Saturday, August 1, 2009

"The Sharing Solution" Author Janelle Orsi on getting by in challenging times; How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life, and Build Community

On the Aug. 2, 2009 Forward Forum:

Click for Show Intro
Includes Preview of "Lanterns for Peace," and "WI Capitol Pride" Events

Click to Listen to Janelle Orsi Interview

Our guest is Attorney Janelle Orsi (pictured below at left), co-author (with Atty. Emily Doskow, at right) of the book "The Sharing Solution: How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community."

The authors write, "Sharing is the answer! Build community and save money with the ultimate resource sharing guide.... You may be motivated and committed to creating a more sustainable lifestyle in your community, but where do you start? And how can you do it without the hassle and legal entanglement that so many greener initiatives seem to require? The Sharing Solution guides you, in plain English, through the steps you’ll need to take to create and maintain successful sharing arrangements.

From housing to childcare, cars to lawnmowers, gardens to bike repair, The Sharing Solution gives you the tips and tools to share your resources, while addressing commonly held questions about liability and individual security with compassion. How can you benefit from sharing?

* Get help with meals and pet care
* Share needed resources in retirement to save money
* Buy property with others if you can’t afford a single-family home
* Work fewer hours while reducing living expenses
* Grow your local economy with community initiatives
* Plan to make big purchases with others to keep costs low

And, if you’re concerned about the environment and want to start living greener, The Sharing Solution is filled with environmentally sound ways to build a more sustainable – and affordable – lifestyle. Written by public interest attorneys, the book provides the practical tools you can use to make sharing agreements.

As noted author Alice Walker says, “Sharing is the answer…”

Some Madison-based examples of successful "sharing programs"

Arboretum Co-Housing Program

Arboretum Cohousing is a cohousing community that is designed to encourage interactions between people and enrich our lives with the pleasure of cooperation and friendship.

From their webpage: "The community is a mix of affordable market-rate and low-income units. We care about the earth and are committed to environmentally sustainable practices and building techniques. Our multigenerational community welcomes diversity and values the input of each person.

"Sharing Our Lives We are a community in which we share work, celebrations, laughter and tears. We support each other through the milestones of life. We sustain each other as we learn, raise children, and become wise elders. We strive to build a community where we can all belong for a lifetime."

This is just one example of co-housing in Madison. For more information, please visit the website of the Madison Area Community Land Trust.

Madison Community Car

From left: Patricia Eldred, Director of Development and Communications for Independent Living, Inc.; John Ribolzi, Vice President of Community Car; Sonya Newenhouse, President of Madison Environmental Group; Colleen Moran, Operations Manager of Community Car; Tom Linfield, VP of Grantmaking and Community Initiatives for Madison Community Foundation; and Meals on Wheels Volunteer.

Delivering daily meals to Madison residents just got a bit easier for Independent Living’s Meals on Wheels program. The Madison Community Foundation is sponsoring three years of access to Madison Community Car’s fleet of hybrid and high-mileage vehicles.Because of the poor economy, Tom Linfield of the Madison Community Foundation said the foundation has shifted its priority to supporting organizations that provide life’s basics — food, shelter and energy. "We were worried that a lot of non-profits who do great work would struggle and go out of business," Linfield said. "We wanted to not just give them extra money to do what they regularly do but help strengthen them."

Independent Living can now take the $5,000 a year it had spent on vehicle-related expenses and keep prices low for its Meals on Wheels clients, usually elderly residents, said Rita Giovannoni, Independent Living CEO. The three-way partnership, with its focus on bettering the community and environment, creates "the kind of world we want to be a part of going forward," Giovannoni said. After the three years of foundation sponsorship, Independent Living could continue with Community Car on its own at 50 percent of what they spent on transportation before the Madison Community Foundation suggested a partnership with Community Car, a Madison-based car sharing organization.

From the Madison Community Foundation e-newsletter.

Community Car began operation in Madison,Wisconsin in October of 2003. It is a member-based car service that provides rental by the hour for individuals and organizations, in an attempt to provide an economical, environmentally-friendly alternative to owning a car or second car.

Dane County Timebank

The Dane County Timebank is a network of individuals and organizations in Dane County working to increase efficiency, opportunity and resource sharing through mutually beneficial exchange -- building community ties and community self-sufficiency.

How does it work?

When you need something like minor home repair, child care, companionship, an exercise buddy, whatever -- look on Community Weaver and contact a member directly, or call the Timebank coordinator and ask. The coordinator will set you up with a neighbor, who has had an interview and basic background check like every other Timebank member, who can help you. After the neighbor helps you they or the coordinator deduct one Time Dollar per hour of service from your account and adds the same number of Time Dollars to your neighbor's account. You can earn back the credit by helping anyone else in the network. You can also accumulate a few debits before you need to pay them back. It's easy to ask for help when you need it!

See also, the website of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives.