PAUL GLOVER ESSAYS: community control of food, fuel, housing, health care, planning, education, finance.

The Gift of Community
The seasons of parties and presents offer essential gifts that can't be bought in stores: family, friendship, community and beauty.  At their best, holidays renew our humanity and make us feel welcome on earth.  They are opportunities to relax together, trading gifts which connect us.

Ithaca's bartering process promotes gift-giving that strengthens local businesses, and stimulates new employment that encourages creativity and job satisfaction.  Systematic barter gradually develops a mutual trading system that can independently finance whatever community projects we may need.  Barter expands commerce that respects the planet.

But to the extent that our holidays have become compulsory shopping contests, however, they harm us instead.  They feed an economy which thrives by tearing the earth apart, filling landfills.  They waste wealth.

Genuine giving asks questions like these:
* What does the gift teach and encourage?
* Is the gift made with craft and pride?
* Is the gift sold by a locally-owned, community-minded shop? 
* Are employees fairly paid?
* Will purchase enrich our region's mutual trade, or deplete us by exporting hard-earned money?
* What raw materials is the gift made of?  Is it durable and recyclable?  Wo;; the gift remain useful or soon be discarded?  Does its manufacture respect animals, plants, water and soil?

Responsible gift-sharing heals and satisfies. It serves human desires older than Christmas, and as creative as the first new year.

Shop the Ithaca Catalog
Thousands of gifts-- delicious homebred food, fabulous arts and creates, over 300 health, home, entertainment and other services-- are found in Ithaca Money.  All are available for swaps and/or Ithaca HOURS.  Most people on the HOUR list are willing to create a gift certificate.  Call us up and give us a try.  Support each other and the businesses which participate on this list: give the gift of community.