistically and culturally.
Today Christophe – who works with Sybille in an organization called Les Valereux which has a similar desire to help
groups with governance and organizing – and I will assist Sybille in leading a game at a business school, where she as people exchange in various ways and reflect on their experience. I’ll be filming and will report back. I’m excited to see this!
Tomorrow I’m on to Bristol where we’ll hold a Creative Community Economy discussion at a local Buddhist Center.
This is long enough already so the report from the business school will come with the report from whatever happens in Bristol.
Thanks for reading,