Thursday, July 28, 2011

How to Start a Worker Coop

by Mira Luna
July 27, 2011

In the age of unemployment, downsizing, and outsourcing, where can a poor soul find a job? Well, maybe it’s time we create our own. Self-employment is an option and can seem freeing, but it’s hard to do everything yourself and find time for a non-work life. The worker coop is an alternative to the isolation of self-employment and the exploitation of traditional jobs.

Click here for for the rest of the article.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Flexible Capital for Sustainable Businesses Webinar

Flexible Capital for Sustainable Businesses: Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and their Flexible Capital Fund

Webinar Speaker:
Janice St. Onge, Deputy Director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and President of the VSJF Flexible Capital FundVSJF Logo

Date and Time:
Tuesday, August 2 at 10am PT
(11am MT / 12pm CT / 1pm ET)

About the topic:
Janice will first introduce the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, the parent organization for the Flexible Capital Fund. She will then explore the Flexible Capital Fund with an eye toward what other communities would need to know in order to replicate some of this approach.
The discussion will touch on why and how the Fund was created, how the Fund works, and who has access to the capital and services of the Fund. Janice will give an overview of who has benefited from the Fund to date and review what's worked well, what could be working more effectively, and what the goals for the future are.

About the Fund:
The VSJF Flexible Capital Fund recognizes that companies in rural areas like Vermont tend to be smaller and work on a less-than global scale, offering a return on investment that does not always meet venture capital levels.
These rural companies may need a form of “equity” to fuel growth but need it in lesser amounts and perhaps at lower returns than traditional venture capital requires. That’s why the Fund will balance equity features and returns with the reality of small business in Vermont, offering flexible risk capital and technical assistance to fit Vermont’s early and growth stage companies’ needs.
The Fund is the first of its kind in Vermont to be strategically focused on unique, and often, neglected group of growth companies in Vermont. These businesses are on the forefront of accelerating the development of healthy food systems, renewable energy, vibrant economies and resilient communities, while also protecting the environment in Vermont.

Space is limited -- register now! This series is open to the public.

Want to do more? Host a group viewing and discussion of the webinar. Email us to learn more.
About the Speaker

Janice St. Onge is the deputy director of the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund and the Peer to Peer Collaborative’s CEO advisory program, and president of the VSJF Flexible Capital Fund, L3C. The VSJF is a not-for-profit whose mission is to accelerate theJanice St Onge development of Vermont’s green economy by providing grants, loans and technical assistance to Vermont’s natural resource, agricultural and clean technology businesses.

Janice brings economic development and financial expertise to the VSJF, having served in the technology and banking industries, higher education and state government sectors during her 25-year career. Janice is on the board of the Vermont Investors Forum, advisory boards for both the Vt. Small Business Development Center and True Body Products, and is a founding member of the Stowe Energy and Climate Action Network.

Accelerating Community Capital Webinar Series
This webinar series, which runs all year and includes an all-day workshop that occurred as part of the BALLE Annual Business Conference in June, reviews pioneering efforts around the country with respect to local banking, credit unions, slow-money investing, cooperatives, self-directed IRAs, local investing clubs, and local stock exchanges. It will explore how communities can better tap capital through New Markets Tax Credits, CDFIs, and various tax incentives. This series is aimed at community investors, instigators, organizers, foundations, innovative bankers, businesses looking for capital, and anyone else committed to unleashing local money to build local living economies. Learn more and register now!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How does real change occur: P2P Theory vs. socialist theory

Michel Bauwens
from the P2P Foundation
9th April 2009

Marxism, and other forms of socialism based on a ‘a priori’ political struggle to take power and achieve change ‘afterwards’, are in my opinion wrong in their understanding of how fundamental social change can be achieved.

I would summarize my interpretation of their key ideas as follows: capitalism creates a new class, which, due to its structural position as workers, can become aware of its interests, organize themselves politically, and achieve political power in order to take over the means of production. So the image is of one class, eventually with allies, to take over political and economic power, from another class that was previously dominant.

But is there any historical precedent for such a form of change. What I know of history does not square with such an interpretation.

Fundamental change is only achieved by a congruence of change, both from the bottom, and from the top, a double reconfiguration of classes to a new system.

For example, faced with an increasing crisis of extensive globalization, the Roman Empire could not longer afford the same kind of extensive militarization and coercive power which could maintain a slave-based system. Faced with structural crisis, and probably combined with a pressure from below in the form of slave revolts, some slave owners started their slaves into coloni, the earliest form of serfdom (a different process is also mentioned by historians, that of freeholders converting to serfdom). For slaves, this was undoubtedly an advance, as they could now have families, construct local communities, and only had to give part, instead of the totality, of their produce to the new domain lords. This new system, which created enhanced motivation, more autonomy and interest for innovation, was more productive than slavery. Hence a dynamic whereby former slave-holders could see the advantage of moving towards the new system of production. The main idea here is that, faced with a crisis of the old system, populations started experiment with alternative patterns in different fields, that those patterns started integrating with each other to the point of forming a viable alternative, and by the year 975, year of the “First European Revolution’ driven by the Church, coalesced into the new feudal system. The change could only occur because of the congruent interest of both serfs and domain holders, who both had advantage in changing, therefore conferring legitimacy to the birth of the new system.

