Over the past few weeks and months I’ve been binge-watching and listening to YouTube videos of Michael Tellinger talking about the stone circles in South Africa, describing what they really are, and discussing his ideas for a new kind of society that he calls Contributionism. Once he formulated his concept for Contributionism he learned that in South Africa such an idea already existed and it’s called Ubuntu.
From the bits and pieces I’ve collected over time about Native American societies and how they functioned up until 500 years ago, Tellinger’s Ubuntu Contributionism sounds very similar. In fact, one of these days I’d like to have a conversation with Michael Tellinger about the Winnebago clan system I learned about when I created the Peacebuilding Circle in the Winnebago Tribal Court. I think some of the bits and pieces I’ve collected might fill in the sketched-out areas in Michael’s model.
Contributionism, the way he sees it now, is a group of people in a community who work together for the common good and receive what they need from the group as a whole. Everyone puts in 3 hours a week working on a community project in order to receive electricity from the collective; and then each person can go their merry way and follow their passion, their joy, and their excitement. In fact, each person’s passion, joy and excitement becomes a community project within that community.
So let’s say in the little cul-de-sac where I live, we create an Ubuntu Contributionism society. I know right now that one of the people in my cul-de-sac has a passion for bees and beehives. One of our community projects, then, would be beekeeping and honey. I know nothing about bees, beekeeping, beehives, but I like honey, and in order to get some honey now and then? I would help out with the hives. I know there are chickens somewhere nearby…another one of our community projects would be keeping chickens. I’m a mediator and could train people in things like mediation, restorative justice, group facilitation, and talking circle communication techniques. Our community could be the “peacemaking community” because of my interests and passions. So many of us in this area — everybody? — has a dog. A community project we’d really all benefit from right now would be setting up a community dog park where all of our dogs could spend time together, play, exercise, have fun, and if one of us had to leave for a few days or a few weeks, our dog would be cared for, free, by the group’s doggie daycare center. I would so volunteer for this! Three hours a week, taking my dog to the daycare center and helping manage it? I’d do that in a heartbeat. Of course I’d be mentored by someone who knows more about dog management than I do, and I’d learn that “on the job” and pass it on.
The potentials of this are endless and very exciting!
Tellinger’s idea is to eventually completely get rid of money altogether. However, to get from here (capitalism) to there (contributionism) we have to use money to create the system. Once it’s created, money is irrelevant.
I really enjoyed listening to this conversation from last year’s Contact in the Desert Conference in Joshua Tree, California, where Michael talks more about how Contributionism will work.