Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Radical Sharing - a conversation

By Llyn Peabody

A few days ago, Chris and I attended a conference entitled "Community and Bioregional Resilience" sponsored by the Co-Intelligence Institute. The conference was organized in the manner of open space technology. This meant that, whoever had a passion for their topic, they could host a discussion on it and others who shared that passion could join in. The topic we presented on was
"Radical Sharing" --  a system of distributing goods and services that allows for the free flow of the wealth of the community so that all members are able to get their needs met, and no individuals amass more than their share. 
It is based on the idea of "giving without thought of receiving." In this, it goes far beyond buying and selling, barter or accounting of any kind. What follows is a summary of the notes we took during our session and some relevant links for people who wish to pursue these topics further.

Radical Sharing as an expression of spiritual truths:
Radical Sharing is based on the metaphysical belief that we are "all one". This is true for the human family, as well as our place within the natural environment that sustains us. When we feel safe to feel this deep oneness, we are more inclined to act altruistically because we realize that when we "give", we are giving to our selves.

What we focus on expands and the 'outer' reflects the 'inner': As we focus on an inner awareness of our oneness with each other, this naturally shows up in the world "outside" of us. External experiences of this "oneness" reinforce the inner consciousness. This is why it is so important to couple our inner-practice of cultivating a sense of oneness, with actual experiences of it in our day to day encounters.

Most of us are fighting the system with one hand and feeding it with the other. Until we have viable models for alternatives, we will probably just keep on doing what we've always done. The silver lining in the dire world-circumstances in which we find ourselves is that we may finally have motivation strong enough to catalyze us into making the radical changes needed to bridge into a world that works for all.

What follows are several examples of projects that are on the ground, or will be shortly, that are providing people access to the joys of sharing.

Kindista Kindista is a new kind of social network - like Facebook, that facilitates the Gift Economy. People record when they have "gifted" someone and others can track the flow of generosity within their own social circles and beyond. Kindista is based upon the idea that being witnessed, and experiencing others' gratitude are important parts of keeping the gifting-flow alive and thriving. Eamon Walker - a software designer, is using his talents to create this custom social network as the "off-the-shelf" programs had limitations that needed to be transcended.As of this writing, Kindista has not yet been launched but you can register your email and be informed when the project is ready for participation.

Designing for Generosity In this Tedx Talk, Nipun Mehta speaks simply and eloquently about the inherent goodness in people and the joyous feelings of satisfaction that come through giving generously without thought of receiving.  When you watch this video, it is not so difficult to imagine a world transformed through simple acts of kindness.

ServiceSpace: ServiceSpace is an all volunteer-run organization that leverages technology to inspire greater volunteerism. It's a space to explore our own relationship with service and our interconnection with the rest of the world. ServiceSpace allows our inherent generosity to blossom out into small acts of service for the community around us. It's a space to learn how outer change is closely tied to our own inner transformation. It's about changing ourselves, to change the world. There are many aspects to ServiceSpace. Two of our favorites are: Daily Good - a daily or weekly newsletter delivered to your email inbox that features articles and links to sites focused on all the amazing 'good' being done in the world; a healthy balance to all the "negative" news that so dominates the media. We also enjoy KarmaTube that lists hundreds of videos that also focus on a positive, inspirational theme and showcase "feel-good" projects around the world. You can sign up to have their featured video emailed to you each week.

Sharing Gardens - Most people are familiar with the typical model of community gardening: multiple, separate plots, rented by individual gardeners or families,  in which each person grows and harvests their own produce. In a Sharing Garden, the crops are grown collectively. The funds, materials, and the water are donated, and participants come together one to three times a week to grow the food. Everyone shares in the harvest, the joys of learning to grow food together, and a genuine sense of community through joining in this meaningful activity.  The extensive surplus is donated to people in need (through food banks and other charities.) No one is ever charged money for the food that is grown. 
Sharing Gardens create meaningful activity that builds true bonds of family/neighborhood that can be drawn on in times of strife. They provide a perfect medium for us to look at our fears about sharing and to move through them. Click on the link to learn about this grass-roots project entering its fourth year in Alpine/Monroe, Oregon.

Full Circle Family Here you will find a vision for a Radical Sharing community based on the principle and practice of "giving without thought of receiving". Members hold all things in common and care for each other and the Earth-community through acts of service because they believe that all people are members of one human family and that the solutions to the world's many woes come through taking our place as members in the larger family of the natural world.

Here are some random comments and observations on Radical Sharing and the Gift Economy that were raised during our OpenSpace conversation. We offer them without comment, as seeds to further exploration:
  • Giving precipitates receiving/nature abhors a vacuum.
  • Gandhi quote, “There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.” For a comprehensive list of other great Gandhi quotes, click here.
  • Altruism is inherent in human nature.
  • A true gift is one that fulfills an actual "want" or "need". How many of us have received gifts that were based, not on what would fulfill us but as an expression primarily of the giver's values and agenda. 
  • People are often afraid to say "no"; money becomes a tool for blocking intimacy. It is easier to say, "I don't have the money," than to say, "I don't want what you are offering."
  • When people's social needs are not being met, they try to fill with material goods.
  • For a deep look at the fractional reserve banking system, it's history and how it works - important to be educated about the forces working towards a consolidation of wealth and power. Link to "Money Masters" - the video 
  • Instead of focusing on what you're not getting (victim consciousness), shift to "What can I give?" An under-employed member of our conversation felt depressed until he realized that he had more time for giving/volunteering. On a national level - underemployed youth (30% unemployed) and others - tremendous untapped energy to put toward common good. The Civilian Conservation Corp serves as a strong previous example - but now it's time to move beyond government as catalyst/solution.
  • Organs work together in a body - not bartering for a deal (I'll pump your blood if you filter/clean it. As we take our place in the larger community of the natural world we will naturally find a balance of giving/receiving.
  • We have lost the sense that we are everything. Most acquisition comes out of the desire to re-find our connection with the natural world.
  • Earth is our mother - We would never think of owning different parts of our mother's body (I get the thumb, you get the arms). So too, the Earth is our body - as we come to feel and know this at a deep level, laws protecting rainforests, wetlands, air etc will no longer be necessary as we do not need laws to prevent people from destroying their own lungs, heart and digestive systems...(or do we?)
  • Animals/plants all give and receive without accounting
  • Here is a Link to a post by a friend, Kim, who also attended the openSpace conference. It's called "Baby Steps into the Gift Economy". He shares some important insights.
  • Here is a link to an amazing movie called "I Am". It is one of the few that, in addition to looking squarely at the challenges we are facing, offers plausible, scientifically and spiritually-based solutions. One of the concepts it introduces is a definition of insanity: "anyone owning more than they need."

"Even after all this time
the sun never says to the earth, "You owe Me."
Look what happens with a love like that,
It lights up the Whole Sky.
-Hafiz (a Persian poet of the 1300's)