Tuesday, May 27, 2014



Two years ago I was in a wheelchair, bedridden for months and the doctors couldn't help.

Now I'm climbing trees.

All I did was avoid toxins and my body did the rest. No surgery, and no medication. It seems hard to believe sometimes.

Unfortunately, I still have a rare stomach tumour, mercury toxicity, and frequent headaches.

The problem is living in the city is making me sick.

And I can't start any treatment unless I find clean housing near nature.

I wanted to buy or rent a condo near nature .... but then I made a shocking discovery

Buying anything may actually increase my chances of cancer. And not for the reason you may think. 

"What causes cancer?" 

I asked my doctors four years ago. "We don't know." they responded. "You're 27 years old. Young people like you normally don't get big tumours like that."  I felt very frustrated. I lost my health. My friends. My work. There was no answers. 

So I spent 4 years consulting 28+ experts from Harvard to Mayo Clinic.

I learned that 90% of cancers are caused by "environmental factors", such as diet, lifestyle, exercise, pollution and only 5-10% genetics. 

But why is our food toxic, our air polluted, and our lifestyle unhealthy? Why are babies born with over 200 harmful chemicals, such as plastic?

A Nobel Economist finally explained: Consumerism and trade.

I was surprised the answer to a health problem came from an economist!

Can trade and consumption really cause an increase in cancer?

How can paying a mortgage, buying sushi, or saving for a vacation cause cancer?

It seems far fetched. Being entrepreneurial, I know how social enterprise can be a force for good. But did I miss something?

Nobel Prize Economist and former World Bank chief Joseph Stiglitz, explains:

"The rapid growth that we have achieved is not sustainable environmentally or socially."

"Some people say we have this [income] inequality because some people have been contributing much more to our society, and so it’s fair that they get more. But then you look at the people who are at the top and you realize they’re not the people who have transformed our economy, our society. They’re not the inventors of the lasers the transistors, the computer, the discoverers of DNA. They’re the bankers that exploited the poor, the CEOs who took advantage of the deficiencies of our corporate governing structure to a larger and larger share of the corporate revenues without increasing the productivity and performance of the companies or our economy as a whole."
"Corporations learned how to sell almost anything. An example that makes that clear is how the cigarette companies sold so many Americans on the idea that there was no credible evidence that cigarette smoking was bad for your health. If you can sell a toxic product like cigarettes, you can sell pretty much any idea, good or bad."

He makes a good case. 

I think most people would agree that our economic system is environmentally unsustainable.

OK, I get that. 

But what does that have to do with cancer?

Erik Assadourian, a cultural engineer at The Architectural League of New York, clarifies: 

"Since the very creation of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) indicator, people have criticized it as a poor measure of societal progress. Indeed, in the growth-centric consumer cultures dominant around the globe today, growth is always good—unquestionably. Unless perhaps it’s growth in cancer rates, but even that means growth in cancer drug and technology sales, growth in cancer research spending, growth in casket and cemetery plot sales. 
In GDP terms, even cancer seems good for the economy."

This is what shocked me: Cancer is good for our economy.

Cancer is good for our health care market economy because it's a $216.6 billion industry expected to soar by 70% over the next 20 years. Nonprofit hospitals treating cancers make enough profit to pay their CEOs over $1 million.

The burden of cancer costs is on us, and the profit goes to shareholders, that's also us!

If you have a mutual fund, you are financially benefiting from this. Can we cure cancer if it increases our retirement portfolio? That seems very unlikely.  Money has facilitated industrialism, and industrialism has led to the huge rates of cancer.

And that is the problem with our economic system.

What if instead of "walking for the cure", we fight against the cause?

The Guardian: "That's how you measure the depth of this problem: by our inability even to discuss it." - George Monbiot.

And it's not only cancer that benefits the economy....

...Oil spills are good for the economy too!

According to the Vancouver Sun:
 "There can be economic benefits from oil spills, Kinder Morgan says in its $5.4-billion proposal to the federal government to triple the capacity of its pipeline from Alberta to Burnaby."

We all realize the absurdity of this, and yet, the numbers don't lie. As this commenter suggests:

So what's wrong with trading in our economic system?

