In the midst of an economic downturn sharing and cooperation become even more important than usual. If I’m right, our present situation is more than a cyclical downturn, it is the beginning of a fundamental economic readjustment triggered by peak debt, peak oil, peak pollution, etc… The limits to growth have been reached and we will not grow our way out of this predicament.
It seems we are now entering the chrysalis stage of societal metamorphosis, which means that familiar structures on which we’ve been dependent are breaking down. This runs the gamut from money and banking to health care, food and energy systems, education, government and law, and even religion.
As we undertake the necessary community based restructuring, it is essential that we find ways to make sure that everyone’s basic needs are taken care of and that positive developmental projects get the support they need. Alongside the deployment of moneyless and bankless systems of reciprocal exchange, it is essential that we also enhance the structures of the gift economy. More than giving to the usual charities, this means doing what we can to satisfy the needs that we see all around us. Give or share what you have, it need not be money. Most of us have more stuff than we use, and much more than we need.
But wise use of our monetary resources is still important. I recently discovered a new website called givv.org that allows you to designate a fixed amount to donate every month, and to distribute it amongst any number of recipients that you name. You can thus give small amounts and avoid getting on mailing lists that inundate you with appeals for further donations. You can watch a three-minute video here.
If you missed it, you can consult my list of Financing Alternatives, which also includes some other creative ways of giving.
And be sure to read the story about Mali’s Gift Economy in Yes! magazine.