Up The Wall Tour - Blog #3: Ohio – Montreal
After spending the night of 10/18 with my parents we drove 7 ½ hours from Ohio to New York City, where I met up with my friend Sabrina and her husband Lewis and had a grand time starting to catch up. I never get to see Sabrina and she's just wonderful so this was a happy time. They have a cute and really funny 2-year-old, Augie who I started to get to know pretty quickly.
October 20 was the Contact conference at a very cool building in the lower east side, called Angel Oresanz. Lent itself to the kind of creativity the organizers were hoping to catalyze. I led a teach-in on timebanking applied to community problem solving and made some good new connections, especially with Community Tools and Guillaume from Bernal Bucks in San Francisco. I hope we can collaborate in the future to help timebanking connect with other human-scaled systems to make a better economy.
A few projects were selected to move forward from the Contact conference. One is about making connections for better local food production and distribution. I attended the session on next steps and proposed timebanking as a tool for cataloging assets and needs and facilitating tracking and increased collaboration. I'll continue to participate in that discussion online. Check it out here.
Next day began the Metacurrency Collabathon. Unfortunately, the beginning session coincided with my show at Sidewalk Cafe so I couldn't attend. I had a show to play! Which was really fun, by the way, even though a small portion of the crowd was noisy enough to make up for all the other people who were quiet and attentive. I love the Sidewalk Cafe.
Leander gave rave reviews of the Friday evening gathering and Saturday and Sunday were very rewarding. Lots of great people with great insights, values and motivation were gathered in a brilliantly facilitated open space format and came up with wonderful ideas that will be followed up on. This is a motivated group with great track records of thinking up cool ideas and moving them forward. My favorite topic (just reflecting my personal bias) of the weekend: starting a travel and culture exchange that works toward creating an economy where people can make a living by being creative and following their passion. We'll make it happen!
Saturday night was a special treat – I got to see Stations Lost, a play by Tony Fitzpatrick, adapted and directed by my great friend Ann Filmer with sound design by other great friend Barry Bennett and video art by Kristin Reeves – all friends from Chicago. The play was staged at The Boiler in Brooklyn. It was fantastic!! Read more here.
We had to leave the collabathon early on Sunday to get to New Hampshire for a gathering of leaders of the new timebank in Durham. The drive was a little longer than we'd thought but lovely with fall leaves.
We arrived at 8pm and had a really nice meal with about eight timebank organizers. They were a great group with lots of insights. All women, several of whom are involved in peace and culture exchange organizations, one who's studying public health and looking for documentation of timebanking/public health outcomes. Delicious food, good conversation.
Robin offered us a place to stay in her lovely home in a beautiful wooded neighborhood by the bay. She also gave me a trumpet! Her son played it in 4th grade and didn't continue. This gift seemed too good to be true – I love my trumpet, which was my Dad's when he was a kid. But it's completely deteriorating (its second owner never took good care of it :( ) so I'm thrilled to have one in better shape so Dad's can retire peacefully.
Next day we walked with Noel by the bay, then on a gorgeous mountain just across the Maine border. Finished up our conversation that we'd started the night before, then hit the road for Maine.
Next stop was in Augusta Maine at Stacey Jacobsohn's house, timebank organizer extraordinaire. She fed us and we prepared for our gathering in Madison, Maine where the goal was to plant seeds for more development of the mid-Maine TimeBank in Madison, new territory for them.
We got to Madison Maine and were introduced to the sweet, tiny union hall where the gathering would be held, and to Pete, a Vet for Peace in his 60's, a classic Mainer with a great accent and very winning personality! He gave me a gift I really treasure – a little box he'd run across that day while picking up supplies for the event. It says “Somewhere someone is looking for exactly what you have to offer.” He felt that running across it then was serendipitous and I agree.
This gathering was one of my favorites of the whole trip. There were about 10 people there, more men than women, more older than not. Stacey gave me one of the most moving and sweet introductions I've ever gotten and then the whole group engaged in a really fascinating conversation about our economy, how it got the way it is, how it can be different, and how they'll go about getting timebanking going to meet their goals of boosting people's economic standing and reweaving their community to better include everyone. It was really cool.
Afterward we went to Carol Dyar-Eaton's house for a bonfire and more great discussion. Carol has really cool ideas about involving young people and homecomers in building beautiful, artful solar chargers for laptops and cell phones. The plan involves a really thorough process, facilitated with timebanking, of community members providing education to the youth and the homecomers about electricity, woodworking, glass-working, sustainability and teamwork. Non-violent communication training and principles will be threaded throughout and homecomers will mentor the youth. They'll learn a lot, build skills, connections and teamwork while creating beautiful and useful products. She's already been gathering partners and making prototypes and they truly are lovely works of art. Very exciting project!
Next to Montreal where I played a great show with some fantastic musicians – Elgin Skye McLaren, Open Arms Fast Hands and Athena Holmes. A very attentive and respectful audience and just a fantastic time. My old friend from Madison, Ivan Klipstein, connected me with these folks and put us up. That was just great. Got to see some of his fantastic artwork he was working on and he gave us a disc of a recent radio appearance to listen to also (your cover's blown, Ghosty!) which was hilarious.
Today we drove all day to Detroit where I'm finishing writing this so I can go to bed and get up early for our 2-day workshops with area timebankers, and shows on Sat. and Sunday. The home stretch!