Running errands last Saturday, I met Mary Crenshaw, a non-crazy CTA bus rider. She suggested that I put my heavy backpack between us, under her walker that needs a repair that would “cost a fortune.” If you are getting by on Social Security (maybe she has other resources but maybe she doesn’t) $15 to repair a walker is a fortune. My hunch is that the walker needs a bolt and a screw.
I work with a guy who could fix this in his sleep. Truly, he is gifted at fixing things and keeping machinery running but many people have these skills. Regrettably, we have grown accustomed to living in a culture in which everything, including everything, has a price. I readily acknowledge my flimsy grip on reality, but in the world inside my head, in my family and the small towns from which I hailed, people were generous and eager to lend a hand or a leg up. I have that mind set today and, out-of-step or not, I’m holding onto it.
Repairing Mary’s walker for free is well within our reach. The Law of Unintended Consequences is yielding a certainly unintended consequence: an allergic reaction to spending money when bartering will suffice. A result of the Tea Party’s eagerness to cut vital spending to the bone, the Sequester and corporations’ unwillingness to pay living wages is that not consuming has become a satisfying and powerful political statement for millions of wised up former consumers. Lots of people are making coffee at home, learning to cook and bartering. I haven’t been in a big box store in six months and maybe I’ll make it for the entire year. Rather
than buy the laptop that I actually need, I’m borrowing a friend’s. I would like to have a TV but another friend’s cast off and converter box will probably work just fine.
Here’s one way to make this work: becoming resilient and resourceful at the community level.
These movements are designed to help people to acquire goods and services outside of the consumption grid. If you hoped for a consumer-led recovery, think again and consider shorting the market.
These movements support hopping off the consumption grid and bartering. Community Mixers are an opportunity to get together, share a potluck, meet new people, listen to great music and just have fun. If you would like to have Community Mixers in your neighborhood, please contact me and let’s cook some up!