You may have noticed that all of my workshops, classes, retreats, and counselling sessions are offered on a sliding scale. Yes? This is a core value of mine and is deeply rooted in my experience with economic injustice and inequity. It’s a value that also draws from my understanding of pacifism, anarchy, and co-operative ideologies. And while a sliding scale is a mode of operation that works for me, I can understand how this mode does not work for everyone.
What is a sliding scale?
You may be asking what is a sliding scale and how does it work? How do I know how much to contribute? Valid questions. A sliding scale is a range of prices for a product or service with the intention of opening accessibility and breaking down economic barriers. Some people using a sliding scale require documents to prove financial need/hardship; I don’t operate that way. I state the range of contributions and leave it up to the participant to determine how much they can comfortably and happily contribute.
Determining how much you can comfortably contribute can sometimes be confusing and this is a general guide that may be helpful:
- if you have a secure home and income and are able to spend money on non-essentials then you’re probably at the higher end of the scale
- if you have a secure home and income yet have to save for non-essential then you’re probably near the mid-range of the scale
- if you have a secure home and/or income and have to forgo non-essentials then you are at the lower end of the scale
- if you do not have a secure home and/or income and have to save or forgo essentials then I invite you to participate as a karma yogi and contribute some time in exchange for attendance (e.g., set-up the mats and props before a class)
Image and text by Alexis J. Cunningfolk of @wortsandcunning
Does a sliding scale work? Is it fair?
For the most part, a sliding scale works for me and I feel my teachings are valued. However, there have been situations where it is not a sustainable model. Sometimes people will take advantage; most people don’t but some do. I reckon most who take advantage don’t realize what they are doing and it can be an opportunity to have a conversation about the value of shared experiences and perceived worth.
The sliding scale also works for most of the folks accessing my stuff yet I know that some people experience more economic hardship than is reflected in my sliding scale. Therefore, whenever it’s feasible, I make karma spots available because I know that there are many ways to contribute and having someone help me set-up or clean-up after a class is always welcome. For this sliding scale model to work for everyone involved there needs to be some sort of energy exchange, there needs to be some reciprocity.
Image and model courtesy of Another Space
Money essentially represents +/- energy.
It’s unfortunate that we don’t learn more about money and what it represents. Talking about money is a great way to clear a room. Who wants to have an honest discussion about how they spend, earn, and save? It is awkward, right? But when I’m determined to operate using an economic model in opposition to our dominant capitalist system I’m going to talk about it. I’m going to talk about sliding scales, bartering, karma energy exchange, and donations.
Further reading about sliding scale by others who also use it:
- How to Make the Sliding Scale Better for You + Your Clients
- Sliding Scale Pricing & How it Works
- Sliding Scale: Why, How, and Sorting Out Who