Report from the Dreamworld Sharing Economy Tour – Turkey! Giftival Day 1


It’s been awhile, because there’s been too much happening to get around to writing about it.

Since I last posted I’ve been to Turkey for Giftival (beautiful), which I’ll write about here. Then went back to Pennsylvania, enjoyed some free time in Media, had some meetings about the future of timebanking software and support structures there, attended Ian MacKenzie’s crowdfunding workshop in Philadelphia, tagged along on a visit with Charles Eisenstein in Harrisburg, had a great meeting with Paul Glover in Philly, saw Ian M’s beautiful new film Reactor in Greenbelt MD and am now at the home of Scott Morris’ parents near DC. Tonight is a meeting with B-Note (Baltimore’s local currency) folks.

But it’ll be plenty just to try to convey Turkey, so that’ll be my focus here. And only one day for this post because it’s just getting too sprawling. The rest will come later.


IMG_0020I arrived in Turkey at about 4pm after an overnight flight. I wandered the streets near Taksim Square for awhile,IMG_0029 ate at Parsifal Restaurant, then set out to find the venue where Charles Eisenstein was speaking that evening. Finding it was a challenge! But a fun one. People in Istanbul don’t tend to know things by street name, which I found out by asking about 40 people how to find it, including a taxi driver (I was starting to run REALLY late, even though it had looked like an easy short walk). I finally asked a lovely young woman who had me come to her house/vintage store and look up the venue name on my laptop while she got ready to go out, then hopped in a taxi with her and got dropped off there. Very sweet.

Charles’ talk was packed with an enthusiastic audience. Very hot in there which didn’t help my massive fatigue. But it was really good, translated into Turkish by Filiz, my roommate for the week and one of the organizers of Giftival.

Afterward we went to a cafe and were served tons of small dishes of delicious food and started meeting the others we’d be spending the week with.


the view from the back balcony

the view from the back balcony

We were hosted in a pretty little apartment, courtesy of Airbnb and our Giftival hosts. Staying there were Filiz,

Dick and Lina of Chicago who were also Giftival organizers, Charles, Manish, Bayo, Lisette, Yvonne, Lucy and Munir. They turned out to be excellent housemates.

at the breakfast table

Next morning we got up bright and early to head to the first day of Giftival. Noone knew what to expect.

The venue was on Istiklal Passage, near Taksim Square and Gezi Park, site of the famous uprising of the spring and summer.

It was absolutely beautiful! It’s slated to become Istanbul’s Hub co-working space in November, and for now it’s a bigIMG_0070 open space with lovely wood floors and ornate detailing on the ceilings. And the organizing team had embellished it with lots of nice details. It was clear we were in for a treat.

First morning we were treated to an introduction of our hosts, then some very moving reports from the Gezi uprising, a highlight of which had been an enormous table down Istiklal Square where people shared a huge feast, all shared freely. IMG_0086(NOTE: my brain has a bit of a block in using the word ‘gift’ as a verb, but a lot of people here would say ‘gifted’ in this context. I think I’ll continue to refrain, it’s just an aesthetic choice for me I guess).

Then we introduced ourselves and the context in which we’d come to Giftival. The general consensus is that noone knew what Giftival actually was, or had a plan for what it would become. That was a good thing in my opinion, and much of what enabled it to be such a deep and rich experience. The other enormous factor in the depth and richness was that we were joined by people from all over the world.IMG_0097IMG_0224

Delicious lunches were served each day, cooked by a team of talented chefs from Zumbara TimeBank, one of our hosts and the reason I was invited. (I’m on Zumbara’s Wisdom Council). Zumbara is a nationwide timebank of 20,000 members. Their roots are in social media so they tend to draw a younger crowd than many US timebanks. The lovely Aysegul Guzel is the person who invited me to the Wisdom Council and also to Giftival.

IMG_0160After lunch on this day we went to a nearby outdoor Turkish Cafe for our World Cafe session. Really nice! WeIMG_0162 enjoyed Turkish coffee (Begum read my grounds later :) and small group discussions on a few sequential questions. Sorry, I can’t remember what the questions were but I remember the gist of the discussions. We talked about how it’s more difficult for people to receive than to give, and that the former is necessary in order to make the latter possible (a really common topic in timebankingland), what the barriers are to living in a gift culture economy, how we can personally and collectively move forward in this area.

IMG_0168IMG_0175IMG_0181And we topped off the evening at a Turkish Taverna where we were treated to good music, good food and a nice dance party. A great first day!

Stay tuned for Days 2-4…