A More Beautiful World – Part I – Beyond Slacking

There is a more beautiful world, one with everyone who is willing has many of their needs met; where no one fears being homeless or going without food or medical care; where no one lacks the time to love a full life and have relationships; where we follow our dreams; where we create beauty and reach out into other parts of the culture and the world and give a helping had to make their lives better. And there is such excess around us, that this dream does not even require our government to make different and better choices. And it does not require the whole culture to come along.

However we cannot get all the way to this world ourselves, we must do it as a community. If enough of us make choices based on the truths of our oneness, the abundance of the world, and the goodness inside of us. We can live in this more beautiful world now.

What each of us needs to do is a little different depending on our place in life at this time. In this series we will look at the steps we each need to take to move back to the garden of Eden.

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The Slacker has become a cultural hero. The person who does just enough to get by, and prioritizes hanging out and having fun over any kind of achievement. Some of you are thinking, “that is disgusting” and others, “right on!”. But which ever camp you are in, there are cultural forces, some of them based on accurate assessments of our culture, that have led to the slacker phenomenon.

Many of us, especially the baby boomers, grew up in a world that preaches the virtues of hard work. If we applied ourselves and did our best, we would prosper, be able to bountifully meet our material needs which would lead to happiness, and this would lead to our entire nation succeeding. And those of us with our eyes open have seen that this “gospel of work” had huge holes in every area. Companies would work us to the bone and keep the profits, and then not care a bit when they downsized us. The “progress” we were creating was destroying the environment and other cultures around the world. Money did not make people happy, sometimes the opposite. And many of us sat in jobs where what we did, did not matter to the well-being of the world, or sometimes our hard work would make it worse. Sometimes it seemed that almost every job was tainted in some way.

So enter the age of the slacker. Where many folks stopped caring about progress in any way. And prioritized, hangout out, friends, and good times. As we have detailed, there were large parts of the culture and especially the world of work where the slacker rationale made a lot of sense. And it did lead to more open time and actually opportunity to show up and enjoy life.

However as humans we have other needs as well, including the need to create. Each one of us in some way wants to make the world around us a little bot of a better and more beautiful place. And the slacking lifestyle often created no outlet for this giving creativity, often using pot and other chemicals to numb the empty feelings that came from not expressing ourselves.

And as we look towards a more beautiful world, all the rules change. The premise is this: If each of us within a sizable community shares the gifts within us, identifies our real needs (and lets go of the substitutes championed by advertising) , and treats others in our community, like a family or a tribe, not as individuals we are competing with; then we can all live beautiful lives, most needs will be met, and no one will have to overwork to do it.

On this path, every person matters. If you are not doing your part, giving the gift you have to give, not in a perfectionist overachieving way, but just in balance; then someone else will suffer. An important need will not be met. Someone else will have to overwork to the point of unhappiness to make up for the piece that you are not providing.

So it is time for going beyond slacking. For each one of us, to find the most meaningful work possible. This does not mean we all need to be saving babies in Africa or manning the protest lines, but simply doing something that makes others lives better in at least a small way, and feels good to us.

Given the current economy, there will be times when some of us do not have meaningful work. We can create more and more ways to give and receive from one another that are not dependent on a regular “job” and money. (more about this later in the series) . And we are stuck in a job meaningless enough that slacking is appropriate. We can use our time. For instance, maybe you support on online network or do online activism while at work rather than becoming the world Free Cell champion. Or we relax fully at work and save our energy for work that really matters. If you are not in love with your job, work part-time rather than full, to give you more time to both give and enjoy life. If you have to cut back a bit on pot and ice cream, so be it. (I recognize that some seem trapped in lives where it seems they need to work full-time, I both have compassion for this situation, and hope that in this series we give answers that mean you won;t have to live that way.)

Let’s look at what living “beyond slacking” looks like in some specific situations:

Unemployment

The societal paradigm for unemployment is to looks for a job – 30-40-50 hours a week. I can think of few things more demoralizing and less productive. Unless you get a job right away, you will likely experience depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem.

The slacker paradigm is do as little as possible til the unemployment runs out. This is a wasted opportunity. Your community needs you. One of the destructive aspects of unemployment is that people have no place to give and use their skills. This leads to depression even more than fears about money. I recommend that in most situations that we all spend at least 15-20 hours a week doing things we feel good about to make the lives of those around us better, it might be using a specific skill we have, doing 2 days of childcare a week for an overwhelmed single parent, Doing fix-it jobs for those in our community for those who don’t have the skills of the time.There is something each of us can do. You can do this for free or for whatever the other person can pay. We can not let lack of money keep us from giving and receiving from one another. There are whole networks set up where you can give and also meet some of your needs without money. Check out Kindista.org worldwide or gift circles in your area (if you are in the Eugene area, check out Eugene Gift Circles  https://eugenegiftcircles.wordpress.com/

If you do need or want paying work, let the people you are serving know you are looking for work. More jobs come through connections than the want ads – especially enjoyable meaningful jobs. You can also do things for others for what

On Benefits

If you are someone who is long term government benefits, likely because holding down a full time job would not be possible for one reason of another, you have a great opportunity to be a blessing to your community. You have time to give probably without huge financial need. Don’t buy into the idea you have nothing to give. or that what you give would not make a difference. Honestly assess what you have to give that would benefit others, and how much you can work in your situation. You don’t have to get a paying job that could threaten your benefits. The network of non-economic exchange, often called the Gift Economy is tailor made for you. As you give to those in your community, you will make a difference for them, and you will feel more connected to others to life. (check the links in the paragraph before this one, We create this more beautiful world when ALL of us give what we can.

