Wednesday, September 26, 2012

WEBINAR: How to Start a Time Bank & Skill Exchange

Want to exchange time and skills with your neighbors — instead of money? Join this free webinar to find out how! In a timebank, a group of people agree to trade hours instead of money. An hour of cooking lessons may be exchanged for an hour of dog walking, a ride to the airport may be exchanged for childcare, and so on. Time banks are a creative way to strengthen community, promote equity, and allow everyone in the neighborhood to exchange their time and talents no matter how much money they have. On October 11, 2012, the Center for a New American Dream presents a free webinar about how to start up a time bank and skill exchange in your community! The webinar will feature speakers from successful time banks around the country. Guest speakers: * Mashi Blech - Director, Community Connections TimeBank, Visiting Nurse Service of NY (New York, NY) * Janine Christiano - Founder, Arroyo Time Bank/Co-Director, Arroyo SECO (Los Angeles, CA) * Mira Luna - Founder, Bay Area Community Exchange (San Francisco, CA) Blech, Christiano, and Luna will talk about how they got their timebanks off the ground, and answer questions about how you can launch one in your own town! Webinar: How to Start a Time Bank & Skill Exchange Date: Thursday, October 11, 2012 Time: 1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT (10:00-11:00 a.m. PDT) Cost: Free Registration: here

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Vallejo Starts Participatory Budgeting Process

Call for Facilitators - Participatory Budgeting Vallejo Vallejo is currently launching a new and exciting process called Participatory Budgeting (PB), in which community members will help decide how to spend over $3 million in Measure B sales tax revenue! PB will officially kick off in October and November, when Vallejo residents and stakeholders will attend a series of assemblies across the city to learn about the budget, talk about projects they'd like to see happen in Vallejo, and volunteer to help turn these ideas into full proposals for a public vote. Watch this video to see how the process works. While there are many ways to be involved in PB, we are currently recruiting people to serve as facilitators for small group discussions that will take place at assemblies. Facilitators will elicit project ideas from participants, and make sure that everyone is heard and all ideas are considered. You will be asked to remain neutral and not advocate for ideas while you facilitate. If you want to propose an idea, you can bring it to another assembly or submit it online. If you are interested in joining the facilitation team, please send a brief letter of interest, highlighting your facilitation experience, to Ginny Browne at ginny (at) To serve as a facilitator, you must attend one of two upcoming trainings, scheduled for Thurs. 10/4 and Wed. 10/17 at the Mare Island Conference Center, 375 G St., Vallejo CA. We hope you will be interested in joining us to make participatory budgeting a big success in Vallejo! Please feel free to share this information with anyone else you think would make a good facilitator. Thank you! best, Ginny -- Ginny Browne Community Engagement Coordinator, PB Vallejo The Participatory Budgeting Project

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Lessons Learned Founding Stanford's Free Store