The change from feudalism to capitalism occurred in a very similar fashion. When feudalism entered in crisis mode beginning in the 16th century, a series of changes had started occurring (some starting at least in the 12th century, such as the invention of modern accounting), creating new patters of social activity. Enlightened self-interest in parts of the ruling class (nobility and royalty), would have led an increasing number of them to invest and engage with the new capitalist practices, and coopt successful merchants as well. Thus, change started occurring because the congruent interest of both the new bourgeoisie, and parts of the nobility, creating ever more integration of new patterns, slowly forming a coherent alternative. Just as with the previous change from slavery to feudalism, it is only after a long period of maturation, that political revolutions such as the French or American Revolutions could occur, and that the previous meta-system could be replaced.

Socialist proposals cannot account for this. The owners of capital have zero interest in such a radical change of ownership, while the workers cannot point to any successful alternative patterns that could form the basis of a new society, instead having to opt for radical but unproven social experiments. In my view, this can account for 200 years of failure of the socialist movements to achieve successful transitions.

The key problem therefore was that it could not point to any other proven alternative that would be more productive, and elicit congruent change both from the top and from below.

However, peer production changes this equation. We now have a hyperproductive alternative based on peer production, peer governance and peer property, that is superior to the traditional practices of industrial, and even informational, capitalism. It is because of the hyperproductivity of open and free input, participatory production processes, and universally available output in the form of the commons, that, just as in the previous two meta transitions, sections of the former ruling class are changing into netarchical capitalists, and investing into new types of open business models, ‘enabling and empowering sharing’, or associating with commons-based peer production. So as the Google’s, eBay’s, YouTube’s and Flickr’s are morphing from the top, so are workers morphing into peer producers. Both are them are congruently engaging in new patterns, that are slowly learning from each other, integrating, and maturing into a wholly new way of conceiving of production and civilization. Political revolutions can only be the result of such maturation, and of the crisis of the previous system.

Peer to peer theory therefore, has a much more realistic chance of being correct, because the changes it is predicting, and the process it is advocating, is consistent with what we know about previous phase transitions.

All of the above of course does not mean that there is no role for the social and political struggles of social movements. What it means is that the peer to peer movement, as expression of the new successful patterns that will form the core of the new post-capitalist civilization, need to work on a policy platform, that can inspire the social movements to a set of demands that no longer signify the status quo, a return to no longer operable models of the welfare state, or destructive despair. It also signifies that while we work on the autonomy and social reproduction of sharing and commons-based communities, we need to critically ally ourselves, based on common interests (while also be aware of differential interests) of the new netarchical forces that are converting, and thereby strengthening the emergence of the P2P alternatives.

The specific historical conjuncture demands a certain acceleration of these efforts.

- The financial crisis is a deep long-cyclical slump, definitely burying the neoliberal model, but not necessarily the class power configuration which created it

- The Obama administration signals the coming to political power of that fraction of capital which is aligned to peer production. The Obama coalition represents the conjunction of Wall Street, hence the doomed-to-fail attempts to restore the old predatory financial system; the high tech sector most conducive to P2P-influenced economic models (hence the ‘open’ nature of theother aspects of the Administration); the social-media induced P2P mobilization of the most dynamic social forces that were instrumental in creating its victory.

- At the same time, the forces of the old order of vectoral capitalism (the forces living from IP monopolies and mass media control), being in the panic that they are, are stepping up aggressive measures against the further emergence of peer to peer practices, as witnessed by the attempts in the EU Parliament, to abandon net neutrality.

- The financial dislocation and breakdown of the previous globalized order of neoliberalism, will lead to increasing expressions of social rage, and waves of mobilization, but that do not have adequate policy proposals.

- Populations living in increasingly bankrupt and hollow states, and desperate public authorities facing infrastructural breakdown, will increasingly look to measures to protect themselves from the global meltdown, to resilient community formation, and distributed infrastructures that can reboot their disintegrating social order.

The P2P movement is therefore at a historical juncture, where it has to start developing the ability for policy formulation and connect with social mobilizations.

Usually a new social movement goes to three broad stages: it starts with transgressive, ‘subcultural’ behaviour that ignores the constraints of the larger society, such as filesharing; it starts to develop social forms to insure its own social reproduction, i.e. creating the new patters within the old, as the free software community has done, now being followed by open hardware and distributed manufacturing communities, and the drive towards open money; but the next step is changing the old institutional order itself, and this crucial step has barely started.

In order to birth the new, an integrated set of alternative patterns and institutions must have been created, so that when the old metasystem breaks down, the new subsystem is sufficiently robust to serve as an alternative template for the phase transition.

