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How local is local? JP sharing group shut down by national organizers in battle with locals

The West Coast co-founder of the international "Buy Nothing" movement, in which local members go online to trade items with their neighbors, shut down the Jamaica Plain Buy Nothing group on Facebook last night after an increasingly vitriolic battle over who knows JP better - the people who live there or people on the other side of the country.

Unlike other free-stuff efforts, the goal of the Buy Nothing Project is to foster stronger ties between neighbors in small geographic areas, using the trading of items as just the first step in getting neighbors to better know and help each other. Until last week, Buy Nothing Jamaica Plain was one of the largest Buy Nothing groups in the world, with close to 5,000 registered members.

Buy Nothing's national and regional administrators said the JP group had gotten too large - it was at risk of losing its neighborly feel - and wanted to "sprout" new, smaller JP groups.

The four local administrators argued against the change, saying the local group was working fine but agreed to help with the splitting - as long as it was done in a way to avoid cleaving the online neighborhood along racial and ethnic lines, lines they said the JP group had helped to bridge in the diverse neighborhood.

As Kai Haskins writes in a summary of the to-do, regular members were also less than thrilled - and said so in posts in the group. The national administrators started deleting the posts and banning the members who wrote them.

When Buy Nothing co-founder Liesl Clark accused one local moderator of calling her a Nazi - the moderator had made a crack about "spell Nazis" - the local moderators had enough and quit. Somebody set up a competing - and locally controlled - gift economy group.

Things got no better. In the middle of the firefight over the racial and ethnic implications of splitting the group, one of the national administrators called for unity with a photo of four white women's hands atop each other.

More posts were deleted; more users banned.

The regular JP Facebook group, where people normally post photos of Jamaica Pond and talk about when that new taco place in Forest Hills is opening and how Whole Foods is going downhill, became a gathering spot for Buy Nothing refugees to trade war stories - and screen shots of the discussions the banned members were missing.

Last night, the national organizers "archived" the JP Buy Nothing group, effectively shutting it down, and created several new JP groups, including, initially, one for "Egleston Square and Hyde Park," which made little sense in a neighborhood that does not have a Hyde Park (although it does have a Hyde Square). They have since created groups that are not exactly incorrectly named, just completely unrelated to the ways JP residents think of their neighborhood, including East, West, Central and Southwest Jamaica Plain.

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Comments

The Peoples Front Of Judea.

We are at peak JP. This means Ashmont is heading for an artisanal shoe polish civil war within 5 years.

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Its Buy Nothing group was split a few months ago. But while there was some angst (and a new, locally run group sprung up), in that case, the national group listened to the locals and shifted the boundaries they'd first proposed.

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Not really. The Rozzie moderators took national's advice to split, and it was they who divided in a way that upset folks, and then they rectified it.

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For the correction.

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(actually - the national admin gave us the boundaries and then local admins/members came up with alternatives and then the grou'ps membership voted on which boundaries they preferred)

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"In any dispute the intensity of feeling is inversely proportional to the value of the issues at stake."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sayre%27s_law

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No you may not have my stuff. You are responsible for procuring your own stuff. This is called adulthood. Abdication of adult responsibilities in one arena of life leads to childish bickering in others. Color me unsurprised and unimpressed.

Let me know when these knuckleheads reach the 90s Russia or the 2010s Venezuela stage of their little experiment in communal living.

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wtf

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It's a sharing group not a take-things-away group, but it doesn't sound like you'd understand the concept.

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you had to do it to em

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Yes, you are indeed Mr. Independent Man, proudly procuring everything you need without any help from anybody, ever. I bet you even cast your own buckshot before you go hunting for the deer that is the only thing you eat.

Dude, seriously, this isn't some socialistic plot to drain you of your precious bodily fluids. Nobody's forced to participate and if you don't ever want to help your neighbors out, that's quite OK, and I'm sure your house survives Halloween just fine even if you do pull all the shades and turn off all the lights to keep those freeloading commie pink diapers from pushing your doorbell (if you even have one; I can see you ripping it out in disgust at the idea that anybody might ever seek your help for anything).