A Drop in the Bucket Has a Ripple Effect: Lessons Learned Founding Stanford's Free Store By Nicole Gaetjens for 09.20.12 Our initial proposal was called the Stanford Re-Use Campaign, but, in hindsight, a more accurate title would have been Baiting People with Free Stuff to Change Their Consumer Behavior. In February 2011, Nicole Greenspan and I were given a class assignment to create a business plan for a social enterprise. We came up with the idea of a campus thrift store and decided that, if we were going to make a plan for it, we might as well try to actually do it. As environmentalists, we hated seeing how many reusables were discarded by students, and, as money-tight students, Palo Alto’s version of Goodwill wasn’t exactly cheap. We e-mailed out a survey to gauge interest in a thrift store, and over 900 students responded with support. This number got us pumped... especially since students basically never answer surveys. We had validation! After validation came a reality check. We needed a space and stuff to put in the space. First, we reached out to anyone and everyone we thought might have insight, such as Stanford student groups and other college’s thrift stores. Then, armed with best practices, statistics, and a growing team, we approached our student government with our plan, and they suggested locating in the basement of the student union, which was, at the time, being used for storage. The catch: Zoning restrictions prohibited financial transactions in the basement. This was a huge blow for us. Shoppers rummage through the goods at the Stanford Free Store's grand opening. Photo credit: Union Underground. Used with permission. Reuse sites were typically messes if they weren’t staffed. But we thought that we needed a staff that was paid, which was impossible without revenue. So we figured, okay, we’ll start with something in the basement, just to get our foot in the door. It would be a “pilot” study, evaluating the supply and demand of reusables on campus. (Stanford’s all about pilot studies. They're a great way to fail gracefully.) Then, after building traction and giving ourselves more search time, we’d find and get a space where we could have a thrift store. We decided to go with a “free store” model, where folks could take donated things regardless of whether they themselves had donated, because it didn't require the extra operational overhead of, for example, a swap system. There were a lot of hoops to jump through between being told of a potential space and actually getting that space. But, luckily for us, we’d been forewarned in our outreach of such bureaucracy and were ready to be flexible with changing meeting times, but stubborn with our request. We also, luckily, had some “friends in the right places.” So we eventually got administrative approval, and scrambled and boot-strapped our way into setting up the store before the school year ended. This involved, among other things, scrounging for shelving, hoarding the excess of others under our beds, and hanging student art in the basement hallway at 2 am. To avoid delirium and increase hilarity, our team took breaks via mini dance parties. Lots of dance parties. Friendship made what appeared to be perseverance largely just having fun. And then, somehow, we had our grand opening on May 20, 2011. Chaos! Over 300 people came through a space made for 10. We lost over half of our inventory. And then one of our team members suggested having a daily item limit per customer. It seemed so simple and obvious once she’d said it. We continued to get brilliant ideas for improvement from our team and our customers. We were rewarded with seeing how happy customers were freely giving and taking from their community, and by how many of them eagerly approached us offering to volunteer at the store. We had people's gratitude -- something more powerful than revenue. We realized that the free store was here to stay. Read the rest of the article here.

'Time Banks' Help Spaniards Weather Financial Crisis

On NPR by Lauren Frayer September 22, 2012 Unemployment is rampant in Spain and full-time jobs are scarce. Here a woman works at a street stall in Madrid. Some Spaniards are signing up for "time banks," where individuals perform services based on their skills, and receive another service in return. No money changes hands. After saving money for years, Lola Sanchez was finally able to buy a car refitted with a ramp and space for a wheelchair in the back for her teenage son, who has cerebral palsy. A nurse used to come each day to help with her son's care. That service was cut amid government austerity measures, though Sanchez still gets a small check every month. "What I need is physical help, even more than financial assistance," Sanchez says, "because I can't physically lift him on my own." So earlier this year, Sanchez joined a local "time bank" that sends members to help with her son's care. She doesn't pay them. Instead, she reciprocates by using her handicap-friendly car to transport other disabled people in her community. With Spanish unemployment near 25 percent, many people have more time than money to spend. So in the past two years, the number of time banks in Spain has doubled, to nearly 300. Most have anywhere from 50 to 400 members, and some even print their own currency. Most of all, they stress equality, Sanchez says. "For me, it's good to know that my time has the same value as anyone else's," she says. "There's no difference between one hour of work for a computer specialist or for a cleaning woman." Time banks originated in the 19th century in America and Europe among socialists who emphasized the direct link between their labor and what they could get for it. New School Year Brings Tough Lessons In Spain Government employees demonstrate against the Spanish government's austerity measures in Madrid, on Friday. The economic situation has forced some Spaniards to leave the country for work. A Sense Of Purpose Most time banks nowadays operate online. You register for a profile — sort of like a Facebook page — that lists your work skills, and then lists the tasks you're looking for someone else to do for you. "Whatever you can imagine," says José Luis Herranz. "You can fix a car, or paint a wall, or cook some food, or even clean the windows." Herranz helped start the time bank Sanchez belongs to in Madrid, late last year. The 27-year-old monitors the barter of services among members — about a third of whom are unemployed — and logs their hours online. Amid constant government cutbacks, Herranz says the time bank gives people much-needed work, and also a sense of purpose. "We have to trust each other, to create solidarity networks," he says. "We feel we are alone, and we have to help each other." Julio Gisbert is a conventional banker, but spends his spare time as a consultant to time banks across Spain. He helps them avoid charges of tax evasion — people are working, but not for money, so they pay no income tax. "One of the rules is that the services exchanged can't be continuous and indefinite," Gisbert says. "Imagine you're a time banker who teaches English, and someone wants classes every week," he says. "In theory, the time bank can't do that because an English-language academy can come along and denounce you. They're paying tax and their professors, and you're not." So the services must be sporadic to be legal. That doesn't stop some time bankers from working 20 hours a week, in a variety of odd jobs. Rebuilding Communities Gisbert says time banks are especially useful in Spain, where traditionally close family ties have been fractured by urbanization in the past generation, and now by unemployment. "It's a question of reconstructing the sense of community that used to exist in Spanish villages in the old days, which doesn't exist here in the city," he says. José Luis Herranz, the time bank organizer, is now getting his 55-year-old mother, Maribel, involved in Madrid. "I was born here in this neighborhood, and wow. How things have changed," she says. A housewife all her life, Maribel is working outside the home for the first time, side by side with younger neighbors who've been laid off from their jobs. She gives cooking lessons and does grocery shopping for the elderly. The neighborhood's jobless rate is still at an all-time high, at more than 30 percent. But through their time bank, these neighbors have found a way to be productive.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Another World is Possible Conference

