Friday, January 29, 2010

Show Me the Money

I sat down and watched Obama's State of the Union with a friend and it got me thinking. I heard him saying that he has basically three priorities, in this order:
1. Show me the money: jobs, green jobs, economy
2. Fiscal responsibility: spend the money we have to, be responsible and conservative with the rest.
3. Socially liberal agenda: dont ask dont tell repeal, etc.

Perhaps #3 is more my own interpretation colored by my own bias, but I do think I heard it in there.

I think this mirrors my own approach to both the Time Bank and Transition. First priority: Show me the money. Beneath all the problems, all the differences of opinion, all the conflicts, there is the need for everyone to prosper on the physical level. We need to create wealth. Economic wealth first, as it can be manifested alongside resilient resources and emotional wealth through community building. Take it down to the money, to the wealth, and we have a common denominator motivator that is crucial to everyone. Wealth translates directly into basic needs: food, shelter, clothing, heat. When we as people worry about having those, it is hard to lift our heads up to see a bigger picture because our survival is on the line.

There were moments tonight when I literally said, "This is why I voted for him." I know everyone will pick it apart and try to make it into something less or something inadequate or scary, but I still am glad I voted for him. He is an ox, and he is head down, pulling the plow of his choice. Tonight he said, "Look, I plowed that row, and that row, and tried to plow that row, you have been throwing rocks at me, but I will finish plowing it anyway. And when I finish it, I will plow this row, and then this row, and then this row. Walk behind me and plant more seeds in the freshly turned earth. It is what we want."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Proving My Own Point

A good number of my friends have formed a coven together and are meeting full moons, dark moons, and sabbats, which is a lot. Several of them had their training interrupted when their previous coven disbanded, and so there are a lot of first degrees coming up.

I have been worrying about this. Their coven is not one that meets my needs, and so I have chosen not to be a part of it. It does meet their needs and so they have chosen to be a part of it. I can and must respect that. However, the reasons behind why I am not a part of that coven are based on some personality conflicts and criticisms of mine.

This is relevant because I began to question myself regarding the Time Bank. If I feel this critical of others in my community, then do I really want to be closer to them through the aegis of the Time Bank? Perhaps the community is a lost cause and I should just accept that. Perhaps I should accept that all of my criticisms are true, relabel them discernment, and live in my lofty ivory tower of perfection.

As I did my emotional processing, though, I realized that I was afraid of how I felt like these friends in the coven were drifting away from me, was worried about their experience in the coven based on my outsider's criticisms of it, and was behaving in just the divisive manner that has caused our local pagan community to be so fractured.

If anything, the experience has shown me just how important the Time Bank could be and how difficult it might be to get it started. Nothing like personal experience to make things real. The Time Bank could provide the foundation for a common project/experience that is not specific to the practice of our faith, and so can cement relationships that have fractured over pagan practice-specific conflicts. I am coming to understand just how radical this shift might be.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Surviving Our First Conflict

We had our second Steering Committee meeting for Transition last week. It went better. C had volunteered to lead us in a shamanic journey focused on what we as the steering committee should be doing, and then we mind mapped the results. Not everyone was present for that part, but mind mapping and getting everyone on paper in a right-brained graphic representation seemed to help.

The functional power dynamics were much improved, probably because C was leading the journey and mind map process, which caused S step back a little. S is the one who started the ball rolling with Transition, and so for our first meeting, took a bit of a default leader role. S is still using language that implies that she is at the top of the power structure, but I think that is not entirely conscious on her part. It got more pronounced when she felt as if her goals for Transition were being challenged.

I brought up my lack of commitment to teaching about the Peak Oil Apocalypse as we were talking about how to frame Transition in the community. I made the point about how the solutions that come out of Transition are win-win solutions that improve quality of life immediately. They do not require sacrifice or an investment that only pays off once the world falls apart. I think we can frame Transition in terms of benefits and use a carrot instead of a stick. Others agreed with me and fleshed out other benefits that could be used as framing.

