Archive for January, 2011

How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.

This is the text of the zine, which was launched at Adelaide Zine Fair, as part of Format Festival, March 2010.

I’ve made each section a separate post, to make it easier to navigate.

Update 2 August 2011: I’ve made a pdf of a printable version of the zine.  If you’d like to print out your own copy… click here!  How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day (pdf)

This zine is not about being a cheapskate, being frugal, living in poverty or scamming people to get stuff for free.  It’s about letting go of the belief that money is essential to get anywhere, and being open to the abundance of nature.  It’s about sharing everything you have, and allowing yourself and others to reach their full potential.

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Nature, economics and the free life.

From the zine How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.

Money is an illusion that only has value because we believe it does.  It’s just pieces of paper and numbers on a screen, it doesn’t represent anything in the real world.  Since it is imaginary, it can’t control our lives.  Money was originally created purely as a means of exchange.  The concept of money has since evolved to now being considered to have intrinsic value in itself, not based on a foundation of anything with actual value. This means that it can cease to exist instantly, which it often does.  If we all choose not to believe in it, it will be worth nothing and no longer exist.

True wealth is soil, seeds, trees, clean air and water, generosity, caring reciprocal relationships and resilient communities.  By nurturing these things we can create shared wealth for everyone, with no need for money.

Owning money or assets gives us a false sense of security, even though we know it could all disappear at any moment.  By letting go of our attachment to these things, and creating true security in the form of caring neighbourhoods and healthy ecosystems that can provide for our needs indefinitely, we can create a world where everyone feels safe, and our own sense of security doesn’t require excluding or exploiting others.

It is the fear of not having that causes us to selfishly hoard money or things, and makes us reluctant to share.  This comes from our lack of awareness that everything we require to live well is freely available to us, which leads to a lack of trust in other people and the earth to provide.  By sharing freely of ourselves we can in turn trust that others will treat us well, so we need never go without.  We don’t need to be in control of every situation, as it will always sort itself out in ways that we could never imagine.

By engaging in paid employment we are enslaving ourselves to this money system.  Most people in employment don’t enjoy their jobs and find them to be meaningless and unfulfilling. Jobs are the main source of stress in people’s lives and can lead to heart disease, a range of health problems, and suicide.  Two million workers a year die of occupational injuries and illnesses.  Employment doesn’t lift people out of poverty.  Just 5% of the work being done is sufficient to provide for our needs for food, clothing and shelter.

Why work a job?  There are much healthier and enjoyable ways to provide for yourself and your family, make use of your skills, and engage with the world.  Your life is too valuable to waste on something you don’t enjoy, that will make you stressed, sick and probably kill you, while destroying nature and exploiting others.  Create alternatives to employment, that are meaningful, fulfilling and do no harm.

Let the economy die.  The economy is totally dependent on its capacity to destroy nature, and this process has now reached its natural conclusion where there is nothing left to plunder.  It will inevitably come to a screaming halt.  Don’t be a statistic, another resource destroyed by economic growth.  Create alternatives to this parasitic system and live in a world that you’ve created for yourself, where you’re free to do as you want, rather than in a machine that controls and consumes you.

You can do so much more with your life than just survive.  We live in an amazing world with so much possibility, why limit yourself?  We are all innately creative, and everything we do is an opportunity to express ourselves creatively.  Living a life of meaningless employment, shopping and passive entertainment stifles this to the extent that many of us never become aware of our potential, never think of how we could do things differently.

Take responsibility for your own life, your problems and your future.  Blaming other people or The System won’t change anything, and only make you miserable.  By becoming independent of the structures or entities that you are blaming, you are free of their influence, and they cannot affect you.  To blame or complain is to avoid taking on this responsibility.

Traditional cultures don’t expect governments, jobs and money to provide for them.  The people are only dependent on, and responsible to, each other and the land that supports them.

 

School prepares us for a life of employment, but gives us no life skills, no preparation for living with unemployment.  We are taught that we are not free to do as we choose, and not responsible for how we live our life.  We need to learn skills so we can be effective and fulfilled through unemployment.  Spending your unemployment searching for jobs just leads to despondency, which can become even worse on starting an unfulfilling job.  The idea that a person needs to change themselves to suit a job role means that to be part of the employment system you need to behave like you are part of a machine.  You are not respected as a human being with intrinsic value, or allowed to live true to your values.  You don’t owe anything to the economy.  All it has ever done for you is to exploit your labour and make life difficult.  Create a life where the economy is of no value to you, and let it become despondent.

