The Generosity Economy: An ark for troubled times

At one point, in the not so distant past, we had a thriving Generosity Economy Circle here in Great Barrington.

A Generosity Economy Circle is a miraculous community healing practice. I use the word miracle as defined by my fellow evolutionary economist Charles Eisenstein: “A miracle is something that is impossible from one’s current understanding of reality and truth, but that becomes possible from a new understanding.”

These days many of us humans are finding good reason to be mightily concerned about the distressed state of our species and the eco-systems of our planet. With the 6th Great Extinction well under way, accelerating climate disruption, and a tsunami of global and local issues plaguing us – no wonder so many are feeling incredibly stressed.

A friend recently shared what I think holds true for many – that when facing the seemingly insurmountable breakdowns going on across the entire globe, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and frozen. We hear about all the problems, but what to do about them? Addressing even just one of the simple ones (e.g. plastic waste) can take ridiculous amounts of effort. And that’s just a material problem. What about the human suffering problem? Where do we even start to reclaim a healthy way for humans to be on this planet together?

A Generosity Economy Circle is a very simple practice yet is anchored in deep transformative evolutionary economics. Although it may sound to some like a utopian pipedream, we long-term practitioners have a stockpile of inspiring stories that attest to its substantial restorative social impact.

Here’s how it works: A committed group of people in the local community meet regularly to engage in exchanging un-monetized “Needs, Wants & Gifts” and sharing insights from our exploration into economic sovereignty. It’s basically a Gifting Circle.  But the name Generosity Economy helps us remember that what we are doing at essence is creating a new local economy based in true wealth. The “currency” that begins to flow amongst circle participants is a trans-economic wealth that reflects the values of a healthy community. We are building channels of exchange for basic and primary human needs like food, shelter, support, connection, creative collaboration, generosity, fun, and healthy inter-dependence.

The Generosity Economy Circle is a social container that helps us reclaim our natural simplicity. It creates a “petri-dish” to heal social wounds of isolation and separation. It challenges inaccurate theories on the innate “selfishness” of humans. As other evolutionary economists assert, many of our distorted human expressions (e.g. greed) are by-products of our scarcity-based capitalist economy. The GEC practice can restore our faith in human goodness and gives participants a visceral experience of heartfelt and meaningful local community collaboration. The goodwill, gratitude and inspiration generated are profound!

Additionally, the GEC serves as a breeding ground for brilliant innovations to address local issues, like creative uses for the community commons, limiting waste, promoting up-cycling, and cross-pollination across social groups. One of the most powerful ROI’s (Return on Investments) from the practice is the cultivation of trust.  For humans, trust is a key relational need. For local communities facing enormous global abrupt changes, trust is paramount to survival.

At one point, in the not so distant past, we had a thriving Generosity Economy Circle here in Great Barrington. It had a handful of expansions, contractions and a robust learning curve. I could write at length on the stories, ideas and theories we experimented with. But the best way to understand the healing power — dare I say miraculous and magical power! — of this practice is to experience it for yourself.

So you are invited to come try it out. We will be starting up a monthly, open Generosity Economy Circle, beginning on Sunday March 22, from 1-3 p.m., at the Friends Meeting House. All are welcome.