One of the things I love about Lewis Hyde’s The Gift (which I recently wrote about here) is that, after reading it, gift giving shows up everywhere. Hyde calls this phenomenon the “gift economy” — and considering this guy decided to do this after being laid off from his job, I think the economic comparison is entirely appropriate.
The gift economy can only exist in small groups: in tribes, religious communities, etc. I think part of what appeals to me about the gift economy is that it describes rurality— the way that rural areas develop communities of gift giving, with both the positive and negative traits. You can’t raise a barn by yourself, you know.
Yet Reed Sandridge (the guy in the article) is a perfect example of taking the gift economy into large cities– where it may not develop into a whole economy, but it can certainly surround an individual. Beautiful.