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Really Really Free

19 Aug

For six weeks, a group of people have been engaged in an unusual project in Bedford-Stuyvesant that they are calling the Brooklyn Free Store, where everything is available for the taking and nothing is for sale.
 
– Colin Moynihan

 

By no means unusual or new, the free store, give-away shop, or swapshop, is an alternative to capitalist consumerism with roots as a form of constructive direct action from the anarchist movement.

 

The Diggers, an English group of Protestant Christian agrarian communists, envisioned a society free from buying and selling. Working under the same name in 1960s Haight-Ashbury, a group of improv actors established numerous stores that gave away everything from medical care to housing to entertainment. The stores evolved into the Really Really Free Market, which extends the goal of the free store to building community around shared resources. The markets offer both goods and services, with participants bring unneeded items, as well as skills and talents.

 

“There is something about the communal aspect of this place that appeals to me,” Mr. Ballard said. “I felt like I wanted to give something just to be a part of it.”

 

In addition to community benefits, these services also theoretically remove usable items from the waste stream. I imagine that anyone who would take the time to donate such items to a free store would also donate it to a thrift store or on-line at FreeCycle or craigslist. The free stores RRFM’s have great potential to connect people without requiring consumption or money but think it is important to acknowledge the important role that thrift stores play. Most thrift stores generate revenue for charities or church groups. Value Village/Savers is often criticized but it contributes to this economy by purchasing donations from groups that cannot operate thrift stores. On the whole, the more ways we have to redistribute the products of consumption and use items for the full extent of their lifecycle is positive and sustainable.

 

story via nytimes

 

images via methodofcontrol

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