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Note: This is a long article -- if you want to just "jump to the chase" and start playing with me in my first experiment, you can click here -- but reading the entire article first will give you greater insight into the approaches that I'm experimenting with. Much of this material will be included in my upcoming e-book about evolving exchange formats.
Paradigm Shift: Toward a New Concept of Exchange
If you’ve followed my plurk (play+work) over the past two decades, you’ll know that I’ve tried out many different approaches about making exchange for what I’ve presented to others -- from “love offerings” to fixed fees and nearly everything in between.
The dilemma of how to exchange tangible things (which I believed I needed in order to live in this culture – ie. money, goods, etc.) for something which is essentially intangible (wisdom, information, comfort, connection), has been an ongoing puzzle for me to solve. I also wrestled from time to time with some deeply-entrained notions about the ethics of charging money for spiritual gifts at all.
In the past, I had the idea that, if I had “millions millions” (as then-Carruch often put it), I would still provide the transmissions that I do, but that I would simply give them away. I’ve always felt strongly about making sure that the transmissions I provide are accessible to people, regardless of their financial situation. From 1998 to 2010, I provided at least one “free” (donation-based) event or offering every week, and since mid-2010, I’ve continued to provide at least one such offering each month.
Now, as I consider exchange from a New Paradigm perspective and my life experience, I have come to the conclusion that this “just give it away” system isn’t necessarily an effective approach either, and that a lot of the donation-basis system is actually a reaction to our current system, rather than a transformative response to it (I’ll speak more about the difference between what I refer to as “adjustive reactions” and “evolutionary responses” as we go on).
It’s been my consistent experience that some form of consensual and equal exchange is an essential and necessary part of all sustainable and expansive interactions.
This has been demonstrated to me clearly, and on many occasions, when, for example, I’ve had people give a reading to someone else as a gift, but have then found that the person receiving such a gift often devalued the information they received – simply because it was “free”.
Another common manifestation of the importance of true exchange appeared for me when an individual would attend a donation-based/”free” Circle or class in the mode I refer to as “a full teacup” – they weren’t really invested in learning anything (usually because they thought they already knew everything they needed to know) and they had no “skin in the game” so to speak – often, these “full teacups” not only gained nothing from their own participation, but created an energy-drag for others in the gathering as well.
On the other hand, I have often simply chosen to give a reading to someone at no charge (even someone who could well afford to pay me), because it seemed important for them to learn something about gracious receiving, or because I simply knew in the moment that it was my turn to “be the miracle” for someone else -- and that felt perfect, and uplifting, and sustainable.
In 2008, I performed my first truly conscious and co-creative experiment with Evolutionary Exchange (I called it the “QuadE” for Evolutionary Equal Exchange Economy -- you can read about it at my blog at this link: http://www.madwomanatplay.com/Blog/2008/11/06/because-i-want-to-evolve/, and read some about my experience and post-assessments of this experiment here: http://www.madwomanatplay.com/Blog/2008/12/09/the-assessment/).
While the experiment was interesting, I didn’t find it completely satisfying. It was rife with challenges for me and the other participants as we banged up against old entrainments around money and exchange, and in retrospect, I think knowing that I could always “go back to the old way” kept me from fully investing in the opportunity for a true paradigm shift.
In retrospect, I believe that the experiment was mostly an “adjustive reaction”, rather than an “evolutionary response”.
Adjustive Reaction vs. Evolutionary Response
Oftentimes, when we’re presented with a situation or system that we don’t enjoy/like (don’t find expansive and uplifting), we tend to focus on the specific situational event that made us aware of our lack of enjoyment.
We then endeavor to prevent certain results that we’ve experienced in the past because we consider them undesirable (adjustive reaction), rather than to create desired results (evolutionary response) by incorporating what we’ve learned from those past experiences and consciously engaging our creative abilities to move in a new direction.
For example: In the QuadE experiment, I focused on things that I didn’t like about how I’d experienced exchange in the past -- people felt they couldn’t “afford” my services, or I felt weird about setting a fixed price on something so esoteric as information from an extra-terrestrial that I channeled, etc.. I attempted to “fix” these things in various ways, but I continued to do so within parameters that were set by the old paradigm
In my motion toward a new paradigm of exchange, I’m jumping in with both feet to make an evolutionary shift in how I make exchange for what I have to offer.
One of the “signs of the times” for me recently has been the Occupy Movement. I have been deeply heartened and encouraged by the appearance of a wide-spread movement which is dedicated to the concept of massive cultural change exclusively through peaceful and non-violent action.
The Occupy Movement’s swift deployment of such things as free community libraries, healthcare tents, “human microphone” techniques, and collective discussion and decision-making are a living example of what human beings can do when we come together, and this helps derail the notion of individual helplessness in the face of large societal mechanisms and structures.
It also takes the thought that “change takes a long time” and blows it right out of the water, as many of these structures were put in place in a matter of days or weeks – without big financiers or “top-down” organizational structure.
Many have critiqued the Occupy movement by saying that it is not enough to simply protest what is wrong with our culture – there must be motion toward something.
I agree with that last bit -- that there must be forward motion toward real change -- and personally, I believe that the Occupy Movement is moving directly toward a solution by “living as example” in their choices at encampments and actions.
As I watched all this unfold, I found myself asking “What can I do, right now, to begin living as an example of a totally new paradigm of exchange?”
As we continue, I will describe the proposals and experiments that I want begin with – they are my answer-in-action. I’ll be writing about them below in three segments:
The thoughts, feelings, ideas and concepts which gave rise to the proposals I’m suggesting.
The principles and commitments which form the foundation of proposals for exchanging in a fundamentally new manner.
The proposals themselves, and an invitation for you to join me as I play with exchange in completely new ways.