by Haley Friesen, Youth Advisory Board Member 2019-2020
Although I never had the opportunity to meet Danielle Moore, I feel as though I did. I believe this is a true testament to keeping her spirit and message alive. Before writing and starting on my project, I read Danielle’s blog, in which she wrote “It’s important to feel this grief. Grief is an emotional signal that we are aware of loss. But it is also important to work towards healing, always” (Moore, 2019). This quote really stuck with me. Danielle was referring to the loss of our once pristine climate, but I think this message is important for many aspects of our lives. We need to allow space to feel and heal.
I too can get swept up in the negative discourse about our climate deteriorating, but I am usually quick to bounce back and remind myself of all the fantastic work that folks are doing to care for our planet. Danielle’s quote reminded me that it’s OK to stop and feel sadness for the state of our earth and that it does not mean that I have lost hope. I can pick myself up and commit to action and that’s just how I got started on my art of trading project.
I often wonder what our world would be like if we stopped to think about the entire lifecycle of a product. My wish is that people would consider the long term implications of purchasing items.Haley Friesen
Learning this new skill (or an old forgotten one) was inspired by a friend living on Galiano Island in B.C., who once paid her babysitter with organic zucchini from her garden. OK OK, I know what you might be thinking… “people living on the Gulf Islands are hippy dippy,” well… there might be some truth to that, but it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to do these things if you are living in a city.
“Why?” My partner Luis asked. Well, it has always been important to me to not collect material items as I have a tendency to think of them more as a burden than a blessing. The thought of moving homes lugging items around does not excite me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I live in a white walled box with nothing in it – I do have more than 1 fork, knife and spoon. Yet, in a material world where our society tends to purchase the newest thing and have it at their front door the next morning, I firmly believe there is another way! With my environmental science background, I can’t help but see the world through a different lens. I often wonder what our world would be like if we stopped to think about the entire lifecycle of a product. My wish is that people would consider the long term implications of purchasing items.
My original idea was to not spend any money on items for one month, but after a few lengthy discussions with Luis, we agreed that a sustainable approach would be to shift to a more mindful mindset before making purchases – food included. (Bless Luis’ soul and patience to embrace the things he knows are important to me! I know that there is a part of him that understands this is all for the greater good but sometimes, like most of us, convenience drives his aversion to these projects). I just really wanted us to be conscious about what we were buying and if there were other ways of going about it.
To be totally transparent, I should mention that this project felt challenging to start because I am currently not living in my usual BC community. I have been living in Ottawa since the pandemic began, so I felt particularly disconnected from the community that I am living in as I don’t know many people. This project would have been much more different if I were in my home community because I feel connected to a strong network of great people. That being said, this project was the extra nudge I needed to connect with my new neighborhood.
Where the Learning Journey Began:
What can I offer? This is where the learning journey began. Luis and I sat down and discussed what skills and material goods we felt people in our neighborhood were in search of. Our list included baked goods, basic bike maintenance and help in the garden. You could use a mindmap to think of what you can offer and the items you are in search of. Perhaps it is unnecessary, but Luis (the organization fanatic) decided to make us an online flow chart. Maybe you will find it helpful if you are of the visual learner variety. Next, I began researching my community to see what types of trading groups exist. I was pleasantly surprised to come across a number of trading and Buy Nothing Project groups on Facebook in the Ottawa area.
For some reason I felt resistance to posting in these online groups…I don’t quite know what that was about, perhaps some embarrassment that I was asking for something since I have a tendency to live quite independently. Nevertheless, I clicked ‘Post’ and held my breath. To my surprise, in a matter of minutes I had numerous people liking, commenting and sending me messages (phef!). The community welcomed me with open arms (virtually)!
Amazing, I thought. Ok so what next? Well we were in need of eggs and some veggies. The next day I hopped on my bike and met with a few cheery folks on their doorstep (2 meters apart, of course), where they had bags of goodies ready for me. *This process has occurred many times since this day – I am loving these physically distanced interactions I have been lacking since the pandemic began.
These experiences offered me so much more than just free stuff, I had the opportunity to connect with such fantastic individuals and to feel a deeper sense of community.Haley Friesen
One of my favorite interactions was with one lady who commented on my post that she had an overabundance of mushrooms, so of course I was thrilled! I asked her what she would like in return and she simply stated her desire was for the mushrooms to not end up in the landfill (YAY for not wasting food!). When I arrived at her home she handed over more than I anticipated (remember I was riding my bike with a small backpack). She came outside with two huge bags of mushrooms, fresh baked shortbread cookies and some dill (SCORE!). I was so excited and grateful!!!
After some reflection about my experience, I realized that this skill was not new to me. In fact, over the past few years I have participated in Karma Exchanges at yoga studios and gyms, where I would volunteer my time cleaning in exchange for yoga and fitness classes (what can I say, I was on a tight university student budget!). These experiences offered me so much more than just free stuff, I had the opportunity to connect with such fantastic individuals and to feel a deeper sense of community.
I recognize that during such uncertain times the last thing people want to do is start meeting with strangers, but I do think it can be done safely and the benefits you receive from the interaction far outweigh the material objects given and received. Right now we need community more than ever, so I ask you to open your hearts and minds to the possibility that there is another way of doing things because this project has proved just that.Haley Friesen
With that, here are a few helpful tips and learning reflections:
- Be patient and willing to put in extra time for planning and coordination.
- Be vigilant with watching your post and other people’s posts to see what you can offer.
- Focus on value – not cost.
- Trust and have faith in your community.
4 LEARNING REFLECTIONS:
- My community is far more generous than I anticipated (this restored my faith in humanity and reminded me of the importance of community).
- I am impatient and have problems with sourdough starters (I swallowed my pride and asked a lady in the community for some of hers).
- I am way more resourceful than I thought!
- COVID imposed some significant challenges around farmers markets (l look forward to being able to connect with local farmers again).
- My favorite quote I read on one of the Facebook groups was from a lady trading a bookshelf, she wrote “In search of shepherd’s pie or a dustbuster, maybe a nice house plant” – anonymous bookshelf trader.
Skill-sharing as a Community:
From my understanding, Danielle’s desire was for us to build skills that could help us survive the Climate Apocalypse but she particularly wanted us to do this by learning from our friends, family and community. I feel that what I learned has already allowed me to teach others and has offered me the opportunity to connect with my community, something I have really been missing throughout this pandemic. My hope is that this blog helps inspire others to think about other methods of obtaining goods, connecting to their community and at the very least inspires you to ask yourself if you really need that shipment from Amazon (sorry not sorry Amazon!).
How to Move Forward:
I recognize that during such uncertain times the last thing people want to do is start meeting with strangers, but I do think it can be done safely and the benefits you receive from the interaction far outweigh the material objects given and received. Right now we need community more than ever, so I ask you to open your hearts and minds to the possibility that there is another way of doing things because this project has proved just that. In the coming month, I have decided to focus on the verb “to share”, this will remind me to stay connected to my community, friends and family.
I would also like to thank Danielle for reminding me that we can survive and thrive in the Climate Apocalypse, my partner Luis for embracing my passionate ideas and love for the planet, and of course the wonderful folks I met and exchanged goodies with.
Danielle Moore. 2019. How Do We Prepare for Climate Apocalypse? Retrieved from: https://daniellemahalia.github.io/the-cautious-optimist/single-blog.html