A Tale of Two Headlines and the New Generative Economy

I don’t typically buy USA Today, but I did yesterday because of this front-page feature about people giving the gift of clean water for Christmas. You may remember that this year, First Presbyterian Church of Allentown took part in the Advent Conspiracy and encouraged people to buy fair trade gifts or to donate to a few important causes in honor of loved ones instead of buying things for people who already have so much. The donation options at FPCA were:

  • Sixth Street Shelter expansion campaign (Allentown)
  • living gifts for a village in Malawi with whom our church has a connection
  • Gifts/socks/sneakers for Roosevelt Community School (Allentown)
  • Living Water International

This was a very successful campaign, and it was wonderful to see the national movement get the front-page treatment in USA Today. I noticed that today’s edition of that paper included this front-page headline: “Holiday Sales Numbers Fail to Dazzle.”

Welcome to the beginnings of the New Generative Economy.

I’m not happy that retailers are hurting, but I am happy that for all of the misery, the global economic crisis might yield some generative good.  When we have less money to spend, we realize how little we need.  Then we start to think about how so many people don’t even have that much.  Since we’re already going to spend less money on stuff, it’s easier to give more resources where they can do the most good.  Giving cash gifts to good organizations in honor of others blesses everyone.  Overheads have probably never been lower, and you can use resources like Charity Navigator to see where your money’s best spent.

If you have the money and the inclination to buy physical gifts in addition to this kind of giving, your local Ten Thousand Villages retailers have beautiful fair trade items hand-crafted by artisans from all over the developing world.