Category: Gift Economy

A Gift Economy: Generosity on HSCO

How many of you work hard to make a living, but still give of your own time, money and resources to help those who might need it? How many of you gift your neighbours excess produce to make them smile or to save them money with no expectation of return? How many of you have given a gift and felt that warm inner glow inside that comes when we act from a intention of kindness and generosity?

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If I know folk, many of you! I refuse to buy into the narrative that everyone is looking after themselves. I see generosity all around me. I choose to focus on that, rather than stinginess and meanness. We become, after all, what we think – and we create our world from seeds of intention.

Speaking of seeds, I recieved a gift from @sagescrub in the post this week. I’d noticed that some of his seeds were offered for FREE. Huh? Isn’t it a marketplace – you know, the kind where people make money from their ethical and sustainable goods? Why free? Well – as Homesteaders Co-op explains on their website:

Because we are operating different than other marketplaces that prioritize profit over people. We are putting people in front of profit. A marketplace that wants to squeeze as much profit as possible out of their vendors and their customers would never encourage gifts unless they were sure it would mean more money for them.

Did you know that some vendors offer gifts on Homesteader’s Co-Op? @quochy, for example, offers a free e-book on setting up a worm compost bin. Check that out here.

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You can also find seeds that @sagescrub offers. I was quite lucky because he went that little bit further and threw in some bonus seeds for me. Sadly, it’s the southern hemisphere, and I have to wait for Spring! But those herbal seeds are going to make a difference in my life. You see, by planting more herbs and food plants, I am able to gain a little more food and home medicine sovereignty. It’s going to be more easy on my pocket so I can spend more at Homesteaders Co-Op. AND I can collect the seeds from them and pay them forward to someone else. A world of flowers, food and herbs? What could go wrong?

Homesteaders Co-Op offers a hybrid gift economy:

Hybrid because our vendors need to make money for the hard work to create their products and offer their services and I don’t want to take that away or devalue it. Unfortunately most of us cannot envision ourselves living in a world where all exchanges are gifted because we are so entrenched in a culture that demands money to operate. But I do hope that we can explore together what benefits come to us not as individuals, but as a community, when we operate in a gift economy. How might this inform the future that we want to build for ourselves and our children?

When you click on the ‘Gifts’ section (this is kept separate so as not to distract from the main vendor’s products – remember, HSCO was designed to help small ethical vendors make a living!) and click on the gift, it comes up with a box just like this:

This allows us to think about the value of the gift in terms of it’s value outside a more common fiat or steem economy. What is our relationship to this product? How might it improve our lives? It also stops that gimme gimme gimme, because it’s free – allowing vendors to decide whether the person is genuine or just grabbing an opportunity. As the site explains, vendors should have the right to gift to who they want. They should be able to make a living, as well as have the opportunity to be generous when and if they choose.

The nice thing about this too is that it helps build community relationships, and that’s pretty lovely – both on the blockchain, and in the wider community of non-steem users.

Because that’s really what Homesteaders Co-Op is about – putting people over profit.

Do you take part in a gift economy?

How important is the value of generosity in your life?

Why Donate to Homesteaders Co-op?

We are operating in a gift economy.

We do not ask our vendors to pay any fees or commissions from their sales in order to participate in this marketplace. Their participation is voluntary and we do not force them to pay.

We are choosing to opt out of greed and place the humans in our marketplace as the first priority in our goals. This means that we are not prioritizing profiting off of our vendors, which unfortunately is the name of the game in our dominant modern culture.

this is an update to our Fundition Project

Now that we have chosen not to force our vendors to share their profit, the opportunity has arisen to shift our mindset from operating as a business to operating as a Community Run Marketplace.

We have already made some great progress in this regard and many of our community members have stepped up and taken leadership and contributing roles in our community. You can see proof of that in our blog which is now run by 12 members of our community. Our motivation is contributing to something meaningful in our world. We want to work to create a better model for participating in online marketplaces.

In this regard we are participating in interchange with one another. There is no middleman taking profit from each transaction that occurs at Homesteaders Co-op.

