While gathering stories to add some content to my book, I interviewed Nancy Hu. She introduced me to a movement that I am ashamed to say I had never heard of. But in my defense, it is designed for people to build community in their neighborhoods, and our neighborhood keeps changing as a full time RVer.
The concept is to create a hyper-local gift economy. The Buy Nothing Project website explains it as, “Post anything you’d like to give away, lend or share amongst neighbors. Ask for anything you’d like to borrow or receive for free. Keep it legal. Keep it civil.” There is no buying or selling, no trading or bartering because “we’re not a community bulletin board or charity, we’re strictly a hyper-local gift economy.”
What started as an experiment by two friends in Washington state in 2013 has grown to over 500,000 members in 30 nations.
It is a movement to reduce waste, promote reuse, and reduce carbon emissions. But the best part for me was that it builds community.
In my lifetime, I have seen the deterioration of the neighborhood. When I was a kid, we knew everyone who lived on our street, and some who lived on other streets. Not just the kids, but the parents too. But if you did not grow up and stay in the same home, you probably don’t have that same connection today with your neighbors.
I miss that.
So, when I heard about this project, I got a bit excited about how it just might bring back that sense of community and maybe a bit of normalcy.