"Trading money creates separation." Charles Enseintein, a mathematics professor from Yale, explains:

"Money manifests as separation from each other in the dissolution of community, separation from nature in the destruction of the environment, separation within our selves in the deterioration of health. "

In other words, with money, we don't need anybody. If we can't get our needs met by our community, then we can use money and buy it elsewhere. It also ends the relationship built upon the reciprocation of gifts, and our relationship with our environment, and our health.

The problem isn't necessarily money, but also "trading and bartering".

Can trading money be worse for your health than smoking 15 cigarettes per day? 

Some economists say trade is like an "acid" on relationships and it creates separation. According to the University of Chicago, this loneliness is worse for your health than smoking 15 cigarettes per day, and twice worse than obesity 

Others compare "buying and selling" to prostitution compared to "giving and receiving" which builds community. 

Can trading money cause you psychological and physical problems?

More money, less empathy?
While a lack of resources fosters greater emotional intelligence, having more resources can cause bad behavior in its own right. University of Berkeley research found that even fake money could make people behave with less regard for others.
It can cloud moral judgement.

Another study suggested that merely thinking about money could lead to unethical behavior. Researchers from Harvard and the University of Utah found that study participants were more likely to lie or behave immorally after being exposed to money-related words.
Wealth has been linked with addiction.

A number of studies have found that affluent children are more vulnerable to substance abuse issues -- in fact, research found that on several measures of maladjustment, high school studies of high socioeconomic status received higher scores than inner-city students.

Wealthy children may be more troubled.

Wealthier children tend to be more distressed than lower-income kids, and are at high risk for anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, cheating and stealing.

There may be exceptions to this of course, but I can confirm I have seen those problems amongst some of my affluent friends and relatives, and even within myself. 

Trading money can also cause you endanger the health of your wife and children.

There are miners who are paid to dump mercury in your river which ends up in your air and ocean, and your fish. 

How do they justify polluting your rivers? Money. 

They fear poverty for their wife and children, and lack of education to do different work forces him to. You see, in the end, the problem isn't people, it's the economic system. Pollution, cancer, and environmental destruction is good for our economy. It creates jobs.

I became convinced: When I trade money, I'm destroying your health, and my own.

It made sense because what we do affects everything else. When we buy something made in China, the air pollution is blown back to the West Coast. When you wash synthetic clothes in a washing machine, it sends micro plastic into the ocean and you eat it back in fish.  We sell drugs to treat side-effects caused by drugs. We're polluting the air to produce oxygen masksWe're using trade to solve problems caused by trade. It's a dead-end street.

So am I supposed to stop trading? That seems impossible and ridiculous!

And I've always used money to trade! There are taxes to be paid! And bills! Isn't that a form of a trade? Even though I realize this economic system may be destroying us all, I've been domesticated by the system my entire life. How can I change and what are the alternatives? 

Can we really stop trading and return to a alternative economy in this modern age?

It may sound new to me, but it's not new to humanity....

Ikaria Greece: The Island Where People Forget to Die...(and rarely trade.)

Meanwhile in Ikaria Greece, one of the highest concentration of centenarians in the world, people rarely trade.. and 40% of them are unemployed!

A man over 100 years old explains to New York Times: 

"In [other cities], they care about money. Here, we don’t. It’s not a ‘me’ place. It’s an ‘us’ place.” For the many religious and cultural holidays, people pool their money and buy food and wine. If there is money left over, they give it to the poor. 
"Most everyone has access to a family garden and livestock, Parikos told me. People who work might have several jobs. Someone involved in tourism, for example, might also be a painter or an electrician or have a store. “People are fine here because we are very self-sufficient,” she said. 

Some people have taken this to the extreme, to make a point. 

I got in touch with Mark Boyle, an economist from the UK, who has lived without money since 2008 and he says:
 “Ironically, I have found this year to be the happiest of my life. I’ve more friends in my community than ever, I haven’t been ill since I began, and I’ve never been fitter. I’ve found that friendship, not money, is real security. That most western poverty is spiritual, and that independence is really interdependent.”