All of this is of a tall order, and we are far from ready for this. Nevertheless, it is what we must do.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Timebanks Conference Aug 4-7th

Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
1 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
DAY ONE: Thursday, August 4, 2011
8:00 AM to 6:30 PM Conference Registration & Exhibit Hall
Multi-purpose room entrance and the Underground, Faunce House
9:00 AM to 4:00 PM
COLLOQIUM: Dismantling Structural Racism in the Foster Care and Juvenile Delinquency Systems: Homes, Not Institutions – Justice for the Next Generation
Pererutti Room, Faunce House
In nearly every state, children of color are disproportionately represented in the foster care system. The experience of being separated from their families often leads to dire outcomes including increased likelihood of teenage parenthood, criminal justice system involvement, sexual assault, and homelessness.
Legal mandates require prevention and prompt reunification efforts. Nonetheless, many children remain separated from their families despite these legal mandates, the availability of alternatives to out-of-home placement, and evidence that these children would be better-off at home.
There are evidence-based, desirable alternatives to foster care placement such as kinship care, extended support for the family, quality legal representation for parents, and financial support. All families involved in the child welfare system must have increased and equal access to these various alternatives to the institutionalization of their children in foster care.
The colloquium will distill existing knowledge to set forth a clear, comprehensive statement of best practices and alternatives to out-of-home placement in the foster care system and juvenile delinquency systems. It will highlight legal mandates that require prevention and prompt reunification efforts, and will present the Racial Justice Initiative of TimeBanks USA’s unique approach. Attendees will also learn how TimeBanks and Co-Production approaches build on strengthens and generate community-based supports so that children and families can stay together.
Colloquium Topics Include:
 documenting the injuries for young people, their families and the broader community
 highlighting the social and economic costs of maintaining the status quo
Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
2 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
 showcasing what works to secure just outcomes for young people, their families and the broader community
Panelists Include:
 Dorothy E. Roberts, Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law Professor of Law, Northwestern Law School
 Oronde A. Miller, Senior Associate, Center for the Study of Social Policy
 Lisa Conlan-Lewis, Executive Director, Rhode Island TimeBanks
 Edgar S. Cahn, Professor of Law, UDC David A. Clarke School of Law & Founder, TimeBanks USA
 Cathy Ciano, Executive Director, Parent Support Network of Rhode Island
PRE-INSTITUTE 1: Organizing and Running a TimeBank
Trainers: Stephanie Rearick and Leander Bindewald
Nuts and Bolts Participatory training on the unique steps, tools, and leadership roles for starting and running a TimeBank. Morning session is mainly for timebankers or potential timebankers early in their journey, or looking to shift or expand. Afternoon session is for timebankers at all levels.
PRE-INSTITUTE 2: Realizing TimeBanking Possibilities
Sal 202
Trainers: Merlyn Kettering and Sheryl Wallton
Values, visioning, planning, learning, innovation, alliances-strategies and frameworks for developing and implementing TimeBanks, CareBanks, and Co-Production.
12:00 PM TO 1:30 PM
LUNCHEON: Dr. Edgar Cahn, Founder of TimeBanksUSA with Youth Speaking Out
Multi-Purpose Room at Faunce House
Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
3 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
Dr. Edgar Cahn will share his passion and commitment to timebanking and the need to ensure equality and justice for all. Dr. Cahn will speak to the importance of building the safety net and support for youth and families at risk and how timebanking can support change in practice and reach better outcomes in service delivery. Youth from Rhode Island Youth Speaking Out will perform and share their experiences and perspectives of the change needed to support youth involvement in child welfare and other service systems.
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM continuation of pre-conference activities
Racial Justice Initiative Colloquium
Pererutti Room, Faunce House
Pre-Institute 1
Pre-Institute 2
Sal 202 (40)
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM Reception & Conference 2011 Kick Off Event
TimeBanks USA and Rhode Island TimeBanks
Patio & Multi-purpose Room at Faunce House
Big Nazo and Mr. Deep Positivity, Welcomes TBUSA
This will be an opportunity to come together to meet one another and create a TimeBanking community. Receive warm welcomes from the TimeBanks from the TimeBanks USA Board of Directors, Rhode Island partners, staff, and volunteers. There will be an overview of the conference agenda and activities. This will be a fun-filled and upbeat reception and do not forget to bring your local TimeBank banners and t-shirts and join the parade.
Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
4 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
DAY TWO: Friday, August 5, 2011
8:00 AM to 6:30 PM Conference Registration & Exhibit Hall
Co-sponsors: Rhode Island TimeBanks/Parent Support Network
Entrance to Multi-purpose Room and the Underground
Will be closed during luncheon
9:00 AM to 10:30 AM Embracing the Values of Timebanking to Create Change
Multi-purpose Room at Faunce House
Speakers: Stephanie Rearick, Kathy Perlow, Sam Hopley, Sheryl Walton, Autumn Rooney, and Mahsi Blech, and Ruston Seaman
The morning plenary will bring together a panel of experienced timebank leaders to share how their timebank has been able to create change by utilizing the values of timebanking in the areas of youth, informal and formal supports, human services, human rights, community development, local economies, eco-justice, sustainability, arts and culture. Conference participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of the panelists.
10:30 AM to 10:45 AM Break
10:45 AM to 11:45 PM Learning Circles: Embracing the Values of TimeBanking…continued…
Participants will move into learning circle opportunities to share knowledge and information with each other in regards to building and implementing special timebank projects across the topic areas presented in plenary.
