Jack Leishman, Interviewed by Jenica Faye

Q. What is the Gifting Tree Wellness Center?
JL: We are a group of health and wellness practitioners who offer our services to the community on a “gift” basis, with an intention of creating community, abundance and
trust by initiating increased sharing, gifting and mutual generosity in our lives.

Q: How does The Gifting Tree work?
JL: We have chosen to have our clients contact us through our website http://www.giftingtree.net, where they get to choose which modality they want to experience. When they first meet with their practitioner we share what the gift means to each of us. The practitioner offers his or her service as a gift, unconditionally, and the client is encouraged to step into this same gifting space, and is given the opportunity to gift back to the practitioner, the clinic or out into the community in a way that feels right.

Q: What services are currently offered through The Gifting Tree Wellness Center?
JL: We currently offer Cranial Sacral Therapy, Flower Essence Therapy, Collaborative Communication Coaching, NUCCA Chiropractic, Nutritional Therapy, Quantum Touch, Reiki, Restorative Circle, Sufi Healing, Voice Dialogue Emotional Counseling and Zero Balancing. More information about each modality can be found at our website at www.giftingtree.net. We are always looking for more practitioners who want to explore sharing what they do in the form of “the gift” and who might want to join us at The Gifting Tree.

Q. Where is your office located?
JL: We are located in the heart of downtown Ashland, in a beautiful space that was,
itself, gifted to us for a defined period of time. We cannot take walk-in clients,
because we have no one on staff full-time and no receptionist person at this time;
therefore all of our clients come to us through the website sign-up.

Q: What can clients offer in return?
JL: We really want to empower our clients to share what is most meaningful for them as
they consider their own gifts. In addition to monetary contributions, they can share their skills, their talents, or their resources. For example, we have received beautiful artwork, tickets to events, a computer and printer, in addition to other gifts. We’ve also had clients offer to help others in the community by reading to elders in a senior center or stepping up their volunteer work in their church. We also have a wish-list of things we need in the center, which clients can give in gratitude for what they have received, such as a printer, printer paper and a business card and/or brochure rack.

Q: How is this different from a free clinic?
JL: Free clinics, which were much more popular in the 60s and 70s, are not really free.
Usually non-profit organizations or government agencies fund health services for people
who can’t afford them otherwise. This means that the recipients often don’t have any
obligation to be truly connected to what they’re really receiving. Gifting is about a
continual, reciprocal ongoing flow of sharing. By their very nature free clinics are limited
and restricted as to what the client can receive by Board’s of Directors and policy
decisions. And The Gifting Tree is not a “clinic,” per se, because those who offer
services are trained in modalities other than traditional western medicine.

Q: How is this different from trade, barter or sliding scale?
JL: Trade, barter and sliding scale all include an exchange of goods and services with
an understanding that they have a certain value, and the goods or services are
exchanged, traded or bartered for something of equal value. This value can vary
depending on the people involved and where they decide to set the limits, but there’s
still a specific expectation set. With gifting, the gift is given with no strings attached and
the recipient is the one who gets to choose how they want to gift back and there is no
specific expectation on the part of the practitioner (although the practitioner holds an
intention that the client will gift out of gratitude back into the community).

Q: Are there any other gift clinics or centers anywhere else?
JL: Yes, The Gifting Tree Wellness Center was modeled after and inspired by the Karma Clinic in Oakland, CA, which was started a couple of years ago by Dr. Aumatma Shah, one of the participants at the Seeding the Gift Culture retreat. There are many individual practitioners throughout the country who have chosen to gift their services in all or in part and, of course, many people gift of themselves in many, many ways. Our gifting center is but one example where we put a clear intention and focus on gifting as part of a growing gift economy and an even larger gift culture movement.

Q: How do practitioners make a living, or pay their bills, if they rely on being gifted?
JL: I see the inception of gifting as a bridge or transition between the existing money economy and a world where we all share much more easily and fully the gifts that we truly have and the gifts that we truly are. So, at this time, most of our practitioners also have their regular practices or jobs and choose to gift a certain part of their time in this way. I’ve chosen to gift my entire nutritional practice but have a couple of other sources of income to help pay the bills. Just imagine if everybody in Ashland received everything we needed through the gift and everything that everyone else needed was shared as a gift. Some people might consider this “pie-in-the-sky”, but I know it’s truly possible. Our ancestors did it for hundreds-of-thousands of years, some cultures still do it today, and more and more people, even in modern societies, are starting to practice and participate in a gift economy.

Q: Are there any other “gift” programs in our area?
JL: Currently there is a newly formed time bank in Ashland, which is part of a national movement where people share their skills, passions and interests based on the amount of time that they contribute. A babysitter’s time would be equal to a surgeon’s time if they both chose to be part of the time bank. Another example is the gift circles that community members have created (here in Ashland and elsewhere) where each member might voice a need (such as help pet-sitting, or editing a book, or whatever) and someone else in the circle chooses to meet the need.

Q: What was your inspiration for starting The Gifting Tree?
JL: I participated in a retreat in September of 2009 called Seeding the Gift Culture organized by several local folks who are involved in community building and led by Charles Eisenstein. The impetus for the retreat came about from our reading Charles’ book The Ascent of Humanity. Charles looks deeply at all the things that separate us, including those things that separate us from ourselves, from nature, from our families, from our spiritual source; he then asks the question “How do we really begin to reconnect with each other and the rest of the world in ways that we know we hold deep in our hearts and in our bones?” One chapter in his book he calls The Gift where he describes our ancestors, whose entire lives were spent sharing and gifting with each other, and describes how much more connected we could be if we share our gifts with each other. Many of us chose to take the idea of seeding the gift culture literally and figure out how we could take the gift out into the world. I went from experimenting with gifting my own clients (it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be), as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, to realizing I could actually create a gift clinic or center in the Rogue Valley. Then I invited other alternative practitioners who were also passionate about the gift to join me, we formed a council of advisors, and started sharing our gifts with the community.

Q. What is your Vision of The Gifting Tree Wellness Center in the future?
JL: My vision of all this includes gift circles and centers growing in many different arenas, not just the field of health. Many different artists and professionals could create gift circles that could grow and join together in a web of gift sharing where our reliance on each other grows while, simultaneously, our reliance on the “consumption” market diminishes. This creates connection and resilience in the community. I actually have a vision of Ashland being the first of many, many gift cities in the world and US. Why not?

JL: Now it’s my turn to ask a question: How do you see yourself stepping into this
amazing gifting space?

To learn more about The Gifting Tree Wellness Center, or to request an appointment, visit their website at www.giftingtree.net.