S is a very passionate activist who is on fire to teach people about Peak Oil, Climate Change, Sustainability, etc. She has put a lot into raising awareness, and so was a bit triggered by the idea that others on the Steering Committee did not consider awareness raising to be automatically core to our purpose. She got a little upset and made defensive comments about how anyone who does not want to talk about Peak Oil etc. is in denial and she is not willing to be under a gag order.

It turned out okay, though. I let the conversation move on and gave her time to cool down a bit, and then I spoke up about how I thought we were running into a generational difference. I explained how I am generation 9/11 and so am already convinced that the world needs fixing. It's not a matter of denial, it's a matter of okay, yes, Problems, so what are we going to do for Solutions? Why detail the problems when we could be putting that energy into solutions? She was able to hear it.

I finished the meeting by detailing my strengths and why I think I am on the committee (organization, logistics), and then talking about what I think other people's strengths/passions are. I included S's passion for awareness raising, M's commitment to compiling a list of organizations and projects that are doing Transition compatible work, C's focus on process and reminder to us to trust it, and T's training in group processes and reminder of diverse perspectives. It went over well.

I am feeling encouraged.

Friday, January 22, 2010


My partner and I are getting ready to procreate; we will start working on babies on our wedding night. We will have spent the last year and a day working on our physical health, our financial stability, and discussing plans, parenting philosophies, contingencies, etc. We are both fully cognizant of the fact that having children is not a logical choice. They are black holes of need and expensive. Kids are an emotional and hormonal choice, not a rational one.

We think we will probably have more than two kids, though this is not set in stone. I personally think 3-5 sounds good. I have mentioned this to some of my older friends, specifically friends in their 40s and 50s, who have reacted very negatively. They think having more than one or two children is irresponsible. It will ruin the earth. There are not enough resources to go around. They have reacted with shock and judgment to the thought that we might choose to have 3-5 children.

I recently found two interesting bits of information about world population. One was an Ode Magazine article I picked up in a waiting room (sorry I don't know more details) about how "resources" are not really resources until human ingenuity comes up with a way to use them productively. This means that the earth is not going to run out of resources, but that if we humans want to continue to grow and thrive here, we will think of new uses for what is available to us. With the right kind of ingenuity (like the kind born out of necessity, I would assume), we could conceivably live with tens of billions of people on the planet and do so sustainably. Just because we don't have the ability to do that now does not mean that we can't figure it out.

The other interesting bit of info was a preview for Demographic Winter, a documentary about how our fertility rates are dropping and white people and the developed world are dooming ourselves to non-existence. It looked over-dramatic and racist to me, but it did prompt me to go look up World Fertility Rates. Luckily, Google has great info, based on World Bank data.

The World Fertility Rate overall in average births per woman has dropped from 5.32 in 1962 to 2.51 in 2007 (the data shown ranges from 1960-2007 only). The US fertility rate has dropped from 3.65 in 1960 to 2.1 in 2007. From 1973-1988 the US rate even dropped below 2.0, rising a bit in the 90s. I took a quick tour of the fertility rates of other countries, and though I was not exhaustive, I did not see a single country that did not have a falling fertility rate over the last 50 years. Some countries are still very high, the highest averaging between 6 and 7 births per woman, but there are much fewer of them, and in 1960 there were several countries that were even above the 8 kid mark.

I find myself unconcerned with world population, especially after looking at this data. I also know that data shows the higher the education level of women, the fewer children they are likely to have, and I know that when stressed for survival, humans tend to procreate like rabbits. The key here seems to me to be educating women worldwide and continuing to work for more global stability and prosperity, reducing the number of people who live in horrific conditions. I think Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration have already pledged to pursue these goals and are actively developing international policy based on them.

After having done all this homework, I do not find that I have cause to be worried that our 3-5 kids will unbalance the earth or even contribute negatively to human survival. I am very sorry that my older friends judge our (impending) choice as irresponsible, but I also wonder if they have looked at any of this recent data. If it comes down to it, I suppose I could collect child vouchers from my many friends who have chosen to never procreate, demonstrating that the net population change of our procreation is still less than replacement, but I think I'll just email links to the data around instead.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pre-Time Bank Jitters

Well, it's time to get moving on the Time Bank. I have some talking points worked out, have refreshed myself on the research, and now I just need to start scheduling time to talk with various people about the project. I figure I will start with the people I know best so that I have more leeway in my presentation (not that I'll be terribly formal, honestly), and then go from there. My plan is to ask for more contacts from each person I talk with, so as to widen the number of people I contact and get feedback from.