12:00 PM to 1:30 PM Luncheon Presentation from Rhode Island TimeBanks on Co-Production
Multi-purpose Room at Faunce House
Rhode Island TimeBanks and Rhode Island State Officials will welcome participants and together with TimeBanks USA will share how they are building and implementing co-production in Rhode Island. This presentation will share how timebanking is changing individuals from being treated as service recipients to becoming co-producers sharing their strengths and contributions to build natural support networks and support with each other, thus creating less dependency of social service and human service delivery systems.
Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
5 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
2:00 PM to 3:30 PM Workshops
Workshop 1: CareBanks for Aging in Community: The Vermont Model
Presenters: Gwen Hallsmith & Merlyn Kettering
Workshop 2: Economics of Happiness A Remarkable Film about “Going Local”
Presenter: Carol Bragg
This film describes a world moving in two directions. Economic globalization and consolidation of corporate power have worsened fundamentalism and ethnic conflict, financial instability and unemployement, and damage to eco-systems. Meanwhile, a worldwide movement is afoot to create an economics of localization where communities rebuild more human-scale, ecological ecomomies. The film agrues that bringing the economy back home is a strategic solution multiplier and provides examples of relocization initiatives that restore people’s sense of well-being. Timebanking helps to relocalize! Come watch and the 67 minute movie and spend our 20 minutes discussing timebanking solutions and how to use this film as a tool in your community.
Workshop 3: Youth Court & Mentoring for Success
Presenters: Lorrie Huckles, Cherie Cruz, Carolyn Dallas, Michael Marks
Youth Court grew out of the work of TimeBanks USA and is now is an effective organization in DC working to prevent youth to become involved with the justice system. This early work has paved the way for other local timebanks to explore and start youth court projects in their commuity. Participants will hear from Dane County TimeBank, RI TimeBanks, DC Youth Court, and other timebankers that are implementing youth court and/or mentoring projects
Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
6 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
Workshop 4: Incubating Innovation: Build the World Project
Presenter: Stephanie Rearick
Workshop 5: Co-Production & System Change
Presenters: Chris Gray, Edgar Cahn, Sam Hopley, Lisa Conlan, and Julia Stay
Workshop 6: TimeBanks, Faith Based Organizations and Eco-Justice
Presenters: Ruston Seaman, Pastor Rick
Workshop 7: TimeBanking and Health Care Reform
Presenters: Dr. Abby Letcher, Kathy Perlow, and Laura Guttierez
Workshop 8: Introduction to TimeBanking
Presenters: Tony Budak, Stacy Jacobson
4:00 PM to 5:30 PM Unveiling Community Weaver 2.0
Salomon Auditorium
Presenters: Edgar Cahn, Alan Webb, and John
This plenary session on August 5th will introduce the new and improved Community Weaver 2.0 TimeBanks open source social network software. TimeBanks USA will share the history of the development of community weaver and recognize all who deserve credit in its development to where we are today.
Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
7 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
6:30 PM to 9:00 PM Healing, Hope, and Humanity Grand Gala Fundraiser Event
Multi-Purpose Room at Faunce House
Enjoy an evening of fine dining, entertainment, and inspirational messages as TimeBanks USA focuses on supporting projects that sustain the organizing of individuals, families, and communities. With your help, we can promote Healing, Hope, and Humanity. Participate in our onsite cash raffle and win door prizes.
DAY THREE: Saturday, August 6, 2011
8:00 AM to 4:00 PM Conference Registration/Exhibit Hall
Underground at Faunce House
Walking for Timebanks: Meet group at ------ to walk at 8:30 AM
8:30 AM to 10:00 AM Early Morning Workshops
Workshop 1: TimeBanking Plus: How Different Complimentary Currencies can Work
Presenters: Stephanie Rearick, Leander Bindewald, Jeff Dicken, Michael Marks
Workshop 2: Homecomers- Youth and Adults Returning from Prison
Presenters: Curtis Walkin, Cherie Cruz
Workshop 3: TimeBanks and Innovation in the UK
Presenters: Sam Hopley, Helen Stroud, Philip Colligan, Julie Stay
Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
8 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
Workshop 4: Utilizing Community Weaver 2.0 Software in TimeBanks
Presenters: Alan Webb and John
This wokshop will be an opportunity to learn about the special features and changes in community weaver 2.0 and learn how to coordinate and management the technical needs of the software and implementation with timebank membership, affiliates, and your community.
Workshop 5: Time for Young People
Wilson Building, Classroom
Led by Geoff Thomas, Time Banking Wales, Chief Executive
Time for Young People (T4YP) creates opportunities for young people to become active citizens, contributing to the life of their community. It is an inspirational programme unlocking young people’s creative potential within communities. T4YP places value on community action, active citizenship and building social capital. T4YP offers youth workers a new way of working. It encouraged them to explore with young people how they can play a part in the life of their community. T4YP is one of the simplest and effective models of time banking to emerge form Time Banking Wales work. Having successfully developed and tested this programme in different youth settings, the Big Lottery are currently funding the dissemination of the T4YP methodology throughout six local authority areas in South Wales. The second phase of this programme will disseminate T4YP across all local authority areas in Wales.
Workshop 6: Human Rights and TimeBanking
Presenters: Edgar Cahn, Audrey Jordan, Bob Henderson, Alvera Mendez, and Sharon Lee Shwartz
Workshop 7: Membership Lead TimeBanks
Many timebanks are created on volunteer capacity to support the infrastructure of outreach, coordination, exchanging, and implementing special projects. This workshop opportunity will be an opportunity to hear from timebanks that are member lead and what the successes and challenges have been to date. There
Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
9 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
will be a facilitated discussion on how to discuss future strategies and approaches for strengthening and sustaining a member lead timebank.
