When I was a kid I had a long newspaper route in Potsdam. It was about this time of year and the Sunday edition was heavy (back when newspapers were still heavy) and there was fresh snow too deep for happy travels on my messenger bike. So my mom got up early and started the car and drove me along my route. Afterwards, we went to a diner for a high-calorie breakfast, and when the check came, I grabbed it and paid for it out of my own earnings.
It felt good in a way I still can recall. She didn’t have to drive me; it was a gift. And I didn’t have to pick up the tab; but I was grateful. This was my first conscious experience of living in a gift economy.
This is not the economy of producers and consumers where everything has a set value and a set price. It’s the economy where friends give each other what they need. It’s the economy of homes, and service organizations, and congregations. And it’s the economy of public radio.
This coming week NCPR will be asking people who use and value our freely-given services, but who have never expressed their appreciation with a donation before, to step forward and put a toe in the waters of the gift economy.
And to our many, many friends for whom giving to NCPR is old hat – thank you; you can sit back and relax. Or if you feel so moved, just do a little something nice for your mother.