Other fun stufff
Humanity’s love for board games seems to be impervious to technological regression (or as some would prefer to call it, progress). Despite the growth in computer gaming, sales of board games appear to be on the increase. Of course, there is no need to buy them – you could just make your own. You could make a scrabble board and its pieces out of cardboard in a matter of hours, or a pack of cards out of paper. Word and singing games require no resources at all.
I am planning on making an almost life-size chess board out of locally grown wooden pieces. I’ve seen this work in many city parks, such as in Sydney, and they become the centre of attraction for the local area, with men and women and children all sitting around watching two warriors battle it out, as they wait to get a game themselves. Combine this with a few musicians lazing around with their instruments and you have yourself one hell of a relaxing day, with no fossil fuels being burnt, no money required, nothing except the simple coming together of neighbours and future friends (aka strangers). We’re planning ours to be under the shade of a tree, with park benches around it where people can debate, eat, drink and be merry. If you live in a city without a big enough garden to do this, why not speak to your council about funding a chess board area in one of your parks, or just giving permission for you to create one. Even though I can’t imagine the council’s administrators making the pieces themselves, they would cost next to nothing to produce and they’d provide a lifetime of free fun for the local residents. This idea worked very well in Sydney, and the people there really respected the games area, which people tend to do when they see that it has been created for (and ideally by) their own community.
For those who like more athletic games, there are all sorts of places to play, and you’ll have no problem finding any necessary equipment on the likes of Freegle. Organisations such as Tennis For Free(284) in the UK are creating places where people can play tennis without any membership costs, and they’ve got thousands of free courts all over the country. Any park can be temporarily converted into a five-a-side football pitch.
I’ve also seen some kids in Africa make their own pool table out of earth, bamboo and dung. Of course it’s not as perfect as one of our industrialised ones, but who cares, it’s just a game, it’s only meant to be fun! And there is the added benefit that their table didn’t come at the cost of the destruction of an entire planet. By means of a shit (literally speaking) pool table, these kids have shown that you can strike a balance between having fun and a healthy inhabitable planet that respects the needs of all of the community of life we share it with.
Music, comedy and performance
Open mic nights are a great way to exhibit and enjoy the best – and worst – local talent in your area. They tend to be focused on music, but some of the best I’ve been to are showcases for many of the arts, such as storytelling, comedy, fooling, poetry, puppetry and any number of weird and wonderful performances that people put together. These evenings are as easy as freeskilling events to organise – you simply agree a venue, do a little promotion locally (talk to your local radio station or newspaper), and the performers will show up and perform for free. Many use it as a way to build confidence in front of a very encouraging and supportive crowd, who are always more than happy to have been gifted an evening of free entertainment.
This doesn’t have to be in a bar or café, and nothing has to be consumed. The audience could bring food and drink to share if they wished, and there is nothing like the sharing of food, the discovery of unsuspected talents in each other and self-produced entertainment to make people feel good about the community they live in. You could organise an acoustic open mic night in any space that is free, whether it be your house, a park or the local social centre or squat.
Organising an interest group (a writers’ circle, a nature society, a five-a-side football team), or joining an existing one, is a great way to meet like-minded people in your local community. Take a nature group for example – one week someone from the group with tree identification skills could take the rest on a tour of the local woods or city park, whilst the next someone who is an expert in wildlife could bring everyone badger spotting. This could just as easily be a weekly or monthly chess group, jogging club or willow weaving get together.
If you feel enthused to set one up, simply organise an initial event, get a core group together if you can and then use local media (such as notice-boards, newsletters or small radio stations or newspapers) to get word out about it. Once you get going, word of mouth will do the rest of the work.
Even better, why not go out committing random acts of kindness(285) to strangers (or join groups such as the Kindness Offensive(286)) whenever the feeling comes upon you, or get yourself a big piece of cardboard, write Free Hugs on it, and stand offering open arms to anyone walking down the High Street who looks like they would enjoy a hug. Best done with a few friendly looking friends, so you don’t scare anyone not used to such behaviour. I once witnessed people getting kicked out of a shopping centre for offering free hugs, the security guards (in uniforms that were oddly similar to those of police officers) telling them that they hadn’t permission to be there. Strangely, I’d been to shopping centres countless times previously to buy stuff and never once did I need prior permission to be there!
I love a good debate – too much sometimes. The format it normally takes has so much potential for us to explore subjects, using often passionate and polemic speakers to share their perspectives on the big issues of the day. If there isn’t a regular debate evening in your area, then take the lead on it; these things aren’t going to organise themselves. Come up with a few potential subjects, contact some well-known local voices on the subject (ideally with different views – a hunter and an animal rights activist being one example), and promote it through free local networks. Not only is it a great method of communication, it gives the audience a forum to ask questions within, gets like- and unlike-minded folk together, and ideally everyone comes away understanding the other side’s perspective a little more. That is if everyone goes into it with an open mind that their original point of view may not have been the most complete.
There is no need to go to the cinema if you want to watch a good movie, unless you’ve got an inexplicable weakness for formulaic Hollywood love stories and action movies. Hundreds of entertaining and educational documentaries are now available for free on websites such as TopDocumentary Films(.com)(287) and FilmsforAction(.org).(288)
Another idea is to invite local filmakers to showcase their work amongst locals, which can also help them get the support they need to bring it to more people. Projection equipment is often shared between members on my local Freeconomy group, so ask for a loan from your own group if you like the thought of hosting an evening yourself. For a venue, social centres such as The Cowley Club(289) in Brighton or Kebele(290) in Bristol are always more than happy to host such events for free.
All you really need to have fun is imagination. Look around you and try to see everything in a different way to how you’ve seen it up to now. Think how much fun you could have with the world. Old car tyres and rope become swings, lakes become swimming pools, shopping malls and town centres become venues for flash mobs, the countryside becomes free adventures, dead wood and brush become forest hideouts, waste plastic, cord and canes become kites, parks become venues for music and comedy, logs become sculptures and everything has the potential for art.
FREE YOURSELF FROM YOUR MONETARY MASTERS
The monetary economy kills our spirit, teaching us to consume instead of play. It has bought up the entire planet – a planet that was once ours to share freely – so that it can then sell it back to us. Because of this, we fools spend all of our time doing work we derive little or no meaning or happiness from, instead of doing all the things that we love to do.
Slavery never ended in the nineteenth century, it was merely rebranded and marketed to us in a different packet. The monetary economy doesn’t serve us, we serve it. It is out-of-date, obsolete, a chain around our necks. So let’s change it, and together co-create stories that serve both us and the land we inhabit well.
The function of moneylessness is not to impose limits on your creativity. The point is to give your creativity wings. It is counter-intuitive but widely recognised that creativity blossoms within limits. As psychologist Rollo May put it, “creativity requires limits, for the creative act arises out of the struggle of human beings and against that which limits them”. Ask me to invent a game and I’m stumped, but ask me to invent a game I can play with just twelve people, six sticks and a spoon and I start getting inspired! So let’s set limits on ourselves that preserve a world worth living in, and then reap the joy and creativity that those limits miraculously give birth to.