gift economy

The Couchsurfing Culture

The gift economy is alive and global among an improbable network of "Couchsurfers" who stay in strangers’ homes when traveling. The idea got its start when Casey Fenton impulsively booked a flight to Iceland because of a cheap online airfare, and then realized that he didn’t know anyone there and had no idea what to do there.

So he found a list of email addresses for students at the University of Iceland in Rejkevik, and sent out emails asking if he could crash with them on their couches. He got lots of invitations and had a fantastic weekend with utter strangers.

"A Stem Cord of a Web of Relationships"

This draft treatise is compiled from notes recorded at Ogallala Commons inaugural Commoners University on June 22-23, 2009 held at Casa La Entereza in Nazareth, Texas. (Sources of the notes were the participants: Andy Wilkinson, Father Ken Keller, Erin Hoelting, Darryl Birkenfeld, Julie Boatright, and Kim Barker.)

I. What is the commons?

Revisiting "The Deadweight Loss of Christmas"

Charles Dickens’ character Scrooge has lasted for more than two centuries because we love to witness a villain who stubbornly refuses to see the value of human connection and kindness -- and then, suddenly, gets it! Scrooge comes to mind when re-reading The Deadweight Loss of Christmas (pdf file), a now-classic essay that appeared in the venerable American Economic Review in December 1993 (vol. 83, no. 5, pp. 1328-1336).