Posts tagged #gift circle

How to build a love-puddle community via creation rather than consumption

  So, I'm a sporeganizer for Evolver Pittsburgh.


Me and my pal Sophie had a talk with Remi Gurak and Jonathan Talat-Phillips, one of the founders of Evolver this morning, about how we're successfully building community in our spore.  He asked me to write an email to send out to the whole world-wide Evolver network about it.


After spending the afternoon writing the email and putting in all the links, I had a feeling like-- hey, this is relevant not just to sporeganizers but to everyone interested in fostering community.


So here, I reproduce the letter for your reading joy.



First, a few quick tid bits about us:

We started around this time last year.  We're going strong now with a core group of about 6 - 8 people who consistently show up to ALL the planning meetings and events and of that core, 3 of us regularly take on leadership responsibilities. We've thrown 3 big consciousness parties-- two events called Interweaves (attendance 150 - 200 -- here's video of our gorgeous fire spinners and live art), and one amazing outdoor live ritual theater fairy-themed Solstice celebration (about 300 souls-- here we are setting up the dark fairy camp -- and here we are in the fiery midst of it). We usually see groups of between 10 - 15 at our monthly events.


So what's working?

Charles Eisenstein's essay, A Circle of Gifts, has influenced us all very deeply.  In the essay, Charles makes an excellent and eye-opening point which I think of now every day- that community comes from creating together and not from consuming together.


1. Parties 

We have such a strong core group in large part because we throw ourselves into doing the big visionary parties.


When we're making a party happen, we're not just sharing information or talking with each other, we're creating something wild and wonderful that's so much bigger than anything we could accomplish individually. We all get a chance to share our deep talents as artists and metaphysicians. We rely on one another to show up and do our parts so that the parties happen.  If someone drops their ball, we all are worse off for it.  If someone does an excellent job, we all benefit.


That reliance- -well, to me it's extremely tender-- and at the risk of sounding like a big old sap, I have to tell you that my fellow evolvers make my heart melt with gratitude again and again as we do this work together -- I've turned into a giant puddle of happy mush while looking at a gorgeous labyrinth that Josh built for Solstice, or an incredibly well-thought-out to-do list that Sophie made for Interweave.


As a result of all this mush-making, I've fallen rather hopelessly in love with everyone in the spore.  So I'm willing to go extra miles to make them feel mushy.  So the happiness spreads.


Also- bonus -- through the big parties more people find out about Evolver, think we're super-cool, and come to our other stuff and help us plan.


2. Gift Circles


Back to A Circle of Gifts again!  Charles also outlines in that essay how to hold gift circles.  With Transition Pittsburgh, we've had some incredible gift circles.


Here's a brief video of one - check out all those hot evolving and transitioning folks. ;)


Through the gift circles, we deepen our reliance on one another-- so not only are we helping each other throw the parties, we're also helping each other learn psychic abilities, get healed through reiki, fix up our organic gardens, clean house, set up websites, etc. etc. in an endless whirling blur of goodness.


Also-- we draw more folks into our orbit-- 'cause man, who doesn't love a gift circle?


3. Potlucks

When we were just all getting to know each other at first in gift circles, one of the main things that people would ask for when stating their needs was just "that we would all spend more time together."
So now we have at least one potluck event a month (usually ends up being more than that somehow-- I guess 'cause we love to eat?).  Sometimes it's part of a planning meeting and sometimes it's part of a spore, and sometimes it's just for the hell of it --  but we eat together while we work on evolving consciousness.  And that makes stuff cozy and a bit more down to earth ('cause man, stuff can get heady - check out this conversation at our Technology spore).

We've got kind of big extended family vibe going on now, and I think we just want to be close to each other. So we go ahead and make that happen.


In Conclusion
I just want to mention, as I did to Jonathan and Remi this morning-- that connecting with folks through Evolver has made my social life richer and more joyous than ever before. "Find the others"-- indeed! I have! And they ROCK!
If any of you would like to talk with us about how to pull off big parties, gift circles, or pot lucks--- please go ahead and do so.  We're really itching to get to know our brothers and sisters all over the network better.