He's now building a small community in the UK where people don't use money at all: a "freeconomy".

Open-source software: Why do they give away $40 billion USD?

Have you ever used the browser Firefox or Linux? Nobody understands the 'gift economy' more than the "open-source culture" exemplified by WikiLeaks, Linux, and Mozilla, who often speak of their community as a gift economy. Linux kernel is valued at $18 billion USD in 2007, and projected its value at $40 billion USD in 2010.

Why are people giving away $18 billion USD worth of coding? There are rewards and perks to giving away value without anything in return: Status, a good reputation and prestige. 

"In his essay "Homesteading the Noosphere", noted computer programmer Eric S. Raymond said that free and open-source software developers have created "a 'gift culture' in which participants compete for prestige by giving time, energy, and creativity away".[79] Prestige gained as a result of contributions to source code fosters a social network for the developer; the open-source community will recognize the developer's accomplishments and intelligence. Consequently, the developer may find more opportunities to work with other developers. However, prestige is not the only motivator for the giving of lines of code. An anthropological study of the Fedora community, as part of a master's study at the University of North Texas in 2010-11, found that common reasons given by contributors were "learning for the joy of learning and collaborating with interesting and smart people". Motivation for personal gain, such as career benefits, was more rarely reported. Many of those surveyed said things like, "Mainly I contribute just to make it work for me", and "programmers develop software to 'scratch an itch'".[80] 

Sometimes to move forward, we may need to look backwards.

In 5000 BC, there was no money or even trade. 

Humans never traded, "except with strangers and enemies."  

We used a gift economy and simply did what was natural; sharing with each other, without any expectation of return.

Eventually, we began to trade and barter with strangers using commodities like cattle, goats and lamb. The first "money" was created using barley grains about 3000 BC. Later, metal coins were invented in Rome.

But what about today?

Free restaurants: Businesses are catching on and making "more money" by giving away their products and services.

There's now a disruptive business model: a gift economy business. 

Restaurants are giving free food, (http://wiki.gifteconomy.org/Free_Restaurants) and web developers like Adrian Hoppel (http://adrianhoppel.com/) are creating free websites. The catch? None. You only give back, if you want to, and only what you want to give. Some businesses were surprised -- they are ironically making more money than if they used the traditional model and charge at market price, because removing trade creates trust and relationships. "People will surprise you", they say.

On Facebook, there was an interesting discussion on this topic, regarding selling professional services:

Some have found creative ways to reduce their usage of money.

They build homes using recycled materials -- a home that gives you free food with a greenhouse, free water, and free electricity. 

My friend Kayla, 30, built a $15k tiny home herself in 2 months and she recently says in a TV interview: "I started thinking, do I really want a $300,000 mortgage?

While solar panels were the biggest expense — "but broken down over the 10-year warranty, it's $20 per month" — Feenstra collected a lot of building material for free from backyards, sheds, and garages "because people have a lot of stuff."

Well, this really surprised me.

It's a movement all over the world. I found free housing, free transport, free food, free skills/services, and much more on this site for example: http://wiki.gifteconomy.org/

It's beautiful. I'm ready to give and receive.

Unfortunately I couldn't find a gift economy group in Vancouver. 

So I decided to create a gift economy Facebook group in Vancouver and within 15 min, there are now 166 members.

And someone at a clinic donated a 1000sq feet space for us to meet!

Three days later, we have given:

  • Free rent for 1 person 
  • Frankinsence resins
  • A hotel room for two for 7 days
  • A healing session and wellness services
  • A keyboard, kombucha, gardening compost,
  • A laptop, and an iPod Touch for the community.

Later, a woman who lost her son was offered a wellness spa retreat.

I'm blown away. It's not just an idea anymore, it's real.

This won't cure cancer. And it won't detox heavy metals in my body. 

But it may well prevent the true cause of cancer, pollution, and loneliness: disconnection from each other through trade.

I normally wouldn't share this publicly, but for the sake of transparency, so far I have given away over $10,000 ranging from electronics, vacation trips, and educational material to anyone in need, often anonymously -- and without any expectation in return.

