I’m taking another detour from our previously scheduled series of updates (yes I still plan to share writing on the Impact Economy Summit from early October!) to share some milestones that have happened recently. All very exciting!
First, the Dane County TimeBank (DCTB), parent to Mutual Aid Networks, celebrated our 10th birthday with a wonderful party at Art In (location of the MAN Up Summit). We had a great turnout! Highlights were the cooperative cakewalk (each winner shared their cake just afterward, and we organized ourselves by which cake we wanted to eat which helped us meet new people), the timebank timeline that everyone added their own experiences to, the Stone Soup that Mary (our Board President) made from the various ingredients our members had suggested, and especially the singalong! Andrew Rohn (member of local disco heroes VO5, who knows every song ever written) accompanied us and we sang a lot. And it was a special treat that Murphy, manager of Maxine’s TimeBank Store, showed up with the other half of his Temptations duo and knocked our socks off with a bunch of classics.
This birthday, besides being the big 1-0, also marks a milestone as we embark on a transfer of leadership. I founded the Dane County TimeBank, then served as Director, then Co-Director with the great Lorrie Hurckes since about 2008. Beginning 2016 I will move into focusing on Mutual Aid Networks and MANning Up by also doing more music, community work, and other things I want to do and documenting how I use MANs and the resources they help us access in order to make a living. One part of what I’ll be doing is contracting for 10 hours a week with DCTB to continue working on our Restorative Justice efforts, on the opportunity- and partnership-building side of things. Lorrie will be at the helm, working with our great team of staff, board, and members to make the timebank even better in its coming years.
Mutual Aid Networks hit another milestone, with the formal acceptance of the initial seven MAN pilot sites. Super exciting! We’ll send a press release as soon as each pilot site feels ready to share their application publicly (revisions in progress).
And the first pilot sites are…
Allentown PA (health center), Bergnek South Africa (health infrastructure, working toward clinic), Providence RI (food access), Lansing MI (work re-design, mutual support), Waterville KS (health), and Allied Community Coop in Madison WI (food access and wellness). As I said, more detail coming soon..
But speaking of Allied Community Coop, we also got great news! Madison’s City Council approved the city budget last week, which includes $300,000 coming to Allied Coop to help us create a neighborhood-owned grocery store!!! A big job that will take a couple years to come to fruition, and meanwhile we’re working hard to establish a buying club and some transportation options to hold people over in the interim.
Last but certainly not least, the same city budget includes a little funding to continue the Homelessness Restorative Justice project we’ve just begun. In fact, we held our first circle yesterday and it was really cool. In a nutshell, homelessness is increasingly being criminalized in our city and some people are facing tens of thousands of dollars in fines for things like trespassing (sleeping outside where not allowed, which is virtually anywhere now), public urination, open intoxicants, etc. In this restorative justice project we have worked out a process where the City Attorney’s office can reduce fines or even dismiss cases provided the respondent works out an agreement (in a circle, as an equal participant) that will significantly reduce contact with the police. The partners in the project will work to support respondents meeting their needs with things like housing, mental health or AODA support if needed and desired, skill-building, employment-seeking, etc. And of course we’ll use the timebank as a resource both to build networks of support and to revamp the economy that’s driving us toward homelessness and criminalization.
That’s all for now, but it certainly feels like a lot.
Thanks for reading,
p.s. One thing I forgot to mention – tomorrow (Wed Nov 18) morning 10amCST is the next installment of the MAN Online learning series, where we’re working through our work/life descriptions and robust budgets, building the tools for them as we stumble through creating our own. Join us!