Contrasting BACE and Mutual Aid Network

Now that BACE members have experienced Mutual Aid Network founder,Stephanie Rearick’s workshops, many are excited about BACE becoming a part of the pilot site project that MAN is undertaking. We would be the first pilot on the West Coast. You can learn more about MAN at http://www.mutualaidnetwork.org  See how similar the goals and values are!

MUTUAL AID NETWORK CORE PRINCIPLES

1    Redesigning Work. MANs recognize that everyone possesses passions and skills which they can contribute to their communities and the larger MAN network and will work to find the highest uses to which those qualities and abilities can be put.
2    Reciprocity. Helping works better as a two-way street. “How can I help you?” becomes “How can we help each other build the world we both will live in?”
3    Respect. Every human being matters. Respect is a foundation for freedom of speech and freedom of religion, and supplies the heart and soul of democracy.
4    Voluntary and Open Membership. MANs are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, sexual, racial, political or religious discrimination.
5    Democratic Member Control. MANs are democratic organizations with transparent governance structures controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Persons serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership.
6    Member Economic Participation. Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their MANs. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the MAN. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their MAN co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their contributions within their co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.
7    Autonomy and Independence. MANs are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy.
8    Education, Training, and Information. MANs provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and workers so they can contribute effectively to the development of their MAN. The main MAN will inform the general public about the nature and benefits of cooperation.
9    Mutual Aid Among MANs. MANs serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operative movement by partnering with other MANs and organizations that have aligning principles.
10    Tracking and Performance Measures. In order to track their progress in meeting the goals of the MAN Core Principles, MANs will strive to measure and map their socioeconomic resources and needs, internalizing their “external” costs and benefits to the greatest extent possible.
11    Tools and Processes. MANs will work to utilize expanded definitions and metrics of capital, wealth, debt, growth, and profit to enable the full range of non-monetary elements of their economies to be understood and characterized using the best available tools, technologies, and techniques.
12    Building Community Sustainability. MANs will help build local, bioregional, and global economic systems based on material steady-state operating principles that recognize biophysical limits to growth, with the goal of achieving long-term sustainability – – not just seven, but seventy generations into the future.

BACE’s goals

•Build a more resilient, sustainable, fair and decentralized local economy based on relationships, trust and the sharing of resources and skills

•Building and maintaining an accessible, sustainable Timebank – an online directory, reputation and hour-based accounting system – that facilitates better communication of needs and resources and a more abundant means of exchange

•Strengthen community bonds to improve emotional and economic security by creating an interconnected web of reciprocal exchanges

•Developing partnerships with community service organizations to help make them more sustainable, to grow their programs without financial capital, and to promote the Timebank as a service to their constituencies

•Developing in person connections between individuals and with organizations through exchanges and complementary activities such as swapmeets, orientations, parties, skillshares, and volunteer days

•Encouraging the membership to actively take responsibility for their Timebank, participate in the Timebank volunteer collective and create their own Timebank groups, branches, activities and projects to advance community-driven goals, values and relationships

•Facilitate mutual assistance to meet the needs of all bay area residents, especially the economically underserved

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Report on Community: Connect! Event

The Community: Connect! event was a smashing success. Thanks to Carl Gorringe and Keith Hupp for being a solid presence for BACE. They were able to sign up many people for BACE timebank because one of the options for payment was using the time bank.

About 40 people attended, many of whom were already members of BACE. There was so much positive energy generated with the various aspects of the event that really did engage, encourage, equip and energize people who attended. One of the highlights for me was seeing about 13 people gather in a circle to be part of Stephanie Rearick’s break out session where she shared about the Mutual Aid Network. We were inspired by the combination of practical things that we can do to become less dependent on the money system, and stories of successes that have been already achieved.

One thing that Stephanie emphasized was that Timebanks, when standing alone, usually fail eventually. The two ingredients that make a timebank successful is having lots of great gatherings and a project or shared goal that people can rally around. She founded the Mutual Aid Network when she saw that even though she used these two principles as the coordinator of the Dane County Timebank, more was needed in order to free people from slavery to the present economic system.

