It is so hard to believe how much we have grown!
Many of you have questions about the process we call sprouting, and we’d like to give you a few more reasons why we believe it’s a great option for this large group:
* Neighborliness - the vision for the Buy Nothing Project is for neighbors to get to know one another through the group, and to form bonds and connections, weaving a web among all of the neighbors. As the group gets bigger, it becomes harder to know one another and to interact with all people. In encouraging personal and face to face communication, rather than anonymous giving, it becomes increasingly harder to get to know everyone in the group the larger we become.
* Warmth - in a smaller group where we can all get to know one another, the atmosphere is warmer, and more intimate. We know the people posting. We will know that someone is caring for their elderly parents, that someone is getting married, or someone was diagnosed with cancer. We can shed tears of joy that a neighbor is expecting after years of trying, and gather baby clothes. We can more easily reach out when we know each other and interact to help one another, rather than say, "Her name started with an S .... trying to remember ..."
* Less Competition - in a smaller group, there will be less competition for gifts, and we will get to know each other better. Instead of a line of 10+ people all clamoring for the same gift, you may see 2-3 people chatting and interacting on a post. Rather than just picking a random person out of a line, with a smaller sampling you can pause and think about what they might do with the gift, why they would need it, and your interactions with this person in the past. When it is your time to ask for that dresser that you really, really, really want, your chances of receiving will increase exponentially!
*Calmness - The page may be less active, but that may be a good thing. Calmer, slower browsing is something that we could all use in our often hectic, chaotic, go-go-go lives these days. Taking a moment to really pause on a post and appreciate the kindness that is here could be a welcome change.
* More personal - With a smaller membership, it is more manageable for the admin team, and makes it easier for them to focus on YOU as a *person* rather than data. In the past year, we have gone from one volunteer admin to four. Still, our local admin team is inundated with requests, member verifications, concerns, and other admin-ing responsibilities that keep us plenty busy! While it certainly helps in some ways to have more admins, it can also slow down our communication with members over concerns because we have more people on our team to reach "consensus." We are all volunteers, hoping to bring the best, safest and most enjoyable experience to all members. With a smaller group, we are better able to listen to concerns, educate members and work with them in achieving our mission.
* Care for our environment - the Buy Nothing Project was founded by environmental activists who are interested in ways that we can protect our earth by reducing our consumption levels, saving items from landfills, and driving less. The vision that we have in the project is one in which we can walk or bike to give and receive gifts more often. We hope to reduce our distances in driving, and lessen our carbon footprint in the only planet that we have.
* Accountability - in a smaller group, behaviors are more noticeable and people might feel more comfortable bringing up any issues, like “no shows” that they see within the group.
* Safety - smaller, less anonymous spaces, mean we know what is happening within the group and who will be picking up from our homes and we can make that a safe experience for all.
* Ease of pick ups - it can be much less of a hassle to pick up when the gift is right around the corner, rather than a 15 minute drive. More than that, participating with people who are so close to you can give you the opportunity to meet the people right in your area. In one town that sprouted, in the first week, a neighbor connected with a member of the group who, as it turned out, lived five houses down! They became fast friends, and had never interacted before despite being in the bigger group for years together.
* Outreach - Sprouting can help make new members and quiet members feel more comfortable in a smaller, more intimate environment.
We hear your concerns at the Admin Team, and we know that people are afraid to change. Change is scary. We understand these concerns, and we hope that you keep an open mind. Ultimately, the group is what you make it to be. If you want to see this work - it will! As we get closer to sprouting, let’s celebrate the success of this beautiful group, and allow ourselves to embrace the change with positivity.