|Gift from my friend up the street; March 16 2013.|
This little event happens a lot, and today it cemented for me the grandness and yet invisibility of an entire 'hidden' or invisible economy, and my place in it. My friend and her son buy things at auctions and re-sell them, or in my case, give them away. There was time when she could have become kin- decades ago my brother dated her niece; I didn't know her then, she had small kids, but now I turn to her for information about the neighbourhood (her family goes "way back" here), advice about my dog, we always work together when neighbourhood things need to be done. And when she's at an auction and buys a box with cloth in it, she gives it to me.
She and her son use the income from this enterprise as a tiny supplement to their wage jobs. Both are employed, and I don't really know the role of their income from this enterprise in their overall household, but I expect that when she retires in the near future it is going to be 'a bit extra'. But key to me today is that this enterprise of theirs produces more than cash. That she comes upon things that friends and neighbours she knows can use, it is also producing bonds and ties within a network. I hardly reciprocate with any finesse, but that doesn't matter. It's just a bond. One that makes us part of 'a community'. And that is grand.
|Waste cotton fiber from woven cloth, hand-spun into yarn. Fair Trade from Julie Northcott-Wilson.|
Today I'm thinking about the collision and interweaving of the economic ties represented in these sets of objects. These are economic forms that stretch and strain notions of 'economic activity', that force human concerns and human relationships to the forefront, that short circuit the cycle of production/consumption/disposal. The women in Nepal and I will never share a breezy evening delivering flyers to the community picnic door-to-door, but when I show my friend up the street this yarn, she will immediately understand it. She will recognize their economies as similar.
There is something in this all today for me....