What I love about Stephanie is that her idealism is so high, and her pragmatism is equally as high. She started Mutual Aid Network to create an umbrella so that people and organizations who were doing things that helped people get away from using dollars, and worked towards helping people do what they love could share knowledge and resources.

So many people from BACE, both new members and old members, were inspired by Stephanie, and now have a better handle on how we can move forward. I will share more in my blog post about the workshop that took place the next day.

Advantages of being a part of the Timebanks

This page tells all about the overview and history of Time Banks USA. Very inspiring http://timebanks.org/about/

“The TimeBanking movement is spreading across the United States and internationally. It now includes a network of 200+ independent TimeBanks in the United States. 32+ countries have active TimeBanks. (We hope you will be inspired to go visit some individual TimeBank websites. You will be inspired!)”

BACE becomes a more integral and contributing part of a movement

Time Bank USA has a directory of all time banks so BACE can be found more easily.

They have a tech support team to consult with for members.

They have a coordinator. I contacted him and got great response within one day!

They have the values that BACE shares: http://community-currency.info/en/toolkits/tb-toolkit/core-values-timebanking/

One time start up fee of only $25 http://timebanks.org/get-started/community-weaver/startup-fee/

They give clear instructions/guidelines from experienced practitioners about how to get an effective team up and running. http://timebanks.org/get-started/start/

Team members can be part of the Timebank Knowledge Commons where they can give and receive information and support http://community-currency.info/en/timebank-knowledge-commons/

You can get cool resources that are free from the commons. I just found this free book called People Powered Money http://community-currency.info/en/news/guide-book-people-powered-money/

People who give their time and energy to the commons can receive time dollars

The need for an active team

There has not been an active team for over a few months now, and in order to move forward, I see a need for a clearly defined goal-oriented team that empowered to act.

I am excited about working with AZ on this team, and I hope that others like Carl and Ohana will continue to participate. I look forward to seeing if there are other people who have been active before, or who now have the time and interest to join a team.

Since the way that BACE is structured right now is that whoever comes to the meeting makes the decisions, then whoever wants to be on the team can put forth their desire at the meeting. Of course, people who can’t make the meeting can also say they want to be on the team.

People who want to be on the team can list their goals and qualifications, and then we can post this on this blog. The post can be sent out to members via email, and people can have a chance to voice any concerns or encouragement.

Once the team is established, and if there are no objections from BACE members, a defined team can more easily make decisions. Of course one of the main things that the team will do is continually be communicating with BACE members to get input, and do everything they can to listen to concerns and act in constructive ways that are in alignment with BACE’s values and goals which are described as follows:

The Bay Area Community Exchange Timebank, a project of BACE, is a community of reciprocal exchange that aims to create a resilient web of relationships between individuals and with community service organizations.

The Timebank helps facilitate better communication and distribution of resources while encouraging community-building through more in person contact at complementary events, classes, skillshares, swaps, nonprofit volunteering opportunities and organizational partnerships.

Do you want to be on the team?

Do you have any objections to there being a defined team rather than a do-ocracy as has been the case–where anyone who shows up to meetings make the decisions?

Do you have suggestions for who might want to be on the team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Challenge of Past Governing Structure and Suggestion for a new structure

Why there is little involvement in BACE now? I am looking at the old blog posts and trying to get a sense of the history of BACE. It sounds like a lot of people wanted to be engaged, and that is wonderful. At the same time, I am sensing that the structure was not serving busy people who need very efficient meetings where they feel productive. Also, I’m guessing that people just got really busy, and the am0unt of time they put into BACE.

