Think Outside the Bucks

The Money & Life team is pleased to welcome our first guest blogger, Julie Gouldener. See her bio and picture below. If you have a story to tell that is in line with the message and purpose of the film, don’t be shy. Let us know about it.

courtesy of Theresa Keil,

Bravo on the Money & Life team’s courageous decision to embrace a community screening strategy!  A couple of recent events in my life lead me to believe this decision will bring far more rich, surprising, and satisfying yields to the film’s creators, and the communities who engage with it, than the commercial screening strategy ever could.

I work with a group in Baltimore who administers a local, complementary currency for our city – The Baltimore BNote. About a year ago, I organized an event for our organization called “Think Outside the Bucks.”   Part of the event was a “Marketplace Minus the Dollar.”  Vendors in the market were instructed not to price anything in U.S. dollars.  Instead, payment could be accepted in IOUs for services, other items, offers of barter, a song or dance, BNotes, or anything else people dreamed up. Vendors could also allow attendees to set their own prices, or simply offer up their wares as gifts.

In the event invitation, I asked people to bring items to use in the marketplace to barter with, or simply to gift.  I thought very few people would bring an item, so we set up tables of free things at the front door, provided by The Baltimore Free Store. These were the same tables where attendees could leave their items, and take new ones if they chose.  I thought it was a great way to start the event, with people immediately receiving a gift, but mainly it served as a stopgap in the event people didn’t bring items of their own.

Was I surprised! EVERYONE brought gift items. Some attendees came literally draped with items to barter or gift with! Tables werecontinually refreshed as people left their items and took others.  I had my handmade jewelry in the market as well, at a “gift economy” table.  I allowed people to take freely and leave whatever they felt moved to, according to their ability and level of gratitude.  I was amazed at the end of the night when I not only found more money (and BNotes) than I’ve ever made selling at fixed prices, but also offers for free services, hand written notes and other treasures.

I’ve also had a recent experience with a film that chose the commercial screening strategy.  The film itself is a great tool that questions our current economic paradigm, but my desire to share it with my community turned into a cumbersome, expensive, and somewhat disempowering quest.  As much as I like the film, I wouldn’t be quick to screen it again.

It is our current paradigm of scarcity that makes people afraid to step outside of the current system and feel distrust, or even fear, about doing things differently.  But once people do step outside of it, incredible richness and creativity can flow through – and does.

I believe Money & Life creators will see their generosity and openness reflected back to them in wonderful and unexpected ways.  I look forward to being a part of the spirit of this gift as it unfolds.

Julie Gouldener is a mother, artist, teacher, baker, and community organizer with over 10 years of non-profit experience in organizing and communications work.  Currently, Julie works as Program Coordinator for Baltimore Green Currency Association, a nonprofit that has created a local, complementary currency for Baltimore called the Baltimore BNote.  She loves living in Baltimore and is deeply committed to the vision of a world where every person creates value for their community, and themselves, in a way that is beautiful and meaningful to them.


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