& the Gift Economy
How Are My Rates Set?
I am currently operating on a gift economy
basis, meaning i do not have any set fees for my work. I ask groups to pay
me an amount that feels good and right and fair to them, that they
can afford, and that they can give joyfully. The same request applies
to individuals attending public workshops. Group process work provides
my livelihood, and i trust the groups i work with to honor this and
provide the support that makes it possible for me to continue offering
Why Do I Do It This Way?
According to "Wikipedia"
(which is a fine example itself) a gift economy is
an economic system in which participants give away things of value to
the shared benefit of the community. Examples include food banks,
volunteer fire companies, and giving rides to hitchhikers.
In the summer of 2004, i encountered three
different influences which inspired me to move in this direction.
First, i met a friend who had lived outside the monetary economy for
over seven years, refusing not only to work for money, but also to do
work exchange or barter; basically refusing any kind of commodified
relationship with another humyn being. Second, a personal growth
workshop offered regularly at an intentional community near my home
started doing their workshops on a donation basis. Third, i went on the
Superhero ride, which involves a group of people coming together
through word of mouth, inventing superhero identities and costumes,
then bicycling out into the world (capes flying gaily over bike
trailers filled with food and camping gear) for a month to find people
in need of loving service.
Collectively these experiences resulted in a
commitment on my part to engage in my work on a gift economy basis for
one year. That year ended Sept. 1, 2005, and having earned enough to
live on, i expect to continue operating this way into the indefinite
I feel called to this way of working in the world
as a way of serving life. The society i live in now fosters a culture
of consumption based on scarcity, while pretending the world has
infinite resources. I believe that the society of the future, if there
is to be one, will be the reverse: nurturing a culture of sharing based
on abundance, while recognizing nature's limitations. For me, shifting
to a gift economy now is a way of expressing my love for, and faith in,
that future world—one small step toward birthing it into being.
"At the deepest level, there is no giver, no gift
and no recipient—only the Universe rearranging itself."—Ronald Arms
For more information on Gift Economy . . .
leading resource: Shareable.net.
Website, newsletter, research reports, bookstore, and tons more than
i can do justice to here.
portal website: Meshing.it
. Their slogan: "A world community
and economy where access trumps ownership."
Practing Law in the Sharing Economy by Janelle Orsi. This new book from ABA press offers a comprehensive overview, bringing together such creations as B corps, time banks, creative commons, crowdsourcing for capital, car-sharing, couchsurfing, and more into one coherent vision of the new economy that is reshaping how we live. The new sharing economy calls for revised rules and a host of newly skilled practitioners, and Janelle is helping people travel that road. Appropriate to (and readable by!) an audience way beyond lawyers, this book is for anyone helping create new transactions or the organizations to support them. (Includes a short section by Tree on consensus.)
Tree's current favorite book on the coming gift economy: Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition, by Charles Eisenstein. In a speech entitled "Confronting Empire" (delivered at the World Social Forum in 2003), Indian author Arundhati Roy closed with this: "Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." That kind of describes how i felt reading Charles Eisenstein's book. Not only does he sing the virtues of the gift economy in a way so filled with everyday examples of what is/has been/and could be that i can nearly taste it, he also contextualizes the whole examination in a story both spiritual and practical, the arc of our transformation from the age of separation to the age of reunion. Delightful, inspiring, grounded.
How to Start a Gift Circle, by Alpha Lo. From the blog "Trust is the Only Currency."
Three new websites to support localized
gifting: Kindista here in
Eugene, and GiftFlow based in New Haven,
Connecticut. Also StreetBank, based in the
UK—you can sign up from anywhere in the world.
The Salwen family moved into a house half the size, sold their old house and gave half the money to charity—wow.
Vinod Sreedhar, social entrepreneur and workshop facilitator in India, writes openly of his early steps into the gift economy.
Shanaka Fernando's Lentil As Anything restaurant in Australia has been operating for 10 years with no
prices on the menu, presently serving 1,500 people/day. Here's
video with him explaining how his
history led to his later choices. For a newer example in the
United States, see Cafe
180 in Denver.
Naturopath Dr. Aumatma
Shah runs Karma Clinic in
Oakland, California. See this wonderful short
Some people are living without money through a combination of gifting, self-sufficiency, barter and more. See Mark Boyle's story in the UK and Heidemarie Schwermer's in Germany.
Austrian millionaire Karl Rabeder is giving away every penny of his £3 million fortune after realising his riches were making him unhappy. Read the story here.
For one vision of how a gift economy might emerge
from a neighborhood, see How
to Disappear, a beautiful online book associated with
Riverbank Neighbors in Chicago.
In Estonia, the Bank of Happiness emerged as a response to economic troubles.
Called dama, gifting is an established way of life in Mali.
In 2008, the Gift Cycle
project carried works of art as gifts from local artists of one town to
local artists of the next town along the route—a 3,000 mile journey.
Musician Issa (formerly Jane
Siberry) dstributes her music using "self-determined pricing." Read
about on her
website or in this story from NPR.
and the Gift Economy by Tom Atlee
Description and links from an encyclopedia site: s http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/Gift-economy.
Gift Economy Wiki
The connection between the Occupy movement and Gift Economy, from Carolyn Elliott over at Shareable.net: The Poetics of Occupation:
On Gift Logic .
Two interesting essays on the concept and
contemporary practices from Dave Pollard's "How to Save the World" blog. The first
post provides a good, short overview of the subject. The
second, called "Can
We Make the Gift Economy Work?" talks about major challenges
to it and what to do about them.
by Gifford Pinchot
High-Tech Gift Economy by Richard Barbrook
to join the Gift Economy
by Beverly Feldman and Charles Gray in YES! Magazine
Articles at Future Positive:
The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic
Life of Property. Random, 1983. The classic book on this
Eisenstein, Charles. Sacred Economics: Money, Gift & Society in the Age of Transition. Evolver Editions, 2011. Fantastic—a deep study of money and economics that grounds the transition to a gift economy in the deeper story of the Great Turning from the age of separation to the age of reunion.
Mauss, Marcel. The Gift: The Form and Reasons
Exchange in Archaic Societies. Trans. W. D. Halls.
Reclaiming the Gift Culture anthology published in English from India,
available for free download, 121 pages.
Mark (ed.). The
Question of the Gift: Essays Across Disciplines.
Sahlins, Marshall B. Stone Age Economics.
Tree Bressen is a skilled group facilitator who has served a wide variety of organizations for more than a decade. She feels blessed to pursue group facilitation as her calling, drawing on eclectic methods on top of a base of skills learned in the "graduate school of communal living." Her gifts include elegant process design, holding space for tough conversations, and using good process to achieve excellent product. Her practice has been conducted on a gift economy basis since 2004.