Help Wanted in the Gift Economy

In addition to my weekly blog, I must say how sweet our fire for Will was, thanks to the folks who showed up and all the loving email & Facebook messages.  I am wrapped in the arms of the universe.  Slept under the stars and am waking to a new chapter in life.

Help Wanted in the Gift Economy  

My media of choice is radio; it is from my ”friends” there – Thom Hartmann, Randi Rhodes and our local Joe Teehan, (hi Joe) that I learn about the world outside my own bubble.  One day recently, Joe was reading the good news that here in our county (Whatcom, in Washington-not-DC) the unemployment numbers have recently fallen.  At my business, a worker-owned co-op for in-home caregiving (Circle of Life Caregiver Cooperative, hi team!), we have been part of that, hiring more great caregivers.  We have the best caregivers; we have the best clients.  It’s all a circle that way.

I like radio for lots of reasons, starting with the fact that it’s free, unlike the TV and internet choices, which are not only costly but I can’t understand the bills, which is a drain on my brain, unlike the radio which gives to my mental functioning rather than sapping it.

Radio has changed.  Not so many years ago my friend Jean Gott (resting in peace) used to call in weekly with the menus and activities at the local senior center.  Local stations had time to read want ads on the air.  Boring as it sounds, in the farmlands, they used to read the market numbers.  What is wheat selling for in your neighborhood?  The glu-frees of today don’t need to know these things.

Nowadays, if I have job openings, I’m advised to take them to Craig’s list. At no cost, I can connect to perfectly anonymous strangers.  Not exactly who I want to come to my home, drive and clean for my mother, cut my weed trees, fix my dripping bathtub faucet, wash the garage, move the storage junk, hack the blackberries, fix the mower tire, mow the field, rebuild the dog fence, build the deck, wash the house, or coordinate my publishing endeavors.

Much of this, I have handled through the sweetness of “the gift economy.”  In the women’s spirit days, we used to speak generously of “abundance.”  Poor people understand this better than others, and what were we single women students if not, financially, poor? But we gave and received and got by just fine, fish without bicycles, gifting one another through the thick and the thin.  In that spirit, I get things done by the grace of friends who barter, by donations to service agencies and non-profits trying to raise money in exchange for chores, or my teenage personal assistant (Hi Tess, where are you? The blackberries miss you!)

Thus, I’m an “employer,” or perhaps a “client.”   My mother-housemate is a Circle of Life client.  We pay Tess to chase spiders out of our pantry (her least favorite task.)  I have invested thousands in publishing services so far – editing, printing contracts, web set-up assistance and tutoring.  (Thanks Barbara, Village Books, and Amanda!)  More to come.  I need a graphic artist for book covers and marketing materials, including some polishing up of this primitive Riverchild Books logo.  More editing, more proof-reading, more editing, and more proofing!  Help Wanted!  Needed!!

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