So, what are the next steps? My goal is to transition all my basic needs from a market economy, to a gift economy, in order to heal the true cause of cancer. 

The first goal is receiving housing by June 30th 2014. That's only one month from the time of writing.

I'm very tempted to use money. It's easy. I can just give someone cash, and get a house. No problem. But I now know too much about how this destroys my health and yours -- that's exactly why this is the problem.

So will I receive a gift of housing? Will I find donors to pay for the property or the rent? 

Will I show cancer patients it's possible to live on a gift economy, and heal myself from cancer in the process?

Or will this be a complete social-experiment disaster resulting in bankruptcy by attracting freeloaders or scammers? Or perhaps even worse, will it be completely ignored with indifference?

Only time will tell.

In the meantime, I searched for an eco-friendly "healing house" in nature and I found this below: 

"The Clark House (1967–69) in West Vancouver, B.C., a design by Henry Yorke Mann, is one of the featured homes in Handmade Houses: A Century of Earth-Friendly Home Design. This was a high-stakes project, folks. Back in those days, the Clark children, two boys, suffered from life-threatening allergies. (They were allergic to practically everything.) Every last strategy and material, then, had to be meticulously scrutinized with the kids’ severe health challenges in mind. During construction, at the end of each day, the Clarks would be out on the job site, searching for and removing dust particles so they wouldn’t end up being irrevocably built into the walls, ceiling, floors, and beyond. Mann’s solution was to build principally with solid fir finished with linseed oil. No paint. No drywall. No building products or furnishings with off-gassing VOCs"

That's exactly what cancer patients like me needs.

In order to find someone willing to contribute towards receiving housing, I imagine the following criteria must happen: 

1) You must know about my need.

2) You must be able to give a house away (or the money for the rent and/or purchase) without any expectation of return. The market price to purchase an eco friendly house like the above in Vancouver may be over $1 million, and to rent it would come down to roughly $36,000/year. If it's your house, then your cost may be minimal, but your losses may be potentially lost rental income, or purchase income.

Being able to give away a seemingly large gift, or housing, would mean it wouldn't necessarily be a big loss for you to give it away.

The other option would be to crowdfund and do kickstarter fundraiser of sorts, but with my low energy and health limitations, that may not be possible.

Despite my optimism for the gift economy and having experienced it at times, I'm still skeptical and avoid raising my hopes up.

But I choose to be surprised. I aim for "big things" to show others what's possible. Surely there are people out there who want to give free housing to cancer patients, and participate in this new economy. Maybe it's you, or someone you know.

If this resonates with you, then I want to invite you to participate in the gift economy. 

If you're in Vancouver BC, then you can join the group I have created of over 166 members.

If you're international, then send me an email, and let me know if you're "in". A short message like "I'm in" will do. Tell me what you think. 

I want to hear from you. Let's get connected and change this world suffering under this unsustainable system.

Speak soon,

PS: They say your story is the biggest gift you can give this world. I gave you my biggest gift. And I leave you with this final thought:


  1. Thank you, Brice, for your openness in sharing. I knew about the gift economy, and I know about helping people with health issues, but I'd never put the two together in this way before!
    Giving to charity is easy, whether it's goods or money, but the personal contact is then at least one step removed, often more, and it's a rather impersonal act.
    I love the idea of creating a supportive family-style community where we look out for each other, and give freely of ourselves.
    Many in the world are ready for the ideas you are sharing with us. The love that has already come your way, and will continue to arrive, will bring with it gifts to help your body heal. And so you will be able to give to many others. Ripples becoming waves. It's the future, now. Thank you!

  2. "WOW! You are even more amazing than I realised!
    Love the blog, and the message, and the results that are coming to you, so quickly, and are no doubt taking place for all the participants too!

    That is quite an amazing - and, yes, 'mind-blowing' read, and I love your openness and honesty. And that you started a snowball rolling, which is taking on a life of its own, with massive actions happening all around you!

    The most mind-blowing thing is that you shared what's happening with you, and got such an instant and incredible response from the universe!

    You're right, the time is here for such money-free approaches.

    I also love the concept of 'Random Acts of Anonymous Kindness' - little (and big!) things that make people smile :)