Sharing Our Gifts To Create A Better World

We Need A New Economic System

Technological unemployment, the need for infinite growth, and extreme inequality are stressing our current economic system to the point of failure. Understanding these three ideas helps us to realize that we need a completely new way of organizing our economy, from the ground up.

A Shift In Values

We must challenge the fundamental assumptions and values upon which our current economy is based. To avoid the mistakes of the past, any new economic system must be built upon sustainable values. Below you can see both the values and ideas on which the current economy is based and the alternate values of a gift economy.

GREED

Greed has been exalted as a virtue in our current economy where those with the most wealthy also have the highest social status. People are rewarded for how much they take and society imposes no limits.

GENEROSITY

In a gift economy, those who give the most towards improving the lives of others are given the highest social status.

SCARCITY

A debt-based, interest-driven currency turns naturally existing abundance into artificial scarcity that makes greed, fear, and self-interest a rational response.

ABUNDANCE

Ensuring that everyone has access to the resources they need removes the incentive to accumulate stuff, and requires far less material consumption to meet the needs of all people.

PROPRIETARY

Trade secrets, patents, and copyrights all limit the ability of people to create for themselves, enriching the few at the expense of the many.

OPEN SOURCE

Open source economies enable everyone to benefit from each other's success by sharing the information that can help everyone to thrive.

COMPETITION

School teaches our youth how to compete with each other to prepare for a life spent competing for artificially scarce resources.

COOPERATION

When we work together towards our collective goals, no one is left out and everyone's needs can be met.

OWNERSHIP

Ownership is incredibly resource inefficient as valuable land, machines, cars, and houses sit idle waiting for their owners to use them despite demand from people without access.

ACCESS

Sharing the resources of the earth efficiently will increase the standard of living for all while decreasing humanity's planetary footprint.

CREDIT

Trustworthiness is measured by one’s credit score, which is hardly a measure of their character.

REPUTATION

In a gift economy, the more one gives, the more gratitude they receive from those who have received their gifts, realigning social status with altruistic behaviors.

FEAR

Artificial scarcity has created an environment of fear and competition, causing us to cautious of people’s hidden motivations.

TRUST

An economy built on trust will emerge once we are able to meet everyone's basic physical and emotional needs without worry.

HIERARCHY

The felt experience of true freedom, autonomy, and personal responsibility are vacant in an hierarchical economy in which authority dictates how everything is done.

DISTRIBUTIVE

When power is distributed among all its members, it becomes easy to harness the collective power of our unique gifts towards the highest good for all.

CRUELTY

A product of an economic system focused solely on maximizing profit at the expense of everything else.

COMPASSION

A compassionate economy will give attention to all aspects of human, animal, and ecosystem well-being, respecting the feelings and free will of all beings.

COERSION

In a world where all land is already owned and the ability to provide for oneself has been fully removed, everyone is forced to sell their time for market wage in order to survive.

VOLUNTARY

Everyone is free to choose the conditions on their participation with no impact on their ability to provide for their basic needs.

Creating Abundance Through Our Gifts

The idea is simple.

We live in a highly specialized society, making it difficult for individuals to bring their sustainable ideas to fruition by themselves. The gift economy network is here to fill that gap. Voluntarily and cooperatively with others in the community, we will design processes that create your gift and give it freely to the world, enabling anyone to volunteer for a role and bypassing the use of scarce money altogether.

Together, we will create an economy based on sustainable abundance.
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How Does It Work?

Step 1 Join Hylo

The Sustainable Human Gift Economy Network exists on the Hylo social network, an open source and independently run website. For more information on Hylo, see the FAQ (link).

When you join Hylo, be sure to specify the skills you have to offer on your profile. This is critical as you will be offered opportunities to participate based on the skills that you specify.

If you know what you would like to create and give to the world, move on to Step 2. Otherwise, you can wait to be contacted by projects in need of your skill set. You can choose to participate or not based on your availability and interest at that time. Everything is voluntary.

Step 2 What Do Want To Give To The World?

The Sustainable Human Gift Economy Network exists to utilize our hidden talents to create and give things to the world, helping to bring about a world of sustainable abundance.

The first step is perhaps the most difficult. What do you want to give to the world? Once you’ve identified your gift, create an “Intention” in Hylo.