And congrats on not letting your flinty libertarianism blind you to the fact this isn't an issue with the idea of sharing, just with the particular approach taken by some group out of Washington State. Oh, wait, never mind, you did.

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I don't think he actually read beyond the headline.

"in which local members go online to trade items with their neighbors"

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Nobody's forced to participate but they sure as hell get an earful of accusations and insults if they don't.

You'll forgive me if your diatribe doesn't make me want to ride that bomb all the way down...just a little.

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Seriously?

I live in Roslindale, which as you can see elsewhere in this discussion, also has an active Buy Nothing community. To date, nobody has ever e-mailed, texted or phoned me or knocked on my door to try to shame me for not participating.

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Could you explain what you mean? Who's giving you an earful?

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whining about "free speech" in the post about Flake coming to City Hall Plaza? You know, a public space where he is being given a forum to speak freely?

Insults and accusations qualify as free speech, so I'm imagining it was a happy occasion for you when these instances supposedly happened.

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Nobody's forced to participate but they sure as hell get an earful of accusations and insults if they don't.

I am a member.

AND, as a member over many months, I was able to get one bookcase that I love. I wasn't able to post the myriad things I don't want anymore but which have plenty of life in them because they need to be photographed. SO I've taken but not yet given. And no one gave me any grief about it. And because of this BS, I'll be giving my stuff through the other group.

It's not a trade group it's an, "I want to get this thing out of my house, anyone want it?" group. It's also an ISO group and many people starting out on their own, whether a refugee from another country or a domestic abuse survivor or a single parent trying to get their feet under them, have been able to get through their stress so they can move on to being productive members of society.

I think you need to let go of some of your giving and getting hangups.

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From the founders website:

" reach the masses and have greatest impact, We need to use the master’s tools to dismantle the castle."

All I can figure is that the founders want to dismantle something.. like capitalism.

Some us prefer the castle. I, for one, would not like to see it dismantled. That would suck.

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Shut up and stick to trashpicking

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Maybe they're talking about the disposable economy? People trying to be less wasteful ≠ end times of capitalism. Sheesh.

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Nobody's taking your stuff. If someone has stolen something from you, report it to the police. This is a group of people VOLUNTARILY participating in exchange.

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You and your paranoid fantasies again.

Reusing used stuff is the national sport of New England. You going to start shooting trash pickers, mister? There are people with way more money than you who engage in this sort of activity around here.

Get help.

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One of the things freedom means is that we're free to help each other, and a separate Facebook group for people to offer that help is a lot less intrusive than the people standing around the T station offering religious books..

In terms you might approve of: keeping one's house clean is an adult activity, and cleaning is easier if there's room to put away the things you actually want so you can clean that tables and vacuum or sweep the floors. Giving still-useful things to people who have a use for them also reduces the load on trash collection, and eventually on landfills or incinerators. And none of this costs you a penny: you can just sit at home and benefit from the (admittedly small) reduction in taxes and air pollution.

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You can also donate unwanted yet still useful items to Goodwill.

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that there are so many options out there for donating - Boomerang's is also an option.

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Unfortunately, the quality of Boomerang's has gone down hill as well.

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I agree 100%. The more options the better. I just wanted to point out to the previous commenter that the options weren't only a Facebook group or the landfill.

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Freecycle is quite similar to BN, been around for a *long* time, and has a very large local user base.

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has been a bright spot on my otherwise dull commute. Please carry on and post more cuckoo opinions about stuff you don’t understand the tiniest bit.

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Because borrowing a plunger is a step on the road to serfdom.

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Jamaica Plain is a geographically compact neighborhood. I could bike across it in a half hour. There is no likelihood that people responding to offered items will live too far away from the people offering them.

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Yes, geographically small. The issue, at least in the national group's eyes, was that with nearly 5,000 participants, the group was too large to be practical.

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it was brilliantly practical and successful in every way. They really screwed up on this one.

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Great to see liberals fighting but there's an easy fix. Instead of JP Buy nothing, how about JP Purchase nothing?

