A gift is something for nothing, except that certain obligations are attached.
— Braiding Sweetgrass

Many HRMC events are offered as part of a gift economy, but what does that mean?

Gift economies differ from commodity economies. In a commodity economy, goods and services are offered for a certain price (which may be negotiable). This bunch of carrots will cost that much. That bicycle will cost this much.

The commodity economy is a very head centered way to do things. If those carrots look delicious to me, and the size of the bunch is worth the cost to me, then I will buy them, or barter for them. When the perceived value outweighs the cost, then a person will buy or barter for the item.

The gift economy is a heart centered way of being in the world.

Since the dawn of human civilization, people have engaged in gift economies. Tribal shamans have long been sustained by the gift economy. The shaman does not submit invoices for services rendered. The shaman does the work needed by the tribe (gift) and the tribe is expected to sustain the shaman's daily needs (obligation).

While some cultures still embrace the gift economy, most of the modern world operates within a commodity economy. HRMC seeks to rekindle the beautiful practice of the gift economy. When a HRMC event is offered as part of the gift economy, it is with the understanding that the community will support the work so that it may continue.

No one will ever be turned away for lack of funds, but the obligation of the receiver still remains. If financial support is not possible, tell someone about your experience and encourage them to attend an event. Pass on something you learned or something that was meaningful about your experience.

That is the fundamental nature of gifts: they move, and their value increases with their passage.
— Braiding Sweetgrass