Time Banking

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TimeBank takes the old saying “time is money” literally, using time itself as an equalizing currency. Time Bank’s website says “TimeBanking is a way of giving and receiving to build supportive networks and strong communities. One hour helping another earns one TimeBank Hour (also called time credits, service credits or time dollars)”. It was designed in 1980 by Dr. Edgar Cahn and formed into a 501c3 in 1995.

TimeBank says a babysitter’s hour is just as valuable as a lawyer’s, giving validation to people who were previously under utilized and helping many who could not otherwise afford services. This kind of exchange builds good will and helps form strong bonds within the community.

Christine Gray, Dr. Cahn’s wife and CEO of TimeBank from 2009-2012 gives a list of 5 core principles behind TimeBank that give a good idea of what it is all about.

1 – Everyone has something to offer.

2 – The work of building community is real work.

3 – Reciprocity; Give & Receive.

4 – Community is stronger together.

5 – Every human being deserves respect.

Some time banks are used by neighbors to help neighbors, but some are very targeted and specialized like the Visiting Nurses Association’s time bank in New York, with 3,000 members who use time bank to supplement the work of visiting nurses.

In Rhode Island parents with children that have severe emotional disorders like bi-polar and autism use time bank to help other parents with children with similar needs. In the past the children were being sent into the juvenile system or foster homes, but this TimeBank has been so effective that it was written into Rhode Islands best practices on how to deal with children with severe emotional disorders and their families. It is now receiving federal funding to be taken around the country.

Even Diane Sawyer covered a TimeBank in her hometown of Kentucky, showing how time banking can be save people money while engaging and rewarding people for supporting each other.

Currently there are more than 300 TimeBanks all over the world, some with memberships in the thousands. The next step would be to link up time banks as a network, so that members can use services in other neighborhoods. In 2012 the National Science Foundation gave Penn State University close to one million dollars to create a mobile app for Community Weaver, the community-organizing database used by Time Banks, so in the near future using TimeBank could be as easy as making a phone call.

To check out time banks in your area, or to learn how to start a time bank check out: timebanks.org

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Civility, an Ideal for Barbarians

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What does it mean to be civil? The word conjures up an image of a fair good person, part of a civilized culture, with fair laws and standards. To civilize a person then, would be a good thing, because it would lift them out of barbarianism into a more peaceful way of life with others, creating a more comfortable environment for all.

Based on what civil and civilized mean then, it is easy to deduce that to present day, there seems to be no evidence of a civilized society. Civility is more of an ideal for barbarians. Bear with me, I’ll explain.

Empires that once considered themselves to be at the peak of modern civilization, are perceived by modern day observers to have had some quite barbaric customs. At the peak of their glory societies like those of Egypt, Greece, Rome, and China, were making amazing discoveries in the sciences and thought. They all considered themselves highly civil, yet they had slaves and engaged in ravenous conquest and bloody wars.

In more modern civilized times, fierce barbarianism persists despite our most impressive achievements. Perhaps the current forms of barbarianism seem more out of place than ever because we are evolving closer to the civil ideal, making barbarianism intolerable at a collective level in a way that has never been experienced before.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but consider some of these questions.

Is it civilized to cut down a tree to make paper or boxes that will become waste, when there are better alternatives like hemp or to use lumber for building when there are countless natural and sustainable ways to build?

Is it civil that our indigenous people live in reservations, many in poverty, or that the government has broken treaty upon treaty, or that their lands continue to be taken or contaminated?

Is it civil to use oil that happens to spill and destroy life on Earth every few years, or use nuclear power that is harmful to the health of many generations when there are clean energies like geothermal, wind, solar, and hydropower?

Is it civil to keep animals in miserable conditions and alter their genes making their immune systems weak, just to get their meat to be the right kind of pink, or to make their chest meat huge without considering the animal might fracture a leg under it’s own weight?

Is it civil to alter the genes of anything, or to use poisonous chemicals?

Is it civil to kill a human being for any other reason than self-defense, whether it is for an execution via lethal injection, or in a war, or trying to apprehend a criminal or for any other reason?

Well, you see where I am going with this; the list could be almost endless.

The positive side to seeing how very uncivilized we still are here on Earth, is that by understanding how far we still have to go, we can move more consciously towards the civil ideal of a fair world for all life.

