What is Really, Really Free Market? Is it welfare or charity? What’s the catch? Is it something for upper middle class liberals to pat themselves on the back for? If that sounds gross to you, rest assured it does to a lot of people at RRFM, too.
You work hard. Why would you want to give anyone a handout? This is a valid question, and it needs to be addressed. RRFM doesn’t want to tread on you. Please read on.
RRFM started in New Zealand almost two decades ago, and it’s popped up all over the world since then. The first RRFM in Buckhannon started in the summer of 2016. Here’s how a previous flier described the event:
“A RRFM is a space to leave money behind and exchange goods and services based on giving (without obligation, cost, or barter). Leave your wallet at home for the day. Bring goods or services you’d like to share with your community members—even if it’s just your company.”
Past Buckhannon RRFMs have featured: haircuts, face painting, music lessons, legal advice on how to make living wills, writing and editing help, clothes mending, yoga, and other offerings.
People have brought free coffee, food, plants, household goods, homemade soaps, toys, clothes, books, electronics---you name it. Last time, a local farm showed up with excess food they had, and people took home free jars of salsa along with fresh veggies. You never know what you’re going to see, and that’s part of the beauty.
So why do we stubbornly persist in doing this several times a year? Aren’t we crazy for just giving things away?
Some of us do this because three hundred sixty-one other days a year we spend our hard-earned money. “It”’s here one minute and then gone the next.
There’s never enough. You probably get sick of struggling with it, too. And maybe it also gets to you how inauthentic so many of our interactions are when we go through the checkout lines. You probably even order online whenever you can to avoid the whole ordeal.
Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week we can do this. But what about the interactions we have with people that really change our perception, that stick with us, that allow us to bond and feel those things we’re always chasing - happiness, joy, connection?
These are the feelings we embrace with friends and family—sharing time and experiences, giving gifts from the heart, making things together, repairing and reusing what’s still good, and helping each other work out problems and get things done.
These are the interactions we rush home from work for, the interactions we set aside special time for. These are evenings, weekends, holidays, and spontaneous days of loving and doing. These are memories we share with our children and our grandchildren.
In other words, we already live parts of RRFM every day. They are the precious moments where no one tells us what to do and we’re not forced into insincere exchanges with people who are only there because they have to be. “It”’s just the hope of some of us that we can extend these moments and share them with even more people in the community.
RRFM exists because these are the parts of life that are truly worth living for---the ones that come from a place of love and mutual respect---and it only makes sense to try to have them everywhere we can.
RRFM isn’t charity or welfare. “It”’s not some large organization or a few people with power and money giving to those with little or nothing because they’re expected to. No one is looking for a pat on the back. You don’t have to bring anything to show up and benefit.
The hope is that, if and when you can help out, you will. The more people who help, the more people who benefit. If you show up, you get the chance to find someone new who’s got your back, and you might even walk away with a new treasure you didn’t know you were looking for.
“It”’s a friendly atmosphere at RRFM---no one tells you what to do. No one expects anything from you that you don’t want to do or give, which is probably why you hang out with your friends and family more than you do your boss. No one wants to take your hard-earned pay at RRFM. No one wants you to give anything you couldn’t comfortably do without.
At a recent local festival, one vendor looked upset as we handed him a flier and asked if we really expected him to just give away the livelihood that he clearly worked so hard to put together with his time, energy, and money.
The answer is, of course, no. Please don’t think anyone at RRFM would want you to even consider such a thing. Such an expectation would not come from a place of mutual respect and understanding. “It” would be akin to taking, which is not in the spirit of RRFM. The spirit of RRFM is giving, improving, bettering, and supporting.
With that said, the event is participatory, so while it’s a nice gesture to find someone involved in RRFM and try to give them whatever you want to get rid of, the idea really is that you come interact with people directly instead of asking someone else to do it for you. RRFM is here for you as much as it is for anyone else. If you don’t show up, we’re all missing out.
Come and see for yourself what it’s about, this Sunday, September 24 at Jawbone Park from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For this date, a potluck will follow. Bring something if you can.