I would like to share a story from my own experience which helped me to understand this.
The risk in making things free, is then when you stop, people become angry, because they think that you are taking away something that was there, and then they blame you for being a bad person. They seldom realize how much of your time and effort it took to help them.
This is why it is important for you to share as much information about all the work you are doing, with as many people is possible - if they don’t see that, then they will not appreciate what you are doing.
I learned this lesson at a young age. I am sure most of us know this… but this story helps me to make sense of the world, and comes from my own experience. My younger brother made me sandwiches for school every morning. One morning he stopped - what did I do? I punched him and I shouted at him and I was angry at him. Instead of being thankful for all the times he did something good for me, I was angry at him because he stopped doing it. Only when I got older, did I realize my mistake.
I thought that because he was doing it already, and for so long, and because I was older than him, that I deserved it. I realized that most people are still the way that I was before I realized my mistake.
Before Nelson Mandela became a peacemaker, he was a terrorist, but when he realized his mistake he became a peacemaker.
People are not like this because they try to be bad, they just do it because it is natural and they don’t know better. (The Bible calls this “sin”.)
Community consultation is key, but it takes time - and not everybody is able to participate or understand due to many issues and social dynamics.
Something that seems to be a universal thing is that when something looks like it is free and then stops being free, people don’t like that - and then they blame the people involved.
If you want to make something free, then you must be sure that you will have a community that understands the thing, and is able to sustain it, even if you can not sustain it any more.
I think societies developed money to address this same issue - the problem is that we are all using “other people’s money” developed, managed and generated by other people - and we don’t understand how money works ourselves, and because it is difficult for us to get that money, we don’t like it and think everything with money is bad because money looks like it is in our way, which is also a mistake, because we don’t appreciate how easy money can make things, which is also a problem… money isn’t perfect, too little money is a problem, just like too much money is a problem. You probably don’t believe that too much money can be a problem, but if you read stories and meet people who won the lottery, you will quickly see that most of them lost most of that money very quickly again.
Money is pretty dumb really and just amplifies what people can do.
Airtime is a form of money, and even trash can be a form of money. I think we will see many innovations in this space in the next few years, because of how cryptocurrency now makes it easy for us to learn about banks and money.
If you make something free, and then just stop when you run out of money or people who can help you, then you will be letting down everyone.
Even if you just keep a few empty buckets and say that people can get a Wi-Fi voucher if they bring a full bucket of trash, I think it is a better way to engage.people, than to just give it away for free.
I love giving things away, but I only give away what I can afford to give away.
To make things worse, the English language is problematic because it does not make a clear distinction between “freedom” and “without cost/gratis”. Both are referred to as “free” - but they are very different things.
Freedom means that you can access everything without paying an explicit fee… so the only cost is your time. Self study is “free” and you can modify and copy “free software” - it will still cost you to do it, but you don’t have to pay an extra fee just to be able to do it, to someone - the only costs are the implicit costs - there are no explicit costs.
I would love to hear your stories about this, and to learn better ways of sharing what I have learned, and to learn form your experience.