Lesson 4.1 – Ways We Communicate
You’re almost halfway through!
To get you even more pumped up about how awesome your Buy Nothing experience can be, here’s a video of some real people living the Buy Nothing life. Buy Nothing, Give Freely
Ways We Communicate
Gift economies have been building relationships between people for generations. We can improve the depth and power of these relationships when we communicate with each other while we’re sharing. A Buy Nothing gift economy is meant to be a place of stories, jokes, heartfelt comments, and discussions sparked by the gifts being offered and received. These stories and discussions build a Buy Nothing community identity and are a gift to each person.
We encourage people to communicate in ways that are easy for them. Explain what you’re offering or requesting in the words of your choosing. There are no rules about how your communication with your neighbors must be worded or formatted. It’s fine to use a lot of whole words to tell a story about your offer or request, and it’s fine to use abbreviations or acronyms, or to use any combination of words and images that you’d like. You’ll build more connections when you share stories, and connections are one of the best Buy Nothing gifts.
We ask everyone to extend patience and understanding to each other, as each Buy Nothing community includes people with a variety of languages, literacy levels, neuro-differences, and communication styles. Participants are welcome to communicate in whatever language they are most comfortable in. The more your personality comes through in your offers, requests, and comments, the more you’ll build connections with others.
We encourage you to ask questions if a post is unclear to you and in doing so model for the rest of your neighbors the way they can communicate with compassion. If you have ideas about how to make Buy Nothing more accessible to your community, in terms of language or any other aspect of accessibility, the volunteers of the Buy Nothing Language & Accessibility Team would love to hear from you via email, [email protected]
We also encourage you to think about how you use personal pronouns in your communications, to respect your trans and nonbinary neighbors. The National Center for Transgender Equality has a helpful document, Supporting the Transgender People in Your Life: A Guide to Being a Good Ally.
“You don’t have to understand someone’s identity to respect it.
Some people haven’t heard a lot about transgender identity, or have trouble understanding what it means to be trans, and that’s okay. But all people, even those whose identities you don’t fully understand, deserve respect.” Respect in this case means being aware of how your actions impact others.
Causing Harm – “Civility” Weaponized, Posting Suggestions, & Abbreviations
How can language cause harm? We have an example from our own history, as an object lesson for you to learn from our own experience: We used to have a rule “Keep it Civil” with the intention to try and create welcoming communities. This rule was at times used to silence individuals who spoke up about problems in their communities. “We learned, less quickly than we should have, how the words “civility” and “kindness” were tools of white supremacy in the United States, used over and over again to silence people who spoke up about racism and other forms of bigotry as they manifested in Buy Nothing groups, most especially against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).” Liesl Clark and Rebecca Rockefeller, Buy Nothing co-founders from A Brief History of the Buy Nothing Project, Complete with Controversies
When the suggestions or guidelines on the Buy Nothing Project website are used to regulate how people interact in Buy Nothing communities, that causes harm. Not all of us interact the same way, in person or online. Some of us use lots of words, some of us are communicating in a language that may be our 2nd or 3rd, some of us have neuro differences that affect our communication styles and some of us choose to communicate briefly. None of these ways of communicating are “right” or “wrong”. Language is flexible and changes frequently to meet changes in societies. We are all learning more about how to build meaningful connections, and as we know better, we can do better. Be open to shifting your communication style and vocabulary as you learn what works best for you and your community.
To help you in promoting awareness in your gift economy about all of these ideas, we’ve created some accessibility and awareness
posts you can use and adapt.
The BuyNothing app’s Community Commitment
is the foundation for all of our interactions. It is a contract we each hold with every member of the community. The points in the contract are applied to everyone equally and are designed to allow each of us to communicate in the ways that work best for us, while still banning hate speech and discriminatory practices. Thanks to the Buy Nothing Project Equity Team, the Community Agreement
is in place for all Buy Nothing Facebook groups, if that is your chosen platform.Links