The Men's Group of Eugene has decided to initiate a class or series of classes introducing Eugenians - especially economically struggling or disillusioned Eugenians - to the theory, vision, and practice of gifting and sharing as major dynamics in our local economic system and how these activities could help them.
To a great extent gifting and sharing bypass the use of money and thus, as more people practice them and as more of the essentials of life are given and shared, more of us have less need for money and less need to work at "jobs", thus freeing up our lives for more enjoyable and meaningful activities - or at least reducing the suffering associated with unemployment.
Gifting and sharing also increase our relationships with each other, strengthening our community, our interdependence, and our collective resilience in hard times.
As we deepen and stretch into gifting and sharing, we discover an abundance of resources among us that we never dreamed we had, resources hidden by the abundance-blind, scarcity-driven money economy. In short, using gifting and sharing, we can redesign our local economy to provide us with a higher quality of life - even as money becomes more scarce.
The idea for doing a course about this came from a course Greg took at NEDCO, a course which helps poor and struggling people make better use of their money, economize, and save money, with an incentive provided: If a participant saves a certain amount of money, NEDCO matches it.
While recognizing this as a lovely educational effort and community service, our men's group felt the focus on money contracted people's life energy and neglected the tremendous life-giving blessings of gifting and sharing. Thankfully, there are growing resources for and knowledge about gifting and sharing in Eugene and beyond. We decided that we could provide access to some of this knowledge and these resources, perhaps simply to benefit NEDCO-trained citizens and possibly to start catalyzing a more established and dynamic gifting-sharing economy in Eugene that would help each of us individually and also prepare our community for likely harder times ahead.
Although we can imagine this expanding into a broader educational and organizing effort, our first task is to develop a four-session class as a pilot for NEDCO. Greg has a contact at NEDCO who is interested in seeing what we come up with.
Some of the curriculum elements we're considering are (Please feel free to change or add to this list!!!):
- Participants talking with each other about their relationship with / problems with money (perhaps with a gentle inquiry or intro about the larger systems that generate those problems)
- Develop a version of Jennifer Atlee's new economy cards that would be immediately relevant to struggling individuals - for example Work Less Have more Fun and Shop Less Live More. Here's an evolving List of Patterns for putting in our card deck.
- Being introduced to Kindista and gift circles (and free boxes and Craigslist , etc., etc.), participating in them, and helping each other understand and use them
- Learning about the gigantic sharing movement, as embodied in sites like Shareable.net
- Learning about Charles Eisenstein's book Sacred Economics .
- Watching videos like Economy Sandwich and The Story of Stuff .