 

 

This post describes a transition from BACE being governed by a board, to being governed by whoever does stuff. http://sfbace.org/2014/04/04/the-months-fly-by-bace-updates-from-the-first-quarter-of-2014/

This paragraph describes what happened when most of the experienced members dropped out and new people stepped up to try to save BACE

The BACE “board” becomes the BACE “staff”.  After much discussion, the BACE staff has decided to change the language we use to talk about our work.  Instead of a “board” doing “governance,” a “volunteer staff” would handle “administration.” We are a do-ocracy; the board has been essentially whoever shows up at meetings, not an exclusive decision-making group. The new vocabulary is meant to communicate inclusivity. You can comment by emailing support(at)bace(dot)org.”

Recommendation: Sociocracy as a governance model

We will talk about this at the June 1st meeting.

Here is an excerpt from the website describing Sociocracy http://www.sociocracy.info/holacracy-sociocracy/

Sociocracy is a whole systems governance method that makes collaboration, self-organization, and distributed authority practical and effective. It is applicable in corporations as well as in neighborhood associations. It requires transparency inclusiveness, and accountability–the characteristics of any good method of governance. It combines the values and traditions of democracy with the methods of sociocracy producine a deeper democracy.”

 

 Sociocracy is increasingly being adopted by communities and non-profits. The Mutual Aid Networks, which has a very similar purpose to BACE, has adopted this as their form of governance. We can ask questions of Stephanie Rearick, who developed a 2800 member time bank and is founder of MANs, and who advocates using this method. She will be presenting workshops this Friday and Saturday 

What do you think about having a democratic structure to help people get organized?

What are your thoughts on “do-ocracy”–which is described in the blog post from BACE.

What other input do you have?

Overview of Time Bank software

 

I have done research on other software that is available. My conclusion is that being connected to Timebanks USA and using their open source software Community Weaver 3 is the easiest, simplest way to move forward at this time. However,  Community Forge has been highly recommended by Stephanie Rearick of Mutual Aid Network. Other time banks use other software.

Here is a brief summary of this:

TimeBanks use software to manage all the information that members supply and to keep track of exchanges. The software provided by TimeBanks USA is open source, and is called Community Weaver.  Many others exist; we have counted more than 30! Some TimeBanks have software exclusive to them. The software that is provided by the  hOurWorld network of TimeBanks is called Time and Talents. Community Forge is another open source software.

Most TimeBanks nowadays have an online presence besides the software. It may be just a facebook page. Or a website AND a facebook page. Or more. Much depends on whether there are media-savvy members willing to take this on for time credits on behalf of the TimeBank.

Overview of Joining Timebanks USA and Community Weaver 3

Here are FAQ’s  http://timebanks.org/faq/

Here is all the information you need to know including about the start up fee and a demo:

Community Weaver

 

Contrast between Community Weaver 3 and present system

For more information about Community Weaver 3, go here to read the inspiring story of how it was developed. Here is everything you need to know about community weaver

I have listed the challenges that BACE is facing below, and shown how Community Weaver 3 can address those challenges.

Challenge: Currently there are only three people who attend meetings-AZ, Carl, and Ohana. They are all very busy and don’t have the time needed to do the work that is needed to move forward.

Solution: Using Community Weaver 3 would make it easier for people to once again do exchanges, thus increasing the usefulness and vibrancy of BACE. People might be more willing to step up to the plate and be in leadership roles.

Challenge: Lots of problems in the user interface.

Solution: According to Time Banks USA, after decades of working on this, they finally have found a solution! “Like all Timebanking endeavors, it has been a labor of love, streaming from the hearts of coordinators who stepped up to give their honest and passionate input and their ultimate wisdom from the field. TimeBanks USA teamed these leaders with software developer Kent Davidson, who created CW 3 with the stability and adaptability to propel the Timebank Movement forward into our bright future. We are so excited that CW 3 is now a reality!

Challenge: Usage of the time bank has diminished drastically since the last software update.

Solution: By simply using the Community Weaver 3, people may be willing to get involved again since it is so much easier to use and more effective. Read this article for the amazing list of advantages that Community Weaver offers. http://timebanks.org/get-started/community-weaver/

Challenge: No members right now have the skills to do developing

Solution: Community Weaver 3 is already developed! No need for developers.. However, since this is an open source software, we can play a part in making CW3 even better.

