Obtain what you need without spending a dime, gifting movement fosters good in community

By: Brynn Rader, Woodlands Online
| Published 02/27/2019

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THE WOODLANDS, Texas -- Imagine delivery of fresh home-baked bread, your home’s windows cleaned, clothing, furniture, a ride to an appointment and other necessary things appearing in your life, all without any money exchanged. These very real scenarios happen more than you may realize. A global gift economy movement, the Buy Nothing Project, is working to spur positive change, and it’s reached The Woodlands.

Our culture revolves around consumerism and technology. Challenges arise living in this throw-away society with nagging feelings of isolation affecting many. Participants in the Buy Nothing Project benefit from a true sense of community, the opportunity to meet and help neighbors and the privilege of receiving needed items or services without paying for them.

The official website for this transformational effort, www.buynothingproject.org, says, “The Buy Nothing Project began when two friends, Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark, created an experimental hyper-local gift economy on Bainbridge Island, WA, in July 2013. Since then, it has become a worldwide social movement, with groups in 30 nations.” The page states their intention to create significant social change. The website, its followers and the person-to-person communities create an expanding, global influence with over 3,000 Facebook groups adding new members daily.

The Woodlands itself now has two Buy Nothing groups. Find your local group here. Locally, this movement is just beginning. With the copious addition of new members will come phenomenal growth and positive effects within our neighborhoods.

Giving, receiving and expressing gratitude encompasses all activity in the groups. Clark, one of the founders, traveled to Nepal. Amongst the Himalayan society so heavily reliant on gifting and sharing for their survival, Clark began to wonder whether the principles of the Nepalese culture could be applied closer to home.

“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more but those giving more.” - H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Giving is well-known to be a healthy and essential part of our lives. The joy it brings contributes to our physical and mental well-being. According to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, “A wide range of research has linked different forms of generosity to better health, even among the sick and elderly.” The research indicated one reason giving improves physical health is the resulting stress reduction, highlights the article.

“I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.” - Maya Angelou.

The article “5 Ways Giving is Good for You' also cites another benefit: the gratitude brought “whether you’re on the giving or receiving end of a gift.” Studies reveal gratitude is “integral to happiness, health and social bonds.”

“The Buy Nothing Project is about setting the scarcity model of our cash economy aside in favor of creatively and collaboratively sharing the abundance around us,” says the Buy Nothing Project website. The hope behind Buy Nothing is fostering a genuine sense of community, shifting the focus away from things and onto connection among neighbors.

Some may struggle with feeling they don’t have much to give. Think again. Each one of us has an ample supply to share: our time, talents, support, knowledge and material things. Much room for creativity is found when exploring ways to give. We all have gifts to share with others.

“No one has ever become poor by giving.” - Anne Frank.

Whether or not you have physical items to share with your neighbors, services extended are very appreciated. Do you have a skill you could teach? Offering music lessons, cooking sessions, troubleshooting computer or car issues or other areas of expertise is a wonderful gift. Sometimes sharing conversation over a cup of tea provides a gift of companionship and needed human interaction.

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” - Mahatma Gandhi.

One member of Buy Nothing said, “I have been involved with several Buy Nothing groups for the last three years. It's an amazing community resource unlike any other! This movement proves to be a daily blessing for people of all socioeconomic statuses, and it is touching to witness this first hand. In Washington state, I saw massive community growth and involvement within Buy Nothing. Thousands of members in the area actively shared daily! I personally watched small and kind gestures as well as large and very generous acts every week! Most certainly I feel this worthwhile group is an asset to any community which will embrace it.”

Volunteers run the movement with no funding whatsoever. The spirit it embodies brings out kindness and generosity, easing the sting of disconnection brought on by the fast-paced world. Individual members of each group show a willingness to consciously shift their way of thinking and doing.

The gifting process runs differently than other free groups out there. The project encourages creative, fun ways to choose a recipient as opposed to the impersonal first come, first served philosophy. This more personal approach coupled with a focus on meeting and getting to know your neighbors permeates interactions with a friendly, caring vibe. Barters and trades are not allowed either. It’s all about gifting, receiving, and gratitude.

“It is every man’s obligation to put back into the world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.” - Albert Einstein

Giving to others finds its way back to you. “We must give more in order to get more. It is the generous giving of ourselves that produces the generous harvest.” - Orison Swett Marden.

If you still need another reason to get involved, “5 Ways Giving is Good for You” also states, “Giving is contagious. When we give, we don’t only help the immediate recipient of our gift. We also spur a ripple effect of generosity through our community.”

Join the gift economy and start giving. Be a force for good in our community and experience the many benefits of generosity and connection.

Inspirational quotes included in this article were sourced from the following webpage: https://www.success.com/15-inspiring-quotes-about-giving/.

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