Two Juicy Exhibits about Play and Work.

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Jami and I met with Heather Radke at the Hull-House Museum today.  Heather curated the exhibit Unfinished Business: The Right to Play exploring “the history of the social movements that created the first playgrounds, fought for an eight-hour workday and suggested that time off from work could create a more just society.”  Um YEAH?!!  There is also a piece on time banking (created with the help of one of the CTX members, Seneca) and Heather is inviting us & the CTX to collaborate on an event this fall.  Go check this OUT!  Look, there is a swing! And hopscotch!  And even more awesomeness all over that museum.  Seriously.

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Since we were in the area, Jami and I headed over to Gallery 400 to check out Nice Work if You Can Get It curated by Lorelei Stewart. “Exploring the legacies of industry, immaterial labor, service work, invisible labor and more, the artists featured in the exhibition articulate a variety of responses to the relationships between labor, economy, and politics.”  The poster behind Jami is an interview with a woman in the fashion industry, part of Our Fashion Year, by The Ladydrawers.  Both Jami and I remarked on the idea of “emotional labor” – needing to make customers feel good in their clothes.  In the other picture, we are standing in front of Mary Lum’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor. Those pieces of white and brown paper are fragments of paper bags with the name of the person who oversaw their production at the factory.  This show is only up through August 9th – and it’s juicy. With teeth.  Check it out if you can.

 

 

From Sharing Economy To Gift Ecology

Check out this great analysis of the difference between sharing economies and gift economies from Nipun Mehta, the founder of Service Space.

Here’s the link: From Sharing Economy To Gift Ecology | ServiceSpace.org.

I LOVE that he points to gift economy being more of a gift ECOLOGY.  He says, ” Economy reduces value into a few focused dimensions, whereas ecology implies a more intricate interplay of relationships that generate diversified — sometimes immeasurable — value. When we give freely, we naturally build affinities with recipients and over time, create deep ties that form the basis of a gift ecology and a resilient society.”

What are your thoughts on sharing vs gifting?

 

 

Arts, Community & Economy – upcoming abundance of events!

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Saturday, May 31Chicago Dream House: a housing rights event responding to the foreclosure crisis in Albany Park and Chicago.  With the community, Chicago Dream House will paint a symbolic house, while presentations by local organizations happen in the central area.  Skill shares abound: urban gardening, guitar lessons, bike repair, furniture repair, book-binding & making, painting and drawing lessons, yoga, qi gong and more!! CTX is tabling!  Potluck to follow.

Saturday, May 31opening for Joshua Kent’s residency “On the Impossibility of a Singular Hand.”  The show runs Mon June 2- Sun Jun 8.  Joshua will live in the gallery and attempt to grow a seed in the palm of his hand. Roman Susan will be open 24-hours a day for the week, and each evening features a response from fellow artists: performances, skill shares, gift circle. See the event schedule here.

Sunday, June 1stFreedom Flow Fest: community event centered around the alternative currency of abundance, co-presented with CTX and Shareable. This out & indoor event explores the possibilities of cooperation; offering participants tangible, FREE gifts and services:
•Movement Classes
•Creative Arts
• DIY Food & Gardening Demos
• Wellness & Healing

Saturday, June 7The Chicago Free Store: Bring what you want to give away and/or take what you like!  It’s all FREE!

Saturday June 7 – opening for the The Swing and the Wall.  This event will run 4 Sundays in June from noon-9pm, reclaiming “creative idleness, pleasurable learning and meaningful exchange, inviting neighbors, friends, artists, children, parents and activists to participate, in both a programmed and drop-in way.”

HOT DAMN!!!  Chicago’s got it going ON!

 

A Member’s Take 2

This post is by guest blogger and CTX member Elaine Wagner

Chicago Time Exchange has proved useful and helpful on many levels over this surprising and challenging past year.  Last October, I lost the capacity to drive my car, work at my job, and do many household tasks for two months due to an injury. In order to not burden friends and neighbors excessively during this time, I decided to sometimes ask for help within the CTX community, repaying people with some of my accumulated time dollars, many of which Jami Garton was generous enough to transfer to my account from my previous participation in another Time Bank several years ago.

I was hesitant at first to ask for help from CTX.  Would people respond?  If so, would they be gracious? Would they be resentful?  My CTX experiences during this painful and problematic time were overwhelmingly positive.  People responded out of kindness, generosity, and a sense of shared community with rides to the surgeon in Niles, shopping errands to Whole Foods and other stores, rides to my office in Edgewater, where I was able to catch up with some of my vast backlog of work, help bringing my car to the gas station, picking up mail at the post office, and more.  

