Share Tompkins

Share Tompkins helps folks share and trade goods and services in Tompkins County, NY.

Archive for the category “Swap Stories”

Swap Stories: Lessons from organizing a home yarn swap

Considering organizing a swap but not sure how to do it? Teresa Porri, pictured above in a sweater she knitted, shares her experiences with organizing yarn swaps at her home.

I was inspired enough by the set up of Share Tompkins that I decided to host an occasional swap of my own with a very specific focus: fiber arts. People who are not interested in working with string may not be aware of this, but Ithaca has dozens if not hundreds of talented spinners, knitters, crocheters, and lacemakers. I happen to know a bunch of them, and I happen to know that this is a group that often has big plans that don’t pan out, so we often end up with extra materials.

I thought that I would put together a post in case anyone else is considering a similar kind of swap focusing on a very specific sub-group. (I could see this working well as, say, a seed/plant swap, or with art supplies, or for homeschoolers – any group that ends up collecting a lot of lightly-used stuff of roughly comparable value.)

I invited people by personal email, by mentioning it in person at one of the craft get-togethers I participate in, and through the Ithaca message board on Ravelry.com (a huge online fiber arts community.)

About 10 people have showed up when I host this, and this seems like a good number. I think larger numbers work well for more general swaps because you never know what someone will bring or be interested in, but for a more specific trading environment, keeping it a little smaller is fine. It’s usually ended up being a good mix of huge and tiny stashes, larger and smaller pocketbooks, more and less
experienced knitters.

I set up my dining room table on one side of a room with as many leaves as it holds, then had chairs in a circle next to it for people who wanted to socialize, knit, and eat. The most recent time I hosted the yarn swap, I put a laundry basket to one side with a “FREE” sign on it.

One thing I worried about the first time I arranged one of these swaps was whether people would be trying too hard for a 1-to-1 trade, but after the first person said “Eh, you can keep it,” the whole room really opened up. The presence of the
Freebie basket” helped this happen more quickly the second time I had a swap. Everyone passed along whatever generosity came their way; as far as I could tell, everyone went away happy. This is something I’ve found at Share Tompkins before; the presence of generosity in others makes everyone feel more generous. I still have a huge bucket of freebie yarn in my house that people didn’t want to bring home with them. It is going to be distributed in a few different ways – I’ll be bringing some of it to the next Really Really Free Market, some to Sew Green, and some will go to charity. (If you have a charity project that you need yarn for, feel free to contact me at tjporri@gmail.)

One problem, though: I always seriously underestimate the amount of yarn that shows up. Some people make multiple trips to carry it all. The table overflows onto the floor, where bag and Rubbermaid tubs full of yarn sit ready to go. Having each person keep their yarn near them is easier organizationally, but having a communal pile seems more inviting. Some people carefully label skeins, but most people use the “hold up a skein and holler that they like it until its owner shows up” method of identification. Having one or two people who bring a TON of yarn also seems to serve as a social lubricant. It’s partly that generosity thing again – the person who brings a ton of yarn usually doesn’t want to bring it back home! But it’s also really fun to mix and match and daydream with like-minded folks.

Having a computer handy was useful; there were occasional checks on Ravelry or yarn sellers to find out the fiber content of something, or the retail price, or to remind someone what weight yarn they needed for that gorgeous scarf pattern that they’d seen recently.

One great side effect of this kind of trading environment is that it seems to be a great stimulant for creativity. People talk about what they had in mind when they bought the yarn, people hold two very different colors together and try to figure out how to mix them together. One person describes a pattern they saw, and two weeks later you’ll see someone else knitting it with yarn they got at the swap. I’m knitting baby toys and a sweater for my niece who will be arriving this summer from swap yarn, and my head is chock-full of plans I didn’t have before.

If you’ve had an idle thought about doing something like this, I really encourage you to try it. I’ve had great fun with it and will definitely hold more yarn swaps in the future.

I’ve got something you want: Share Tompkins Open House

On 
Saturday, November 19th, 2-4pm, join us at the Worker’s Center for an open house / Ithaca Freeskool class all about Share Tompkins!

Share Tompkins (a local mutual aid network formed in May 2009) wants to share what we’ve learned so far! Come talk with us about free local resources, how to trade goods and services equitably, and how bartering can help us save money and make connections.

Hosted by Tompkins County Workers’ Center, 115 MLK St., above Autumn Leaves on the Commons.

Facilitators: Marina, Danny and Ari – ari@shirari.com, 607.821.0654

More info:
http://sharetompkins.wordpress.com

This class is a free Ithaca Freeskool class!
http://ithacafreeskool.wordpress.com/

Click here to RSVP on Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=197900600285373

Press: Share Tompkins in Tompkins Weekly Article about Economics of Happiness Screening

On April 27th, we were invited to speak about Share Tompkins as part of the panel discussion following the community screening of the film The Economics of Happiness.

The event was featured in an article by Eric Banford in the May 2-8 issue of Tompkins Weekly. You can read the full article on the Sustainable Tompkins site and here are some key excerpts:

Share Tompkins has been hosting monthly swaps and “Really, Really Free Markets” and co-founder Shira Golding said they
have received email from all over the U.S. and as far away as the UK,
asking how to start similar ventures…

Shira Golding and McKenzie Jones-Rounds of Share Tompkins talked about real life swap examples fostered through swap meets. Jones-Round swapped for a cello that wasn’t being used for a year of
guitar lessons. She shared that, “It’s not just about the stuff we keep out of the waste stream or save money on, it’s also about instilling in the kids in the community the value of who they are and what it means to be part of something bigger than themselves. It’s good to be someplace where people aren’t just willing to share their things, but they share themselves too. We are building a resilient, self-reliant, non-monetary based economy through this.”

“Whenever I get a chance to participate in either the gift or the barter economy, I feel subversive, I feel happy, I feel connected to people.” – Liza

This snow globe was swapped for two hours of web consultation.

Liza recently got involved in the Share Tompkins community and she has shared some of her thoughts about the benefits of swapping below. If you’d like to contribute to the blog, please send a few paragraphs about your own experiences to sharetompkins@riseup.net.

Capitalism sucks! Many thinking people who have lived under capitalism are beginning to come to this conclusion, in addition to the millions of people who have looked at it from the outside, from countries whose inhabitants and infrastructures have been devastated by the consequences of western capitalism. And yet, how hard it is to get away from.When we need or think we need things, it’s so easy to buy things. We need money to buy the things we need or think we need, so we look for work within capitalism, and more often than not end up doing meaningless work – work that doesn’t produce something real and tangible, work that basically props up the system, work that merely moves money around.

Capitalism assigns a value to labor in such a way that the higher one’s degree, the more worthy an hour of labor; or the more costly one’s education, the more worthy an hour of labor; or the more scarce the practitioners are of a certain skill, the more worthy an hour of labor. This is drilled into us from an early age, and enforced by practice. We are taught that if we don’t go on to college, we won’t be able to land as good a job as someone with a degree, even when the actual degree has nothing to do with the job in question. And in fact, the more advanced and specialized one’s field, the higher the debt one has to pay off after college, so the salary had better be larger than the hourly rate of an auto mechanic (I imagine the cosmetic surgeon sniffing).

Thus, whenever I get a chance to participate in either the gift or the barter economy, I feel subversive, I feel happy, I feel connected to people.

Read more…

Post Navigation

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: