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The Age of the Gift Draws Nigh

At the end of each module of this year’s NVC Year Training, we’ve gone through a ritual that is new and unfamiliar to the participants. We transparently share our expenses, income and hopes for sustainability with the participants. We invite the participants to consider what value they put on what they have learned on the module – if resources were no obstacle, what would you give? Then we invite them to take into account their actual financial resources and commitments – what can you afford to give?

We invite them to write the lower of these two figures on a postit and put it in a pile in the middle. Then begins a process when anyone in the circle can move these amounts around to anyone else present or not present, until no-one has any more moves to make. This is what we call a Money Pile. 

Does it sound chaotic and extremely risky? We’ve found that shared risk actually creates community. Without shared stewardship of common resources, community is unlikely to develop. Here at Seed of Peace we joyfully offer our NVC events to support the growth of compassion in the world. On this year’s Year Training, we’ve been experimenting with a Money Pile as a working out of Gift Culture, or Giftivism. As Giftivism, or financial co-responsibility, is part of the syllabus, we wanted to bring it in to the structure of the course as well.

We ask for a basic contribution towards organizational costs at registration, and then invite participants to contribute towards our living costs at the end of each module. We encourage their sense of choice and responsibility in deciding how much to contribute financially. What would they consider the value of what they have received, and what is economically viable for them? We trust them to contribute an amount that enables them to participate joyfully. 

We’ve found that this approach has generated energy and growth in the Year Training community. After the counting of the postits, both times Gesine and I have been delighted with what the community has gifted to us. We’ve given two figures for our sustainability as trainers and organizers, a lower one for minimum sustainability, and a higher one for comfort. Both times, the amount we have received has come it at the level of comfort. It’s such a relief to know that there is a community willing to support us. And sharing this experience, this uncertainty, this care for each other’s well-being, has brought us together as a community.   

In the meantime, in this season of Giving, if you’re short of a present or two and hate the thought of adding to landfill, you could do better than go over to our friends at Straight to Landfill. They’ve come up with a wonderful idea – you buy a piece of useless plastic tat and they bin it straight away! The recipient doesn’t even have to handle it, or go to the bother of throwing it away themselves. You get a card to send to the recipient to show what you’ve bought them. Simples! That’s Straight to Landfill. See you in the New Year!