Please feel free to comment with any more examples of anything that does not seem civilized so we can all gain from that awareness. 

Don’t Freak Out Ego

Mother and child
                                                    Mother and Child by Lm Nelson

When you say, “That’s just me” or “I have always been that way”, that is your ego identifying with concepts that help it feel more substantial. The “you”, you are trying to describe is not stagnant; it is a flowing process.

You are in process in more ways than you can imagine. Trillions of cells in your body are in process of being born, carrying out their task to precision, and dying. Your mind is in constant process: identifying, classifying, archiving or retrieving information. Your emotions are also in process as new ideas come up or some other stimulus presents.

But there is no stable you to pin down, like the rest of nature, like rivers flowing or trees growing or clouds passing by, you are another vehicle of life process.

Coming to the awareness that you are always in processes of change can feel overwhelming to the ego that has relied on illusions of constancy for its survival. It is a wise practice to earn your ego’s trust by pacifying it tenderly, like you would a crying baby. This way the ego can feel safe as it releases the illusions of being in control or having to be.

You can then use your own vehicle’s multisensory capabilities to consciously assign meaning to the whirlwind of perceptions that come your way, in a manner that serves you. You can perceive that you are not any concrete thing, certainly not any past version of your self, and that the “you” you thought you were is much more fluid and malleable. And there is comfort in that.

Process Mantra to Sooth Your Ego:

I am a continuous process, continuously dying, continuously being born.

I am open to what presents and know I can assign it the meaning I choose.

I am not any concept, but use concepts that serve me, and release those that do not.

I am in flow just like the rest of nature and it is natural and safe for me to change.

If you feel any tension, or weirdness, or hear a little voice saying “yeah right” at the end of any of those statements that is your ego trying to hold on to what it knows. Tap on that (EFT) to release whatever needs to be released.

If you don’t know what tapping is, or how to do it this is a good place to start: Brad Yates Introduction to Emotional Freedom Technique.

Building Connected Communities with Network Weaving

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Core/periphery well developed network. Blue nodes are the core. Green nodes are the periphery.

“Scientists describe this phenomenon – where local interactions lead to global patterns – as emergence.”

When beginning to consider connecting communities through network weaving it helps to get a clear picture of what you are working with. A network map is a good place to start because it helps keep track of nodes (people, organizations) and links (how they connect and interact with each other).

Valdis Krebs the co-author of Building Smart Communities through Network Weaving created InFLOWa social network mapping software that helps answer key questions like:

What connections are in place and which are missing?

Who are key leaders in the community or should be?

Who are the experts?

Who are the mentors?

Who are the innovators?

Who are in collaborative alliances?

Who will provide a better return on investment for themselves and their community?

People usually gather out of necessity or around a common goal, forming isolated clusters that need to be further organized to reach out to other groups and become more productive. For this to happen there needs to be an active “network weaver” that will dedicate themselves to connecting diverse individuals and groups, otherwise connections might take a long time or might never happen at all.

At first the network weaver starts relationships with individuals and small clusters to learn about “what they know and what they need”. As soon as possible the network weaver begins connecting clusters with common interests or complementary skills to each other, as well as mentoring emerging network weavers, so there is not just 1 hub or node of connection.

This is the only way for a network to “increase its scale, impact and reach” because it frees the network weaver from being a directly involved leader to a more indirect leader. It also encourages innovation through ties to groups that are outside of your groups or clusters with similar interest.

The core/periphery model of network building is the ideal of network weaving because it welcomes new ideas coming in from new members around the periphery, while key community members or network weavers at the core are putting the most useful ideas into practice. Finally once a network reaches a point where it is well connected it needs to be maintained, and further connected to other networks.

Here a 5 Signs of an effective network:

1. Nodes link together by common attributes, goals or governance.

2. There is a diversity of nodes (important for innovation).

3. There are several paths between nodes so if a node or link is removed, information can still flow among those remaining.

4. Some nodes are hubs or help expand boundaries.

5. Most nodes are connected by an indirect links with a short path length to prevent delay or distortion of information.

Are you a network weaver, or can you see yourself becoming an emerging network weaver?

Read more: Building Smart Communities through Network Weaving by Valdis Krebs and June Holley

A Message from 1,200 American Indian Elders

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This message on nicoa.org was collaboratively written by 1,200 American Indian Elders from 105 tribes across America at the National Indian Council on Aging Year 2000 Conference in Duluth, Minnesota. Their message is for all of us. Please share if it resonates with you.