So I just need to pick up the phone and start calling. Yep, that easy.

And yet, I am hesitant. I am worried about what I have not thought of, what I may have failed to take into consideration. What have I missed? Is there some flaw, some piece of information that I have not seen or am missing that would explain why there isn't something like this already? I have no way of knowing that. The reasonable action plan is to just get started. If there is something that makes this a bad or unsustainable idea, it will come out in the conversations. That's why the groundwork is there in the first place.

I'm still worried. Perhaps instead of picking up the phone now, I should wait until Full Moon and make an announcement or talk to people in person to get things set up. Or maybe I should quit waiting all the time and just do it.

The benefits of a Time Bank are fabulous, I love what it could do for us as a community. I love the fact that it builds wealth, and does it in a way that we are already doing informally. It just takes our natural inclinations and systematizes them, making them more accessible and ramping up the wealth-building effects.

Perhaps I am just having pre-commitment jitters. I think I will go talk with G first. She and I have had several conversations about money and the local pagan community, and she is quite a long-standing leader here. That way, if I'm just way off base, she can go ahead and shoot me down without me doing a lot of legwork with people who like me enough to agree with me. That sounds like a good plan.

Whew! Feeling less nervous now. She will tell it to me straight.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Shelter Scouts

Yesterday my partner and I went scouting wedding locations. We both really want to be outside for the ritual. My partner is always happiest when running around in the woods (wearing as little as possible), and natural/wild spaces are sacred to both of us. Besides, I cannot imagine wanting to wear shoes for the wedding.

Some good friends of ours have offered their land as a location, and as much as we love their land and their vibe, we are worried about logistics. They don't have a toilet that flushes "normally" on their property, the parking would require a bit of creativity, and even if we did it in their most accessible field, there would still be something of a walk over uneven ground for attendees and I can think of at least one relative who may or may not be able to traverse that kind of terrain. Also, the rain plan would be a bit of a toss up, though M says he has been wanting to build a shelter and this would be a great excuse to do it.

Instead, we are thinking the facilities at one of the large local parks would be a good idea. They have thousands of beautiful acres that I grew up visiting, and my partner and I have gone for a number of hikes there and really enjoy it. They also have 11 picnic shelters available for reservations, all of them clearly numbered with good signage off of one particular park entrance. So today we went to suss them out and see how their energy feels.

We started by driving all the way to the back, looking for the most privacy. About half the shelters are on the banks of the river, with flat flood plain around them. Number 11 at the very back seemed to be the biggest, with a dozen large picnic tables, half sheltered and half open, about 15 feet from the water. Surprisingly, though, it didn't seem terribly private, probably because it was so large with so much flat, open space around it. We kept poking around and really like #6, which is also close to the river. Its shelter is made of mortared stone, has 5 picnic tables that seat 10-12 each, plus one more table that can be moved under the roof and another half dozen tables in the open. There is also a much smaller shelter right next to it, across a small round field that seems perfect for the ritual circle. The smaller shelter goes with the larger one, we think, and could be a priestess space or something. There are swings to keep any kids in attendance occupied and they have blocked off the road so that there is no through traffic. The parking is reasonable, though the bathrooms are a bit of a hike or will require a very short drive.

We also have a second choice picked out, and then two others that will do, just in case. The phone line for making reservations opens for the year on Tuesday, and apparently there is a good bit of demand, so we want to get them made first thing. It is also cheap, only $50 for a whole day (a half day would require too much running around, I think), plus maybe a deposit, depending.

On the one hand, the park seems a bit impersonal, but I think it is a) an already formally available space, easy to set up without much prep work like a whole-house deep clean, b) has parking c) has room under a roof in case of rain d) has available bathrooms e) has flat outdoor space for ritual circle f) is in mostly wild space (and bonus g) is near the river!).

