Michaela: “Meeting my needs and sharing my gifts”

The following is a story written by Michaela Daystar, a member based in Davis, CA. She has been an artist all her life, working in watercolor, collage and mixed media. Michaela’s purpose in life is to support others in understanding and expressing their most authentic selves so that they can make positive change in the world.

I was drawn to Simbi as part of my efforts to find creative, non-monetary methods for meeting my needs and sharing my gifts. Specifically, in that moment, my need to get a toilet fixed! This basic and rather un-glamourous need opened up a world that has given me creative outlets to express talents I rarely get to express, as well as access to the talents of others beyond what I had initially imagined.

As I searched for a handyperson to fix my toilet, I was drawn in by offers of custom art, advice on minimal living, obscure information, and consulting of all types. Soon, my mind turned towards one of the most resource-intensive experiences of the year: Holiday shopping. What if I could exchange for most of my Christmas gifts this year? The bounty offered on Simbi seemed to support this plan. Since then, I’ve traded for many gifts, now safely stashed away. The one that stands out most for me, and to me really captures the special nature of the community growing around Simbi, is my daughter’s quilt.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, Laila (now six), I began collecting t-shirts from family members that represent special aspects of our lives. There were t-shirts from plays my older daughter performed in; from fund-raising walks my in-laws organized; from events my family participated in; from the 2008 election; and from the Prince concert we danced the night away to all those years ago. I cut these t-shirts into squares, and over the 9 months of pregnancy, tediously hand-sewed borders on each one, and then began sewing them into rows. I had two out of five rows stitched to each other—nowhere near adding quilt batting and backing—when Laila was born and all available free time went out the window. The quilt rows went into the closet, and there they waited for six years.

Browsing Simbi one day, I saw a offer for help with sewing projects, and the quilt sprung back into my mind for the first time in years. As it turned out, the person offering it was interested in one of my services, and we were able to arrange a trade. I mailed off the quilt pieces, and a couple weeks later a beautiful, professionally sewed, finished quilt returned to me, six years in the making.

I gave it to Laila for her birthday a couple weeks ago. For a little girl who deeply values family and hand-made clothing it was the perfect gift.

I love the new Simbi Market, where members can post completed art and hand-made items. My Christmas shopping is almost done, and I’m excited to have the chance to give my family original art from generous, innovative people in the Simbi community.

Through this space, I’ve reclaimed painting and photography as barter currency, and I really appreciate the inspiration to take these up again.

I’m excited to expand my engagement with the Simbi community, encouraging a resurgence of exchange as an important and valuable economic model.

In the meantime, I’m still looking for someone to fix my toilet 🙂

Michaela D.

Simbiotic Stories are real anecdotes told by you and other Simbi community members. Tell us about your Simbi deals and experiences with other members. If your story is published, we’ll credit your account with 150 simbi. Submit your entries by starting a conversation with us via this link.


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