Why Living with Your Parents Doesn't Make You a Loser

I'm the Early BirdCreative Commons License photo credit: itslegitx  What a lovely tree house. Can I live there?


There's an idea in the general cultural atmosphere which I'm sick of. It goes something like this: if you live with your folks after your early 20s, if you're broke, if you're struggling to find meaningful and / or decently paying work, then there's something wrong with you.

This is a poisonous notion perpetuated by a society that's too cowardly to own up to the ways in which it has failed. I am someone who's deeply invested in the ideal of taking personal responsibility-- but this lie seeks to place responsibility on individuals where it absolutely does not belong.

We're in the middle of an economic collapse because the whole goal of our capitalist system-- infinite growth-- is actually impossible. Our economy is set up to stagnate and fail if it isn't constantly expanding. But we don't really need our economy to grow, we need it to function sustainably. And we don't really need more jobs. We need a way of distributing wealth which doesn't rely on a dysfunctional market.

In other words, we're losers all right-- in a game which was poorly designed to begin with.

I've seen the best minds of my generation shamed, depressed, demeaned-- blaming themselves for being unable to get ahead in this broken game. Growing up we were told that if we just worked hard, got good grades and went to college we'd be able to get a good job and be just fine.

Well, that turned out to be a giant lie-- now many of us-- even those of us who "played by the rules" and majored in theoretically sensible things like business administration and psychology are now saddled with loads of debt and no non-hellish job prospects.

This is not our fault. This is not because we failed. We are not failing. Our institutions, our systems, our whole mode of societal organization is failing. The kind of jobs that we're supposed to hustle for-- corporate gigs, office gigs, aren't exactly conducive to deep human fulfillment, so it's unsurprising that the wind would get knocked out of our hustling sails.

We need to shift our sense of self-worth so that it's not at all based on how we fare in this economy. We need to celebrate one another relentlessly, just as we are, with all our magic that doesn't fit into the boxes of hiring managers. We need to meet up in gift circles and potlucks and be a village.

We don't get to be yuppies any more; whether we like it or not, we get to be villagers: we can't afford fancy dinners and travel and shows all the time-- we have only ourselves for our entertainment and warmth. I love the motto of the Evolver Social Movement, of which I'm a part: "Find the others." Find the other people who are talented and stunning in ways our culture can hardly handle-- find the others who are struggling bravely-- see their gorgeousness which so vastly excels the hardship of their suffering. See their self-doubt, which is your own. Love and cherish them and in so doing love and cherish yourself.

We need to reorganize our whole society into a gift economy.

But that'll take awhile. In the meantime... how to make some cash?

Well, lately I'm a big proponent of digital entrepreneurship, i.e., selling downloadable products online. It's what I'm going to be doing in a few months with my eCourse. It's what I think a lot of us suffering and penniless geniuses should be focusing our efforts towards. I've been harassing all my friends about it. "You should be internet famous," I keep saying to the adorable, insanely smart people in my circumference. And why? Because it's true.

Jobs aren't a reliable source of income anymore. We need to dig deep, find what we have to offer, and offer it. Why sell yourself to an employer for an hourly wage? Why not create something out of your own vision which you can then sell-- and gradually free yourself from having your income tied to your time? Why grovel to match some boss' expectations of you when you could very loudly be yourself on the world wide web and attract supporters for it?

These are questions I'm asking myself. I'll probably go on more about this topic in the days and weeks to come. In the meantime, if you're interested in digital entrepreneurship as a means of getting on in this world, here are some resources to check out, some inspirational and some informational:

The Middle Finger Project - Ash Ambirge is a fine, sassy lady who offers a great free course in business when you sign up for her mailing list.

The Bootstrapper's Bible -- Seth Godin offers his thoughts about what it takes to do the whole entrepreneur-out-of-thin-air thing-- I still haven't quite forgiven him for the rather odd interpretation of gift economy he offered in Linchpin, but I'm working on it because he's generally useful.

Why You Should Never Get a Job - Steve Pavlina spells it out. I read this article a few years ago and it totally flipped my perspective on the matter.


Love! Carolyn