10:30 AM to 11:30 PM Building and Sustaining the TimeBanking Movement: Technology, Knowledge, & Networking
Multi-Purpose Room at Faunce House
This plenary will share how TimeBanks USA is committed to the development, implementation, and sustainability of timebanking worldwide. Participants will receive updates in regards to building a TimeBanks Ambassador Corp to support timebankers; regional training and distance learning opportunities; use of our website and technology to create virtual learning communities; sharing of information, tools, and products; and collective change and action for timebanking.
11:45 AM to 1:00 PM Network Lunch Opportunity
Multi-Purpose Room at Faunce House
Participants will receive box lunches and join discussion circles focused on key timebanking topics such as community weaver 2.0 applications, training and technical assistance coproduction, carebanks, community organizing, statewide and international alliances, etc. Participants will discuss their successes with use of technology, training, consultation and will identify their needs for continued knowledge, technology, and networking for timebanking into the future and how they envision the needs for support into the future. Results of plenary discussions will support our abilities to help one another and collective build a movement and sustain timebanking.
1:30 PM to 3:00 PM Afternoon Workshops
Workshop 1: Everyone can be the Change: Leadership, Engagement, Shared Ownership
Presenters: Kim Hodge, Tony Budak, Stacy Jacobson
Workshop 2: Use of Research & Data to Evaluate TimeBank Effectiveness
Presenters: Michael Marks, Mark Brakken, Ed Collum, Alan Webb, and Kathy Perlow
Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
10 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
Workshop 3: Resilience Circles: Small Groups to Strengthen Community during Tough Times Room
Presenters: Sarah Byrnes and Dakota?
This workshop will give a taste of the benefits of “Resilience Circles,” i.e. small groups that help people build resilience and strengthen community ties in the face of environmental and ecological challenges. Resilience Circles use a free seven-session curriculum to learn, begin the practice of mutual aid, and take social action. They are a place to begin “stretching our mutual aid muscles,” and many form small time banks or join larger ones in their cities.
Workshop 4: Time To Build the Future
Presenter: Geoff Thomas, Whales
Time To Build the Future covers a particular spatial area and is designed to include everyone, regardless of age, race, religion, ability or gender, to play an active part in life of their community. The mutual ethos on which Time To Build the Future is founded states that sharing our humanity by giving time to our local community should be as much a part modern day life as watching TV or accessing the internet. The model works on the principle that for every hour of time that a citizen gives to the Network they can take an hour back from the Network by attending social, cultural and educational events. One time credit = one hour of active citizenship. Participants redeem their time credits by attending events. So, if an event is 2 hours longer then the admission fee is 2 time credits. The model recognizes that well connected social infrastructures are as essential to everyday living as roads, bridges and utility services.
Workshop 5: Funding & Sustaining Your TimeBank
Presenters: Lisa Conlan, Mashi Blech, Autumn Rooney
Workshop 6: Inclusion in TimeBanking-Working Successfully with People of Various Backgrounds and Abilities
Presenters: Hilary Hoban, Kathleen Samways, MI or Dane county?
Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
11 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
Workshop 7: Villages Network and Partners in Care-Exchanging Time and Creating Community for Older Adults
Presenters: Barbara Huston, Susan Poor
The development of the Partner in Care Maryland innovative time-exchange program in which older adults use their time and talents to help each other accomplish daily tasks will be discussed. Learnings from 18 years of practice will be shared, including sustainability strategies for a member driven organization.
Across the country, older adults are looking at ways that they can remain in their homes and communities as they age. Villages are one model that empower older adults to do this. Like TimeBanks, Villages are grass roots, community-based membership organizations that focus on the value of trust, friendship, and reciprocity between people. This workshop will explore emerging and future connections between Village and TimeBanks.
Workshop 8: Building Community in Rural TimeBanks: Bridging Gaps of Distance and Isolation
Presenter: Stacey Jacobson
Mid Maine TimeBank shares the unique struggles and successes of rural Time Banking. Sharing of stories and techniques from other TimeBanks in rural areas is most welcome!"
3:30 PM to 5:00 PM Sustaining TimeBanks and Organizing for the Future
Multi-Purpose Room at Faunce House
TimeBank leadership will facilitate a full group discussion on what participants would like to see for future generation timebankers. Participants will share timebanking testimonials and reflect on their conference experience with one another. This will be opportunity to further discuss the future direction and to reach a shared commitment of organizing for the future and the steps we can collectively take together over the next year.
Time for Transformation: Banking on Families and Communities to be the Change – August 4-7th, 20011
Conference Program Agenda
Brown University
12 | P a g e
* Please Note that all presenters are in the stage of final
confirmation and may change and/or additional presenters will be
6:00 PM to 9:00 PM Potluck Event: Taste, Time, and Talent
Gloria Day Church
Please sign up if you need transportation support at registration
DAY FOUR: Sunday August 7, 2011
9:00 AM to 12:00 PM Post Conference Opportunities
Workshop 1: Governance
Leander Bindewald, Independent Consultant
Come learn what governance means in the context of starting and running a TimeBank: facilitate inclusiveness, good decision making, leadership, accountability, and sustainability. Participants will explore governance models that exist and discuss how differnt models and approaches from building an informal local owned timebank to building a 501c3 timebank organization that supports a national to international movement for timebanking.
Workshop 2: Grant Writing
Michelle Berard, Rhode Island Association of Fundraising Professionals

