The Buy Nothing Academy: Lesson 5
Diverse Communities Give the Gift of Growth
Lesson 5.1 – Show Your Humanity

Gift economies build relationships between people, and can bring diverse communities together through sharing. Being part of a diverse community means exposure to ideas and ways of living that are new and sometimes unexpected. Everyone is welcome in a Buy Nothing community, just as they are. Everyone participates as they choose, giving as they choose, requesting and receiving as they choose, and sharing in ways that work for them. We are all held to the same standards and community norms, but within that, we have room to express ourselves and learn our own lessons. Be yourself, let others be themselves, and expect to expand your understanding of the world and your neighbors as connections grow between you.
Gift economies work best as egalitarian communities. Each community member has equal agency to give, ask, express gratitude, and choose how they connect with others. If you are using a platform for your Buy Nothing community that gives some people power over others, for example as admins or moderators, please see the statement we made regarding the issues you’ll need to address, “What We Learned After 8 Years in Facebook Groups.” One of our longtime volunteers and Equity Team member, LaTonya M. Baldwin, shares some thoughts about Building Community or Building Walls.
Lesson 5.2 – Uncomfortable Conversations

Uncomfortable Conversations

We want all Buy Nothing participants to be able to talk openly about their experiences in their local gift economy, and sometimes these conversations can be heated. Be cognizant of tone policing in your actions. All community members need to be able to speak their minds openly. Being uncomfortable does not give you permission to silence others. If you must, you can use the block function to remove them from your feed, but we encourage you to first sit with the discomfort and see what it could be there to teach you. Here’s a document about Feeling Uncomfortable and Why It’s Okay.

If you’re interested in learning more about your possible biases, here is an implicit bias test
put together by Project Implicit. As humans, it helps to be aware of our preferences, whether they are obvious to us, or not. This can enable us to understand some of our own subconscious behaviors. Your participation in a Buy Nothing community can be a journey of self-discovery. It can help you learn how to be inclusive by connecting you to your neighbors, if you are willing to listen to what they say. Inclusivity and compassion are important building blocks when creating a gifting community. We invite all participants to review this reminder about Racism, Inclusion and Diversity in the Buy Nothing Project.

Activity 5.2
Take a book or video out of the library or listen to one of the podcasts listed in our Racial Justice Resources. The Buy Nothing Project, with the help of our worldwide giving community, has compiled a reading list for anyone interested in delving more deeply into social justice, race and equity issues. Please send us an email at [email protected] if you have further resources to add to the list!
Lesson 5.3 – Welcoming All Community Members & Supporting Each Other
Welcoming All Community Members

We believe every community member should be able to participate in the geographical location that they identify as their community. For some people this may be a large area and for others a more defined neighborhood. Some of us may not have a traditional home, as in a stationary home in one locale. We welcome all members of our communities, including those who are unhoused and those who may be on the go living a more transient lifestyle. (Making real connections) For more information on this, check out Including our Neighbors Experiencing Housing Crises in Our Gifting Communities.

The goal with the BuyNothing app is to allow each community member to define their giving community. We’ll be able to give to people who live the closest to us, or we can broaden our giving circle to include others we may not have regular contact with. Other people won’t be in charge of the boundaries you set for your experience and no person will be allowed to keep you from participating in your community, regardless of your living situation.
Links (coming soon!)
Activity 5.3
What are ways that you could support your community, to serve as a safety net? Would you be willing to share those ideas in your gifting community or crowdsource for more ideas with your neighbors?