Meanwhile, in Ambler and a host of other places…
Buy Nothing groups are active in Upper Dublin in Montgomery County, Doylestown in Bucks County, Malvern in Chester County, and in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia, among the venues in this area.
Coleen Johnson, of Buy Nothing Ambler/Blue Bell/Lower Gwynedd, has risen to the management role as this community has grown. With over 1,000 members, a second group may sprout to maintain a highly focused feel.
However, he also became aware of how border strengthening could separate people along class lines.
“So it’s going to be like West Ambler and East Ambler or something, but you also have to look at the social and economic aspects of people,” Johnson said. “So Blue Bell tends to have richer people in a sense, so they have bigger things to gift. There are a lot of tenants in Ambler. There are a lot of well-established people in Blue Bell and Lower Gwynedd, so we have a good mix of people.”
She’s noticed that the demographics of the gift economy lean more toward women, yet Johnson said that hasn’t stopped her husband from getting involved and bringing more things home than they can handle sometimes — although they always succeed.
Part of the benefit of being a moderator is being able to see the inner workings of other groups. This is where Johnson saw her favorite thing as a talent.
“Someone’s relative was going to hospice, and he wanted Peanut Butter Girl Scout biscuits. It wasn’t Girl Scout time — but one of my members put them in the freezer,” Johnson said. So it was like a small train. But we managed to fulfill someone’s last request, and it didn’t cost anyone anything.”
Items can change frequently. Gina Carosa, director of Buy Nothing Pilgrim Gardens/Drexel Hill, said the “Happy Birthday” garden banner has become very popular in her collection.
“There was so much interest in it, we started making a sign sheet. So we had one post and everyone signed up, and almost every day there was another person with that sign,” said Carusa. [it] It lasted about six months and I think 75 people went through it.”
Melinda Lewandowski, Director of Buy Nothing Jenkintown/Wyncote, happens to be a professional entrepreneur and regulator by trade. She said we buy a lot of things and that stresses us out.
The value of buying nothing, she said, is that it provides an emotional exchange when we can find a home for things of sentimental value.
“You can actually match your things to what you think are worth in that sentimental value, and you can also find a recipient who appreciates them and you can pass them on,” Lewandowski said.
It’s big on the neighborhood spirit, even online.
“I send out reminders every once in a while, like, ‘Hey, everyone, this is your polite style in the comments. “Here’s how you talk to people online.” “Here’s how you give gifts, here’s how you receive them,” Lewandowski said, “but other than that people are generous, and people kind of get them.”
Ally Sabatina, of Buy Nothing Broomall/Newtown Square, flipped the script around the supervisor role. She and other officials began asking their members for recommendations on how the group could best work to help everyone in the community – not just those on Facebook.
“As our group gets a lot bigger and we’ve been polling our group members, we feel it is just as important to support community resources as we support the heart of our group,” Sabatina said.
Liana de Lara, director of Buy Nothing Conshohocken, notes that gifts and requests can reflect the holiday season, but they can also reflect hardships a community faces, such as losses from Hurricane Ida.
Conshohocken got really bad. There were a lot of questions being asked… like ‘The whole house was affected, does anyone have extra dishes?’ I just started in a new place, De Lara said.
And in the pandemic…
Things almost came to a halt on many sets with the spread of the coronavirus, but he showed the best of Buy Nothing Lansdowne.
Mother and daughter Gillian and Caroline Lancaster came to the United States via England in 1988, although Gillian says, “I moved to Pennsylvania in 2004. I lived in Lansdowne, but I hardly knew anyone because I was working and I wasn’t here.” Never during the day.”
Caroline Lancaster has lived in the Philadelphia area since the 1990s, but she didn’t make her stop in Lansdowne until the outbreak. She was bored, and her mother needed help cleaning the house. (Both women work in graphic design.)
Gillian Lancaster admitted she has a bit of an obsession with Facebook, and that’s how she came across Buy Nothing Lansdowne.
“I was mostly stalked at first, because I didn’t quite get the idea of asking for something and people were just going to give it. It sounded a little weird,” Gillian said. “So the first thing I did was actually give someone a musical score, because that felt Safely. And I got pretty positive feedback from it so I thought this would probably work. So when Caroline came, I told her so.”
Since Caroline did not initially live in Lansdowne, she was only allowed to join at the audition level. Soon the duo began distributing crafts and goods. They really enjoyed seeing people give and receive items both large and small.
“It’s one of those things that might not make sense on the outside; once you’re in the sect, it suddenly makes sense,” said Caroline, laughing as she added.
And they soon found a way in the pandemic to take advantage of the generosity of buying nothing to help their neighbors.
“And then there was a lunchbox program that we decided to take part in, because we have a balcony. I had the time and why not,” Caroline said.
A neighbor who has a pickup truck, Deborah van Dornick and her son Jonathan Cairns, have been in touch with places where they distribute leftovers. They also made sure not to take food from other places in need. Soon, the Lancasters crafted their porch into a temporary food pantry, where people could drop off food or come to pick up some food.
The Lancasters weren’t out when people were gathering food, because they didn’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. However, people in need of food quit dish soap, because they felt like they had to leave something out.
“There should be no shame in needing food. Everyone needs food. During the pandemic, a lot of people didn’t qualify, especially at first they didn’t qualify for any extra help. There was a huge amount of need,” said Caroline Lancaster. ‘Cause a lot of people here get paid for their wages.”
This wasn’t Caroline’s only passionate project using Buy Nothing resources. I’ve turned unwanted Harry Potter books into origami, bookmarks, and keychains. She sold them, but did not put change in her pocket. Instead, Caroline donates 100% of the proceeds to trans organizations that help change laws for the better.
Gillian Lancaster said seeing acts of giving warms her heart, especially in a pandemic, when there is so much death involved.
Caroline said giving should be seen as an act of service to the community rather than to the individual.
“And it’s nice to paraphrase the giving, rather than something reciprocated. Like, I’m giving you something to show you how much I care about you. You’re my city. You know I love you. So, let’s take care of each other. Why not?”