Solidarity And Green Economy (SAGE) Alliance's 2nd Annual Conference "ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE" 9am-4pm Saturday, October 13th, 2012 at Clark University, 950 Main St, Worcester, MA 01610 Confirmed speakers include: Emily Kawano, US Solidarity Economy Network Daniel Tygel, Brazilian/International Solidarity Economy activist Penn Loh, Tufts Univ Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning /ACE Aaron Tanaka, Boston Workers Alliance Asa Needle, Worcester Roots Project / Stone Soup (2012 Brower Youth Award Winner) Tim Fisk, Alliance to Develop Power Members of Vida Verde Co-op, Toxic Soil Busters Co-op, Future Focus Media Co-op ... and many others. Registered NOW (it takes only 5 minutes): ***Call for workshop proposals - EXTENDED DEADLINE = 5PM, Sept. 26th!*** Please fill out your workshop ideas/proposals here: Workshop topics include Immigrants Movements and a New Economy, Talking to Youth about Solidarity Economy and Co-ops, Community Research and Mapping, Transitional Economy Strategies, Policy Frameworks for Moving Past Capitalism, The Labor Movement and Co-ops, Democratizing Education, Co-ops (Food, Childcare, Farming), and more. Workshops will be based on the following: We understand the green solidarity economy to be a movement to create a new world that puts people and the environment before profit. In our view, true ecological and social sustainability can only be achieved through a movement that effectively responds to the harms caused by the present economy as we use the principles of solidarity to build new social and economic foundations. Thus, we propose a green solidarity economy that effectively addresses social inequality and climate change requires action in three areas: Alternative economics-initiatives, enterprises, trade and finance that privilege community and ecological well being over individual gain (e.g. worker cooperatives, community ownership, fair trade, time-banking, credit unions, community land trusts and commons management, and so on). Resistance and reform- working against environmental degradation, social inequality, and poverty by improving policies around existing system (e.g. living wage ordinances, union contracts, immigration reform, energy policy, progressive taxation, environmental regulation, social welfare programs, and so on). Social Inclusion- efforts to end racism, sexism and other forms of oppression and exclusion (affirmative action and hiring policies, popular education and workshops, and so on). Much more: GET INVOLVED IN PLANING: Meetings in summer/fall 2012 are held on Thursdays at 5 Pleasant St, Third Floor, Worcester, MA 01609. September 27 at 5:30pm: SAGE Conference planning OUTREACH and POST-CONFERENCE FOLLOW UP meeting: September 28 at 2pm at NuCafe, 335 Chandler St, Worcester, MA October 4 at 5:30pm: SAGE Conference planning October 11 at 5:30pm: Last SAGE Conference planning