By choosing unemployment, you are demonstrating not laziness but responsibility.  You are responsible to yourself, your community and the land that you live on.  A free-living unemployed person, who acts with love and makes full use of their talents and skills, contributes so much more to the world than someone who works for the money.  I could never have written this book if my attention was focussed on a full-time job.

Not buying and not working is liberating rather than restricting.  When you stop using money you find that we have more, not less.  More time, fun, adventures, friends, skills, health, awareness, understanding, and a full life. You discover that giving is more satisfying than getting.  Your ability to support your family and friends is enhanced, as you find that spending time with them is more valuable than spending time making money to buy them things.  You gain access to things you will never get in the shops.  You become more involved in what goes on in the real world.  You feel comfortable in the knowledge that no harm is being done to support your lifestyle.  You generate less waste, in terms of wasted time, food, water, energy, packaging, money, and your own potential.  If a free-living project doesn’t yield tangible results, you’ve still gained a lot of skills and enjoyment through the process of exploring the idea.  This is unlike trying to work with The System, which makes a point of wasting everyone’s time and resources, with nothing to be gained.

When you live free, all your time is free time.  Don’t allow yourself to be bought.  If you sell your time away for money, you are selling your life away.  What could you possibly buy with the money that would be worth the life you have lost?  Days of War, Nights of Love – CrimethInc collective.

When you do what you love, nothing needs to be thought of as work.  Leave the work ethic behind and embrace an ethic of sharing and taking responsibility for your beliefs and actions.

Consumption is a disease.  You can choose to be a disease on the Earth organism, or you can choose to have a healthy symbiosis, and be a co-creator of nature.

Work and consumption cause anxiety and depression, and stimulate fear and greed.  Life should be lived with spontaneity, joy, and love, not strategic plans, budgets, and stress.

Challenge your beliefs.  Ask questions about everything.  Just because an idea is commonly accepted doesn’t mean that it is the best way of doing things.  There is always an infinite number of options.  Never limit your choices.

Spread the word.  Share your skills and knowledge, your stories and ideas.  Share homegrown and gleaned food, and demonstrate the possibilities to others.  Listen to others’ stories and ideas, and new possibilities will emerge.

Raise your children and treat your friends and family in a way that gives them maximum freedom.  Choose not to judge anyone based on society’s expectations.

Relate to other people as human beings, rather than as economic entities to trade with.  This way we can form meaningful connections, and remove the fear of being ripped off or badly treated, and the guilt about treating others this way.  Create a gift economy.  Give freely without expecting anything in return.  You’ll find that what does come back to you is worth so much more than money or things.

Don’t contribute to the global economy.  Boycott money completely.  Be free!

Tune in to your feelings.  Be fully present in every sensation, even if it seems unpleasant.  There is great satisfaction to be gained from being totally in the present moment.  The joy of discovering something new, of seeing others practice a skill that you have taught them, of seeing things grow, of sharing, can’t be beaten by a life lived through TV, books or other people.

As I become more attuned to nature, I find that the things I need will come to me at the right time.  Sometimes I’ll be out walking or cycling, and feel a craving for a particular food: an apple, a block of chocolate, a leafy salad.  Always within minutes exactly that thing will appear in front of me.  Really.  I found a sealed package of fresh salad on a roadside.  It’s always exactly the food I was thinking of, never something else.  A few days after it occurred to me that I need a printer, there was a printer with spare cartridges in my next-door-neighbour’s hard rubbish pile, with a sign on it saying “working, please take”.  When I think of someone I need to talk to, I’ll run into that person on the street soon afterwards.  With one friend I experience this quite often, and always in places that neither of us visit regularly.

I start to take notice of the spaces between – the empty blocks, abandoned houses, road verges, dumping sites, patches of native vegetation, and wild places.  To our culture these places are considered eyesores, or are invisible.  As I move away from this paradigm I discover that these are places to explore and cherish, and the things intended to attract my attention and money – the billboards, shopping malls, bright lights and television screens– become invisible to me.

We are part of nature, not separate from it.  Talking about “the environment” as if it is something far away that we never come in contact with is ridiculous.  No-one really knows what this Environment is, but every schoolchild know that we need to be friendly to it.  And this friendliness tends to take the form of such activities as recycling cans, reading from the screen, and buying new lightbulbs and whitegoods when the ones we already have are perfectly fine. These activities are about as far removed from our natural surroundings, and the meaning of friendliness, as I can imagine.

Let’s kill this idea of The Environment and start nurturing our world by living within it, rather than imposing ourselves on top of it, destroying it for our own ends.  We are all animals.  We can’t live in the illusion that the processes and cycles of nature don’t apply to us.  To truly care about our environment we need to care for ourselves, everyone around us, and all living and non-living things.  We must take only as much as we need, produce no waste, and share everything.  We need to attune ourselves to the patterns and cycles of nature, and become dependent only on the resources that exist in our immediate surroundings.


Forage.

From the zine How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.

Food is all around you.  Most of us are so accustomed to the practice of paying for food at shops and markets that it doesn’t occur to us to look for it anywhere else.  Foraging and gleaning is so much more fun than shopping, you never know what tasty and unusual treats you might find around the corner.  And you’re reducing the amount of food going to waste too.

 

Fruit trees.

Adelaide has a great climate to grow a wide range of fruit trees, and there is always something in season.  It’s legal and acceptable to pick fruit from branches hanging over the fence from a tree that is on private land.  Generally fruit is ripest (therefore tastiest and most nutritious) when it falls, so fruit that has just fallen or comes off easily in your hand.  Alleyways in the inner suburbs are great sources of delicious overhanging fruit.

Also if you see a fruit tree on private land that looks as though it’s not being harvested, the owner is often okay about people taking it, even appreciative that someone will make use of the fruit that is either too much for one household, or not to their liking.  I quite often knock on doors of houses that have overloaded trees or lots of fallen fruit.  I’ve even seen a sign on a front fence saying “please come in and help yourself to nectarines” there was even a crate to stand on to reach the higher branches, and boxes to take.

Some fruits that I have gleaned in Adelaide suburbs are persimmon, citrus (orange, lemon, grapefruit, mandarin, kumquat and others), avocado, grape, feijoa, cherry guava, lillipilli, pear, fig, mulberry, loquat, carob, pepino, huckberry, passionfruit, apricot, peach, nectarine, almond, monstera, quince, olive, pomegranate, rosehip, Irish strawberry, jelly palm (the big bunches of small orange fruit on palm trees).

And in the hills: apple, plum, cape gooseberry, walnut, chestnut, blackberry.

Others that grow well: Jujube, sapote, pistachio.

My favourite fruit gleaning experience takes place at a fig tree that overhangs the drive-thru at my local McDonalds.  I ride through on my way into town, and feast on figs as a breakfast stop.  I watch as people go by, shut off inside their vehicles, in a queue, to talk to a machine, so they can pay money that they’ve had to work for, to get food that’s not nourishing, and doesn’t even taste good.  Mostly they are so preoccupied with this task that they don’t even notice me there, eating amazing fresh sweet figs direct from the tree, enjoying being outdoors and in no rush to get anywhere.  I’ve never seen anyone else pick fruit there.

Another source of free food is reclaimed waste.  Huge amounts of perfectly good food get sent to landfill, from farms, supermarkets, markets, restaurants, caterers, and households.

Supermarkets throw out enough perfectly good food every day to feed about 20 households.  I obtain a large proportion of my food from dumpsters.  They are often locked, but for every lock there is a key, and conveniently the same key opens nearly every dumpster lock in the metro area.

For a restaurant meal, move in on a table as people are leaving and help yourself to their unfinished meal.  Restaurants tend to serve over-large portions, which creates a great deal of waste of high-quality food.  Restaurant staff might be okay with this, or they may ask you to leave.  At food courts it’s much easier, no-one pays any attention.

Chain-operated bakeries throw out almost as much stock as they sell, as they want their display racks to look full all the time.  Often if you ask at closing time, they will give away excess stock.  Or if you go by a bit later, you’ll find their dumpster by the smell of fresh bread wafting from it.  There is always more excess than any soup kitchen can take, so if you’re into bread and cake, you need never go short.

Fruit and veg shops may also be prepared to give away food that doesn’t look perfect, especially if you say it is to feed animals.  Closing time at markets is a good place to get free food too.

Farms and orchards can be good gleaning grounds.  Fallen fruit doesn’t get used, late ripening fruit can be uneconomical to harvest, potatoes with odd sizes or shapes get left on the ground, bunches of grapes get missed.  If you’re interested in making wine or cider, vineyards and apple orchards can help make it happen.  Always ask before taking anything from private land. The Gleaners and I is a French documentary about people who live on gleaned food.

There’s plenty of wild food around too, even in urban areas.  You don’t need to travel to distant jungles to have a go at hunting and gathering.  Edible weeds in southern Australia include:

Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Amaranth (aranthus retroflexus)

Nettle (Urtica diocia)

Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)

Plantain (Plantago spp.)

Chickweed (Stellaria media)

Fat hen (Chenopodium album) also known as lambsquarters

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)

Sow thistle (Sonchus oleraceaus)

Prickly lettuce (Lactuca scarriola)

Mallow (Malva spp)

Dock (Rumex spp)

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus)

Chicory (Cichorium intybus)

Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus)

Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-officinale)

Blackberry nightshade fruit (Solanum nigrum)

Mushrooms and seaweed should be properly identified before eating.  Some are good to eat, and some less so.

Prickly pear fruits (tuna) and pads (nopales) are edible.  The fruit tastes amazing, a mixture of papaya, persimmon and melon.  The nopales takes a bit of getting used to, it’s quite slimy.  Harvest with tongs into a bucket, and cut the spines off before eating.  Obviously.

Lots of native plants have edible fruit, flowers, leaves or tubers.  People have been living on this stuff for 40 000 years, so it must be alright.

Meat. If you want to eat meat, might as well do it in a way that connects you directly with your food sources, reduces waste, and controls feral animals.  Considering the alternative way to eat meat involves enormous amounts of destruction, suffering and exploitation and isn’t fun or adventurous at all.

Roadkill. Recently dead kangaroos, rabbits, and emus can be good eating.  Just leave out the bruised bit.  I recently picked up a rabbit while out cycling, threw it in my pannier and took it home.  Unfortunately it was all bruised so I didn’t get to eat it, but it made great compost.

Hunting. A slingshot or bow and arrow can get you some wild meat.  There’s plenty of feral goats around, as well as kangaroos, rabbits, possums, and pigeons.  Butchering is a useful skill to learn, and a unique way to impress (or repel) your friends at parties.

 

Fishing. Spend a fun day hanging out with friends by the beach or river, with a hook and a line, and you might even get some dinner out of it.

Entomophagy is the practice of eating insects.  Try snails, bogong moths, crickets or witchetty grubs.  Marsh flies are full of sugar.  I eat the sugar but not the fly itself.

Check out the British TV series The Wild Gourmets to see some wild food foraging adventures.

With all these options to choose from, you need never go to the supermarket again.

 

Stuff.

From the zine How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.

There are nomadic tribes who pity those who possess large amounts, as they need to expend more time and energy to transport them.  He who owns least is considered free. Linda Cockburn – Living the Good Life

Take an item of clothing, or any manufactured item, and hold it in your hands.  Have a good look at it.  Feel the textures, notice the details.  What is it made out of?  Where did these things come from?  Who grew the plants, or extracted the minerals from the earth that became this item?  How did they do this?  How and where was it manufactured? Who made it?  How did it get to you?  What process of packaging, transporting, marketing, wholesaling, and retailing has it been through?  And what’s the story of the money that paid for this item?  Where did that go?  What will happen to this item when you’re done with it?

Try this next time you sit down to dinner: before you start eating, tell the story of the meal.  Go through all of the above questions for every ingredient.  You’ll probably discover that your dinner has led a much more well-travelled and adventurous life than you ever have.

Looking at all the Things in our lives in this way can change the way we relate to possessions and food.  We start to realise that our decisions have a direct impact on a large number of people and places, both near and far.  We become aware of our dependence on the global infrastructure of commerce to provide for even our most basic needs.

There is an alternative to this exploitative and depressing way of being, and of course it is heaps easier and more fun.  When you make, find, fix and grow things that have character rather than buy soulless mass-produced disposable Things from far away, it’s you who has the adventures, and you write your own story of your Stuff.

A lot of the stuff that we think we need, we really don’t, and probably would be happier without.  I know that I already have everything I could ever want.

