Mutual Aid Network: The New Cooperative Model on the Block

The move to a new economy is underway, whether we like it or not. The many cracks widening in latter-day capitalism are creating new pressures and opportunities for people to do things differently. The real question is whether we patch over those cracks with more of the same, or nurture the seedlings for a more beautiful world that are sprouting up and breaking through.

The amount of work we need to do to solve our social problems, take care of everyone who needs it (all of us), redesign our systems for sustainability, and restore built and natural environments, is vast. But we often have little to no ability to make a living doing this essential work.

Now we're launching a way to change that! Mutual Aid Networks are a new type of cooperative, designed to connect us in a network of mutual support that creates means for us to do exactly what we want to do with our lives, from solving hard problems to taking care of loved ones and neighbors to making art. To launch this effort we will host a MAN Up Summit in Madison Wisconsin August 20-28.

The aim of Mutual Aid Networks is to redesign how we work; to apply what we know about economic and community building tools to create a new vision for work. Instead of getting jobs so we can afford to live, we decide how we want to live and create community supports for each other to do what we want to do. The aim is to turn everyone into inventors, freelancers, entrepreneurs, homemakers, artists, caregivers, all combinations thereof, with some material security because we choose to provide that to each other.

Many of the resources that we need to access through sharing or exchange are available from people in our local communities. So why not agree to exchange everything but money whenever we can, and save our money for the things we really can’t get from people we know? Why not pool our money so when big expenses arise, each of us can access as much as we need without having had to stockpile a huge amount individually? Why not connect all these various tools and processes that people have been using individually, often with significant success, for generations? We believe that simply connecting various processes and people into a functioning ecosystem will increase the power of these systems exponentially.

In evaluating various systems in use around the world, our team (Time For the World, based in the Dane County TimeBank in Madison Wisconsin) identified strengths and limitations of various complementary currency and resource sharing models, including timebanking, gift economies, price-based mutual credit, cooperative savings pools, and cooperative ownership. We came to the conclusion that the limitations of each could be filled by the strengths of others. We also realized that we could connect these models in a system explicitly designed to feed our commons and unleash new problem-solving capacities.

And we realized that economies are at root social processes and constructs. So we’re focusing on creating a community, a culture, that will embrace risk and innovation and sharing in service of building a real solidarity economy that works for the 100%.

We decided to create a model and process to test this.

Now we begin!

First, we have MAN pilot sites lined up in 16 locations, mostly around the US (including Detroit and St. Louis) but also in UK, Sweden, and France. With interest in Zambia and other farther-flung locations. We are connected to timebanks, transition towns, permaculture practitioners, restorative justice activists, health and wellness projects, and solidarity economy activists. I’m personally most excited by our collaborations with activists against police brutality and the prison industrial complex.

And many of these folks are coming to Madison! This summit will provide opportunities for in-depth exploration, learning, working, and getting to know each other, a rare and valuable treat.

If you can't be here in person you can join some of the activities online, and you're more than welcome to join the Main MAN – the umbrella Mutual Aid Network that connects all of the pilot sites and supporters of the new economy. And you'll see the fruits of the summit as all the pilot sites come online and start sharing their work and learning.

We need all the help we can get raising funds to put on this amazing event! Please contribute and share our crowdfunding site: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mutual-aid-network

Funds go to pay for travel for our out-of-town trainers and co-creators, plus space and food for gatherings.

Please join us in dreaming up the world we want to live in, and building it together.

For more information visit: www.mutualaidnetwork.org

 

 

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