We may run back over there today just to take another look around and get a feel for a couple of smaller shelters that were in use so we couldn't tour them before. I don't know. They have fireplaces, whereas the ones we picked don't, though with a May wedding we aren't sure we need fire. Then again, fire is always good.

And as for our friends' land that they offered, well, we think we might go play there the day AFTER the wedding, when playing naked in the woods will be more appropriate. (Gets a little awkward, the whole being naked among the trees thing, when your conservative parents are taking pictures for posterity, I must say.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Living in Community: Pros and Cons

For the last five years or so, I have lived with other adults in a cooperative/intentional/community household. (We have never agreed on the language or our exact definition.) I got started when I was in a time of intense life transformation and met a friend who shared many of my ideals. We instantly clicked, found a place, and set up house. We added another housemate, that house got sold out from under us, and another friend in the community bought a house and moved in with all of us as a "package deal." Since then, the roster of housemates has changed and the number of people in the house has grown. We started with four, and we are now up to 6 residents, ages 15-62. Last night, 8 people slept under this roof.

I call what we do "living in community" or being a part of a "community household," so that is the language I will use here, though again, we never collectively agreed on language or definition. Living in community has never been easy. Just sharing one kitchen and two bathrooms can get messy because we rub elbows so often. There are plenty of opportunities to have misunderstandings and miscommunications because someone didn't clean an iron skillet a certain way or left a personal item out in a public space for too long. Our conflicts have been almost exclusively about the mundane, petty details of sharing space, but they represent larger issues like respect, personal boundaries, emotional safety, artistic expression, social justice, gender/age/race/differently-abled equality, and more.

Just because it has not been easy does not mean that it has not been worth doing. I believe firmly in sharing resources and systems of support. Living more densely in the housing already available, sharing the costs of energy and communications utilities, sharing the chores, conserving, recycling, composting, and supporting each other interpersonally has been immensely rewarding. It is worth the struggle to me because I believe so strongly in living gently on the earth, experimenting with solutions that build resilience and sustainability in my world, in being strongly connected with chosen family, and being able to keep my overhead expenses low so that I can work on projects I care about without having to stress as much about the cash flow.

I have learned a lot from living in community. I have learned that regular, unstructured communication time (i.e. hanging out in the kitchen and yammering) resolves a lot of tensions without having to enumerate and process them one by one. I have learned to always check in before drawing conclusions because what to me looks like blatant and gross negligence or provocation is often really a harmless and logical step (that has nothing to do with me) to someone else. I have learned to be more patient (never my strongest virtue), more generous with my time, resources, and food, less territorial, and more publicly expressive and artistic.

We also went through a Non-Violent Communication workshop as a household, and that has been an invaluable resource to me personally, regardless of how well we as a household have managed to employ it or teach it to new housemates.

I bring all of this up because the household is changing. That original friend that I started with is leaving, and there is more room and less art on the walls because of it. The housemate who is also the landlord has decided that he no longer wants to live as equals, but would prefer to be a "benevolent dictator" (his words, not mine). The philosophical mindset of the household is now different due to the changing cast, and we will soon be looking for another new housemate on top of that. Plus, my partner and I will be moving in 6 months or so because there is literally no space for raising children in this household.

The ideals and values that made this living situation worth the effort for me are no longer givens in this household. Many of my personal deal-breakers have been triggered. And yet, this extra space and time of transition is working to give me more perspective on what it is we were trying and what I was seeking and working towards. After working on it for so many years, I now have the chance to turn around and also see what it is not, and that is good.

I will continue to ponder this one.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Steering Committee Leadership?

We just had our first Steering committee meeting for the local Transition initiative. It surprised me because it was called with less than 24 hours notice via a long email thread. I was able to make it work, though. Only my potluck contribution suffered; I took a jar of nuts.

There are 6 of us, and the group is mostly women, mostly white, mostly 40s-50s. We had a strict time limit since there was another green-function meeting that evening that most people were planning to attend, so really there was an hour and a half of meeting time. We managed to spend half of that just eating, and then feeling (well, I felt, anyway) alternately rushed and bored by the rest.

