I’ll start with what I learned. That there is something worth exploring further with Elf’s moneyless experiment. It relates to something I read in David Graeber’s Debt: the first 5000 years. Part of it related to exploring, or rediscovering rather, an understanding of human relations and interactions that doesn’t reduce them to transactions: this in exchange for that. The other part is the value of this kind of initiative in general. Let me start with the second.
We hitched a ride with 4 cars, the first to pick us up were two brothers on their way to Frankfurt. I walked up to them said hi and explained that we are hitchhiking to Berlin, and are they going in that general direction… a few minutes later we were in the car and the conversation was rolling. I won’t get into details but the trajectory of the conversation was “what do you do”, then “you can’t save the world or change the system” ending with “ok I think you guys and what you’re doing is cool and I’m a software developer, let me know if I can help on one of your projects- I try to contribute to the open source community when I can”. Next we hitched a ride with two friends from Freiburg who were headed to Kassell to perform at an a-capella choir event. They also have a hip hop band.
Next up Elf managed to connect with pair, man and woman, who were driving from Frankfurt heading in the direction of Berlin. They were quite stylish and in a flashy car so I just assumed they are a well-off couple on their way back home to a stylish apartment in an upmarket part of Berlin. I was wrong. They are colleagues working for a door manufacturing company based in a small town a few hours outside Gdansk. During the 3 hr car ride we had a lot of time to talk about all kinds of things. Elf did most of the talking as he had to translate from Polish to English in addition to just speaking for himself (if you’re not sociable, forget about hitchhiking). They asked us about ourselves and we described what Edgeryders and lote was about and I think Elf described his moneyless initiative. I was curious about their lives and asked a lot of questions. We discussed differences in lifestyles and it’s clear that a lot of what Elf said resonated with them on some level. We talked about all kinds of stuff.
On dropping us off at the gas station, the lady and I had a conversation while waiting for the counter ( I was waiting for a refill of my water bottle) and she was paying for something. I found out that they had driven over 1000 km in three days to go to a meeting with a potential new client based in Germany, and that this is pretty expensive. Apparently like myself she travels alot and seldom has time to spend outside airports, train stations and hotels while on business trips. Just before heading off into the car she came back and gave me a hug and kiss saying that we were building the future. I think I’ve made a new friend.
I now know more about what it is Elf does: he’s building tools and setting an example to enable cultural change. The way he does is by putting himself out there and living in a future he wants to be a part of. And by doing so he is contributing towards it happening. By simply taking its different components out of the realm of the unimaginable and putting them into the realm of the possible. This opens doors to spaces we didn’t didn’t know existed. In our environments but also within ourselves. I feel it everytime I am inspired by people I meet to try something new to me and this shared trip with Elf was one of them. And it’s not even over yet!
We’re supposed to go dumpster diving together before I leave Berlin I experienced a “light” version of it yesterday when we passed by a dumpster on our way to Ela’s place (also on Edgeryders) where I am staying while in town. Elf salvaged a couple of packages of really high quality milk from bins outside an organic food shop. I thought it would be a much bigger deal, the food looked fine and it’s hard to justify this kind of waste of a valuable resource so it’s a pleasant discovery that to my surprise I didn’t have an issue with it. Apparently in Germany salvaging food that could be made use of this way is criminalised (“theft of private property”). I would like to know more about the reasoning and whether it is the same in other parts of Europe. And whether someone has come up with some kind of legal hack to get around the restrictions?
After the trip I have a different understanding of what Elf does than the one I had before we set off. He is building software to better enable in kind support of different initiatives by lowering the coordination costs involved in moneyless, non-transaction based, flows of reources from where they are made to where they are needed. The moneyless living experience gives a lot of insight into the social softare of human relationships: he is putting himself out there and discovering needs which he can help satisfy which he probably wouldn’t know about otherwise. What do you think?