Co-op Power Leader Retreat

Co-op Power Leader Retreat
Roundhouse Series: Part Two
Community Business Development
July 29-30, 2011

Lead Trainer: Lynn Benander, Co-op Power

Case Study Leaders:
Lynn Benander – Northeast Biodiesel
Mark Tajima - Energia

Learning Goals
Participants will be able to:
v Identify principals of cooperation and the values of community business development
v List Community Business Development services provided by the Co-op Power common office and identify ways local organizing councils can access them
v Identify and compare corporate structure options for community based businesses
v Identify and compare financing options for community based businesses
v Assist local organizing councils in conducting participatory community planning to identify and launch a community based business development project
v Support local organizing councils to make key business development decision
v Support community business boards in practically guiding a business development process

The Roundhouse, 68 Van Nuys Rd., Colrain MA

$10 Friday evening 7-9 pm
$30 Friday evening 6-9 pm including dinner
$125 Saturday 9 am to 4 pm including lunch
$200 per person, includes a bed in a dorm room and 3 meals
$150 per person, includes dinner Friday and lunch Saturday
Scholarships available.

Complete the following registration form.
Email with Leader Retreat in the subject line.
Mail your check to Co-op Power, PO Box 688, Greenfield MA 01302
Call 413-772-8898 for more information


Fri July 29
5:00 pm Registration opens
5:30-6:30 pm Dinner
6:30-7:00 pm Opening: Welcome, Introductions, Logistics, Case Study Group formation
7:00-8:00 pm Community Business Development: Opportunities and Challenges, Models for Success, When and Why they Work – Lynn Benander
8:00-8:30 pm Group Discussion - Opportunities for Community Business Development in your Community: Community Challenges and Needs, Possible Business Solutions

Sat July 30
8:00-9:00 am Breakfast
9:00-10:30 am Community Business Planning: Participatory Community Planning, Early Stage Business Development, the role of the local organizing council, common office support, Board Development – Lynn Benander
10:30-11:00 am Break
11:00-12:30 pm Case Study Session #1: Community Business Planning: How we got started; why; how decisions were made; where we found support
12:30-1:15 pm Lunch
1:15-2:15 pm Community Business Development: Corporate Structure Options, Business Planning and Development; Financing Options – Lynn Benander
2:15-2:30 pm Break
2:30-3:30 pm Cast Study Session #2: Community Business Development: How we structured our business; why; our core business plan; our launch strategy; our financing; outcomes to date
3:30-5:00 pm Closing: Group discussion of case studies; planning for next steps

Monday, July 4, 2011

Stop Chasing the Buck and Change Your Luck

Stop Chasing the Buck and Change Your Luck
By Thomas H. Greco
From Beyond Money
April 4, 2011

Cashless trading based on credit clearing is moving into its next stage of development, the optimization and scale-up stage.

Established groups and associations are beginning to recognize the importance and urgency of disengaging from conventional structures of money and banking, reclaiming “the credit commons,” and reorganizing the exchange of value under local community control. One such association is Green America, formerly known as Coop America, which has recently established The Green America Exchange as a way of offering cashless trading opportunities to members of their Green Business Network.

GAEx uses the GETS trading platform which has been developed by Richard Logie, a long-time commercial trade exchange operator and leader in the industry. While the GETS software is proprietary, it seems to have the functionality needed for cashless trading within the exchange. According to Logie, the platform also has the capability needed for networking similar exchanges together into a larger more widespread trading community.

In response to a request from the Green America administration I’ve written the following article for posting (in four parts) on the Green America Exchange blog. For your convenience, I’ve also posted it below.–t.h.g.

Stop Chasing the Buck and Change Your Luck

Thomas H. Greco, Jr.

Most small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) these days are having a hard time financially–sales are down, costs are up, and bank credit is unavailable, all of which is symptomatic of the stagflation that besets the American economy.

Our present predicament is no accident of nature, nor is it a temporary condition; it is the expected result of a flawed system of money, banking and finance. We have allowed the banks to control our credit and charge us interest for the “privilege” of accessing some of it as bank “loans.” The fact is that the dollar regime, like every other political currency, collectivizes credit. It is the people’s collective credit that supports each national currency, but the allocation of that credit is determined by forces beyond popular control, and an inordinate proportion of it is used to fund the war machine and to enrich corporate fat cats, all to the detriment of peace, equity, and the common good.