CA Signed Homemade Food Bill

Thank you so much for all your help! I feel so lucky to have worked with such a passionate state-wide team of homemade food enthusiasts. We at the Sustainable Economies Law Center are so excited for all the opportunities that will soon be open to the small food justice enterprises we support. And I can't wait to start buying homemade food! The law will go into effect in January. You can download a copy of the full bill here. Email me if you want a copy of the press release from Assemblymember Mike Gatto's office. A summary of the bill will be available at later this weekend. We're sorry it's unavailable right now--we have some much delayed maintenace happening to the site right now, and we had no idea today would be the day for AB 1616! SELC is planning to create a legal resource guide to answer some of the frequently asked questions that come up from aspiring food producers interested in taking advantage of this new law. We also plan to work with county health departments around the state to make sure that this law gets properly implemented. We're looking to raise another $500 - $1000 in the next week to support this work so if you're able to make a donation it would be much appreciated by SELC and homemade food enthusiasts around the state. You can donate here or if you would prefer to donate a non-potentially hazardous homemade food product to SELC to auction off at our celebration and fundraiser in Berkeley in November, contact me about sending us a jar of your jam or a package of dried goods. Finally, let's keep in touch! If you are receiving this email, that means we've added you to SELC's food-related email list that we send updates to at most once per month. If you do not wish to receive news about other SELC food-related projects you can unsubscribe yourself by clicking the link at the bottom of any of those newsletters. No hard feelings. We did it!! Christina Oatfield PS--we don't want to overwhelm his offices with phone calls, but you can contact Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) through his website. If you feel compelled to do so, I'm sure he and his staff would appreciate receiving a few thank you notes for all their work on this bill. They really made this bill a priority and devoted a ton of time to it, including doing their absolute best to keep it from getting suffocated in red tape.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Support Funding for Food Coops

The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) has been working with the Small Business Administration (SBA) to expedite the reinterpretation of regulations that prohibit food cooperatives from accessing SBA lending programs. Since the White House Community Leaders briefing in May, NCBA has continued the dialogue with SBA and the White House—making progress on this issue. We need SBA to hear from the cooperative community that this is an important issue. Now is the time for YOUR VOICE to be heard! Please download a draft letter or send the copy below via email SBA Administrator Karen Mills. Feel free to add your personal story regarding the inability and need for your cooperative to access the SBA lending programs. Additionally, please email a copy of the letter to NCBA Director of Public Policy R.L. Condra to provide copies of all letters to the White House. The time is now to move this issue forward, please send your letter by Sept. 21. Sincerely, Liz Bailey Interim President and CEO National Cooperative Business Association SAMPLE LETTER The Honorable Karen Mills Administrator U.S. Small Business Administration 409 3rd Street, SW Washington, DC 20416 Dear Administrator Mills: We are writing to ask the Small Business Administration (SBA) to expedite the reinterpretation of regulations that prohibit food cooperatives from accessing SBA lending programs. Consistent with the Administration’s commitment to removing unnecessary regulatory barriers for small businesses, we believe that a reinterpretation of the existing SBA regulation is in order, and we ask you to publicly commit to such a reinterpretation as soon as possible. While today’s food cooperative community may have evolved from 1960s-era buying clubs, today they are tax-paying, incorporated businesses that contribute more than 12,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in annual sales to local economies throughout the United States. In addition to being stable members of local business communities, food cooperatives provide the consuming public with an important source of locally produced healthy food. And, just like small businesses everywhere, they need access to capital for growth and expansion. In the last three years, an impressive 61 food cooperatives have opened for business, and several hundred more are in varying stages of planning and organization. These are small businesses, local employers, grounded in local economies. Even in their first years of operation, these new cooperatives will be the source of hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars in annual sales. Yet none of these new small businesses were able to apply for SBA lending because of the prevailing interpretation of the SBA regulation. We need a resolution to this matter that clarifies the fact that food cooperatives meet the eligibility standards for SBA lending. Thank you for your attention to this important issue. The United Nations has designated 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives and the U.S. cooperative community annually celebrates October as Co-op Month. We can think of no better way to celebrate both occasions in October 2012 than with a public announcement by the SBA that the barriers to food cooperative eligibility for SBA lending are being removed. Sincerely,