I'm a bit nervous as I write this, because now I've really "awakened the dragon" in my life! I've been very cautious my entire life to stay below the radar, and to leave projects I've started after a while as soon as I got anywhere near that dragon (some big fears I have).
But, I've kept doing this same project long enough now, to know that I will choose to allow the fears to rumble as much as they want - I'm still doing it and I will keep moving in this direction.
So, a couple of months ago, I invited some people we know to an introductory meeting at my home about a local gift market (my project). No one came. Two weeks later, it was time for the first actual market, still at my/our home. I was the only one who had contributed to the gift market supply at that time, naturally, so it wasn't a very big thing. No one came. This kept happening for a couple of more Sundays (except for my supportive sister and her family, they showed up a couple of times!), until the 5th Sunday, a woman came! She had even prepared herbal tea bags to give away at the market. This happened last weekend.
And now, today, I've spent many hours organizing the first local gift market in a nearby barn, with toilets, a kitchen, benches and tables and everything we will need for future market days. 7 people came, and 3 of them contributed by giving away things to the market. I don't need to pay for more than the electricity, basically (our kind and generous landlord owns the barn and already runs his own little countryside tourist activity center on this farm, so that's why there are parking lots and everything in place already). I will give him and his wife a number of things and some help in return, even if they don't require it, because I really appreciate how they make our lives so much easier with their kindness.
I also offered the market visitors some plums, pears and grapes, water and crispy corn bread with vegan sandwich spread and sliced tomatoes on a "Refreshments table", and received a good sum of money in donations for the little food they ate (it felt like an awesome gesture from God/LoA).
I'm having so much fun preparing, organizing, setting things up, creating things to give away and a lot more when doing this. Gift economy in real life has been a silent passion of mine since 3 years back. Or maybe since childhood, money has not made much sense to me really (there are and has been some spicy emotions about money, and I believe creating a local gift market will make a lot of them come out now).
The way I've structured it is quite easy (I'm describing the nuts and bolts here if you feel there might be something useful in it, if you'd like to do the same thing in essence where you are):
People gather every two weeks in the same place. The basic idea is; if you want to take things home from the market, you need to contribute with something to the market first. There is also this friendly atmosphere where you can sit down, have something to eat and drink, meet friends, look at what others have brought to the tables, and just enjoy the whole thing a lot.
- You bring with you 10 items of the same kind, worth up to app. 15 USD each. (And 6 items for 15-60 USD each, 4 items for 60-120 USD each, and 1-2 items for more than that). The different "value" levels are color coded so it's easy to find things to bring home from the same price level. After contributing like this, you are then welcome to pick 10 items (or 6, 4 etc) from the same color code at the market as a thank you gift in return for what you gave away.
- The theme for the market is Food - Handicraft - Gardening/Farming - Ecology - Household/Homesteading.
- When you've contributed with 2 different items from this theme, you are also welcome to give away one type of Art/Decorative item to the market, in half the numbers as of the others (5 instead of 10, etc).
- When half of what you've contributed with (say 10 pairs of potholders, and 5 are taken) has left the market (people have picked them out, "purchased" them), you are welcome to give another batch of the same kind of item to the market.
- The kids have their own market fair table, and they can give 3 items of the same kind, but without any other restrictions (theme, value etc). As soon as they feel that they can make/put together something that adults would want, they are welcome to join the adults' market tables.
- The whole idea is to inspire people to be creative, to be "producers rather than just passive consumers" and to realize that we can support each other without money on a large scale, even.
- People pick blueberries, mushrooms, make metal bottle holders from copper threads, knit beanies or cook chutney or hundreds of other things.
- Every adult gets to choose a plant name, and each child gets to choose an animal name. So whenever there's a contribution, I register what it was, what the plant name is, and also how many and what "value" level or color it gets. And when something leaves the market, when someone wants to have one of these things, I make a note that this plant name item is reduced by one, and that the person who picked an item from the market will now have one less item to choose/"buy" from the market.
I'm absolutely thrilled and terrified about what might come out of this as it grows and quite likely becomes more and more loving in its setup, and useful, diverse and creative, with all these people involved at some point in time. Well, not terrified of the love, but of things like media attention/representing the whole thing on a bigger scene, discontent participants, someone getting food poisoned from something they got at the market, people spreading bad rumours about it, people stealing or creating trouble (being drunk, or starting to yell at someone)....
My life will not be about some chicken tiptoeing around no dragon no more, that I can tell you
(I chose this board because I think this is about what comes up when using our free will to follow our desires, and how we often need to face fears that come up as we do that, but still wish to go that way. But maybe it fits better under another headline/board?)