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How We Spent Our Time In 2023
Published on December 21, 2023 by Mike Strode (KNC)

The Kola Nut Collaborative has been undergoing a long-term strategic shift in thinking about the best approach to timebanking in Chicago. Our 2021 projects to develop Offers & Needs Market (OANM) facilitators in Chicago led to some unexpected successes in the following years. There are now more than 60 facilitators who are familiar with or employing the OANM as a strategic part of their local work.

Most recently, I personally had the opportunity to facilitate an OANM with core planning team of #LetUsBreathe Collective as they reflected on their vision for 2024. Partnerships with Creative Grounds/Frameworks of Resilience and Equity Arts that have expanded our thinking about how to interact with the post-2020 resurgence of mutual aid. Our reflections have been enhanced by consultation with Chinyere Oteh about Cowry Collective's St. Louis work and solidarity economy practices in Baltimore and hosting a Sociocracy pay-what-you-can Sociocracy training for Chicago-based orgs

In 2022, we were more focused on seeding the ground with the practice of timebanking while we rethink how best to use the platform. I took on a board roll with TimeBanks.Org as they rolled out a new software platform in partnership with Made Open. This will be the next project to roll out in Chicago in 2024 as we seek to grow the basebuilding work done through OANM facilitator trainings and connect timebanking to other Community Wealth Building efforts happening in the city.

We have taken advantage of new learnings through the Pedagogy & Theatre of the Oppressed conference in June followed by the National Association of Black Storytellers conference in November to bring these practices back to the city and the timebank where we can use them to connect to other networks (storytellers and TO practitioners) in the city. Finally, we supported the MLS Cohort Fellowship where fellows were able to examine different basebuilding and organizing strategies for advancing their radical visions in their diverse municipal contexts.

Our primary challenges are cultivating capacity to be present in all of the different possible spaces. Consulting with different practitioners from the healing justice and doula world expanded our imaginations of what might be possible if we can resource these networks to host and hold their own skill sharing containers which will continue to be a key focus of Kola Nut.

With the software transition on the horizon for 2024, a new OANM facilitator training starting in the spring, and the arrival of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives Annual Conference in Chicago, we think that there is still much more to learn about the possibility of seeding timebanking within a solidarity economy framework and weaving all of these different networks together.

Highlights from the year included interviews about the work of Kola Nut on Laura Flanders and LIFT Economy.

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