Today, I feel thankful to many people for the new kind of community I have experienced with CTX.   And as if all the above were not enough, thanks to CTX, I now have several mended wool sweaters, and another one on the way.

I also have had the opportunity to share some of my skills, such as flower essence work and chi gong instruction with people who were interested in learning from me, and hope to share more skills and give more to CTX in the future.

 

Everything’s Connected: The Space In Between Us

When I went to grad school to study the history of South Asian religions, I thought that my passion for work in the community would have to be relegated to a hobby.  I felt like the two were so unrelated that there was no way I could justify my research of ancient medical and religious texts and stories from India with my desire to create a just world and sustainable, vibrant communities.  I started working with The Chicago Time Exchange while I was in grad school to create a “hobby” space for social justice.

Fast forward what feels like a hundred years (who’s working on that time machine, people?), and I’m no longer officially studying myths, texts, religions, and languages, but I am still active in The Chicago Time Exchange working to affect social change in communities.  What I’ve realized recently (and I promise this is going to be not about me–insofar as I can write about something other than myself–very soon) that they have always been related for me.  The stories and myths I’ve studied have always highlighted the experience of the non-dominant class.  Likewise, I’ve learned that stories, myths, and history play an important role in the way people relate to one another.

This joke-of-a-“spring,” Lara, an active member and co-director of The Chicago Time Exchange, finished her LinkUp residency at Links Hall.  The residency was designed to investigate Lara’s art practice and her social practice.   How does her community support her art?  And vice versa?  What is the role of art and artists in community building?  What about her love for etymology and linguistics?  And, probably most importantly, what about balloons?

Lara’s performance artistically wove these questions in with folklore and storytelling, social justice issues, current events, her own journey, desires, needs, and offering gifts.

Lara beautifully tells and illustrates the story of the princess and the frog and presents it as a story about desires and vulnerability.  The princess needs the frog to help her with her ball and the frog represents a need for human connection (and sexuality) that can be scary and sometimes intimidating.

She then recounts her story about how she came to the sharing economy.  She was listening about the BP oil spill and felt so furious and desperate that she was moved to action.  She needed to do something.  She found about gift economies at the Social Forum in Detroit and worked on building their presence in Chicago.

These are both two really separate things, right?  I mean, what does a fairy tale have to do with the BP oil spill?  What does any of this have to do with The Chicago Time Exchange?  They are all about needing each other.  The motto, if you can call it that, of the CTX is “we have everything we need, if we use everything we have.”  The two major premises of this statement is that we (individuals and communities) have needs and we have something to fill the needs.  It is never true that an individual can fill 100% of their own needs.  Basically, we need each other.  Lara’s performance illustrated in different ways, that I need my community.  I need other people.

The great thing about Lara’s performance is that saying “We need a community.  I need people” is a nice and cheery thing to say theoretically, but putting it into practice and living it is kind of brutal.  It is a pain in the ass to need people.  People fall through and they mess up and they can be super awful sometimes.  I wish sometimes we “needed” something a little less complicated.  Like,  chocolate.  Can the CTX motto be “we have all the chocolate we need if we eat all the chocolate”?

I certainly don’t have an answer for this.  Though I think we can vote on a motto change.  People do awful things.  I never do (ahem), but others definitely do bad stuff.  That stuff sucks and it’s constant and there’s nothing for it.

But people do awesome stuff too.  Lara starts gift circles in Chicago.  Rebecca starts The Chicago Time Exchange.  My husband tells the funniest jokes ever.  Laura knits stuff for people and is great to talk to.  Tom helps me with website stuff out of the goodness of his heart.  Julius tutors kids to make sure they do well on the ACT.  My boss enthusiastically supports me even when I’m being awful.  The kids I work with are simply hope incarnate.

I need these things.  I need this community.  I need these people.

It’s scary to need these things.  What if they get taken away?  What if I am no longer deemed worthy of these people?  What if what I offer them is not worth what they offer?  What if something happens and they cannot offer what I need?  What if I need them and they’re not there?  What if they do not follow through?

Those are scary questions, and the only person who has all the answers is Brene Brown and possibly Oprah.  And Beyonce.  I think Tavi Gevinson has some too, even though she’s only 17.  I digress.

The larger need that we have is the need to be needed.  In Lara’s performance, she describes a break down after the BP oil spill.  She needed to be helpful.  Do all the people I need, need me to need them?  Does my husband need me to laugh at his jokes?  Does Rebecca need me to appreciate the CTX because she needs to help her community?  Do the kids I work with need someone to see them with hope rather than despair?  Does my boss need to support me so his mission can be successful?

