Welcome to Eugene Gift Circles. On this website you will find a description of how gift circles work, some of the reasons they are important both for you and the world, and a few links to other great gift economy resources. Enjoy!
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.
Gift Circles, and the larger Sharing Economy, giving because we care rather than because we are getting paid, has great personal benefit as well as the potential for creating a life changing paradigm shift for entire culture, Let’s talk about why.
Many of us live split lives. We have a caring, high valued life with our friends and community, but we both work, and purchase things in the world, in ways that disconnect us at best, and sicken us at worst. Gift Circles are a step towards reuniting our hearts with our work, and our receiving, so that all we do is give things we care about to people we care about, and receive what we need gratefully.
In times of economic restriction, like the present, there are often people who have great gifts to share, who are not giving them, and people who need those very skills. And the exchange never happens, because we do not have money to give ourselves the permission to do it. In the Sharing Economy, we take our power back, and we have full employment, there will always be a place for you to give your gifts. As we give and receive fully, there is the possibility of real abundance, rather than an artificial shortage in a world that has all we need.
Because of false values of independence, where we feel we should never need anyone, and always do it ourselves. This leads to many suffering in silence, when their community could easily meet their needs. As we practice asking for what we want and receiving it gratefully, we have the possibility of living in a world where everyone’s needs are met.
WHY NOT JUST USE MONEY?
It is certainly not bad to use and share money, and some form of money will probably continue to part of our lives. But because of the rules around money in our society, it is not a neutral means of exchange.
Money has interest attached, which leads to a need for more and more rather than a sustainable economy. Money unlike anything in the natural world, does not wear out over time, but grows. This leads to hoarding. There is no cost for most polluting, and for using non-renewable resources, combined with money’s other qualities, this encourages a pillaging of our natural resources. So the money economy is biased toward hoarding, desperation from not having enough, and the overuse of precious resources.
With an economy not centered on money, we can more easily build a sustainable world. For more on the story of money, check our Sacred Economics in our links section.
Kindista.org is an online tool for the sharing economy, and in many ways it is the online version of gift circles. Sign up and list things you wish to offer or receive.
The ultimate book on gift economy, and why it is important in our world is Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein. You can read it online, only paying what you choose (gift economy!) at http://www.realitysandwich.com/homepage_sacred_economics. Chapter 18 talks about gift circles.
Shareable.net is a leading resource on the sharing economy, of which the gift economy is one sector. They publish an excellent website and newsletter, also research reports, bookstore, and more. See, for example, this article on their site about gift circles in Berkeley.
For a bunch more links, take a look at the Gift Economy page on Tree Bressen’s website.