Another solution is to cultivate friendships with neighbors. One of my neighbors is a carpenter and will help me with anything for a case of Guinness. Another is a plumber who will work for a case of Bud Light. My landscaper goes all out for a six pack. My local auto mechanic enjoys a special lunch place so I throw in a gift card and my fees are very light. As stated above, sharing is caring.

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So I pay my excellent local plumber, electrician and contractor in real hard US currency so they can live here, not just get drunk.

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EDIT: removed comments about trading, which was disallowed by Buy Nothing.

The original BN group can re-establish itself as a wholly independent group (perhaps call it JP Take It or Leave It), with as many members as it likes, without having a national board micromanaging what it does.

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One of the Buy Nothing rules was no trading.

The admins asked for the Buy Nothing Project people to turn the group over to them and there was going to be none of that. Rumors abound as to why.

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If you're negotiating a trade, you're not buying nothing.

Just because you're not paying in cash doesn't mean you're not paying. Barter is a purchase.

There's plenty of room for trading. There's plenty of room for giving. These two things can exist in separate imaginary spaces on the Internet.

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I was responding to the Buy Nothing Project(TM) rules.

Yes - they've TMd that name. That was one of the issues in the whole argument.

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They can fairly easily start a new group and members of Buy Nothing JP can join that one. That's what happened in Roslindale for folks who didn't like that the group was sprouting (changing/dividing).

Though - as time has passed, lots of people belong to both the Roslindale Gifting group and one of the Roslindale Buy Nothing groups.

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nt

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You may have missed this, but the issue isn't that no one wants to give things away, it's that too many people want to give things away. No trades necessary.

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Well now that they all know each other they can continue to just borrow stuff from each other. Why don't they form their own group now?

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Is just what they're doing.

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There’s a lot of hate coming from some of these comments. Differences of opinion, different lives, different ways of doing things shouldn’t be attacked, like them or not. The world needs peace.

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have to post about if it wasn't some hateful trash?

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I've been looking for the new sprouted groups on FB but I get nothing in my searches. Anyone have links?

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Jamaica Plain’s Gift Economy for now but that’s supposed to change soon.

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I'm in that one, I'm asking about the Buy Nothing (TM) sprout groups for Jamaica Plain. I've read that they've been created in FB but I haven't seen them to join. Not for lack of trying.

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They've apparently since taken down the sprouts, so now there's only the original group, archived for access only to people who weren't kicked out. Of course, I haven't checked in the past couple hours, so things might have changed again.

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People take a group about exchanging free stuff that you don't want anymore WAY too seriously. That Medium post is something else. Good grief.

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I think the "quirkiest" thing in these groups is the free stuff but you have to pick it up on their porch or in the yard since they won't be home, or not convenient to see you in person.

Of course that risks you being reported as stealing something off someone's porch, and you are more likely to be outed as a thief on Facebook because after all, that is where you report these things, or to a 311 app.

we don't need Russian interference in the electronic media to divide and conquer us. As a "community" we already have that ability well in hand.

Frankly speaking, while these "buy nothing" groups have some merit, the concept that you can only exchange within a narrowly focused geography is not something embraced in all population centers. Going by the number of participants in such a group may work well in suburban areas and could conceivably encompass entire townships. However in large population concentration areas like we have in Boston, it is not plausible.

Frame that against the New England concept of freedom and not being told what to do by outsiders, such groups are doomed to eventually self-implode. If I need a chair and table and someone has it in Dorchester, or East Boston, I should be able to have that opportunity and not be held to some carpetbagger's false standard.

Develop your own group under your own name. You don't need these egotists that do not know our city, its neighborhoods, or culture.

JP and Hyde Park? That alone tells you that you need to dump it.

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Where, exactly, has this happened?

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People don't even get arrested for actual porch package theft, so I really doubt anyone's getting arrested for something that can be explained in about 10 seconds by referencing the post on the Facebook app.

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If 5000 people is too big, why not just have several groups covering JP? Assign one person to JP1, another to JP2, and so on. That way you will have a cross-section of the community within each.

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Just read the whole thing. I never saw so many people weighing in with strong opinions about something they don't understand.

It's OK not to comment if you don't really "get" the idea being discussed.

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This new world order re-invented is amazing..................

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