The event took place last Wednesday. I was invited to speak on “beyond money” together with Mathew Edwards from The Village Network. Regina Gelfo who organized the event did an amazing job at moderating the event. We where about 20-25 people. After Mathew’s and myself respective 10-15 minutes talk, we split in smaller groups of 4-5 people to discuss specific topics and then regrouped to share our conclusions.
My personal talk was centered on the inefficiencies of the market processes at creating sustainable abundance and happiness for all, and how mobile Internet technology ability to track our day to day accomplishments and advertise them in our social networks will provide new currencies that will allow those who give a lot to find their needs supported (and more), thus encouraging more people to focus on what they do best and give it away, rather than working for money at an alienating job that they might lose at any time.
- Mathew presented a model of trust as concentric networks, with the core circle as most trust-worthy in which a gift economy operates, and outside of this circle the rest of the world, the global economy with global currencies. For Mathew, there is little in between and this is where an intermediate concentric network must emerge with a mix of gift economy with a bit of accounting/reputation and local currencies with less influence of global market forces. He gave as an example the Village Network currency systems, which operate both as a gift-economy and mutual credit currency. He explained that in this system, everything starts with the expression of a need by a member, that others are offering to satisfy (ex. need a ride to the airport), rather than by a marketplaces of products/services offered that can be shopped for.
- We discussed how deeply unsatisfactory exchanges can be, compared to authentic gifts: “billing for necessities makes me feel really bad”, earning $1500 in a WE for a wedding you don’t want to be at, having to asks patients or students for money knowing they don’t have it. Binal Shah of Karma Clinic shared with us in a small group how she provides healthcare to patients on a gift economy basis. Here is what she says to her patients: “What I provided you is worth way more than you can possibly pay for it so I’m going to give it to you”. She simply trusts that the ripple effects of her gifts will come back to her and satisfy her needs. Another attendee, who is an educator, as well as Mathew mentioned how he provides a service on a sliding scale basis, but with a commitment to always says “Yes” even if the patient cannot pay the full price, sustaining their activity by the generous contributions of some clients that allow them to provide service for free to others.
- Someone mentioned how existing platforms such as CouchSurfing could be extended to provide housing and foor for people volunteering (not just for CS, but any volunteering). This is in line with some ideas I introduced in my talk.
- Anthony Di Franco summarized a discussion by saying that our perception of scarcity is a self-realizing phenomena and that we must find ways to change this perception to a perception of abundance, which in turn will entice people to give more.
Other names mentioned I heard for the first time: