Skye has been facilitating numerous gift circles since 2011 in Western Canadian cities. Their community building potential is immediately noticeable and their positive effects are long lasting. Read on to discover more about the transformative power of the gift circle experience and how to start one of your very own!
What is a Gift Circle?
A Gift Circle is a small gathering of people to facilitate the sharing of gifts, needs, and gratitude in the co-creation of community relationships.
Friends and family come together and collectively participate in a Gift Circle in order to discover new ways of supporting one another. This collaborative process opens individuals to the power of community, the joys of giving and receiving, and the freedom to express our needs and discover our gifts. Gift Circles connect people together in mutually supportive friendship.
A very simple practice of the emerging gift economy, Gift Circles inspire people into generosity and sharing through a first-hand experience of the unity in community.
Why a Gift Circle?
One of the gift economy views is that in traditional exchange, money acts as a separator of relationship. Buyer and seller of a commodity are not bound together in the same way giver and receiver of a gift are. Money ends transactions and turns relationship into paid service.
Because the people we pay are replaceable (you can always pay someone else), relationships are not able to develop in the same way as through a gift. When a gift fills a need, gratitude is felt. This feeling of gratitude is what ties giver to receiver and inspires further giving. When all of our needs are met with money, we are not dependent on any specific person, and are unable to build community.
Community is built on the interdependencies of the individuals that create it. Without really needing each other, we will never have community. Gifts are the glue of community. This is why lower economic regions tend to have stronger community – they are more dependent on each other for support. We cannot simply ‘add on’ community to an otherwise monetized society because simple socializing is a weak foundation to relationship.
Less dependency on traditional economies
As more people experience the hardships of making ends meet with money, we look to new avenues for the meeting of our needs. Gift Circles empower individuals by connecting them to people they know to fill their needs without money.
We get to learn how to make and do things ourselves. Sally doesn’t need to take a taxi to the airport on Friday. Joe doesn’t need to purchase tools for a wood project. The less we require money, the less we need to work for it and the more time we have for life, gifting, and personal relationships. It is an uplifting circle of giving!
Reduction of waste and resource use
It’s simple: the more we reuse instead of throw out, share instead of accumulate, fix instead of replace, and find previously loved instead of new, the less we consume of the Earth’s gifts.
You need a coffee table for your house, how many neighbours have an extra in their basement? How many lawn mowers and power tools do we need on one block when they are used so rarely? As we share the accumulated abundance of material wealth to people in need, we discover a better quality of life through friendship and lessen our waste impact on our home.
Health and Happiness
The world’s healthiest places, those with the highest concentration of centenarians, operate with a gift economy. Ikaria Greece, Okinawa Japan, and Sardina Italy have high unemployment rates (not a bad thing if practicing a gift economy) and utilize gifting relationships to enhance feelings of community belonging.
The practice of giving and receiving gifts generates gratitude among individuals. It is the feeling of gratefulness that bonds people together and transcends time and turmoil. Gifts cause people to feel good, to feel happy, to feel a part of something. We witness generosity and think, “If they can afford to be generous, I can too”. The circle of the gift amplifies generosity and inspires further giving by adding to the common wealth of gratitude.
How a Gift Circle Works
There are typically three rounds of circle sharing that make up the Gift Circle: gratitude, needs, and gifts. These three rounds are sandwiched between an opening (icebreaker) activity to start and a closing of the circle at the end.
Opening: This is opportunity to introduce the Gift Circle to new participants as well as to synergize the group present for the circle. Making sure everyone is comfortable and safe helps to open the circle. Incorporating a pot luck or some sort of food sharing is a wonderful way to bring the community together in the opening.
Gratitude: The first round is for participants to share what it is they are presently grateful for in their life. Witnessing gratefulness helps to inspire generosity in community. Gratitude that is directed to specific people present for the Gift Circle enhances the inspiration.
Needs: Round two involves the expression of needs. This practice helps participants to consider ways that others can assist with something in their life. Materials for a project, childcare on Friday, mechanical skills, a ride to the airport – anything and everything participants can think of!
Gifts: The final round is a chance for the participants to offer any gifts they wish to the community. This practice expands our concept of what a typical gift is. Extra tools from home, lessons to teach a personal skill, computer repair, books, companionship – the only limit is your imagination! What do you love to do for others?
Closing: This is to wrap up the Gift Circle and to make sure that everyone feels complete with their sharing. Once the circle is closed, contact information is essential to exchange so as to ensure the gifting relationships transition into the action stage.
Contact Skye today to book a facilitated gift circle in your area.
If you want to read more details about facilitating your own gift circle, click here!
Gift Circle Testimonials:
“It amazes me what happens when groups gather in circle and begin by speaking of Gratitude. The Needs and Offerings of those present often align in profoundly synchronistic ways, whether within the Gift Circle itself, or in the without warning in weeks that follow. What I appreciate the most about Skye is his courageous modelling of “Living in the Gift”, and being of service wherever he is present. Skye’s gift for gentle yet effective management and leadership are apparent in all that he does, drawing from years of formal education, mentorship, and self-directed inquiry. Hats off to this incredible being.”
— Joshua Wagler, BA Urban Studies, Permaculture Designer & Natural Builder, Integrated Living Landscapes LTD