In some regards we are already sustainable as a community. We are motivated by creating positive change and a positive, safe online community environment to interact and interchange with one another – in this sense we are already emotionally and energetically sustainable as a community.

We are not yet financially sustainable.

Fundition has been serving as an opportunity to raise funds by donations to help us get started and build our platform for voluntary interchange in the short term, while we build financial sustainability in the medium term.

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Actually I would like to see Homesteaders Co-op receiving donations on a regular ongoing basis – even beyond the completion of this Fundition campaign, because I would like to see donations serving as a core contributor to our financial sustainability.

Since we are operating in a gift economy and not forcing vendors to pay for the service we are providing, I feel that it is natural to accept donations as contribution to our current and future sustainability. Fundition is helping us get started in that regard.

In addition to accepting donations I am also exploring a few other ideas that may help us reach financial sustainability, including an idea that I have coined Ethical Advertising. I will be sharing more on this in some future updates.

A lot of things have changed since we started out a few months ago, and many new developments and opportunities have arisen. Yet the goals and intentions that were outlined in our Fundition proposal have not changed at their core.

I would say that we have made progress of roughly 1/3 of the goals and work outlined in our Fundition project proposal. There is a lot that is in the works.

So far we have raised 10.5% of our fundraising goal! We have raised $258. This is helping to cover some of our expenses. Thank you to everyone that shown your generosity and donated so far.



If you would like to donate, or if you would like to read our Fundition project proposal which is currently underway, please visit:

Fundition Project: Homesteaders Co-op: Free Community Marketplace for Handmade Goods

The Gift Economy is Online at Homesteaders Co-op

Last week I updated Homesteaders Co-op with the ability for our vendors to specify products as gifts in our marketplace. You can read about it here.

Today I’ve made a new update to our website that has completely separated Shopping from Gifting.

  • Our Shop section now includes all products that are denominated in some amount.
  • The new Gifts section shows all of the gifts that are available at no cost (except shipping).
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The significance of this re-organizing

I prefer to keep products for sale separate from the Gifts. I don’t want gifts to detract from the products that are for sale. And yet I want the gifts to have their own prominence. I prefer that gifts are making a statement.

Why?

Because we are operating different than other marketplaces that prioritize profit over people. We are putting people in front of profit. A marketplace that wants to squeeze as much profit as possible out of their vendors and their customers would never encourage gifts unless they were sure it would mean more money for them.

The Gift Economy

In our case, by looking past profit, our marketplace has the unique ability to explore more than one form of exchange.

Suppose you ask me this: Why would someone provide a gift on this marketplace rather than asking to be paid for a product?

I believe there is opportunity to feel rewarded in gifting to our fellow humans. The reward of giving can be very satisfying and has the potential to be equal or greater in value than the monetary value that is placed on a physical object.

Perhaps our relationships can become deeper if we look past the physical level and deeper into our spiritual connections with each other.

Interchange

I give credit to @wwf for coming up with this observation. Because we are not seeking profit, and because we are seeking fair exchange of value (shoppers and vendors alike) – we are not dealing in commerce (whose rules are set by captains of industry). We are interchanging with each other as we seek to exchange our goods and services for an equivalent value; not value plus profit.

My first gift exchange

My Seeds of Abundance store is already offering several varieties of seeds as gifts to our Steem friends that for one reason or another we decided not to sell but have enough amounts that we want to share.

This weekend we just received our first order that included a gift request from @nateonsteemit. He ordered a packet of seeds from us and also requested some seeds we are gifting. I am really glad to see that he already used this feature and am excited to be able to share some surplus with him!

More gifts available

@quochuy has generously shared his e-books for worm composting/farming and composting with black soldier flies as gifts in Homesteaders Co-op.

Now that these new features are available I will be letting our vendors know that they can offer gifts if they so desire.

What do the gifts mean to the Vendors?

I won’t encourage any vendor to offer gifts in our co-op unless they have an interest in it. I completely understand the importance of earning money. It will be completely up to the vendor whether they operate completely financially, completely in the gift economy or any combination. They are also not obligated to fulfill a gift request.

Thanks so much for reading. There is so much more planned and if you like what we are doing I encourage you to stay tuned. Lots of fun updates will be coming!