If you haven't seen the Story of Stuff in Tuesday's post yet, or Liz's new column, check them out. Some of the ideas we've got for our upcoming posts are about sustainability--in the global citizen context. One of those ideas started way back when I got my Smile cards. When I was introduced to the giving economy through Charityfocus.org I had questions. It was so intriguing but seemed so impossible that we could shift our little human selves to a more equitable exchange of service, goods, resources, and caring.
One of the people I had planned to write about in the next few weeks is Mark Boyle, a former Glasgow business student who, after watching the movie Ghandi, was moved to study the man and his principles. Over the last few weeks his story has become even more compelling to me because, as is frequently the case with changing the world, it has become difficult--and touching--and I can't wait to share his story.
Many people we've covered have done this, created that or decided to change or are inspiring people to change. Mark has done , and created, has decided to change the world and is definitely inspiring people, but the most important thing about him is he's in the middle of doing it--not, "did it", yet, but in the mucky middle of doing the impossible, and it's gotten a little bumpy.
Mark started FreeCommunity at justfortheloveofit.org last fall as an experiment in making the transition from a money-based communityless society to a community-based moneyless society. Sounds impossible, yes? In his words,
Freeconomy is a manifestation of trust, kindness, community and love. Money and credit are a manifestation of fear, insecurity and greed. Freeconomy is the common denominator to all of its solutions; Money and credit are the common denominators of all the world's ills.
Right now freeconomies are the minority. This is unimportant. Soon they will be the overwhelming majority. Each one of us is a seed. The regenerative power of one seed cannot be underestimated. A forest can grow from the germination of a single seed, and similarly one simple act of generosity can give life to an infinite number of others.
Here's the 2-minute intro to Freeconomy--way cute and it made me sign up. :--)
Inspired by the work of Ghandi and longing to ease some of the suffering he could trace to economic systems, he wanted to create something different with more possibility for community and connection, less possibility for suffering and violence. Like Ghandi, he decided he wants his life to be his message. So, he decided to take a walk.
After setting up this amazing freecommunity web-based exchange, he embarked upon a pilgrimage to spread the word from England to India. The walking sounds impossible enough, but the condition is that no money exchanges take place.
On January 30, on the anniversary of Ghandi's death, Mark, aka Saorise (meaning Freedom in Gaelic) for the pilgrimage, began a 7500 mile trek from Bristol to Ghandi's birthplace in India. About 50 fans and fellow freeconomists saw him off. Here's a nice interview from early in the trek by the Guardian. Blogging along the way, he shared the horrendous initiation of foot problems, his recovery, his voyage to France and then there was a week of silence followed by an announcement that a big decision was forthcoming. The big decision ended up being that he returned to England last week. In spite of the difficulties and the big decision, all along the way Saoirse kept his focus on his message: do something for someone, offer a kindness. He had people writing in from everywhere.
What I find especially courageous is his heartfelt, honest blogging to thousands of fans, followers, and friends, some now "polarized" about his decision, which I imagine was similar to what Ghandi found to be true during some of his decisions and actions. Now, he's back in England, determined to continue via Plan B (which was originally Plan A to begin with) applying the same wisdom as the site's inspiration page, which holds enough encouragement to get anyone started (if you haven't taken today's step yet) and keep them going on their own impossibilities.
I am so excited about this whole venture, (easy to say from sunny California) that if I could, I'd be over there to cheer him along. The coach in me comes out and I want to tell him about the 5 steps I just made up today, for doing the impossible. Click continue to see these 5 steps and hear what movie they remind me of:
5 Easy steps to doing the impossible and changing the world:
1. The first, of course, is to touch that longing we all have to help something or someone in the world and find how it can be expressed.
2. Taking on the impossible requires a step without knowing "how" it will work. (The how only presents itself in hindsight.)
3. Showstoppers (events that threaten the venture) will occur frequently. If you're really cooking, it may seem like there are at least one or two showstoppers a week. Meet the showstopper event with skepticism.
4. Shortly after every showstopper an unforseen solution or a "save" happens. Meet the "save" with gratitude (and a little skepticism).
5. Return to #1.
Though starting an on-line blog about healing the world isn't the same as going from country to country not knowing when you'll eat next, there were several moments along Liz's and my journey to HumanKind Media where we were sure we were shut down. The showstoppers and saves just begin to be something that restores our faith that anything's possible.
Another more metaphorical description of this process can be found in one of my favorite funny movies (I'm aware that telling you this will probably ruin my credibility forever). In Galaxy Quest. with Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver-- in which many impossible things are made to happen and entire species are saved (much like what we're talking about here)--the motto is: "Never give up, never surrender." I love that.
I hope you'll visit Saoirse's site, help launch the freeconomy wherever you are (where are you anyway?) and join him if he ends up anywhere near you in the next months or years of his journey. We plan to keep tabs on him and hope to write about him again in the future as one of those great examples for all of us of "being the change we'd like to see in the world."
We echo his frequent message to his community: "If you want to help me, see every interaction every day as an opportunity to bring peace to the world. And contact us and let us know how we can help you – by receiving you are giving us a gift."