Mapping Allison’s Wonderland

AllisonsWonderland
a picture drawn by Allison

Allison Bailey was one of my best friends. She died very suddenly on December 29, 2018 only 6 months ago. Recently I realized just how important our shared idea was, that she called Resource Community. Today I’m bringing the pieces together, in the name of her legacy and creating something that would have met a profound need for both of us.

Resource Community was born out of Allison’s (and my) own discovery of helpful, even life-saving resources. The idea was to center a website community around an interactive map tool.
Focusing on the local community, this tool would be a virtual third space where users can post information about local resources in a myriad of categories based on need and the local economy. 

It was beautiful and exhilarating to witness Allison dedicate so many hours to the tedious grinding “digital labor” of web development. I as an outsider and a person who genuinely believed in her wisdom was excited to become a kind of de-facto co-founder. The late stages of serious development were concentrated around Fall of 2018 up until the day she died.

Allison and I started to become closer friends around Spring through early summer 2018. Sometime around May, I told her about an interactive map I created based on the Google map tool. I started it with a desire to keep track of the local youth service or advocacy organizations in our area.

I’d interacted with these youth orgs frequently, some more than others, over the last 7 years, playing a mix of roles. Although I had a good idea of this network for an outsider, I wanted to get really serious in my tracking and updating of this information, to create a bigger picture that would reveal knowledge that I otherwise wouldn’t see, working only from memory.

That interactive map grew to be so much more than just a youth network. I could use it to create delivery loops for my youth independence guide, Willpowerful. But I also noticed that it branched out quickly into different types of service: housing, economic empowerment, food, or healthcare. And once it got that far it was only natural to expand even further.

When I told Allison about this idea she referenced Resource Community for the first time. We both realized quite suddenly at the same time that she was creating the web tool, and I was like a Star User populating the information. Thus a superhero dynamic duo formed.

I was exposed heavily to the inner workings of Ms. Allison Bailey, because in June of 2018 I asked if she wanted to join myself and a few others in finding a house to rent. Once we moved in together we discovered natural patterns. Later at night, starting at around 10PM going as late as 2AM, Allison would pace in the kitchen and her mind would be in a hyper-active, very creative and restless state. She had so much going on internally and struggled to find big enough or meaningful outlets to put this energy into. My listening and feedback became one of those outlets, and I only realized how valuable this was after she died. Next to her brother, a mutual friend, I was her second best friend.

bohemiangrave.jpg
Halloween at “Bohemian Grave” with the original housemates – Allison on the left in yellow, and Nemo (me) in the penguin costume next to her.

It’s hard to imagine just how many types of needs human beings have; it’s hard to see what object, service or interaction could be the one thing someone needs, a resource gone unrecognized. In November 2018, I invited Allison to a volunteer training for deep listening through a local organization called City House. The director of the organization was leading the group on the practice of deep listening for longer periods of time and reflecting back in the ways that best show empathy. Allison, however, was about 15 minutes late because she stopped at the street corner to talk to a homeless veteran, and they discovered they loved the same anime. She announced this to the director on walking in, and he decided it was great news.

If I can launch this project beyond its Google map tool phase, the places it could go would be incomprehensible right now. It would take existing communities and create a whole new kind of transparent, hyper-connected web. Individuals and organizations could buy advertising on their location page, and the structure of the site would allow for anyone (ideally in any language) to start posting or searching in their local area, from around the world.

By tapping into existing structure to create new structure, Resource Community would create new groups, connections and movements. Transparency is a friend to truth and wisdom. For so long I’ve been overwhelmed and frustrated at the serious economic ignorance around me. Look at the US housing bubble. You could say the people who received unaffordable house loans were innocent, but you could also ask why a family would get a house loan without figuring out if they could even pay for it. And then, why should some bankers/investors ruin the economy for everyone (including themselves) by profiting off ignorance in the short run?

Everyone has a hand in the game, and when economic ignorance is pervasive, it damages ALL of us in the end. If the ship sinks, we go down. But because this is bigger than all of us, it works in the opposite direction too.

If thousands of people are exposed to the inner workings of their economy, they too would gain natural economic wisdom and competence, and be given the tools needed to become self-determined in their community.

So join me, and let’s bring Resource Community to life. And if that doesn’t convince you, here’s the last picture Allison posted, the day she died-

WebLight
“A metaphor for life” – Allison Bailey, December 29, 2018

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