51% Show #1266

Oct 18, 2013

Full moon eclipse over parabolic reflector
Credit Tristan "Loupiote" Savatier

With the global economy still in recovery, let's look at an interesting counter-economy... It's Burning Man – an annual community that springs up in the desert over Labor Day, then vanishes. And no money is allowed.

Economists around the world are predicting modest growth in the global economy – though the political battles in Washington over Obamacare had foreign governments keeping their fingers crossed.  Banks are shedding debt, according to a Reuters article, Italy's economy is still stagnant, and Japan plans to raise a consumption tax to try to reduce its debt. But what's the alternative? One example is a counterculture city that springs up in the Nevada desert each year, then disappears as quickly as it was built. The Burning Man festival carries on the idealistic spirit of the sixties while dealing with the challenges of a hyper-connected, consumer society.  Whether you think it's hippie nonsense or an interesting exercise in a no-commerce economy, there's no denying it's growing.

Fire Of Fires by David Umlas, Marrilee Ratcliffe, Community Art Makers
Credit Bill Klemens

 Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter produced a documentary profiling the Burning Man festival – it's called Spark.  They came at the project from different points of view – Brown is a Burning Man veteran and Deeter, a filmmaker, had never been. They spoke with Andrea Chase.

Up next, the second part of the Burning Man interviews...and an effort to create a barter economy in New York City.  

The Burning Man Festival is like the love child of the sixties hippies and the members of the chess club. Creativity, inventiveness and sharing are encouraged.  Selling – any kind of selling, is banned. Producers Steve Brown and Jessie Deeter profiled the festival in their film “Spark.” Here's part two of their conversation with Andrea Chase.

So what do you do if you want to create a local economy that doesn't rely on cash? One that goes all year round. One answer is barter. Modern alternative economy movements like the Transitions movement encourage local barter economies. And in New York City, there's a web-based effort to bring the barter economy into today's world.  It started with a group of artists who created a system where you could barter to learn new skills. That idea launched a barter site called ourgoods.org

Find out more at ourgoods.org and Tradeschool.coop.

That’s our show for this week. Thanks to Katie Britton for production assistance.  Our theme  music is by Kevin Bartlett. This show is a national production of Northeast Public Radio.  Our executive producer is Dr. Alan Chartock.