Sunday, 11 March 2012

Living without money

Mark Boyle started an experiment a few years ago - he decided to live without money.

Now there are many people who would wish to find fault with what Mark is doing. They will say that he's not really living without money because he uses things that others have given him, and that they used money to buy them in the first place. They might say that working in a pub and being 'paid' in food means that people have to earn money to buy drinks and meals in order for the pub landlord to 'give' Mark the food. Fair enough, but if you think Mark and his book is just about money, then you've missed the point. Mark studied marketing and in reality, he now admits, that he uses the moneyless tag to get people's attention - what he is really talking about is respect for the earth - a new way of living.

I read Mark's book at the end of 2010 and it's a really good read. I don't pretend for one minute that I would want to live the life that Mark does, but there are many lessons to be taken from it.

Here's an interesting little tale, featured on Mark's 'Freeconomy' website:

The Businessman and the Forest Gardener.

One day a man, let's call him Martin, was pottering around in a beautiful forest garden in the middle of the English countryside, harvesting some autumn olives, medlars, James Grieve apples, walnuts and a whole range of unusual leafs. Martin loved forest gardening - not only was he working in complete harmony with Nature, it required only a fraction of the labour that conventional agriculture took, whilst still producing more than enough food for his family of four. But, truth be known, all he was really doing was enjoying some afternoon sunshine and eating fruits picked straight from the tree!

A businessman just happened to walk past this bountiful garden. He noticed the forest gardener was sitting in a little clearing under a plum tree, and decided to find out why this gardener was lazing around in his one acre forest garden instead of working harder to make a living for himself and his family.

"You aren't going to grow much food that way," said the businessman to the forest gardener, "you should be working hard rather than lying under the tree!" The forest gardener looked up at the businessman, smiled and replied, "And what will my reward be?"

"Well, you can buy more land so that you can grow more vegetables and fruit!" was the businessman's answer.

"And then what will my reward be?" asked the forest gardener, still smiling. The businessman replied, "You will make money and you'll be able to buy a tractor and other labour saving machines, which will then result in larger harvests of fruit and veg!"

"And then what will my reward be?" asked the forest gardener again.

The businessman was beginning to get a little irritated with the forest gardener's questions. "You can buy better machinery, and hire some people to work for you!" he said. "And then what will my reward be?" repeated the forest gardener.

The businessman was getting angry. "Don't you understand? You can build up a fleet of tractors and combine harvesters, buy more land, convert it all to intensive agriculture and let all your employees grow your fruit, nuts and veg for you!" Once again the forest gardener asked, "And then what will my reward be?"

The businessman was red with rage and shouted at the forest gardener, "Don't you understand that you can become so rich that you will never have to work for your living again! You can spend all the rest of your days sitting in this garden, looking at the sunset. You won't have a care in the world!"

The forest gardener, still smiling, looked up and said, "And what do you think I'm doing right now?"

First Guardian article:

Response Guardian article:

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