Gift circles are community gatherings where each person shares what they want to give, and want to receive, and then we connect to make it happen without an exchange of money.
After a short introduction and check-in, we have a short silent time with pencil & paper for people to ponder what they might want to offer or ask for and make liststhis may be time, skills, goods, info, and more.
Some folks have a hard time recognizing what they can give, but we all have things to give. Think of what you love to give, what you are good at, not just at work, but with your family and friends. Think about what you have extra of that you could give away. Think about what tools and goods you have that you rarely use and could loan out. Think about what information you have that others would value. We go around the circle and give each person a chance to share what they would like to give to others, and each of us can also take notes when we hear an offer we might like to receive.
Next we go around and each person shares what they would like to receive. Again, we can all take notes. Ask for things that could make a real difference in your life. There are often areas where people think they cannot ask for help, or they cannot imagine how their community could help them, and yet with almost any need, your community can help. People have received car use, child care help, introductions to romantic partners, even help reclaiming a stolen car. If you have a need, there is probably a way someone can help. Ask for things that will reduce your dependence on money. Massages, food, car repair, carpentry, and more have been exchanged in gift circles. It’s great to ask for small or quirky things too. A button sewn on, a costume to borrow, someone to play backgammon with.
Next, we all go up to others with whom we would like to give and receive and set up connections to make it happen. Connections are not expected to be trades (though it sometimes works out this way), you may give to one person and receive from another.
Each time someone asks you to give them something, or you offer, we encourage you to check in with yourself, and see if this particular interaction feels right. You do not have to give something to an individual just because you were interested in giving in general. We encourage you to only say yes when it feels right, and if you do say yes to follow through. And in the rare cases when you cannot, communicate with the person as soon as possible. We are building a community of trust: No will not damage this trust, while saying Yes and not following through will.
We have an ethic of giving with beauty, excellence, and integrity. We treat our gifts to one another as more important than money, not less.
A couple of notes: most of our exchanges do not involve money, but there are a few exceptions. When you give a gift that costs you money to give, you can ask for a pass-through cost of materials, and still gift the person with your time and skills. This might be applicable with material for sewing, wood for carpentry, or mileage if you have to drive a considerable distance as part of the favor.
Also, if you are a person with much more money than time, you can voluntarily give money, either in appreciation for a gift you received, or simply to a person in the circle who needs it. This is about all of us having our needs met.
Feel free to e-mail Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org for with any questions or call 541-525-8324.