Lots of the stuff you use regularly around the house can be got for free if you know where to look and who to ask. Household goods, like furniture, electrical appliances, clothes, sporting equipment, building materials, books…

Hard rubbish collection day (which I have renamed Neighbourhood Resource Exchange Day) is a great source of useful stuff.  I really enjoy seeing people walking around their neighbourhoods, looking at what is on offer, talking to each other about how to fix or use the things on the street.  And I like that people put things out not just because they are too big to fit in a wheelie bin, but because they are things that other people might have a use for.  On one day of wombling in Brighton I gathered tree loppers, flippers, frame of a café umbrella, fabric of another café umbrella (and made a complete umbrella out of the two), several chairs, framed paintings, side table, rug, textbook about the water cycle, stuffed toy alligator, pepper grinder, electric kettle, a sofa which was stolen later that evening from our front verandah, meditation stool, broom, transparent lid of a storage box for making a mini-greenhouse to raise seedlings, a wire trolley for storing fruit and veg, two bike helmets, candles, salad bowl, laundry basket, bowls and plates, sewing machine, pillow, doona, doormat, compost bin, cupboard, sketchbook, plastic pots, star picket, shade cloth, mirror, curtains, pinboard, watering can, and all the parts needed for making a composting toilet.

Dumpsters behind department stores, op-shops and pawnbrokers can yield all manner of useful and not so useful things.  Often these things are perfectly functional, or slightly damaged in a way that is easy to fix.  Op shops get far more donations than they can make use of, and large quantities of clothes and other household items are thrown out.

Op shops and clothing donation bins are also treated as dumping grounds.  To leave anything outside of a shop or donation bin is illegal dumping, so by taking anything from these illegal “donations” you are cleaning up litter.

Government departments frequently dispose of furniture, computers, office equipment and carpets because they have a budget to spend within the financial year, so will replace items that don’t need replacing purely so they can spend the money that has been allocated.  Universities, schools, councils and other large organizations may also do this.  Personal contact with someone who works in one of these places would be the most effective way to get your hands on this stuff.

Check building sites, demolition sites and town dumps for building materials.  40% of waste sent to landfill comes from the construction industry.  Timber, irrigation pipe, insulation, windows and doors, cables, paint and other such miscellany can be found.

Being able to fix things and improvise, to make new things from old, is a useful skill for anyone wanting to live free of The System, and for anyone really.  It’s an opportunity to be creative, and discover abilities you didn’t know you had.

Shelter.

From the zine How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.

There are infinite possibilities for creating a shelter, a safe place to live.  By stepping out of the Rent or Buy? options we can consider:

Housesit or caretake. You could go through life never paying for accommodation, taking care of the houses, gardens and pets of people who are travelling.  Housesits can last for days, months, sometimes years.  If you enjoy country life and have some farm skills, or are looking to learn, caretaking a farm can be rewarding and give you a chance to get to know an area if you are considering settling there longer term.

Squat. Any unoccupied house can be legally occupied and have the locks changed by anyone.  There are plenty of empty houses around.  No rent.  Always the possibility that you may be evicted if you don’t know who the owner is, but you do have some legal rights in this situation.  It may be possible to make an arrangement with the owner to stay on and maintain the house.  Check out the Squatters’ Handbook at squatspace.com/handbook for everything you could want to know about squatting.

Renovations. For those with building skills, fixing up a house while living in it can give you a job and free accommodation.  If you don’t mind living in a building site.

Build a shelter. I spent a few months sleeping in a humpy made from wax boxes in the backyard of a friend’s house.  It can be quite easy to build a temporary or permanent shelter, such as a tipi, hut, stardome, yurt, bender, treehouse or shed, in a few hours or days, and build completely out of free recycled materials.  It feels great to live in something you have built yourself.  Building on a friend’s property where you can get access to water and a place to store food makes it easier.

Free camp. I cycled around Tasmania last summer carrying camping gear, and set up camp in parks and patches of woodland, on beaches, clifftops and creekbanks.  I’ve read a story of a man in America who lives in a cave, and there’s a guy in Sydney who sleeps in a hammock high up in a Moreton Bay fig tree in a park in the inner city.  He has a house but prefers sleeping up in the tree.  I know of someone who spent months camping out in a forest on the outskirts of Hobart while maintaining a full time IT job in the city.

Work exchange. The idea of taking in a boarder who looks after the house in exchange for free rent can be quite appealing for busy people.  If you enjoy cooking, gardening, babysitting or cleaning this can be quite an effective arrangement.  Currently I have an arrangement with two friends who have bought their own house that I live with them, do a fair proportion of the cooking and gardening, provide a reasonable share of the food and pay minimal rent.

