MAN news from Madison, Chicago and St. Louis


There’s a lot of news on the Mutual Aid Network front (and in Dane County TimeBank, too, see these reports and Builders Workshops segment for more) these days… It’s hard for me to keep up with writing reports but so far, so good. Right now it’s helping that my flight to the Knit a Network leadership retreat is delayed, so I can catch up on other writing…

We’ll begin with news from Allied Community Coop – our first local MAN!

pwIIallied pwIIOur last couple Allied Community Coop meetings have been great and very productive. We appointed our interim Board of Directors, finalized our bylaws, and started planning for our August 23 kick-off event, Taste of Allied. We’ll file our Articles of Incorporation right after the conference in Providence. We’ll sign up Coop members at our kick-off event and invite them to our first official general membership meeting, sometime in September, where they’ll vote in the Board and bylaws and make it all official. Very exciting!

Notes from meetings, plus bylaws:

In the midst of all the cool Madison happenings, we continue to hit the road to visit other potential pilot sites. We hit two great ones the weekend of July 11-13.

First stop was Chicago where Chris Petit and Jami Becka had organized a meeting hosted at/by the Chicago Institute of Cultural Affairs.ICA_seva_graphic

This meeting was  very well attended and very well received. I left feeling like Chicago is very ripe to be a MAN pilot site! Participants included people from Chicago Time Exchange, Green Community Connections, and Interfaith organizations, coop and affordable housing activism, youth and sustainability, music and arts communities, and Institute of Cultural Affairs.

chicago_panoOne of my favorite reactions happened at this meeting. After we gave this presentation on the basics of Mutual Aid Networks, one of the people in attendance raised his hand and said ‘This seems kind of brilliant.” I love it! Even better if you could hear his actual inflection. Maybe I’ll ask him to make a video testimonial!

We’ll follow up with a larger meeting in late August or September. Exciting!

On the morning of June 12 we left bright and early (7:30am) to get to St. Louis in time for our first scheduled event, presenting about photo 2-8DCTB Youth Court at a meeting of the Coalition to Abolish the Prison Industrial Complex.This is a very dynamic group of people representing faith-based organizations, prison reform advocacy, community organizations and more. Or I should say MORE, Missourians Organized for Reform and Empowerment is a big player in this group and in timebanking and cooperative economy efforts in general.

It was great to hear what this group is doing, and to share our Youth Court model with them. And I need to mention how much I love the name of the coalition, very to-the-point.

Christ, Julia, and Montague
Chris, Julia, and Montague

photo 5-8Afterward we headed out to a block party hosted by the Organization for Black Struggle (OBS). Another really cool event, great group of   people. The block party was held outside the Rowan House, a historic venue that’s been host to activists since 1973, and to the OBS since the 1980s when they stepped in to fill the void left after COINTELPRO decimated the Black Panthers and others who had been working from the center.

A couple of the many cool aspects of this block party – organizers had gone door-to-door in the neighborhood to invite other residents from the ward, and many showed up with interest. This is part of a shift in focus from national/international issues to working right in their own neighborhood. photo 3-8They’re making a great start there. Also, the space itself is a great venue for meetings and shows, which they hold frequently. And there were lots of community groups represented.

That night we stayed with the fabulous Renee Betty Marver, former director of the Grace Hill Settlement House’s TimeBank, the Member Organized Resource Exchange. You could say that Renee is really a primary founder of timebanking in the modern world, having created the first recognized one in the early ’80s. You could also say that timebanking goes back way way farther than that, in a lot of traditional networks of mutual help and support… But I digress.

photo 5-7The next afternoon we participated in an orientation for the Cowry Collective TimeBank. It was great! They’ve developed really nice A/V materials and a great presentation. And it was in one of the many cool spaces we saw in St. Louis, a women’s art collective.

Chinyere, Stephanie, (Betty) Renee
Chinyere, Stephanie, (Betty) Renee

One very special event during the orientation: the first participant to arrive was a woman named Shirley. We chatted quite awhile about why she was coming to the orientation and getting involved, and she was a really interesting woman.

During the slide presentation, when Chinyere and Derek (the Cowry organizers) got to the part about timebanking’s history at Grace Hill, Shirley raised her hand and told us she’d been a member of Grace Hill timebank for 20 years, and had served on a Board for one of their projects. I got really excited because I knew Betty Renee would be showing up soon and I was hoping they’d know each other.


After the slide show I saw Betty Renee show up at the front door and went to open it for her. Shirley said “is that someone you know?” and I replied “Yes. Is it someone you know?” She said no, not recognizing Betty Renee. So I brought her over to introduce them, neither recognizing the other because it’s been over 20 years since they’ve seen each other. As soon as I started saying Betty Renee’s name, though, they instantly re-connected. It was great! What amazing history there.

photo 3-6Finally, after the Cowry orientation we headed to a Solidarity Economy Network and Sistahs Talking Back event. This was big and fun, with about 60 people in attendance. I gave a presentation about youth court and also about Mutual Aid Networks. With all the energy in the room and all the many social and economic justice groups in the room, we’ll make a great MAN pilot in St. Louis!photo 1-4

And upon our return I began a huge week of intensive meeting facilitation, including another MAN Design Team Meeting.

I hadn’t finished getting all our new contacts entered into the computer, plus realized it would be helpful to gather the original group to hammer out a little more detail before expanding.

7.25.14 MAN Design Team meeting notes (in more detail here):

This meeting was attended by me, Chris Petit, Morris Sadicario, and Kristin Sage in Madison, and joined by Tom Greco (mutual credit thinker/author/guru), Scott Morris (Ithacash leader), and a crew from the Lansing TimeBank MAN pilot site, Edge Brussel, Scott Murto and Krista.

We touched on some new developments, including the idea of holding a longer-duration online summit in order to give enough comprehensive background on and understanding of the project; the Advisory Board members who have confirmed, and strong new pilot site candidates. We identified a communications work group, which includes most of the meeting’s participants.

We discussed who should be represented on our Working Board. We decided it should include a representative from each pilot site, plus members with strong background in legal, financial, currency software, business networking, and organizational development areas.

Next steps are: Lansing group will wordsmith core values. I will gather a larger group meeting for sometime during or after the week of August 17.

So…. that’s all for now. Happy to have this written up and off my plate now that I’m about to embark on the Knit a Network leadership retreat and Global Exchange Gathering in Providence. Thanks for reading!


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