Manifesting Gift Economy

My work is anchored around two things: service and stillness. And my service largely manifests through ServiceSpace.

ServiceSpace works at the intersection of technology, volunteerism and gift economy. To know about its projects is to first understand the values underneath it. Do Nothing Generosity is a good one-pager that combines lot of our recent thinking, and this TedX Talk does a good job describing how we design for generosity.

True to our name, we hold space for service in three places: internally, externally, and online. Holding internal space is about "being the change" and encouraging transformation within ourselves; we consider this to be the most important lever for social change. Projects like Smile Cards really support this shift. Then, holding external space is about sharing our inner transformation in our local communities. Projects like Awakin circles and Karma Kitchen are good examples of this. And lastly, living in a hyper-connected era, we leverage online technology as well -- with projects like DailyGood and KarmaTube. We also run an art magazine, have weekly conference calls, and do all kinds of local activities -- never a dull moment. :)

Perhaps the most powerful thing about all this is that it works without the triggers of financial capital. In its place, we have social capital, synergy capital, and perhaps even some subtle capital that we can't define. As twenty-somethings, we never would've imagined our small experiments in service touching millions of lives. It would be arrogant to say that we have an understanding of how it all has worked and continues to work, but what we can say is that we feel fortunate to be part of this emergence.

From a time-line perspective, this has been a very consistent ride of practicing our values. We started in April 1999, as couple friends in the Silicon Valley. This article in SF Weekly gives a flavor of those times. At some point, we took over a dot-com, then a dot-org and realized that we had institutional capacity. More projects manifested. In 2005, my wife and I wondered if we had the capacity to renounce all the positive things happenning around us; so we went on a somewhat radical pilgrimage. Life changing, to say the least. More recently, in 2011, we revamped five new websites. In 2012, we spent five months in India to launch the Moved By Love movement. And latest is a plan to start an online education platform called Giversity.

Despite a massive ecosystem like ServiceSpace, I stay more and more focused on the small. An act of kindness here and there, and I go to a sleep with a smile on my face. To me, that's what this all about -- serve others to purify myself, and purify myself to serve others. Between the two my life flows.


Projects I'm Involved With

"Service doesn't start when you have something to give; it blossoms naturally when you have nothing left to take."

"Real privilege lies in knowing that you have enough."