Vancouver's Leader in Transition toward Strong, Resilient, Complete Communities
by Ross Moster
Village Vancouver embodies the principles and actions of a dynamic cooperative, creative sharing economy within a celebratory culture of connecting and collaborating. All of our activities contribute to creating more vibrant and resilient sharing communities. Examples include our seed libraries, where folks can get free seeds for their gardens, or swap or donate seeds, and garden projects at schools and elsewhere can get seeds donated, and the Kits Village Collaborative Garden, which over 300 people enjoyed food from at one time or another last year at potlucks, dinner groups, harvest festivals, drop-in spaghetti nights, meetings, and other gatherings.
Other examples include our buy, sell, share, find page, monthly potlucks at neighbourhood villages, Neighbour Savour, our community-wide zero waste gathering for 300 folks (now including a pay-it-forward gift exchange), Swap Till You Drop (upcoming swap meet), community centred emergency preparedness, Right Livelihood Circles, a collaborative recycling depot and repurposing of materials, highlighting cooperative and social enterprises, laying the groundwork for community currency in Vancouver, partnering on local and sharing economy events and presentations, Transition workshops, Ecological Economics courses, and dozens and dozens of collaborations with other groups, as well as with universities, festivals, community centres, neighbourhood houses, and 100 in 1 Day.
Our Demo Sustainable Neighbourhood Village offers free space to community groups on Car Free Days. Members share tools - for example, the KVCG wheelbarrow - knowledge, information, and other assets. At Permaculture Blitzes, up to 25 at a time collaborative to create more regenerative spaces for growing food. Dinner groups and spaghetti nights feed several folks from one stove and oven - rather than many households each cooking their own meal on their own stove/oven - and demonstrate how we can create mini-food cycles and very local food economies in our neighbourhoods and have lots of fun in the process.
Collaborative gardens and garden space allow neighbours to learn from one another and share both the workload and harvest. Placemaking activities (including VV's 2014 City Commons Placemaking course) offer further opportunities to collaborate on neighbourhoood projects. Shared leadership allows us to enjoy the benefits of collective wisdom, community members collaborate on numerous small grant projects, and thousands of members throughout the city allow for lots of more informal sharing.
Check out Village Vancouver member Ali Rosenblatt’s article in the Spring 2009 Communities magazine on local currencies, entitled 09Spring-Communities_Rosenblatt-Relocalization.pdf. This article is ©2009, Alison Rosenblatt and Communities magazine and first appeared in Communities: Festivals and Gatherings, Spring 2009; for further information on Communities, visit communities.ic.org.
Consider the effect of a “Gifting Economy” on community development in these words by Vancouver’s Mary Bennett looking at the local “Freecycle” network: http://freecycle.org/group/CA/British%20Columbia/Vancouver. Freecycle is both a posting location and a listserv for those who want to share excess goods and seek out free goods that others may not be using. It is a great resource to make a new start, and reclaim the importance of people over things; every “transaction” is a potential friendship.
There are 2971 active members on the Vancouver Freecycle Network [as of August 2009]. You’re encouraged to post more OFFERS than WANTEDs, but people do post items they need, too – often items that people have around and likely have just been storing/hoarding—art supplies for a project with 100 high school students; cell phone cord; canning jars; old bricks;
I recently joined freecycle.org and have given away a lot of stuff. And met a lot of people. Neighbours and people from around the Lower Mainland.
A couple and their 4-year old daughter who’d enjoyed berry picking saw my posting for free strawberry plants and drove from Burnaby, took some of the herbs as well and asked advice about growing them on their balcony. I assured them that everything I was giving them would likely survive, and if it didn’t they had my email address now and they should send me a note in the spring.
Plants and landscaping pebbles (decided I didn’t like them after all) have been my big give-aways this summer – People have been as delighted with my generosity as I have been that people would walk, cycle and drive to pick these items up thereby freeing up space in the small garden of my housing co-op.
I secretly hope some of the novice gardeners will develop green thumbs and fingers through this free foray into urban gardening.
The deal is you pick up whatever you want. No trades. Although you could conceivably post OFFER: old TV in working order and then a separate post WANTED: DVD player.
Recent offers have included everything from: Elvis Presley Calendars (various years) -- Much loved once – and someone out there will love them again.
About 125 cassettes. all original (not taped). almost all rock + pop. Toddler Potties – we have two we’re done with.
Wanted posts can be as large as: Household Goods Students just moved to an unfurnished place and need to set up!
Or this one listing more specifics and criteria.
Single mom of 2 starting all over again. I need a couch, TV stand, dining table w/ at least 3 chairs, vacuum, side tables for the couch and/or bed, & an area rug). I do not want your *junk* because it needs to be safe & healthy for my kids. I would also prefer solid colours, or subtle printed stuff, nothing floral. If you can help me out, I am forever grateful! Will be moving on the 13th of September, so that day would be best for either a pick-up or a dropoff. THANKS! (By the way, recipients are expected to pick up. And I wouldn’t recommend a phrase like “I do not want your *junk*).
Or as specific as: Looking for a banjo to start out on. If someone has an old one they no longer using..
A lot of electronics (cell phones, DVD players, cassette players) show up on both wanted and offers lists.
Some have a personality such as “temperamental” DVD player. One person asked for a fake or dead cell phone to let her toddler play with so she doesn’t take Mom’s.
From the international website at http://freecycle.org there is this explanation.
The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,788 groups with 7,190,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by entering it into the search box above or by clicking on “Browse Groups” above the search box. Have fun!
I’ve often posted an offer in the morning (e.g. a box of women’s clothes when I was cleaning out the closet) and had it picked up by that evening. I’ve given away lots of plants that spread and offered a bit of gardening encouragement and advice along the way. (How can you go wrong with strawberry plants, mint, oregano and lambs ears?)
I’ve also joined the Lower Mainland TimeBank where I’ve offered to coach people in painting or gardening and would love to have someone do some sewing, fixing or cleaning.
I learned about this from Ali who wrote the article on local economies posted here. The idea is to get away from dollars of any sort and log your contributions in hours. There are only 30 people so far on the Lower Mainland group, so it will work better when there are more people, I think. The system allows for identifying groups (such as Village Vancouver or a community group, etc.) which I think might make it more appealing for some people to have some connection with the person they’re providing a service to or asking to help them. If you try it out, let me know how it goes for you. Mary Bennett
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