Spiritual Message from Elders

As we stand before the dawn of a new millennium, we pray for America’s survival, our survival.

We pray that we will be given strength by the Creator to follow the footsteps of our forefathers to share our love, respect and compassion for one another. There is good in everyone because our Creator has put a little of Himself in all of us.

We pray for forgiveness for the pain and suffering we have caused one another.

We pray that our children will not repeat our mistakes.

We pray that we can respect the diversity of America; all life is sacred. Every child born is a precious gift of our Creator. It is our sacred trust to embrace children from all walks of life because we are part of the same family.

We pray that children will honor and respect their Elders-that is where the wisdom comes from. This respect will not allow forgotten Elders. We are all equal, with each having our own special gift to contribute. These values allow our youth to become leaders and workers in our society. Children, you are our future and our hope for the people. Stand and be courageous.

We pray to learn and use the wisdom of all that has come before us, to achieve personal successes and to contribute to those of others. Only when our young ones learn respect for everything can they evolve.

Earth

We pray for respect and love of Mother Earth because she is the foundation of human survival and we must keep her pollution-free for those who will travel after us. Protect her water, air, soil, trees, forests, plants and animals.

Do not just take and waste resources. Make it a priority to conserve.

The land is given to us by the Creator to care for, not to own. If we take care of the land, the land will take care of us.

Unity

We should have respect for each other. We pray for commitment and responsible behavior in order to help those in need and to give them support and friendship. Be an example in life that others may follow; serve people, community and country.

We should all strive to be leaders and contributors. Do not sit back and let others plan and do all the thinking.

Let us unite together so that we may have the strength to protect our future. Strength comes from working through trials and tribulations.

Health

Spiritual health is the key to holistic health.

We pray to have the discipline to set healthy examples for our children to follow.

Respecting everyone and everything in the universe starts with self-respect.

Take time to listen and take care of your body and spirit.

Family and Youth

Family is important and precious. Always let them know that they are loved.

Let your children and grandchildren know you are always there to love and support them and that they mean the world to you no matter what they do or say. Children are of infinite value.

Live what you teach. Spiritual values, honesty, and integrity start in the home.

We pray for the youth. We must teach the youth to work together and respect all that is living on our Mother Earth.

We need to convey to our younger generations that the survival of our people lies in spirituality.

Peace

We pray to learn ways to settle differences peacefully.

Teach respect for each other’s ideas. Value honesty on all levels, from children to parents to community to governments. We will be happy when we create peace with each other.

To the Seventh Generation

Survive

Keep hopes and dreams

Take care of yourself

Remember your spirit

Be there for each other

Respect courage

Share knowledge

Always keep learning

Remember your true values

Learn more: NICOA

From Ego-System to Ecosystem: The Evolution of Capitalism

ImageCan we really open our minds, hearts and will to collaboratively deal with some of our biggest challenges? Well, thousands of people all over the world are doing just that.

Otto Scharmer the founding chair of the Presencing Institute asserts that as consciousness evolves, so will the economy.

Our current “western” economy regulates commodities and achieves high level of productivity through the division of labor, but it also encourages ruthless competition for maximum financial gains with little regard of the environmental or social costs. The new emerging economy cultivates the commons and is based on eco-system awareness, a holistic awareness of the system as a whole.

He makes the logical argument that we need a system that is not organized around specialized interest groups always in conflict with each other, but rather one that acts from the whole and can come together to work towards improvement of the commons.

Scharmer says the 3 most common responses to deal with needs today are more government, more market, or more stakeholder dialogue and none of these work.

The problem is that government and corporations typically use one-way communication with constituents or consumers in the way of commercials or some other kind of manipulation. Two-way communication like elections and voting, and three-way communication like dialogue with stakeholders are not enough.

He suggests a new way of communication that sees economy as co-creation, as the capacity to connect with each other and self in a transformative ways.

To build this movement we need to engage in deep reflection and moments of stillness to imagine and identify the shared intentions we want to create together. Each person and each community needs to connect with what they feel they are capable of creating. We also have to be willing to see the system from the eyes of the most marginalized group.

