As the saying goes, “nothing comes free,” but a neighborhood Facebook group seeks to challenge that through gift giving, asking for free items and offering thanks to others.
The “Buy Nothing Waynedale/Foster Park/Indian Village, Fort Wayne, IN” group was founded in April of 2019 by Curtis Liberalis, and it is one of two quickly growing groups in the Fort Wayne area. However, their values are an extension of a global initiative, titled “The Buy Nothing Project,” which originated in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
According to Liberalis, “The Buy Nothing Project provides neighbors within a small, hyper-local area to build relationships through the development of a gift economy. We don’t buy, sell, or trade – we gift. We focus our interactions and conversations around the building of rapport and relationships.” He explained that there are only three types of posts allowed in the group: “Gift” where members can offer up items, time, or even services; “Ask” where neighbors can ask for items, time, or services; and “Gratitude” where members can share our appreciation and joy that we’ve experienced from each other’s generosity. There are no sales or trades in the group.
The online community seems to be creating a virtual culture of reusing unneeded items through the means of asking for items, giving items and being thankful for what they can give away or receive.
“When I make dinner for a family whose kitchen is being remodeled and a week later see them gifting their old kitchen gadgets to make room for upgrades, I get so see how their home renovations are going and celebrate the progress with them. The same neighbor who gave us plant starters from her garden gets to make doggy chew toys from our old jeans.” Liberalis continued, “And because we are all neighbors, and we all see each other regularly (whether in real life or online), there is an intrinsic accountability in our conversations and gifting. We all see how each other reacts to various situations and we build relationships from it. We currently have nearly 80 members and I am often surprised when I realize that we still haven’t had any real conflict. We really are growing together and it has been a beautiful honor to be a part of it.”
As the The Buy Nothing Project slogan goes, “Buy Nothing. Give Freely. Share creatively.,” certainly we all can find time to give a little and have a place to ask for items when needed. Liberalis says that items like plant starts, food of all sorts, household items, toys, and clothes are commonly posted as a “gift” for those who want to claim it. But he has also seen members post uncommon items like a roll of burlap, couches and even components to build a homemade forge.
If this sounds like an online community you would enjoy being a part of and you live in Waynedale, Foster Park or Indian Village area you can join this area group by searching it on Facebook or visiting facebook.com/groups/2600193696689719. However, if you are not living in any of those neighborhoods, you can find more information about the Buy Nothing Project by visiting buynothingproject.org