I am unclear as to whether we have a "leader" or not. There seems to be a bit of unacknowledged (or acknowledged, perhaps) pecking order. The person who got this ball rolling behaves as though she is the leader. She brought some notes she had made from the US website and suggested? forced? insisted? assumed? that the agenda be her reading through her notes almost verbatim. The rest of us interrupted some, asked for clarification some, and I didn't feel like any of us got very clear.

I think my role in the meeting was to serve as a focuser. Where appropriate and non-challenging to the the power-status of the "leader", I tried to speak clearly and effectively to summarize and to facilitate understanding. I was the one who named and recognized our last conversation as the beginning of the next step of the process we are engaging, suggested a strategy for how we could all come feeling better informed for next meeting, and said where I thought we should start at our next meeting. I then pushed to schedule and iron out details of the next meeting.

I want to be careful not to do anything to assume a (disproportionately) leadership role because I think this needs to be co-created. That said, I find I am also hesitant to fully challenge or effectively criticize the de facto leader's power, since I do not know the politics of it. After processing here, I realize that should be a clarification conversation before we get much further.

I do, however, have criticisms of her leadership thus far, specifically the effectiveness of agenda and time management, though her enthusiasm helps balance it. She really does want this to happen, and I wonder if some of the reason for me to be a part of this is because I am clearer about how to do those things.

I will ponder this and perhaps sketch out my own agenda for next meeting and see how that goes. If I can present it and we can talk about and modify it as a group, I will feel better, I think.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lactation Consultation or Sales Pitch?

A good friend of mine recently had a baby by C-section at the hospital, and though I am quite unqualified for such a role, I ended up being the one to stay with her, question the doctors and nurses for clarity, and even ended up being the one to accompany her into that most alien space, the c-section operating room.

Yes, my partner and I will be embarking on the procreative bandwagon sometime this year, so I am sure it was good for me, but since I will never be going through those same halls as the patient, it was a little odd. I will admit there was magic in hearing the baby's first cry as he was lifted from her open womb. And I will never forget the face of a young new father I spotted as they wheeled my friend into her recovery bay. He was standing a ways down the hall from me, holding his new baby in his arms, and he just looked poleaxed, all his love and terror and awe combining into a stunned, wide-eyed expression on his face.

What I want to write about, though, is the "lactation consultant" who came in to talk with my friend about breastfeeding. My friend's birth is being paid for by the government. She is a single mother who works full time, barely makes enough to keep her head above water financially, and though the father of her 5 year old is an active shared custody parent, the father of the new baby is out of the picture (and good riddance, honestly).

To put it bluntly, the lactation consultant's presentation was classist. She told my friend that she needed either this name-brand make and model pump or that make and model pump, and spoke of the price of each of these pumps as afterthoughts, though they were about $200 and $350. My friend had been thinking of a hand pump she had seen for $10, but the consultant pooh-poohed it because it took too long. When asked about milk storage, she only spoke about the official milk storage bags that get sold by name-brand companies, not any cheaper or around-the-house common sense options (will ziplocks or mason jars work?), and again in a dismissive tone. Finally, she wanted to know how long until my friend goes back to work, 6 or 8 weeks? My friend said 6 (was shamed into saying 6?), though since her maternity leave is unpaid, she has no idea how to pay her rent in the meantime and has talked about going back to work as soon as she is physically able to do so (3, 4 weeks, she hopes) because she has no choice, financially.

The only useful thing the consultant did was give my friend a copy of the law concerning a lactating mother's rights to express milk in the workplace. This will allow her to fight her already suspicious and reluctant employer for time to pump milk while she is at work (she currently only gets a lunch break in her 9 hour shift, but needs at least 2 other breaks for pumping).

I wonder if the name-brand, high-end "consultation" was really a disguised sales pitch, considering that this hospital has a "lactation boutique" that sells such supplies located next door to the nursery room and on the loop new mothers are encouraged to walk as post-partum exercise.

On the plus-side though, at least it was better than my sister's experience when she had her latest baby. My sister left the hospital with a "care package" of free formula and bottles even though she had expressly told them she would be breastfeeding. I was shocked that was even legal, honestly.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Status Struggles

An important aspect of all of my projects is a constant awareness of marginalization and privilege and how that plays out internally and in society. As a pagan, I am marginalized and have to deal with a good bit of prejudice and bigotry. There are other aspects of my identity that are also minority or marginalized, and I have been learning to recognize the marginalization and bias that affect my life and the lives of those around me.

