9. – 13. Schuljahr
I’ve been living at Bellyacres, a creative eco-village in the jungle of Lower Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii, for three months. The Saturday market at S.P. A.C.E. (Seaview Performing Arts Center of Education) is a weekly highlight for many people in Puna, and I am one of the vendors.
Over the past month, my waffle-vending business has brought me a pile of wealth. The crumpled dollar notes in the pockets of my apron are a welcome pocket money, but I am referring to a different kind of wealth. So far, I have been able to exchange my waffles against:
- a karuna massage
- a bunch of bananas and two heads of lettuce
- an energy/body healing session
- heaps of great conversation
- many new acquaintances
- an acro-yoga class
- a sachet of raw ulu powder, and
- a postcard-sized art print showing a shark eating a snapper while being groomed by three little cleaner fish: ‘Life from Life’.
The title of the art print now gracing my desk is a great summary of what I’m trying to tell you with this article. Most of us are used to buying and selling things for money. But the money we receive from somebody does not tell us much about the buyer’s personality. The transaction may become more personal as the waffle bakes and conversation starts flowing. We may deduce things from their choice of product. People who buy waffles like a leisurely breakfast. They appreciate sensual pleasure. My personal market research has already taught me to distinguish between wheat-free, sugar-free waffle buyers and classic waffle buyers based on their looks.
But compared to exchanging a product against money, trading a product for another product or service feels closer to actually communicating with somebody. While I specialize in food with a localvore mentality (waffles and toppings made with fruit grown on Bellyacres), other market vendors specialize in healing (massages/herbs), growing and nurturing lives (bananas, lettuce), or making the world more beautiful (art). By trading products and services, we get a glimpse of each other’s personalities. We give a piece of ourselves to somebody else and in turn receive a piece of them.
Let me quote Wikipedia, a website based on the free trade of knowledge, on the history of trade: ‘Trade originated with the start of communication in prehistoric times’.
I am the last person to reject the achievements of the modern world – I have composed odes to modern drugs for saving my life, and sung hymns of gratefulness to the simple pleasure of sitting on a clean, heated toilet seat as blizzards were howling outside. But this back-to-the-roots experience of trading one thing for another instead of relying on money has been a charming experience.
I believe it is an asset to know about our human beginnings. It can remind us of some things that are easy to forget leading the life we lead. In many ways, we have improved life, in others we have digressed from what is important. Innovative efforts and inventions represent genuine human needs and longings, but in a world dominated by such a high degree of specialization, a world in which people are so used to buying things that they cannot understand, let alone make, most of the objects they use (Do you know how a computer works? Can you make a pen? A kitchen knife? Cornflakes?), experiencing the intrinsic nature of trade is a welcome reminder that to thrive, we need to communicate. We need to make an effort and fulfill our innate mission to make whatever we have access to available to our fellow human beings. If it wasn’t for others, would you have the house you live in? The clothes you’re wearing? The food you’re eating?
S.P. A.C.E. market is the epitome of a principle that can...
Sweet, fragrant trade winds -