It would be hard to describe TreeHugger as being anti-money or anti-commerce, especially given our recent high-profile acquisition by the Discovery Channel. However, there's no doubt that many of the steps towards building a sustainable society lie not in international commerce or monetary transactions, but in getting to know your neighbor and rebuilding your community. You only have to look at the astounding spread of Freecycle communities around the world, or the birth of the Really, Really Free Market concept, to understand that there is a huge potential for meeting many of our needs by simply exchanging skills, knowledge and resources with our neighbors. This is certainly what Saoirse, a resident of Bristol, UK, will be relying on as he sets out on a 12,000km walk to Porbandar in India with no money, and carrying nothing but his "faith in humanity and a small backpack." Along the way he intends to offer his services and skills to strangers, and in turn rely on their hospitality for food and shelter.
Calling himself a community pilgrim, Saoirse's mission is part of a wider project, documented on a website entitled Just For The Love of It. The video above gives an insight into what it's all about (a higher resolution version can also be found here), but you can delve into the website for a more in-depth view:
"In every community I have lived in, each person has something to offer. On my pilgrimage I will be offering my services in whatever way I can, but at the same time, I will depend humbly on the true hospitality of others. This, to me, is symbolic of life; it is the meeting of complete freedom and complete interdependence. So if you meet me or see me, use the password I give you to say where and when you saw me, where I was going to next and any comments you would like to add! You can also upload a photograph to prove I'm still alive!"
Saoirse (pictured) is hoping that his pilgrimage will provide an opportunity to alert people to the website, where they can become members of the 'Freeconomy'. Registered members are encouraged to list their skills, and can then connect with other members in their area. Online contact between members is limited, however, as the ultimate goal is to get people meeting up in the real world.
Saoirse's view on money, namely that it is the manifestation of "fear, insecurity and lack of faith in humanity and the universe to look after us" may be a little too strong for many of us. Nevertheless, it seems clear that we'd all be happier if we got used to looking out for our neighbors just a little bit more, and worrying about that next pay rise a little less. For more ideas on reconnecting with your surroundings, check out our guide on How to Green Your Community. ::Just For the Love of It::