the one euro experiment
if you live in a larger city, you might know that feeling (somewhere between awkward & awful) after you don’t give change to the beggar/musician/street magazine seller, especially if they hang around in the same subway car till the next stop. of course, there’s lots of ways to rationalize it. “i’m not giving them money for booze”, “giving doesn’t help them, i rather give to [NGO of choice]”, or my favorite: “if i gave every beggar money, i’d soon be one of them.”
however, in the end, these are just rationalizations to feel better. to most people, it doesn’t feel quite right to look the other way, so they come up with these excuses. after thinking about charles eisenstein’s gift economy for a while now (check out the amazing occupy love video as well), and being inspired by three australian artists i had a coffee with this morning, i decided to try out something: for one month, i’m going to give everyone i meet that is asking for money, one euro or buy their street magazine.
admittedly, it’s not much - but it’s a start (and imagine everybody did it…). let’s see how much money i spent after 30 days, whether the good feeling from helping was worth it, and what else i will learn from the experience. as a freelancer & avid networker, i spend a lot of time out and about in berlin and come across a lot of people. i’m certainly not rich, but i am fairly certain that this experiment won’t make me poor. and i really don’t care how the money is spent, because i’d probably spend it on booze myself anyway! ;)
i’ll also try to take their picture, and depending on how much time i have, find out a little more about them. during lunch today, i had my first opportunity: i was asked for a donation to a local children’s theater that is looking to crowdfund a mobile stage. unfortunately, i can’t find the note with the name of the company or the person, and he also didn’t want his photo on the internet, so i only got a photo of him with his cap over his face. not the most interesting kick-off to talk about on the blog, but the project isn’t so much about documentation (i don’t think i will document it every day on the blog), but more about a learning experience. let’s see how it goes!
by the way, the project that inspired this is called deliverance: three australian artists are occupying a 5x6m space in berlin for 10 days and started with absolutely nothing - not even clothes as you can see in the picture below. i was riding my bike this morning, and when i passed their area, i decided to stop and share some of the bananas i had just bought. it was sunny, so i had a seat, some coffee and a chat with them. in the short time i spent there, i witnessed four people who donated food, water, and coffee. it got me thinking about people’s generosity, and why it rarely extends to the people we see (almost) every day. i kept thinking about it, and by the time i was having lunch, the project was born!