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What would a "Service Economy" look like?


A dear friend of mine sent me this insightful and intriguing audio blog about The Serviceberries: An Economy of Abundance, a beautiful native tree that bears fruit rich with flavors of blueberry, apple, and rose. Funny how I had never heard of this tree. Extravagant colors in the fall, beautiful white flowers in the spring, and bountiful berries late summer.


The writer, Robin Wall Kimmerer, speaks so eloquently, from the perspective of a botanist, on how nature can, if we allow it and honor its lessons, teach us the powerful lessons of a sustainable economy. Given this is a tree, “economy” is not money but a commodity resource provided by the tree so diverse and plentiful riches to both human and non-human recipeintcs. Abundance, given freely without desire of direct reciprocity. Changing the dynamic from an economic economy to a service economy.


This expose looks deeply into the breadth and depth of abundance, how nature in itself creates opportunities to unselfishly give to others, to animals, soil, and humans. Not ranking or sorting in order of deservedness, but creating a “model of interdependence which creates gratitude and reciprocity, not scarcity.” If these serviceberries acted for their own benefit only, the world would lose. Without the gift of relationships we all will die.


Imagine if we looked towards this year as nature does. Giving freely, taking only what we need as opposed to what we want. Sharing our knowledge, our wisdom, and services to anyone who is interested. Not with eyes on repayment but with the gift of service and gratitude. “Gratitude is so much more than a polite thank you. It is the thread that connects us in a deep relationship.”


“Competition reduces the caring capacity”


Robin notes “how we think is linked to how we behave'' conversely, how we behave creates a lasting impression to others. The foundation of change is you. How you think, perceive, and choose to believe will insight action and motion in others.


My Challenge to You:

  • Play with the idea of scarcity, is that what drives you? The fear of not having enough, the fear of being without? How would it feel to give more freely, without the expectation of reciprocity in any form?

  • The great teachers are all around you, take time to really see and integrate the lessons. To integrate and appreciate the circular interdependence of nature. The knowing that success, for thousands of years, has been based on trust, giving, and relationships. How do you fit in?


If you have another minute, here is a great paragraph from Robin’s blog, a twist on perspective.


“To name the world as gift is to feel one’s membership in the web of reciprocity. It makes you happy—and it makes you accountable. Conceiving of something as a gift changes your relationship to it in a profound way, even though the physical makeup of the “thing” has not changed. A wooly knit hat that you purchase at the store will keep you warm regardless of its origin, but if it was hand knit by your favorite auntie, then you are in relationship to that “thing” in a very different way: you are responsible for it, and your gratitude has motive force in the world. You’re likely to take much better care of the gift hat than the commodity hat, because it is knit of relationships. This is the power of gift thinking. I imagine if we acknowledged that everything we consume is the gift of Mother Earth, we would take better care of what we are given. Mistreating a gift has emotional and ethical gravity as well as ecological resonance.”



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