How to Host a Conference Gift Economy Style

For anyone interested in building community and activism, events are a mainstay of tribe creation. But gatherings come with challenges. Some, including lectures, film screenings, organized walks, workshops, and multi-day conferences, are large and need advance structure, organization, planning, and funding. While there are a lot of conference centers, they can be cost-prohibitive for some, which creates a tension as creative people with a great deal to offer are left out. Many organizers, understanding this tension, seek new ways to throw conferences, and many are turning to the gift economy model to do so.

How do gift-based conferences differ from traditional gatherings? The two main tenets of gift economics are trust and service: trust in your community to hold and support you, and service to the thing or idea that is being created by the gathering. You might be in service simply to building community around the event or a group project, or maybe you are in service to creating of a piece of art or a permaculture installation. Serve whatever it is you are creating. Acknowledging with each decision these two main features of the gift economy will help the gathering be successful on every level.

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