CTX Event: Film Screening “Fixing the Future” Friday, September 12

Interested in ways people are redefining economy?

Come watch an inspiring documentary, meet like-minded folks and learn some ways to get involved on a local level!

When: Friday, Sept 12, 6-8:30pm

Where: ICA GreenRise, 4750 N. Sheridan

Free of charge, but registration required

Register at: www.ica-usa.org

In Fixing the Future, David Brancaccio, of public radio’s Marketplace and NOW on PBS, visits people and organizations across America that are attempting a revolution: the reinvention of the American economy. The film highlights effective, local practices such as local business alliances, community banking, time banking/hour exchange, worker cooperatives and local currencies. 

The film will be followed by a short reflection, and representatives from the Chicago Time Exchange, Mutual Aid Network and Eco-Andersonville will share information on ways you can get involved in alternative economies in Chicago. This event will mark the first ‘hub’ activity for the Chicago Sustainability Leaders Network :)

Community Glue Workshop this Sunday, August 17th

Experience the creative community economy in action!  

Have fun and get your broken stuff fixed at the



This Sunday, August 17th, 4-7pm


1130 W. Thorndale Ave.

The Community Glue folks say “Revive your well-worn possessions and meet our growing community of fixers! We’ve got handy volunteers and tools available, so bring an item in disrepair and a can-do attitude, and we’ll do our best to breathe new life into your old items and keep them out of the landfill.

Things we have successfully repaired in the past:
- clothes
- simple jewelry fixes
- bikes
- kitchen appliances
- furniture
- bike accessories
- guitars
- toys (water guns, trucks, figurines)
- knick-knacks

We are always up for a challenge! We’ve got the hive mind on our side! 

This event is free, all-ages and BYOB! Come see what we’re all about! All are welcome to observe, fix, or get fixed! For more information, check outcommunityglueworkshop.org.”

It’s lots of fun.  I’ll be there with a broken chipper shredder and a broken glass beverage dispenser:)  Come on out and join the fixin’ fun!

If you can’t make this one, the next Community Glue Workshop will be Sunday, September 14, 4-7pm.

Two Juicy Exhibits about Play and Work.


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.


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!


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.