 

intention-ss

The goal of this post is to identify in a written Google document:

  1. The gift you want to give to the world.
  2. The process by which the gift is created and distributed
  3. The skills and roles required to facilitate your process
Step 3 Create and Execute Your Project

Once you have identified, the gift you want to give to the world, the process by which the gift is created and distributed, and the skills and roles required to facilitate your process, it is time to create your project in Hylo. Be sure to list all of the requests for skills and volunteers. People within the community with the skills you tag will be alerted. The more detailed your request and plan are, the more likely they will want to participate.

project-ss

 

That’s pretty much it! Projects will work together to execute the plan and release it to the public upon its completion.

FAQ

Theoretical

+What is an economy?

The definition of an economy, or economic system:

The process by which goods and services are produced, distributed, and consumed by different actors in a given geographic area.

Notice that an economy need not use money, barter, or even exchange to facilitate the movement of goods and services. It is possible to do the exact same activities we do today without the use of money as we know it at all.

+What kind of economy do we have now?
Some call it “capitalism.” Others might call is “corporatism.” Some might call it “neo-liberalism” or “democratic socialism.” Whatever you want to name the current economic system is irrelevant and leads people to have ideological battles that lead to nowhere.

It is better to describe this economic system by its characteristics.

Our global economy is a growth-based economy, meaning it requires growth in order to sustain itself. Every year, collectively, we must exchange more goods and services for money. Yet, when you live on a finite planet, infinite growth is impossible. Yet it remains the stated goal of our entire civilization and is even written into most corporate charters – maximize profit. Whenever you maximize anything, it usually comes at the expense of something else – and that expense is being paid by the Earth and many other beings who have been offered very few ways, if any, to participate. Learn more about this.

Another feature of our current system is the need to work for income to buy the things you need to survive. But technology is making the need for most human employment obsolete, putting enormous stress on people who are used to working to survive. Many folks simply aren’t as efficient as the automated machines that have taken their place. Learn more about this.

The third feature of our economy is the growing inequality in terms of wealth distribution. Because of the monetary system, those without money must borrow it to buy a house or a car or start a business, and pay interest to the money-holding class, essentially guaranteeing that the rich keep getting richer. Learn more about this.

These three issues represent fatal flaws of the current economic system and why we must transition to a new way of meeting our needs that don’t require our contribution to this failed economic system that is looking to convert all of the natural world into a pile of money.

+What is a gift economy?
There is another economy that already exists in the world today, one in which every single one of us already participates. Its called a gift economy. It consists of all the things we do for each other in which no money is exchanged – things like volunteering, raising our children, caring for our sick family members, helping our buddies move, or celebrating our cherished relationships with our friends.

There is so much that we do for each other that we would never think of being paid to do. The Sustainable Human Gift Economy Network is about expanding that gift economy to include all beings and the environment. (Yes, it is time that we also start giving back to Mother Nature as she has given us so much.)

We will work together to surface the best ideas and use our unique skills to form project teams who will produce the goods and services that will then be given freely to the world. This is the same thing we do at our jobs, except there we do it for profit. Here, we do it for the love of our fellow humanity and our planet.

We will only be limited by the resources available in the community. As the community grows, so too will our collective capabilities. We have the power, collectively, to reshape the world, but we have been taught to compete with each other for scarce resources. Today, resources are no longer scarce, but the money to buy them is. Its time to simply bypass the money system altogether and realize a post-scarcity world that is waiting to be born.

For a great overview on these ideas, watch the short video, “Sacred Economics” below:

+How is a gift economy different from the current economy?
Gift economies align the allocation of resources with personal needs for empathic connection, compassion, love, and community. They help resources find needs rather than the infinite desires of the rich. They do not require infinite growth, nor are they limited by scarce currencies, only by scarce resources.

When politicians, bankers, or economists refer to “the economy,” they are referring to the sum total of goods and services that are exchanged for money, also called gross domestic product (GDP). They add up all the consumer and government spending – no matter what the purpose – and believe that as long as this number goes up, everyone will be better off.

The gift economy could be seen as a much broader economy as it counts all of the activities we engage in for which we are not paid. Every time we throw a party for our friends and family or we care for a sick relative or we volunteer at a beach cleanup, we are participating in the gift economy.

