What follows is a story about an experience I had in Berlin in Spring 2014 when I facilitated a 3 day introduction to sociocracy workshop and offered a further 2 days of consultancy and implementation support.
In the build-up to the workshop a number of people passionate about evolving new and more equivalent organisational forms, contacted the organisers of the event to explain their desire to come and their frustration because at this moment the fee for the workshop was more than they were able to afford.
The anticipated audience was predominantly social entrepreneurs, change makers, and activists, where enthusiasm and passion often outstrips monetary abundance by some considerable degree.
The event was held at "Think Farm" in Berlin, Germany. “Communities Convergence” and “Eco-basa”, the 2 organisers of the event, both work on the principle of "gift economy".
A number of the people enquiring for the event were asking if it were possible to apply the principle of gift economy… basically in order so that they could afford to come!
To cut a long story short, at the last minute it was agreed to do so.
The organisers and I integrated the economy matter into the workshop and on the first day shared transparently the costs, including my preferred range of monetary fee. We then invited everyone to write a note with the amount of monetary exchange they were currently willing to give in exchange for participation in the workshop.
The figure that came in was about 35% below the minimum monetary threshold. This then gave everyone an idea of the current situation.
The following day, while practicing sociocracy’s "Proposal Forming Process", the participants developed a policy proposal to address the issue and to see if they could find a creative way to resolve the tension. They nominated a facilitator, identified all of the considerations and then explored the variety of possible solutions. Later they conducted a consent process to establish if there was “objection free” agreement.
The outcome was that the minimum preferred monetary exchange was raised. Extraordinary however, this was just the tip of the “abundance iceberg”!
I was with tears in my eyes as the organisers and I were asked if we had any objections to a proposal that besides the monetary offering meant we were invited to choose from a selection of assets which included:
the editing and production of the film footage that was taken during the workshop
Live in childcare and help around the home for a period of time
Support to develop further sociocracy workshops in the future
Several weeks accommodation in Berlin and Bulgaria
An apartment in Berlin as required
Clothes and other items
Handmade craft items and jewellery
Workshop venue space in Berlin
Writing and Social media services
And a super cool, natural, biodegradable toothbrush!
With the later offer of my dentistry needs also being taken care of for a remarkably small fee, I'm estimating that overall I came away from the workshop in Berlin with between 400% and up to infinite% the value, compared to if I had just insisted on a monetary fee.
And of course, many who would not have come otherwise got to discover the benefits of sociocracy and I made so many new friends. When I left Berlin, it was with the feeling that I had a home there anytime I wished to return.
In addition to this phenomena of value emerging out of a field of perceived lack, all the food for the workshop was manifested through the Food Share scheme – costing only the energy of the people who so kindly took time to gather ingredients from around the city - saving good food that would otherwise go to waste.
I stayed on to offer the 2 days consultancy and implementation workshop in exchange for "well-being"... and I feel so well for that!