Gift Economy Advocates Come To UO

A growing trend in Eugene, gift circles, allows people to enter a space where people share items, ideas or resources with no expectation of receiving anything in return. Tree Bressen and Kim Krichbaum are community members who have been organizing gift circles for over a year. Bressen says that what she does is just a part of the larger gift economy.

From noon until 2:30 pm Friday, March 7, the UO Service Learning Program will sponsor a panel discussion about gift economies at the HEDCO Education building at the UO. The event, called “The Gift Economy: A Model for Collaborative Community,” will cover many forms of the alternative economy, including gift circles.

“There’s no expectations or obligations, but if you’ve made arrangements don’t flake out,” Bressen says of gift circles.

Deanna Belcher, the director of the Service Learning Program, says that the event will consist of four or five people on a panel sharing ideas and concepts that make up the gift economy, including expanding communities.

“I want them to come away with more of a feeling of interconnectedness,” Belcher says. “But also we hope that individuals will be able to make personal connections.”

The gift economy has been expanding through the efforts of Benjamin Crandall and Nicholas Eamon Walker, who co-developed a website called Kindista. The website, which was launched out of Eugene seven months ago, is a place where people nationwide can make arrangements to share, give or receive items and resources.

“I think this is a really big issue and it’s going to continue to be a bigger and bigger issue,” Crandall says. Currently, Crandall says there are about 900 total members using the site and more offers to help than requests to receive.

Both Crandall and Bressen say they were inspired by Charles Eisenstein, who toured in the Northwest speaking on the gift economy.

“The gift economy model seems like the most straightforward for the result we want to see in the world,” Crandall says. “The goal for Kindista is to create a platform for better and more abundant sharing.”

Bressen says that many people are used to sharing through babysitting, doing favors or raising children.

“Everybody, to some extent, is already participating in a gift economy,” Bressen says.

“The Gift Economy” will be held at the UO, at HEDCO Education 220 from noon to 2:30 pm Friday, March 7. Free.