But we need not be victims of a system that is so obviously failing us. We can learn to play a different game. It is possible to organize an entirely new structure of money, banking, and finance, one that is interest-free, decentralized, and controlled, not by banks or central governments, but by businesses and individuals that associate and organize themselves into cashless trading networks. This is a way to reclaim “the credit commons” from monopoly control and create healthy community economies that can enhance the quality of life for all.

In brief, any group of traders can organize to allocate their own collective credit amongst themselves, interest-free. This is merely an extension of the common business practice of selling on open account—“I’ll ship you the goods now and you can pay me later,” except it is organized, not on a bilateral basis, but within a community of many buyers and sellers. Done on a large enough scale that includes a sufficiently broad range of goods and services, such systems can avoid the dysfunctions inherent in conventional money and banking and open the way to more harmonious and mutually beneficial trading relationships that enable the emergence of sustainable economies and promote the common good—a true economic democracy.

This approach is no pie-in-the-sky pipedream, it is proven and well established. Known as mutual credit clearing, it is a process that is used by scores of commercial “barter” companies around the world to provide cashless trading for their business members. In this process, the things you sell pay for the things you buy without using money as an intermediate exchange medium. Instead of chasing dollars, you use what you have to pay for what you need. It’s as simple as that. Unlike traditional barter, which depends upon a coincidence of wants and needs between two traders who each have something the other wants, mutual credit clearing provides an accounting for trade credits, a sort of internal currency, that allows traders to sell to some members and buy from others. According to the International Reciprocal Trade Association (IRTA), a major trade association for the industry, “IRTA Member companies using the ‘Modern Trade and Barter’ process, made it possible for over 400,000 companies World Wide to utilize their excess business capacities and underperforming assets, to earn an estimated $12 billion dollars in previously lost and wasted revenues.”

Perhaps the best example of a credit clearing exchange that has been successful over a long period of time is the WIR Economic Circle Cooperative. Founded in Switzerland as a self-help organization in the midst of the Great Depression (1934), WIR provided a means for its members to continue to buy and sell to one another despite a shortage of Swiss francs in circulation. Over the past three quarters of a century, in good times and bad, WIR (now known as the WIR Bank) has continued to thrive. Its more than 60,000 members throughout Switzerland trade about $2 billion worth of goods and services annually.

Now the Green Business Network of Green America, is offering that kind of opportunity to its membership through Green America Exchange, GAEx. While still in the formative stages, Green America Exchange has the potential to become, not merely a lifeboat for SMEs in difficult times, but a model for a new paradigm in business.

The challenge for any network, of course, is to achieve sufficient scale to make it useful. The bigger the network, the more opportunities it provides for cashless trades to be made. In the early stages, it may require some help to find those opportunities, but as the members discover each other and become aware of what each has to offer, the value proposition becomes ever more evident and more businesses are attracted to it. Like Facebook, Twitter, My Space and other networks that are purely social, cashless trading networks will eventually grow exponentially –and that will mark a revolutionary shift in political as well as economic empowerment. It will be a quiet and peaceful revolution brought on, not by street demonstrations or by petitioning politicians who serve different masters, but by working together to use the power that is already ours—to apply the resources we have to support each other’s productivity and to give credit where credit is due.

Through participation in an exchange network that is open, transparent and democratic members enjoy the benefits of:

* A reliable and friendly source of credit that is interest-free and community controlled.
* Less need for scarce dollars.
* Increased sales.
* A loyal customer base.
* Reliable suppliers.

What will it take to make mutual credit clearing networks go viral the way social networks have? That is the key question, the answer to which has heretofore remained elusive. While the WIR has been an obvious success, it seems to have been intentionally constrained and prevented from spreading beyond Swiss borders, and while commercial “barter” has been significant and growing steadily, it is still tiny in relation to the totality of economic activity.

As they are operated today, commercial trade exchanges are self-limiting and typically impose significant burdens upon their members. These include onerous fees for participation, exclusive memberships, limited scale and range of available goods and services within each exchange, the use of proprietary software, and insufficient standardization of operations which limits the ability of members of one trade exchange to trade with members of other exchanges.

Virtually all commercial trade exchanges are small, local, and operated as for-profit businesses. Small scale, local control, and independent enterprise are all desirable characteristics, but when it comes to exchanging valuable goods and services, something more is needed. What the world needs now is a means of payment that is locally controlled but globally useful.

Here are the things that I think are needed for cashless trading based on mutual credit clearing to go viral:

1. Members need to offer to the network, not only their slow moving merchandise and luxury services, but their full range of goods and services at their usual prices. This will assure the value of the internal trade credits and make them truly useful.
2. Like any “common carrier,” trade exchanges should make membership open to all with little qualification.
3. Lines of credit (the overdraft privilege) must be determined according to each member’s ability and willingness to reciprocate, measured for example, by her record of sales into the network.
4. Trade exchanges must be operated for and by the members in a way that is transparent and responsive.
5. Members must exercise their duties to provide proper oversight and supervision of those assigned to manage the exchange.

As soon as there is a model exchange that has mastered these dimensions of design and operation, its success will inspire others to follow suit and the rapid growth phase will begin, leading eventually to an internet-like global trading network that will make money obsolete. Perhaps Green America Exchange will become that model.