 

 

 

The More Beautiful World We Are Creating

As I continue to help create the sharing economy, I am aware how many pieces are not in place. At one of my workplaces we face a potential layoff, and I watched one of my co-workers from fear. What kind of world is this, if people are doing a great thing in the world, enjoy doing it, but have to stop because “there is not enough money?” I heard several others talk about the constant fear of not having money and not having a home affected them. This reminds me that although I have enjoyed the kind of gifts I have given and received, and watched others give and receive through Eugene Gift Circles, we are not yet where I want us to be.

I vision a community where no one who is willing to give and their skills will ever have to fear homelessness or lack the basics of life.

I vision a world where we can both give and receive out skills whether or not we have the “money” to give us permission to do so.

I vision a world where through sharing our tools and goods and common tasks like childcare, that we have less, pay for less, and experience more prosperity.

I vision a world where the economic “we” of our community is just as important as the I of us an individuals, where we can work for the common good without holding back, cause we know we will have what we need.

I vision a world where there are enough meaningful life giving jobs for everyone who wants one.

I vision a world where hoarding of money or resources becomes very uncool, and unnecessary.

I vision a world where nobody who is not absolutely in love with their job has to work more than 30 hours, and that most people have enough time.

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I realize that one error I have made up to this point, is in thinking we just need to ignore money as much as possible. Money is still a part of our world with all its imperfections, and at this point we heed to learn to distribute money to where it is needed.

Other attitudes that will help us build this beautiful world are:

Learning the skills of being with one another, that will allow us to really lean on one another.

Developing the skills of working through conflict positively

Focusing on our real and most important needs and wants, rather than the objects we use to try to fill or avoid our feelings and needs.

Learning to ask and to share our material goods, rather than throwing out or needlessly buyin.

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This visions would be wonderfully supported, by having more cheap small housing units Where there is individual space and shared space with others.

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What would it take for you to join the sharing economy? What would it take for you to share your resources significantly enough that we all had enough money and basic necessities? What is the next step to profound sharing, almost an economic”tribe”

Please write me and let me know your thoughts. We can create this together!

How do we share money?

So in my last post (…More Beautiful World) I talked about the next step into a sharing economy that would really meet our needs. Here I want to get practical. The sharing economy I’m talking about  would not be confined to money, there are many ways of giving and receiving resources and getting our needs met, and confining ourselves to monetary exchanges is highly limiting. However, given the world we live in, ignoring money will not work either. I know a number of people who live lightly and have found ways to trade and reduce needs, to where most of their needs are around housing and utilities. So to meet the needs for basic resources and economic security of these folks (and others) we will have to find a way to get money to those who need it and don’t have it.

One of my assumptions is that every person in our economy will contribute in some way. If someone is getting no money from a “job” in the world, my assumption is that they have time and they will be willing to give their time and skill to meeting the needs of other community members. So the question before us is, for people who either because they can’t find paying work that fits for them, or because what they do is tremendously meaningful, and they can not find a way to get paid for that, or maybe especially as we develop our economy, they prefer to work within the community,; How do we get those folks the money or major resources they need to live?

One way would be for some community members who own housing to donate free or very low cost housing. But even in these cases, and in the many other cases where money is needed for basic needs, there is the question of how do we get people to give their money to others, and how does that distribution happen?

I want to propose a couple of models, and to hear your ideas, too.

1. Compassionate Sliding Scale

In this model people would share some of their skills and goods with no desire for return financial or otherwise, and they would have other skills that they would ask market price for (possibly the skills they considered “work” skills), and those who could and felt good about it, would pay fully (or more), but those who did not, would pay only what they felt able to pay. Barter would also be an option if that felt good for both parties. In some exchanges, a service would be exchanged for money just as in the regular economy, but the spirit would be different. I would give you my skill because I care about your well being, and you are a part of my community. And you would give me money because you appreciated me and wanted to contribute to my well being, not because you”owed” it to me. In this model, if you are person who can usually afford to pay, you would have security of knowing if you lost your job or your fortunes changed in other ways, that you would not lose any of your services within the community, You would still get your produce delivered, and your car fixed. You would still be able to see your counselor. This is real social security.

One of the advantages to this model, is that people with modest financial needs would probably have these met as they shared their services, even if these are services that would not be economically feasible to offer as part of the regular economy.

1A.Tipping

An alternate form of this model is the tipping model where services would be free, but if you had economic resources you would be encouraged to express your appreciation for gifts you received through money as well as other ways. This avoids the issue of what something “costs” but would probably result in less money being passed to those who need it.