Scharmer says doing “inner leadership work” opens our minds and helps us suspend our judgments. It opens our hearts to be able to see things from another stakeholder’s point of view, and it opens our will to allow the old self to dissipate and the new emerging self to arise.

Connecting with each other from this deeper level of humanity rather than from the superficial level of institutional interest helps us find a common ground together.

He gives 3 common sources of resistance to collaborative leadership:

1. Judgment, it closes the open mind.

2. Cynicism, it closes the open heart, blocks the ability to empathize and the ability to be vulnerable because you feel like “I can’t make a difference”.

3. Fear, it closes the open will and the ability to let go.

Alicia Gravitz adds that assisting people to identify the roles that best match their gifts really helps to build collaborative leadership.

5 Roles within Collaborative Leadership:

1. Shutting down what’s damaging and suffering: the old systems.

2. Creating and scaling new systems.

3. Building lifelines for people from the old system to the new. For example: there are only 17,000 workers left in the coal industry today vs. 17,000 in Pennsylvania alone just 10 years ago. As that industry is phased out many laborers will retire and others will need green jobs to transition into.

4. Covering new stories about the vibrant economy emerging as an alternative to “doing things the old way” because these stories are not getting attention in mainstream media.

5. Nurturing a consciousness change.

Gravitz goes on to share a few key principles of collaborative leadership:

First, embrace a biodiversity of strategies, issues, and approaches and integrate them towards a vision of a new economy. Be open to many ways and alternatives. Then write out some core guiding principles and have the intention to stick to your principles. Think big; recognize everyone for what they do and celebrate often.

She suggests the best way to get groups of peoples together is where they already gather. Ask them questions to begin a dialogue like “what would a better (fill in the blank) look like?” Focus on areas of agreement and unite around a broad vision so people can move towards that vision in their own way.

Gravitz advises that these exchanges run most smoothly when they are designed for various thinking styles. To prevent people with different thinking styles from triggering each other we should encourage appreciation for the diversity of thinking styles, as different gifts that each person is contributing.

Gravitz and Scharmer pose a question at the end of their talk and I offer it to you to contemplate: “What do you think we, individually and collectively, need to pay attention to for building collective capacity to act?”

Does awareness + knowledge + inspiration = Action, or is there something else we require?

Learn more here: Otto Scharmer and Alicia Gravitz – From Ego-System to Ecosystem

Social Makeover a la Venus Project

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Jacque Fresco says the Venus Project (named after Venus, FL where it is based, not the planet) is a way to manage the Earth’s resource not a political system, and claims it would eliminate most of society’s ills. “We all have problems in common.”

He predicts that eventually machines will completely take over labor. An article in Business Insider this January lists the 47% of jobs that are at risk for being “lost to robots” thanks to advances in technology. Jacque adds that once people are displaced from their jobs they won’t be able to afford what is produced and this will end the monetary system.

On the upside, this will give people free time to focus on learning, and creating solutions to improve everyone’s standard of living. Jacque thinks that most people are too busy accumulating things and have forgotten how to be human.

Jacque’s models of cities with buildings made by machines, strong enough to withstand natural forces like earthquakes and hurricanes, are esthetically beautiful while also conserving resources. Cities will run on geo-thermal energy, being the most efficient and available all over the Earth and oceans, and in all weather conditions.

He speaks of apparently obvious solutions like simply designing cities around the shape of a circle. In linear cities you have to travel over the same ground covered to get back to the starting point, but in circular cities that problem does not exist because you go from the starting point covering new ground all the way around till you arrive back at the starting point.

Our current public transportation is very inefficient with buses and trolley cars at street level, stopping at every corner and at every red light. The Venus Project proposes transportation be elevated 30ft off the ground to be able to clear areas to turn the whole city into parks and gardens.

Jacque sees all of the worlds resources equally available to all of Earth’s peoples, so there will not be anything to fight over. Can you imagine a world without need for police, weapons, or wars?

At first glance the Venus Project seems utopian, idealistic and maybe even a bit naive, but it offers a better picture of the future. A future not fueled by hostility between nations, reckless over-consumption and mindless destruction of our natural resources.

Please let me know what you think about the Venus Project.

Also, I encourage you to contribute any tips or solutions you may have that can improve the living standard for people and animals, while effectively and wisely using resources.

More on: BBC News – Technology