One consequence of the current, exchange-based economy is the deterioration of relationships. When one of our gifts is given to someone with that need, we create a kind of invisible currency called “goodwill.” The person receiving the gift, in most cases, feels a sense of gratitude and a desire to give in turn. However, in most cases, that return gift does not come immediately as the receiver must wait until the other person has a need that they can meet. This creates a relationship between the giver and receiver of the gift. In an exchange economy, no relationship is created because both parties are exchanging items of relatively equal value in a single moment.

As more and more of what were traditionally gift relationships are converted into exchange relationship – things like childcare, elderly care, cooking food, entertainment – the less connection we feel towards one another. We lose out on the feeling of community, of our sense of belonging, and the feeling that we matter. In an exchange economy, if one person can no longer meet our needs, we can simply find someone else. Deep down, we all know we are replaceable, and we see what happens to the quality of life of people when they aren’t needed and have no income.

Practical

+What is the Hylo social network?
hylo-vector-logos-3-5

Hylo is a new kind of social network that helps real communities create, together.

The subscribers of the Sustainable Human Facebook page contains incredible people, skills, and resources. But it’s hard to know who to connect with, for what, and when, or even how. Often the things we need most are closer than we think, but we just can’t see them.

What if someone nearby had exactly what you needed to further your project? What if you were that person for someone else?

With Hylo, you can discover who in your community:

  • Has the skills you need
  • Is working on cool projects
  • Is available to support you
  • Needs your help

When we share with others what we’d like to create, and what we need to make it real, magic happens.

Hylo hopes that this simple tool will help you to experience your community as a connected, collaborative, resource-sharing web in which we can support each other in turning our visions into reality.

+What makes Hylo different from Facebook or other social networks?
Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram exist so that we can share content with one another. They are excellent promotional tools that have the capability to share anyone’s message around to the world quickly. Many of these social networks are now public companies and have focused on maximizing profit, which creates an environment filled with sponsored ads and spam. This makes any kind of real world collaboration difficult.

Hylo is a social network with a purpose. It has been designed specifically to help people collaborate on projects by helping them to find the appropriate resource. Many times, a knowledgeable expert could provide value to a project in a very short amount of time that would take a novice days or even weeks to accomplish. By linking the right resource to the project at the right time, we finally have a way to work together voluntarily to help each other give our gift ideas to the world.

+What makes Hylo different from Facebook or other social networks?
Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram exist so that we can share content with one another. They are excellent promotional tools that have the capability to share anyone’s message around to the world quickly. Many of these social networks are now public companies and have focused on maximizing profit, which creates an environment filled with sponsored ads and spam. This makes any kind of real world collaboration difficult.

Hylo is a social network with a purpose. It has been designed specifically to help people collaborate on projects by helping them to find the appropriate resource. Many times, a knowledgeable expert could provide value to a project in a very short amount of time that would take a novice days or even weeks to accomplish. By linking the right resource to the project at the right time, we finally have a way to work together voluntarily to help each other give our gift ideas to the world.

+Who can participate in the Sustainable Human Gift Economy Network?
Anyone with a strong desire to give their gifts can participate in this organization. Unlike the current economy in which organizations pick and choose who can take part and where direction is set from the top, this organization enables all of us to amplify our unique gifts. No one is left out of this economy.
+How do I participate in the Sustainable Human Gift Economy Network?
There are two main ways to participate depending if you know what you want to give to the world or not.

  1. If you do know what you want to give to the world, then you will likely begin with creating an “Intention” on Hylo. You’ll ask for the expertise that you need to formulate your plan for giving your gift.
  2. If you don’t know what you want to give to the world, you can utilize your skills to help others formulate their plan around giving their gift away.

For example, someone might have an intention to create a community garden in their neighborhood, but not be knowledgeable of any regulations that exist in their area. Someone else might be an inspector for the city and know how to find this information and provide it, helping the project to move forward. The inspector’s involvement in the project may be limited to that or he/she may find another role in that project that they can help with.

All volunteering in the Gift Economy Network is of a synchronistic nature – the right skill being utilized at the right time in the right project that both parties want to see exist in the world.

+How is the Sustainable Human Gift Economy Network structured on Hylo?

Sustainable Human Gift Economy Network

The Sustainable Human Gift Economy Network consists of many gift communities that each contain many projects.