Another crucial piece is confronting and acknowledging my own privilege. I have recently been reflecting on my privilege as relates to my attitudes and beliefs about status. Part of my personal privilege is that I have been trained to think of myself as always high status and to avoid status-lowering behaviors. I am coming to understand exactly how much of my time, energy and effort go into maintaining and proving status or negotiating status within personal relationships.

I have recently realized that I think about and interact with people differently based on my perception of our relative status. For people I consider to be of equal or lesser status, I am very compassionate and empathetic. I am eager to share power and hold space for all of us to co-create, to the point of trying to coax socially lesser-status folk into higher status positions and behavior. In short, I try to level the playing field as much as I have the power and resources to do so, even as I try to make sure that my behavior and strategies are personhood-affirming and non-patronizing, and that all interactions are emotionally healthy for me.

For people that I perceive to be of higher status, I am highly critical and much less compassionate. I want to dismantle their power and status, partly by coming up in status myself so that we will be equals, and partly by just tearing them down and challenging them. I am not sure to what degree this is a product of my marginalization versus my privilege, but I do think it is something to be aware of. Many people of "higher status" have a lot to offer a co-creative process and allowing my own status baggage to prevent collaboration is counter to my goals and values.

I recently realized all of this when I found myself post-ritual feeling very critical of members of my pagan community I had previously considered to be mentors. I realized that I would feel much more compassionate and understanding of their quirks and behaviors if I did not feel like I was in any kind of status struggle with them.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Enthusiasm for a Rural Intentional Community

I went to a recent event of like-minded "let's make the world a better place through personal transformation and green activism" folks, many from a group. It was hosted by a friend of mine and I went to support her and her work. The focus was mostly on envisioning this year and releasing anything that no longer serves us so that we are free to manifest what we want and need. There was a good turnout, maybe 20 people. The house felt quite full in a friendly way.

Over our potluck supper some of these like-minded folks began talking about how they wished there were an intentional community close by where they could live. As far as I could tell, these were people who are not very close to each other, maybe have met once or twice, but these half-dozen people were all expressing this same desire. There was even a bit of implied "where we could all live together." Several people volunteered information and enthusiasm about various green building techniques.

I am a little taken aback. My ultimate dream is to have pagan sacred space and community on rural land close to the city (and its resources and jobs). I have thought about and studied the logistics of how best to do this for several years now, and it is ultimately this dream that underpins the Time Bank and Incorporation initiatives of this year. If there is to be property, it needs to be bought and owned collectively. Unilateral action leads to authoritarianism, as I have personally witnessed repeatedly. In order for a group to invest in a property, there needs to be a legal structure under which to buy it (recognized 501(c)(3) religious organization, 501-something collective, land trust, etc.) and enough wealth, community spirit, and interest in the community to fund it.

I did join the conversation and offer many of my ideas. I got the impression that most of the people I was talking with are more at the "wouldn't it be awesome if" or "someone needs to" phase of dreaming, and that is fine. I am excited that there is that much latent interest at all. It shows me that there is a resource of interest there that can be tapped and developed.

Yes, I am mostly committed to working in the local pagan community first, and that is because it is my community. We are a (somewhat persecuted) minority together, and I would love to see us thriving. However, I now know that there is interest and enthusiasm among the
"let's make the world a better place through personal transformation and green activism" crowd, and that adds depth and ambition to my own visions for how this could all happen.

Monday, January 4, 2010

(Rough) Time Bank Talking Points

Time Bank Talking Points

1. People list the skills and experience they can offer and what they need.
2. Everyone's skills are valued equally: one hour always equals one time credit
3. Everyone agrees to both give and receive, to earn and spend time credits
4. A record is kept of all time credits spent and earned, ideally on open source software on an accessible website
5. Everyone is encouraged to spend their time credits to allow others the chance to earn and to keep flow in the system.

