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Exploring Alternative Economies Through Volunteering

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Established in 1964 and held every year in Western Australia, the Dowerin Field Day is an effort to find ways to prevent the small, wheat belt community of Dowerin from becoming a ghost town and to raise funds for improved community facilities. In an attempt to engender community backing for the project, organizers decided to “pay” each volunteer who contributes time to the event, by way of a cheque presented to a local charity or project chosen by the volunteer. As the Field Day's Web site says, "It was and continues to be a masterstroke in distributing much needed funds to deserving organisations across Western Australia’s wheat belt."

Should volunteers be paid for their time and efforts? Is the method a “masterstroke” to cleverly distribute money to deserving organizations? In this Keyboard Roundtable, leading commentators Susan J. Ellis, Steve McCurley, Jayne Cravens, Martin J. Cowling, Andy Fryar, Linda Graff and Betty Stallings debate the pros and cons of this and other alternate economy projects, which translate the hours contributed by volunteers into real cash.