How magical does the world appear when witnessing the unstoppable spread of human generosity?
It seems that everywhere I turn people are discovering the joy of sharing; from giving free hugs, to distributing excess produce or holding a National Sharing Day. The scientific studies continue to report the welcome news: there is immense value in sharing, especially for the giver, and especially when giving happens without any expectation of receiving.
And simple generosity can sure be creative, as so many are showing through their plans for Free Money Day this 15th September!
In Lisbon, Portugal, owner of the Cineteka video store, Gonçalo Peres, will be giving free rentals to all his customers, encouraging them to give the money they would spend on rentals to strangers in the street.
In Moerewa, New Zealand, musicians Emma and Derek will be busking. But rather than collecting money, they’ll be giving it away! This story of generosity became more incredible when I learnt that Emma is a fully registered and qualified early childhood teacher yet spends nearly all her time volunteering with community organisations.
In Mexico City, Axel and his friend are shaking things up by giving their money solely to beggars — with the request that they, in turn, pass half on to strangers. With a fair bit of tension in Mexico of late, and enormous social disparity, Axel believes this could draw attention to these issues in a novel, yet respectful way.
Others are finding ways to incorporate Free Money Day into existing commitments. In Brisbane*, Australia, Kath has a theatre rehearsal on the 15 th. But that won’t stop her handing out coins to unsuspecting colleagues and staff at the venue! In Plymouth, Anji reports that her daughter’s 7th birthday party coincides with Free Money Day, and that she’s going to put 7 pence in each child’s party bag, with a note explaining her motivations for sharing! In Paris, Olivier and others have scheduled their Free Money Day to merge with the visit of Vietnamese peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn and the planned Day on Conscience and Freedom. Further South, on the Spanish border, Sally will be handing out Euros in the breathtaking Pyrénées National Park. Meanwhile, Cameron is thinking of handing out money to passengers on an aeroplane, and, as in 2011, Creative Crip will be paying it forward via Twitter.
I also received incredible news from South Korea last week. A researcher, Layne, and his village economist wife, Patcharin, are so inspired by Free Money Day that they are giving away half their small land holdings (7 acres, enough to support 7–14 families) in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to begin a land trust for up and coming permaculture farmers. Their offering is made in solidarity with the wonderful work of groups like Via Campesina.
The interest from across Africa and Asia has been particularly exciting. From Ghana to Nigeria, Kenya, India and Thailand, I have been reminded that many of my brothers and sisters in the Global South also seek alternatives to the mantra of endless economic growth.
How truly magical this world appears when I build on what I know already works: observing, respecting, loving, and sharing.
*I’m so glad there will be action in Brisbane, given this year’s Free Money Day is dedicated to the late, wonderful Andrew ‘Wilf’ Wilford, whose 2011 Free Money Day efforts in Brisbane received national attention.
image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/denisecarbonell
Originally published in September 2012. To Find out more about the Post Growth Institute, visit our website.