The Buy Nothing Project...
Neighbors helping neighbors...
What do all of these things have in common?
In times past, pioneers understood very well what it meant to know your neighbors and take care of one another. On a wintry midwest plain, "community" could mean the difference between survival and defeat. But the world is changing. It is not quite such a safe place anymore. We seem to have forgotten in many ways just what it means to truly live in a supportive relationship with those in our community.
But this is the 21st century...pioneer days are over, right? Everyone works for themselves, pays their own bills, buys their own stuff...right? People don't have to lean on neighbors, trust in their community when tough times come, connect with others just to include people in the area social circle...right? These are modern times...surely we have reached a point of personal independence wherein we don't need to rely on our fellow man nor feel obligated to lend a hand to someone else. Surely we can just move in solitude through life and allow others to do the same..."ships passing in the night", so to speak.
Surely we can do that...
Consider the difference...
Consider a community of individuals whom no one really knows, recognized by address but not by name, known by the car they drive down the street at various intervals...lots of people in a geographic area, but not connected in any personal way.
Now consider a community of individuals who know their neighbors on the same block, whose faces and names are known and who are called friends, whose children are looked out for by observant neighbors who care about their safety. Consider that neighborhood when a winter storm knocks out the power and people rally to make sure everyone on the block is warm and has a meal ready.
Consider the difference.
The Buy Nothing Project is not a free recycling site. This is not an organization promoting thrift stores and yard sales (though neither are "bad" in any way). This is an entirely different experiment in social interaction wherein people willingly pay heed to the needs and requests of fellow members and meet those needs out of their own abundance.
Oh yeah, abundance. About that. In our society, "abundance" can mean many things but for my purpose here I will focus on the definition that states "having enough of a necessary item to meet a need or desire". In other words, if I have even just one egg in my refrigerator and my neighbor needs just one egg, then I have an abundance of eggs...I can bless my neighbor with the egg they need, and I too am blessed by the energy of generosity. When we realize that "abundance" does not consist in having a ton of excessive possessions or finances but simply means that we have what is needed for ourselves and/or for someone else, we rise above the separation of the haves and the have-nots. It is no longer a situation of someone who has a lot giving to someone who does not have enough...it is a matter of one person sharing what they have and allowing someone else the opportunity to do the same.
There is also the issue of something that is unneeded by one person being a treasure to someone else. Such items are not necessarily garbage...and they just might be a perfectly timed blessing to someone who can use them! This recent episode in a local Buy Nothing group is a classic example:
One member had a tree blow down in a wind storm, and saved the very top. Offering it to their local group in hopes that someone might have a use for it, they were pleasantly surprised when a family with three small children picked it up and turned it into their perfect Christmas tree! Now, this might not seem like a very big deal to some folks, but as most families with young children would agree, budgets are often tight. Now, these little ones didn't mind where that tree came from, they just had an exciting, magical time decorating it! So what could have simply been one more piece of storm-related debris to remove became a holiday blessing to this family's wide-eyed children.
THAT is community.
In another of BNP's local groups, a family member's fuzzy Seahawks themed blanket was stolen from his nursing home room where he is a disabled resident. The request was made, "My brother's birthday is coming soon, and since the Seahawks won the Superbowl last season their items are quite expensive. Would anyone happen to have any Seahawks gear they wouldn't mind parting with that I could gift to him?" Literally within the hour, another member replied, "My Grandma passed away and among her belongings was a Seahawks blanket! I would love for your brother to have it, and I am certain my Grandma would have been happy as well." The member delivered the blanket, along with a Seahawks scarf all packaged up in a "happy birthday" gift bag. These two members became friends and remain part of each other's lives.
THAT is community.
Across the state in another group, a member underwent knee surgery and was temporarily unable to tend her yard and flower gardens. Several people from her local BNP group showed up to weed and trim, mowed her lawn and returned to give the gift of their time to keep her yard in order until she was able to resume her regular activities.
THAT is community.
During a wind storm in western Washington in October, a group near Seattle started a thread on their message board for members to check in with any needs, as there were power outages and storm damage widespread across the area. A few individuals helped to cut up and remove a fallen tree limb from a member's driveway so they could get their car out to drive to work, while others delivered candles and flashlights to those who had been caught unprepared. Everyone was reminded to check on their neighbors, check on other members, and let others know about any new power outages or dangerous debris. In the end, everyone was all right and the BNP family grew stronger by leaning on one another when the storm literally hit.
THAT is community.
You see, it is not all about the stuff. Yes, we give things away. A LOT of things, actually! Yes, we can ask for stuff that we want or need, and we do receive many of those things! But the amazing thing is not the sheer amount of stuff that we keep out of landfills, or the nifty trinkets we bring home. The truly amazing thing is seeing people who might have lived in the same area for years but never met, connecting....seeing people literally digging through closets and attics for items they are able to gift to someone else, simply for the thrill of meeting a need...seeing people stepping into their neighborhoods on a mission of giving. The funny thing is, receiving is a natural outcome when so many seek to simply give! It happens as surely as a bean plant producing green beans!
As I finish writing up this little blurb about the Project I have come to love, I cannot help but think of the things BNP has done specifically for ME. As a new member several months ago, my very first offering to the group were Iris bulbs I was digging from our yard. I was surprised to meet seventeen fellow members who responded to my post on the message board! I met all of these folks within two days, and several have stayed in touch and become friends. My first gift received was a brand new broom for our kitchen. I had considered a quick trip to the store to buy one, but gave BNP a try...and sure enough, within just a few hours I was picking up our broom just a few minutes from our home! But that was just the beginning...
In the many months since then I have met more people than I can count, made a ton of new friends, and developed relationships within our own neighborhood. As a volunteer administrator, I am blessed by the camaraderie of the team of other administrators and the Projects two Co-Founders, Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller. When people come together to embrace the task of pursuing a common goal, good things happen. But pursuing a goal based on giving, providing, growing, and the time-honored principle of healthy, generous communities...THAT makes GREAT things happen, and the Buy Nothing Project celebrates those great things every single day.
Please consider becoming a part of this wonderful social project by visiting the Buy Nothing Project website, and check out the Buy Nothing Project Facebook Community.
"Buy nothing. Give freely. Share creatively."