Report on Economic Democracy Conference, upcoming Builders Workshop


It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend.

The Economic Democracy Conference here in Madison was a smashing success! Lots of fun and also exhausting. It ran Thur. evening through Sunday afternoon. About 200 people registered and there were amazing speakers, workshops, conversations, people attending and presenting, music, stories and general good fun and learning. And connecting to push our work forward better, faster, and more fully.

There will be a lot of content posted online over the next few months. Much of it was video’ed for later sharing. The conference organizers (I only organized the Local Economic Democracy: Spotlight on Madison track) are making places to share content online and I’ll share it when I get the information.

I spoke on a panel following the inspirational Gar Alperovitz, Marc presented a think tank workshop on perceptions of community and economy, Marc and I presented a workshop on Healthy Community Economy Here and Now (slides shared here), I played at the evening of stories and songs Saturday night, and we facilitated a discussion at the Sunday Action Summit where we used a case study of a community goal and mapped how we’d apply various types of value-generating tools to build capacity to meet the goal. This was tricky and quite helpful. We were lucky to have Ellen Brown (Public Banking Institute) and Suzanne Bowles (Alliance to Develop Power) in our group to inform the conversation with both of their very effective and fascinating models for wealth building and distribution.

My very favorite workshop was the last one in my track, New Approaches to Science and Industry with presenters Justice Castaneda (MIT Colabs, advisor to City of Madison), Chris Meyer (founder of Sector67 co-working hackerspace), and David Boetcher (IBEW). Chris brought along his 3D printer and we learned some really cool concepts and possibilities for using cooperatives and new capacities for decentralized small-run manufacturing to really bootstrap some community potential.

Our next Builders Workshop – #7: Healthy Community Economy Part II, on Thur. Oct. 19 4-6pmCDT – will build on some of these new ideas, syntheses and partnerships to help map and move forward on a potential local project that would combine all these elements and try them out for real. Very exciting! I’ll need to update you on the specifics of that later, after we identify the desired direction of the group of current and potential partners.

We have figured out a way to share the Builders Workshops online – it seems to work fine, not the slickest system. This Thursday’s workshop will feature a brief presentation overview from last workshop and conference, report back from participants’ experience, then break into topic-oriented work groups. You’re welcome to join online but it’s anyone’s guess how fruitful it will feel when we break into groups. If you’re interested in trying please email me at

I have only reported on the conference highlights as they apply directly to me and my work – there were tons of highlights! And I’m sure many that I don’t even know about, there was such a wealth of trememdous stuff and people. I’ll do a little run-on list of the first things that come to mind: John Nichols, Gar Alperovitz, Ellen Brown, Laura Dresser, Suzanne Bowles, seeing Sector67’s MakerBot and some stuff it’s made, the MIT Colabs team presenting on building wealth-generating coops in low-income Bronx neighborhoods, learning about Alliance to Develop Power, connecting more deeply with folks doing cooperative organizing here (we’ll be doing a Focus on Cooperatives Builders Workshop together November 15 and working together toward the local project I referred to), David Schweickart, David Cobb, the mere fact that organizers scattered around the world and around different interest areas and affiliations did such a beautiful job pulling off a complex collaborative event. Thanks to every single one of all the many people who contributed!

So there you have it, my long-winded summary.

I’ll sign off after one last reminder:

The Dane County TimeBank’s 7th Birthday Bash is this Friday! October 19, 7-11pm at Madison’s Eastside Club, 3735 Monona Dr. Bands, cash bar, lots of cake, awards, and a swap meet. And we’re aiming to raise $7000 for our 7th birthday, which you’re welcome to help with here.

Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “Report on Economic Democracy Conference, upcoming Builders Workshop

  1. Thanks for the update, Stephanie, inspiring as always! Wish I was over there sharing with you!

    I really like your slide presentation and would like to borrow some of your wordings for a new writing project I have just been given, a much shorter book than People Money to make the case even more strongly for local currencies in the UK.

    1. Awesome, John! I wish you were here too, we could use the help!

      You’re welcome to use anything you like. They’re all here for that reason. Ultimately I’m hoping that once the Builders Workshop series comes to a natural conclusion, we’ll start over with new people leading each session. Looking right now to do leadership development in earnest, all over. I’m hoping to work on trainer/peer support training and development a lot when I tour over the summer, including possibly to Europe. I’ll keep you posted.


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