Challenge: The platform is not user friendly.

Solution: after years of research, coordinators and the software engineer figured out all the challenges. This is what they say: “Community Weaver 3 is streamlined, smart, and nimble. Members will love the simplicity and responsiveness of their pages, will find it all at the click of a mouse, and they can quickly get down to building community in earnest. We are already getting rave reviews from our test sites in , PA and NOLA TB in Louisiana, and we are gearing up for a smooth transition for TB’s ready for the switch.” (this was about a year ago. Now all the time banks are getting on Community Weaver 3)

Challenge  The current platform costs  $42 a month.

Solution: Community Weaver 3 is only $25 one time fee. They have in the past tried to be funded by people paying a membership fee, but they realized that they wanted to be practicing what they preached, and just give the software away, as well as make it open source.

Facts about Community Weaver 3

Here is an overview of the Community Weaver 3 http://timebanks.org/community-weaver-3-has-arrived/

Here is something that a developer said:

I was so excited when I learned that Community Weaver 2.0 was built on Drupal, Community Accounting, and other pre-existing pieces of free code software, built by open source communities. Because building CW 2.0 on their work was only possible because they made it a public commons using free software licenses like the GNU GPL, it seemed only natural that the small modules of custom software written specifically for CW 2.0 would be released as free code, in the spirit of reciprocity.

Now we are offered CW 3.0, which still seems to built on all this work by others, but the custom work done by Kent Davidson doesn’t appear to have been contributed back the commons. This makes the CW 3.0 what we might call an “open core” softare, and the TB USA service running on it a “proprietary cloud”:
http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/articles/kindness_strangers_can_defeat_proprietary_cloud_computing_free_software_solutions

“Remember, we don’t pay the actual cost of software development because we are paying in the myriad ways of capitalism, with intrusion into our website histories and cookies; we pay dearly in the loss of control over our lives.”

I couldn’t agree more. I look forward to seeing TBUSA publish full documentation and source code for CW 3.0, under a free code license. I would recommend the GNU AGPLv3, which is intended for software used in servers running websites.

An Encouraging Letter For Developers about Community Weaver 3

I found this comment at the bottom of this page: http://timebanks.org/community-weaver-3-has-arrived/

Danyl, thanks for your comments. We too were excited to go open source. It seemed like an ideal way to go. Here is our story with that. Community Weaver is sophisticated, complex software. We were informed that using Drupal modules, it would be way easier to develop than it had been the first time round for CW1. After some 100 modules had been modified and then joined together in extremely complex ways; after 2 years; and after a cost that was six times the original estimate, we had OK software that users had sort-of adapted to.

Jumping in to open source with all the idealism that we bring to timebanking, we learned — too late — about just how much investment in specification, coordination and management is required for the level of complexity that Community Weaver has. We also learned that Drupal 6 wasn’t really the right kind of platform for the product. (Drupal7 or 8 might be, but 6 was not.) We are not in the development community, we are the customers of the development community. What we learned –the hard way — was that open source works brilliantly under certain conditions.

Ours was not one of those conditions.

So now we’re on CW 3. We learned our lesson. We turned to a developer who had demonstrated that he runs a tight ship and could manage the complexity of this project. What he has produced has been receiving very, very high reviews from users, who have described CW3 as “easy — like kindergarten” compared to CW 2, and a “vast improvement.”

And Yes, we have used an open source underlying platform. And we hear you about giving back. Since we are not software developers, but rather, a software user, we give back where we can. We provide the software free to community timebanks that exist in the sharing economy. So far, almost 100 timebanks are receiving, without charge, the fruits of two years of work put in by our volunteer team of timebank coordinator advisors, our tech support person, and our developer.

In short, we remain true to the ideals of timebanking and to open source — but in a larger sphere that goes beyond the confines of the development community.

In closing this reply, I extend to you and all members of the development community an invitation to consider joining with us in “giving back” in ways that speak to the needs and possibilities of the world that stand outside development and to extend the notion of open source to include a more expansive view of what giving back could include.