December 30, 2018

Holiday magic year ‘round with real-life neighbor connection: the Buy Nothing project

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by Pam Holman

Can you imagine a holiday where you actually BUY NOTHING? In Rose Park and the surrounding neighborhood, a Facebook page invites you to do just that, and more.

From the Buy Nothing project itself these words welcome those who are curious about how it’s done:

Buy Nothing: Give Freely. Share creatively. Post anything you'd like to give away, lend, or share among neighbors. Ask for anything you'd like to receive for free or borrow. Keep it legal. Keep it civil. No buying or selling, no trades or bartering, no soliciting for cash. We're an adult-only, hyper-local gift economy. We are not a charity or community bulletin board.

There are three levels of holiday sweetness going on here at our own local Buy Nothing page:

  • Level one is free stuff. Everybody likes free stuff. So far this year we have seen many Christmas trees given and received for free, outgrown toys in good shape passed along to kids around the corner, and extra wrapping paper going to neighbors who did not see it last year. Level one is a fine place to start.
  • Level two happens for most of us after a while. The awareness creeps up that maybe ten neighbors don’t need ten snow blowers. I know who will share and show me how to use their electric drill, or help me put together the tricycle. Winter coats have been passed among kids and adults both. We know each other. NICE! So level two is shared resources: a huge benefit.
  • But level three is the sweetest target. It’s connecting with the people who are our neighbors, the feeling of community that happens when you can actually ask for something. Need a ride to the airport or shoulder to cry on, even someone to check on your sick dog when you can’t get home for lunch? You may very well get a generous response. Suddenly you walk the sidewalks and look at the houses in a different way. We are important to each other, on each other’s side, connected. And it started with free stuff. Isn’t that magic?

As far as gifts go – each gift is valued as equal, and there is no difference between wants and needs. Those who feel like they don’t have much can discover they do indeed have an abundance to give from, whether it’s that ride to the airport or teaching someone how to knit. Buy Nothing works because everyone has something valuable to contribute, and in the process you can meet the people you’ll be glad to know after the holidays have come and gone.

And for Holiday PEACE? You will find no discussions, no opinions, no advice, no referrals on Buy Nothing. Instead of asking for a referral for a plumber, ask for plumbing help.

If you live in the area, you are invited to join Buy Nothing Rose Park, Salt Lake City, UT on Facebook. Answer three questions about your approximate location (boundaries currently extend to all surrounding freeways, not just Rose Park), your age (must be over 21), and belonging to only ONE neighborhood group in order to be admitted.

To learn more about the Buy Nothing Project see: http://buynothingproject.org/

Pam Holman is a writer, a retired teacher and a grandmother. She has been a Facebook admin for the Buy Nothing Rose Park, Salt Lake City, UT page for over two years.