Share housing. Not free but cheaper than occupying a house as an individual or couple.  It can be lots of fun and has many other benefits: sharing chores, becoming open to other ways of doing things, which is useful for anything you do in life, expanding your social networks and introducing you to new ideas.  There’s no reason two families with young children couldn’t share a house, or older people whose children have left home.  Widows and widowers might also benefit from the companionship and reduced expenses of sharing a house.

Every night in Australia there are 17 million spare beds.  There is no shortage of housing, just a shortage of creative ways to make use of the space we have.

Adventure.

From the zine How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.

What is adventure?  Does it require going to a far away place, and spending lots of money, or can you have an adventure in your own neighbourhood?  Can you buy an adventure, or does the fact that you’ve paid for an Experience, and know exactly what you are going to get, preclude all possibility of adventures occurring?

Here’s a few free adventure options.

Wilderness survival. Can you live in the bush, eat bush foods and build a bush shelter, find fresh water and make clothes from animal skins?  People have been living on this land for thousands of years doing exactly this.  Give it a go.  You’re guaranteed not to be bored.

Urban exploration. The suburbs can be places to explore and discover.  The street directory might show you the streets, parks and shopping malls, but it can’t show the mulberry tree with luscious berries in an alley, abandoned buildings, haunted houses, rooftops, and trees to climb.

Down the drain. There’s a whole world to explore under the city, the stormwater drains that direct our water away from where it’s most needed and send it out to sea.  Every city has a community of drain explorers.  This one’s not for a rainy day.

Talk to people on the street. This could lead to …who knows what?  It’ll probably be something interesting, and if it’s not, then no great loss.

Try new things. Anything you’ve never done before has the potential to be an adventure, maybe even life-changing.

Take a different route home.

Change the way you look at the world. Even things you do every day can become exciting and new if you look at them closely, or change your perspective. Become aware of the spaces between. What else is around you all the time that you’ve never noticed, just waiting to be discovered?

Leave your wallet at home. Finding something for dinner, a new dress, a place to live, a way to get home, or a birthday present can be fun rather than boring if you expand your options beyond the bought.

Pee outside. Yes, even urinating can be an adventure if you want it to.  Finding a spot that looks like it could do with a bit of liquid fertiliser, and isn’t exposed to passers by, can lead you to discover places you would never otherwise go.  Even in your own backyard.

Wwoof. Volunteer on organic farms in exchange for meals, accommodation, learning and lots of fun.

Couch surf. Stay at people’s houses as you’re travelling.  You’ll get to know the area and the culture a lot better than if you stay in a hotel or backpackers.

Invite people to come stay with you. When an American friend came to stay at my house, she took me on an adventure of discovering my local area in a new way, exploring places it would never have occurred to me to go.

Share.

From the zine How to have an amazingly adventurous life for zero dollars a day.

The global economy works by encouraging a culture of individualism, selfishness and greed.  It convinces us we are independent and self-reliant if we rely on our money rather than the land and other people to provide for our needs.  So to extract ourselves from the money economy, we need to recognise that everything is interdependent, and form these reciprocal relationships with nature and neighbours, with everyone and everything around us.  We need to shift our concern away from the health of our bank balance, investments and superannuation, and towards caring for the health of our ecosystems, our communities and ourselves.  When we stop concerning ourselves with financial matters and open up to the natural abundance that is all around us, we discover that we have so much to share.  I find the abundance overwhelming sometimes.

Sharing is an effective way to make the most of the available resources, and reduce waste.  It builds trust between people and reduces social isolation.  To return or reclaim borrowed items, or pass on excess produce, is always a good reason to go visiting friends and neighbours.  It is an opportunity to get to know your neighbours, and just gives you a good feeling to be able to help someone out by doing something as simple as lending them a shovel.

Stuff that can be shared. Food, books, tools, appliances, cars, land, recipes, cultures (both the bacterial and social kind), friends, skills, stories, your home, child raising, clothes, seeds, plants, labour, experiences, ideas and feelings.

Sharing can happen on an informal basis, but to make the maximise its potential, it might be worthwhile to set up or make use of an existing infrastructure.  Some of these include swap meets and free markets, fruit and veg exchanges, Food Not Bombs, tool libraries, community shed, clothes swap parties, neighbourhood swap box, book exchanges and a community library.  An online infrastructure is The Sharehood (thesharehood.org) which helps neighbourhoods to organise sharing of produce, tools, childcare, skills, and labour and to hold events.  Other useful websites are freecycle.org, to give and receive things for free, and The Freeconomy Community (justfortheloveofit.org) to share skills, tools, space and ideas.