Monday, 19 November 2018

Miki Kashtan: Restoring Flow and Natural Abundance

In this third part of her blog series, Miki Kashtan continues to explore how we can share resources in ways that encourage connection and are based on empathy.  She describes her experience of the challenges and the joys of working in this way.  

Recently, I’ve been to Mexico City, leading three back-to-back workshops on topics of collaboration, leadership, and social transformation. It was clear to me that I would want to engage in a Financial Co-Responsibility process with the organizing team along the lines described in my previous post.

Central to what Dominic teaches about the Financial Co-Responsibility process is that we develop its specific forms locally, based on a system of agreements between all involved. When gleaned from what works in our local contexts, this supports a positive mutual influencing of the conditions in which we live, and our iterative efforts evolve the process over time. In this first iteration in Mexico, what I invited my colleagues into was based on years of experimenting with various forms of gift economy, most recently specifically influenced by Dominic’s approach. One of the limitations is that my local colleagues and I didn’t actually develop a system together; I was simply asking them to accept a process that I’ve used previously in other contexts, which then began to be organically adapted, as you will see below.

The organizing team accepted, with exquisite grace, my invitation to this experiment, without having previously done anything like it. They went on blind faith.

They told me later that they worked about 4 times as hard as they would have if they’d been organizing the event using the familiar transactional way. They decided what their limits of risk were and operated fully within them, asking most people to pay equally for the basic costs because it was too much risk for them. Even for this part, they did invite some people to come without paying for their food and space rental share.

Had I known how much stress the organizers lovingly accepted, I might have halted the experiment, much to everyone’s loss, because so much was made possible on account of their willingness, and then that of the entire group. First, about 20 of the 110 or so people who participated in the events were women from several Latin American countries working with marginalized or vulnerable communities. Would they have come if there had been a fixed price? It seems unlikely. Then, the entire experience of collecting and distributing money was a small taste of what the world could be like if nonviolent principles were applied globally to economics.

Because people were coming and going between the different events, and because of the way that we collected the money, we didn’t know until hours before the end how much money we would have. Up until then, the organizers were still anxious about whether all people would convert their pledges to money. Then, by the time the money pile started, we were able to celebrate together that we had all we had asked for.

Once we knew how much we had, we created a circle at the center for the organizing and training team and an empty chair for anyone from the larger community to come into the circle and participate. And then the process went on for about two hours until we were all done. Every moment contributed to sustainability for many who needed it (well beyond the original event team), meaning, transformation, trust, connection, and a palpable sense of possibility. Even a little bit of seeming magic: when the process ended, all of us on the team received more or less what we asked for, through many circuitous pathways, and several other people in the community received entirely unexpected small amounts of money in support of their own or their communities’ needs in addition. In the next post, I share some snippets from how this came to be.

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