Wealth in the Community:
I have had several discussions about wealth and prosperity in our local pagan community. I have talked with clergy and leaders about issues around being paid, why it is unacceptable to many, and the problems that can create. I have talked with pagan artists who travel the festival circuit who assure me that Southern pagans are the poorest pagans in the country. And I have noticed that the pagans around me tend to be poorer than the Christians around me.

There are many pagans in this community that I do not know. I feel like we are a fractured community, divided geographically, ideologically, and interpersonally, and that it is easy to focus on our differences if there is no easy commonality to work from. I hope that a Time Bank can create a common sense of community, healthier interpersonal relationships, and most importantly, help build wealth for all of us.

Definition of a Time Bank: Exchanging hours of labor, Non-taxable, All hours valued equally, Values traditionally un- or under-valued work

Benefits of a Time Bank: Builds wealth in the community (Money as water metaphor), Builds connections in the community

Logistics of a running Time Bank: Need a software to run it (researching for open source software), Need an administrator to a lesser degree (I volunteer), May need a few cash dollars for website fees, etc. (Dues?)

Set up of Time Bank: Founding Committee (to decide things like: Name?, Dues for cash purposes?, Owed/Acquired limits, References required for child care, etc., Crafts policy (time plus cash for materials?), Transportation policy (gas money paid by whom?), Donations of hours voluntary? Required?, How pay administrator, etc.), Acquire software and set up website, Recruit and sign people up

Your Input: Initial reaction?, Concerns? Questions?, Level of interest (No thanks, Maybe, Sign me up, I’ll be on the committee)

Yes, many of us are already involved in exchanging know-how and energy with others in our immediate circles. Think about how much that may have helped you. A friend loaning a truck to help move, someone who can help repair a roof, the joy of playing with someone else’s kids while they take the night off. Think about how much richer our lives will be if we expand those circles of people to include more time, more energy, and more skills.

Friday, January 1, 2010


I will be updating MWF from now on. Gives me time to think in between posts. Really do not want to burn out on this project too soon because I think it is good for me.

Transition Research

I've been poking around the Transition website, trying to learn a more extensive definition of what that paradigm entails. Back when I was researching alternative currencies, my housemate and I went down to the closest Transition Town because she thought they had an alternative currency in place. We went to one of their meetings (got there late because we missed the exit off the interstate), only to find that they were only at the stage of first conversations about it. However, I got to be a part of an actual working Transition Town meeting, which I guess is rather ahead of the local transition initiative, since we have only had the one initial is-anyone-interested meeting.

I read through all the 12 steps and 7 buts and list of Guidelines (and everything else, up to poking around in the Webinar by Starhawk), and am still a bit worried about the agenda. Integral to the Transition vision is educating people about the coming hardships of peak oil, environmental degradation and climate change, and economic crisis. Once the "problem" gets established, then we can work on the solutions to build "resilience."

Perhaps I am approaching this from a different generational perspective, or am already a part of the choir and don't need preaching to, or am coming from a second-tier rather than initial-tier solution space, but I am really unsure about the need to evangelize people into the cult of the imminent Peak Oil Apocalypse.

The Peak Oil Apocalypse may be coming. Or it may not be, and we may see rising fuel prices sparking industrial, governmental, and individual innovations that adjust for the adverse effects. I think Peak Oil is a Mytho-Reality that may be a useful construct for some, but belief in it should not be a prerequisite for working on the solutions that come out of Transition.

Basically, the solutions of Transition are about what they call resilience, which translates into local food systems, functional mass transportation, alternative currency systems, conservation, energy efficiency, community building, etc. All of these solutions make individuals and the entire community healthier and wealthier. They make living in a more urban area more sustainable come any disruption of the status quo, and make it more fulfilling and profitable in the mean time. I think it should be an easy sell.

So instead of talking about coming potential disasters, why not talk about the benefits of these solutions? Why not sell them based on what they can do for me today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? Peak Oil is one unifying idea for why we should work on all of these fronts. Another one would be the fact that the sustenance and resources for the city come from a broad network of resources and that it would be to all of our benefit to also develop a deep network of resources, like sending down taproots, to tap and develop the resources we already have on hand.