Did you know that there is a hyper-local gift economy where parents across Bend are actively creating community? Buy Nothing Bend North and South are Facebook groups with just under a combined 2000 members who strive to buy nothing, give freely and share creatively.
Formed using the model of the original Buy Nothing Project, which was started by friends Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark while living on Bainbridge Island, Washington in 2013, these groups allow local families and individuals to get rid of clutter and save money while building a better community.
Camden Sabat is one of the administrators of the Buy Nothing Bend North's group. She, along with her co-admin, Ally Lund, shared what local families interested in being part of the groups should know before joining.
Q: What should families expect when joining one of the local groups?
Camden Sabat: When you join Buy Nothing Bend (North), you will be welcomed by the admin team, and you will be directed to review "The Fine Print". We do this because the principles that Buy Nothing groups have been founded upon are very different from typical Facebook sell or swap groups, and we want new members to feel comfortable participating fully.
New members will experience their neighbors sharing both "Gifts of" and "Asks for Gifts of" self, time, and talent. They will also witness members sharing posts of gratitude for their neighbors.
Q: What is unique about Buy Nothing Bend?
CS: Even though BNP is a gift economy, Buy Nothing Bend (North) is all about building community. It's about making connections and building trust between neighbors, rather than the quick transfer of free stuff. We hope our members will participate as fully as possible and share as personably as possible in order to build trust between neighbors.
We aim to be a diverse, inclusive and equitable local gift economy in which neighbors learn to trust in abundance and in their common desire to help each other through the sharing of time, talent, and resources.
Q: How can families get involved?
CS: If readers are interested in participating, I encourage them to join one of Central Oregon's Buy Nothing groups based on their geographic location. If they inadvertently join a group that is not hyper-local, the volunteer admin will reach out via FB message to direct them to the most appropriate group (always check your message requests).
Q: Why should families get involved?
CS: I stumbled upon the Buy Nothing Project last winter, right before the pandemic hit. Over the past year, I've grown from a new member who just wanted to get rid of her stuff and score some slick deals to a struggling single parent who needed support in this crazy new pandemic environment, to a volunteer admin who is extremely passionate about building an inclusive, supportive, abundant local community. I love Buy Nothing because it helps me bring people together and lift people up and because I am able to witness my neighbors loving and supporting each other.
If this experience sounds appealing, I encourage readers to join their local BNP. It's a cultural shift that, for me, was desperately needed in 2020.
Q: What are the "rules" of Buy Nothing?
CS: Criteria for joining BNP and the rules for membership are explained in detail in the Fine Print. The criteria for joining the Buy Nothing Bend (North) is that you're at least 21 years old and that you're a member of only one group. When you answer the membership questions, it helps the volunteer admins determine your eligibility and direct you to the appropriate group.
The rules are more extensive, but essentially, they are:
• Keep it legal
• Show your humanity
• Build trust
• Give freely
• Participate as yourself
• Give from your own abundance
• No buying/selling/trading
• Ask and give creatively
•Familiarize yourself with the BNP mission
•All members participate at their own risk
Q: How are you avoiding the pitfalls of some areas being more affluent than others?
Ally Lund: The gist of it is that we don't see people as "haves" and "have nots," but we see everyone as a community member that has something to offer to their neighbors. The whole point is bringing a community together to collectively meet needs and wants. Some of our most active givers are less affluent than most of their neighbors. Buy Nothing isn't a charity group designed to serve those in need. It's a community-building group for all walks of life.
Find out more:
Buy Nothing Project: buynothingproject.org
You can find Buy Nothing Bend North and Buy Nothing Bend South groups on FB