# # #

Thomas H. Greco, Jr. is a writer, networker, and consultant, specializing in cashless exchange systems and community economic development. A former engineer, entrepreneur, and tenured college professor, he is widely regarded as a leading authority on free-market approaches to monetary and financial innovation, and is a sought-after advisor and speaker at conferences internationally. He is the author of many articles and books, including The End of Money and the Future of Civilization (Chelsea Green, 2009) and Money: Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender (Chelsea Green, 2001). His blog,, and website,, are valuable resources that provide detailed explanations and prescriptions for communities, businesses, and governments.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Pilot program helps cooks develop business plan

Stacy Finz
Sunday, June 19, 2011
The Chronicle

Zahra Bruner, Yuko Takahashi, Mitsu Nakamura, Still Seville and Gordon Asaoka participated in the first day of the food business skills course.

Fernay McPherson would like to turn her part-time venture, Minnie Bell's Catering company, into a full-time gig.

The problem is that while she can make mouth-watering chicken three ways, she doesn't know a hill of beans about creating a viable business plan.

Help is on the way.

Urban Solutions, a nonprofit economic development organization, and La Cocina, a group specializing in culinary entrepreneurship for low-income communities, have teamed up to take 35 students, including McPherson, under their collective wing. For the next three months, experts will teach the wannabe capitalists how to run their own mobile food businesses - everything from financial management and marketing to details about getting the proper permits and licenses.

"A lot of our participants are home cooks who have dreams of turning their passion into a career," said Helen Branham, director of small business services at Urban Solutions. "It could be anything from food trucks and carts to catering and kiosks."

The course, called the Fillmore Mobile Food Vendor and Artisan Marketplace Program, also includes help with funding for those with a feasible business plan, and consultants who will continue to act as sounding boards well after participants get their mobile businesses rolling.
2nd course possible

The seminar is a pilot program started as part of the Fillmore Economic Development Action Plan and is funded by the San Francisco Office of Economic and Workforce Development and Wells Fargo. So far, it's a one-time deal, but organizers are hopeful that if the program is successful there may be funding for a second course in the future.

McPherson, a 33-year-old home-care worker with a culinary school degree, said the course came at just the right time in her life. For two years she's been running her soul food company in her free time, mostly catering to small private parties and community events.

"So far, it hasn't been profitable because business isn't consistent," she said. "But I'd like to be able to take it to the next level."

McPherson is considering a catering truck that she could park at festivals and community gatherings, where she could sell her molasses braised short ribs, creamy goat cheese mashed potatoes and fried chicken. She could also use the truck for catering private events.

Nellie Tischler, 36, had already been kicking around the idea of a dosa cart when she enrolled in the course. Dosas are crepes made from rice batter and black lentils stuffed with vegetables or meats and are typically considered street food in Southern India.

Her own research showed that a cart would cost from $3,000 to $7,000 and a grill from $125 to $300. She figured if she parked her cart in the Mission District and sold 10 dosas an hour, four hours a day, six days a week, her profit would be $6,000 per month. Then she could quit her pre-school teaching job. But that is of course, if all the stars align in her so-far fictional business plan. If they don't, she goes flat broke.

So she's taking the program for a reality check.

"I don't come from a business background," said Tischler, who has been focusing more on making delicious dosas than cooking up complicated profit and loss statements. "So I feel that I'm really in the dark. I've been stumbling around asking all kinds of questions. I want to know how to make a business plan, how to get licenses, how to budget. The class has been incredibly informative."

Caleb Zigas, executive director of La Cocina, said home-based food businesses have long been a way for low-income families and immigrants to make a living. The purpose of the program is to make these businesses profitable and legal, including the proper permits and licenses.
Mobile food business

As the economy took a free fall, mobile food businesses and pop-up restaurants became popular around the country - and especially in the Bay Area. It was partly so restaurateurs, who due to the lending crisis no longer qualified for ample funding, could decrease overhead and deliver food to money-strapped customers at lower prices. There are already 220 food carts and trucks permitted to do business in San Francisco, according to the city's Department of Public Health.

"There is saturation," Zigas acknowledged. "But there's always room for a great vendor."

He said the cost of infrastructure for a truck or cart is significantly lower than a brick and mortar restaurant. It's the "perfect proof of concept," he said, adding that a mobile food truck business can launch for as low as $30,000 in start-up costs, or $7,000 for a small cart and $3,000 for permits.

Once the vendor has a proven track record, he or she can start thinking of expanding to a traditional restaurant model.

For Yuko Takahashi, a 38-year-old chef who has enrolled in the program, it's the perfect compromise. Although her parents are restaurant owners in her native Japan, she can't afford to lease a store front. Even a truck would be a stretch. For now, a cart seems more her speed. Her concept is to do yakitori bento boxes.

"They're easy to get on the streets of Japan, but not here," she said.

Takahashi said for the past 10 years living in the United States she's always worked for someone else. "But I always felt I was the better business person."

So she's putting her knowledge to the test and hopes that by the end of the course she will qualify for one of the program's loan packages.

"Everything I've learned so far has been helpful," she said. "I'd like to have my cart up and running by early next year."