2. The Security Pot

Another system would be to fundraise from members within the community who have financial resources and have a pot of money that be drawn upon to meet people’s needs. We would have to talk about what the standards would be for this, how much could be given, how often, etc.
I would tend to have some standards like, the individuals must be using all the government aid that is available to them (some support in applying for that might reduce needs), and that if anyone received financial aid from the community, it would be expected that they would find someway to offer a significant amount of services, to create balance.

3. Open Request

People who had financial needs would be encouraged to ask for those needs to be met, just like all other needs, and people in the community would respond as they felt moved. This system in the simplest, but also I am guessing would provide the least actual economic security.

I would love to hear your feedback on these models and others you can come up with.  Both just your general opinion of the models, and how these models would work for you, with the economic conditions in your life.

Ultimate Social Security (USS!)

So I continue to think how to create a sharing economy that would really change the paradigm of our culture, that would really change people’s life experiences. One thing I see is that the fear of not having one’s basic needs met is a HUGE sapper of joy and peace, a cause of anxiety, a feeling that encourages people to take less chances and be more willing to compromise their soul and their passions for a “good job” and monetary security.

The fact that sometimes people’s basic needs aren’t met is a large problem, but the fear that I would guess 80% of the people in our society carry is gargantuan.

What happens if we could address that fear, and specifically address it within a larger sharing, cooperative economy? This would change people’s lives.

So here is one way to do it. Take a sharing community, like Kindista.org and Gift Circles in Eugene, or like time banks in other cities. Being active in this group would automatically make you a member of the local USS (ultimate social security) group. Members of USS would be able to receive funds to help them make it through hard times. and in return they would find ways to contribute to (work for) their community. (Note resources could be shared such as housing, but given the state of our economy, right now, this is a level best addressed by money.)

You would have to apply to receive USS money – and you would receive it if you addressed these guidelines –

1. You must have been an active part of the network for at least 6 months.

2. You would need to receiving any state aid that you are eligible for (Note: I work helping people fined resources, and this step with a knowledgeable resource person to help would mean some would not need money from the community, and others would need less than they thought)

3. You would need to have a plan for how you would use your time to benefit the community, You would have to offer skills you had and meet needs that others wanted met.

4. USS aid would be limited to 25% of the time you are been a member of this network. So if you were a member for 2 years, you could get up to 6 months of aid. If you were almost finished with your allotted time  and had no prospects, a circle would be called for people to support you and help you find a place of economic balance. If this was an exceptional situation, some individuals may be willing to support you beyond the 6 month limit.

What this system would do is mean that no one in the group goes hungry or without a place to live because their community will help catch them. It would create a sense of safety, and deep connection and gratitude for one;s community. People would be freed to be their best selves and the energy freed from worry would help them give to their community more powerfully.

So what would this cost, and how would be the fund be raised?

Lets say we have 100 people involved. There would be no claims for the first 6 months. After than say 5% of the people are using these funds at any one time, maybe 8% during times of extreme financial scarcity on the larger society. (I think these numbers might be high. I think the simple fact that people had this safety net available might motivate them to need it and use it less)

So say we are talking 5% (5 people out of our group of 100, and on the average, each person needs $300 a month. That means we will payout $15oo a month, and we would probably need to reward those who coordinate this program (although their might be some alternatives to money. But for now let’s say we pay this person $500 to manage this program part time each month. For $2,000 a month, 100 people will have their fear of losing basic resources deeply reduced, and their sense of connection to their community deeply enhanced.

We could raise the funds for this, by suggesting to a few large donors that this is a great way to change the world, and encouraging community members who are doing well in terms of money, to donate monthly. $24,000a year  is not a large amount to provide financial security for 100 people.

I would love to hear your feedback on this idea, and any ways to make it better, We can make something like this happen

Gifting Party!

Eugene Gift Circles and Empathy Cafe present
Gifts R Us Party!
Saturday, Dec 22nd 7-?? at 2850 High Street

 

Come join us in  a celebration of giving . . .  and receiving!
We encourage you and your friends to come and participate in several exciting giving and receiving opportunities.
—-> Starting at 8pm we will have a no-limit gift exchange.
Bring an item you feel good about giving away. If that item might be really valuable or amusing to someone else, all the better! It’s about giving and receiving.
—-> We will also have a special exchange of services. Write down a service of an hour or more that you are willing to offer someone else, put it in an envelope, and we will exchange.
—-> In addition, at the party you can write a need or wish you have and put it up on the Wishing Wall, and we’ll see if someone else at the party will be your gift fairy and do that for you, or perhaps know someone else who might.
—-> We will also have an opportunity to share cool and inspiring giving and receiving stories, as well as time to play and converse with one another.
—-> Please bring tasty snacks and your beautiful selves.
Call 541-525-8324 (Kim) and 541-484-7366 (Lisa-Marie) for more info.
PS. We’d love it if folks would help with set-up and clean-up. Let us know if you’d can give this way!