Sunday, July 19, 2009

Freecycle Watertown: Transforming the World, One Gift at a Time

Jo Hunter Adams

Towns in Massachusetts are getting into a system of gifting called Freecycle. And, it seems I'm late to the party-- there are freecycle groups all over the world!

For example, there is a group in Cape Town with 2012 active members. The group in Durban is smaller with 451 active members.

The idea is simple: You join a Yahoo group, and post when you're giving something away or need something. It's different from Gumtree or Craiglist because you become part of a community of people who give and receive from one another (Craigslist Boston, at least, is a much looser and larger group of people) Great things are up for grabs on Watertown Freecycle; I finally felt comfortable enough to part with items that "I might need someday", because I figure, if we need them someday someone else will be generous with me.

I wonder how this would work in countries with less plentiful resources, or with even greater disparities? What do you think? Would a YahooGroup work, or is it a replacement for a more intimate type of community? Could this system free up more resources for the poor?

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