Perhaps it is not a weakness to have individual needs and desires.  Perhaps the secret strength of our community rests in the ubiquitous and inter-related nature of our needs.  When I need you, I am weak.  When we both need each other equally, we are unstoppable.

Links Hall performance with CTX member Lara Oppenheimer

For those of you who haven’t met Lara, she is one of the co-directors of the Chicago Time Exchange. She is wrapping up a LinkUp artist residency at Links Hall which is one of the CTX’s organizational partners.

This weekend, March 28th-30th, please come see her performance called “The Space in Between Us,” which is an intelligent and creative look into artist practice, storytelling, community, and social practice.

“Storytelling, lecture, balloons, and a golden ball traverse the territory of pleasure and fear between the kitchen and pond, frog and princess, utopia and apocalypse. Created and performed by Lara Oppenheimer, Marie Casimir, Jessica Marasa and Lindsay Hopkins, “The Space Between Us” explores intimacy, economy and ecology through the lens of a fairy tale and the question of how we name home.

Lara’s LinkUp residency is an investigation into the ways an alternative economy can support artistic work and vice versa. Throughout the residency, members of the community were invited to share skills and offer artistic support, being paid in time credits through the Chicago Time Exchange. http://www.chicagotimeexchange.com”;

CTX members can pay for the performance in Time Dollars by logging into the Chicago Time Exchange website and clicking here (offers tab).

Learn more and RSVP for the performance HERE.

A Member’s Take

Post by guest blogger and CTX member Maggie M.

When I first heard of CTX I felt incredible gratitude. Who knew that this radical, generous, open-minded tribe was organized in Chicago and available to me! Inspired by the prospect of soulfully expanding my community whilst decreasing my dependence on capitalism, I jumped in and signed up for an account.

However, my initial enthusiasm for CTX got swallowed up by my very busy life, and though I’d signed up with lofty intentions, I did nothing with the account.  I did nothing for so long that when I went to log in the other day I couldn’t recall my password.  Yikes.  I felt as if I’d spent a fortune on shoes I never wore, RSVP’d yes to an event and didn’t go, and begged for a toy I never played with.  But after I got over my embarrassment I realized that I hadn’t hopped on CTX in a while because I doubted I would have something someone wanted, or that I could actually get needs met by a group of strangers.  Lucky for me, I was about to have my mind blown.

I logged on and had tons of Time Dollars to exchange.  I’d been accruing them for doing things that, frankly, I wanted to do anyway, like talking to friends about their stunning, juicy art and setting up for parties and events where I had a blast.  But I never really thought I would use the Time Dollars….until I saw the offer for tickets to “The Space Between Us”–a clever, playful and complex show playing at Links Hall March 28, 29 and 30.  I was stoked and “bought” myself a ticket!  And since I was so Time Rich I got tickets for my friends!  I love that Time Dollars empower me to be generous.  I wanted to snatch up all the tickets because I know the people making it and it’s going to be great, but in my newfound generosity I refrained:  I left tickets for you so you can come out and meet me there!  Get on it!

Now, of course it felt great to “buy” tickets and receive from the CTX, but what could I possibly offer?  I’d earned Time Dollars for collaborating with a friend who was already on CTX, but I didn’t think I’d have anything to offer a total stranger.  I assumed that everything folk needed would be out of my realm of helpability….until I read one, wonderful little word—Kombucha!  Kombucha is a scrumptious, fortifying, mystical, miracle beverage made of fermented sweet tea, and it is one of my very favorite things to talk about, make and drink.  Someone on CTX was requesting help with this seemingly obscure thing of which I have an abundance of supplies, knowledge and enthusiasm!  Wow—this CTX thing is making sense to me now.

Even if you haven’t been active on here in a while, or if you are new to CTX, I urge you to check out the offers and requests of our community!  Folks are asking for all sorts of intriguing things like clothing alterations, help with writing, conversations in Spanish and musical accompaniment.  Folks are also offering wild stuff—theater tickets, book-keeping, music lessons, energy work.  I am so totally impressed with this community and am thrilled that I jumped back in!

Thanks for your patience with me, CTX!  My next adventure is to post an offer and make a request.  Maybe you will do the same?  Asking and offering are simple acts with infinite potential.  Check back soon and I’ll let you know what miracles and alchemy my adventures bring.  Maybe it will be you!