The Gift Of Gifting Coasters

Posted by Nilam Chauhan on Dec 10, 2017
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Recently, my niece came across some of the ceramic coasters I make.

Some years ago, I was learning how to make art out of clay, and also learning about this ecosystem of generosity. I wanted to express my gratitude, so I made two coasters with an inspired word, and offered them as a gift to some of the nicest love warriors I've ever known.

I quickly learned that love warriors share their gifts to many people, with so much love, and so I decided to make more coasters, and offer them exclusively for love warriors to gift forward. :)

When my niece came across these coasters, she liked them a lot. Her university in Ohio happened to be doing a fundraiser for Syrian refugees, and they were selling artwork done by local artists. She asked me to create a few coasters for the fundraiser, and I could not say no to her.

But then came my dilemma! Inspired by this ecosystem, I make these coasters exclusively for gifting. I don’t want to put a price on them, even for my niece's fundraiser. So I wondered what to do. I thought about Karma Kitchen (which we recently hosted for the third time here in Detroit!) and the gift concept and pay-it-forward came to my mind.

But how can I convey the pay-it-forward concept on a piece of art for a fundraiser? What words can I put on the “price” tag, so that the coasters can be offered to support my niece's cause, but where the people receive and become moved to pay-it-forward with a totally different feeling?

I polled a few volunteers for ideas, and sure enough, we came up with this description (largely inspired by Wisdom Crafts):
These coasters are handmade as a labor-of-love, and offered on a gift-economy basis. There is no set price for them; it is up to you to reflect on the value of each product and pay what you are inspired to offer. 100% of your contribution will support efforts for the Syrian refugees. By creating a ripple of beauty, wisdom, service, and gifting, we hope that each hand-crafted ceramic will contribute to a larger cultural shift from consumption to contribution, transaction to trust, isolation to community, & scarcity to abundance.

I sent the coasters and tags with the gift economy descriptions off to my niece. Fast forward a couple weeks later -- and it turns out the gift economy experiment went so beautifully! The students and the professor were so touched by the concept. All the students and guests at the fundraiser collectively contributed more than what they would have raised if they had put a price tag on the items!

This was my first time trying this out and it really inspired me to do more. :) Although I was not able to attend the event, it's been so inspiring to witness some of the ripples! There was another artist at the exhibition who works with disabled children, and she called me up afterwards, and invited me to come talk and work with them! And now my niece's professor wants me to talk to her students about gift economy experiments, too!

What a nice way to plant seeds of gifting and pay-it-forward and love. So inspired and grateful for the power of giftivism. Thank you all -- you are all my inspiration! :)

Posted by Nilam Chauhan | | permalink

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Comments (4)

  • Trishna Shah wrote ...

    So beautiful Nilam Aunty, the coasters and the story behind how they are being gifted! Thanks for sharing and paying forward your love in this way :)

  • Yoo-Mi Lee wrote ...

    How beautiful to see your intention being rippled out far and wide! And such gorgeous coasters! Thank you for sharing!

  • Trupti Pandya wrote ...

    Wow. .how a simple change in the design rippled out such beautifully acts:-) Thank you for sharing it with us:-)

  • Birju Pandya wrote ...

    goodness! what a story - and also what a writing of it! thank you so much for taking the time to share more of the goodness that is happening over there :)