Communities

Each gift community is organized around the actual gift that is being given away. It will have an established process and knowledge base related to the gift and will serve as a hub for multiple iterations of this gift around the globe.

Projects

Each community will contain many projects, which will represent a new instance of the same type of gift. For example, a community might be organized around the gift of co-managing a community garden and each project might be oriented around implementing a new one in different locations around the world. Another example could be that the gift community is organized around some kind of information or presentation, and each project is a new piece of information (i.e. video).

+I know what I want to create and give away. How do I make it actually happen?
The whole idea is you don’t need to know how to give your gift away. All you need to have is the idea for a gift to give away, and then let the right people who can help make that gift become a reality find you.

If you know what you want to give away, but require help from people with a certain subset of skills in order to do it, follow the steps outlined here.

+I don’t know what I want to create and give away. How can I still participate?
Most people joining Sustainable Human probably fit into this category. The idea of developing a project that gives something away may seem foreign at first. We still NEED you.

More than likely, you have developed a certain skill during your time living on this planet. That skill may very well be needed to complete another project on Sustainable Human. Hylo helps in routing people with certain skills towards the need of the community. All you need to do is decide which opportunities you would like to help out, based on your skill, your time, and whatever else may be happening in your life at the moment. We are not always able to give our gifts in every moment.

+Who receives the credit for the work that I do?
In the current economy, money serves as the recognition for your work, often in lieu of credit (the boss usually likes to take it). But in a gift economy, there is no money to compensate each other for our work. So all we have is credit.

In a gift economy, receiving credit for one’s work is critical to maintain our desire to give. Hylo builds this feature into its platform by allowing individual members to give “contributions” out to people who help their project. This contribution will detail the gift that you gave and the value that was received.

On your profile, you will have a page that lists all of your contributions to various projects. This represents another type of invisible currency called goodwill. You can link to this page on your resume or on your job applications to show your character through your ability to help others, solve problems and being proactive.

+Is there are role for money in the Sustainable Human Gift Economy Network?
Certain projects may not be able to meet all their needs through human resources alone. It may be necessary to purchase certain goods to set up the infrastructure and/or maintenance of a project.

While project teams are encouraged to be creative in the sourcing of their material needs using recycled and/or donated materials whenever possible, there will be at times the need for certain things that can only be purchased – perhaps land or a building.

In this case, we may use crowdfunding to raise funds for a specific project and goal. We will have access to the Gift Economy Network mailing list as well as the Facebook page to launch these campaigns, which will be officially endorsed by Sustainable Human Gift Economy Network.

All funds raised must go directly to the purchase of goods. All receipts will be tracked online to provide the greatest level of transparency possible. All human beings must donate 100% of their time to this projects (i.e. none of the funds raised can go towards paying any individual on the project.)

+What is the legal status of this organization?
At this time, there is no official legal status for the Sustainable Human Gift Economy Network. We are simply a group of people deciding voluntarily to work together on projects for the highest good of all.

Should it become necessary to change this, we will explore it at that time.

+Are there any rules one must adhere to in this organization?
There are only a few guidelines to follow:

  1. The Principle of the Gift: Everything we produce is given away freely to the world.
  2. No special privileges – no one in the group benefits in any way that people outside the group can not. We are here to create abundance for everyone.
  3. Respect for the Individual – Everyone is to be treated with the utmost respect. Individuals are expected to be able to handle disagreements easily. If you do not like giving your gift to a particular project or you feel it is not being appreciated, you are just as free to voluntarily stop participating as you were to voluntarily start participating. This is meant to be fun. If it isn’t fun, don’t do it!

+What if something unexpected happens and I am no longer able to volunteer or contribute?
Life happens. This means that the unexpected will happen. We will start a project with every intention of carrying it out, but then a family member get sick or we lose our job or something happens where we must readjust our priorities.

This is perfectly normal. If this happens to you, try to document as much of the information as possible and communicate to everyone you’ve been working with about your change in life circumstance (no need to go into details). My hope is that people here will be supportive. Maybe someone else is out there who can pick up the reigns and keep the idea itself going.

Learn more about

Technological Unemployment

Learn more about

Infinite Growth

Learn more about

Extreme Inequality

Learn more about

A Shift In Values

Learn more about

Alternate Economic Systems