Share Tompkins

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

Archive for the tag “guides”

Teresa and Jeremy Installed a Little Free Library!

Teresa and Jeremy, active participants in the Share Tompkins community, just installed a “Little Free Library” in front of their house! It’s an awesome way to share books with your neighbors. Here’s what Teresa has to say…

Little Free Libraries

The Little Free Libraries were started in Wisconsin in late 2010 as a way of promoting literacy and community through the use of small, publically accessible book exchanges. When my husband and I recently went back to Wisconsin for a friend’s wedding, we found ourselves charmed by the variety and number of Little Free Libraries in our old neighborhood, and decided to bring a little of that magic back to Ithaca with us.

Building

We spent some time thinking about how to build a weathertight yet accessible little box, but after looking at the plans available at their website and considering our meager construction skill, we decided to buy one made from recycled materials. However, someone with more time and ability than me could certainly put one together in a weekend or two from any combination of found, recycled, or purchased materials. Most of the ones we’ve seen are about the size of a small laundry basket, with a door to keep out the elements. One of the cleverer designs I’ve seen is actually the next-nearest Library – a repurposed phone kiosk just outside Syracuse University’s Library and Information Science department. Photo here

Location

We live on a busy street with a fair amount of foot, car, and bike
traffic, so we didn’t need to look farther than our own front yard. But other libraries are located in a wide variety of public and private places – outside of businesses, homes, and schools.

Books

We’re book fiends, and always have a stack of books to be passed along to other readers. Our Little Library is new, but I hope that it will become a neighborhood resource for exchanging beloved titles.

If you’d like to browse the Library and trade some books, or if you want a library of your own and want to see it in person, please stop by 1039 Hanshaw Rd. to check it out!

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.

Share Tompkins featured in The Center for a New American Dream’s “Guide to Sharing”

The Center for a New American Dream “helps Americans to reduce and shift their consumption to improve quality of life, protect the environment, and promote social justice.” Sounds like a great mission to us!

They have collaborated with one of our favorite sites, Shareable.net, to create a free PDF “Guide to Sharing” that you can download from their site. The guide is full of great tips and resources and even includes a couple of shout-outs to Share Tompkins on page 2.

Meeting Basic Needs – Capitalism vs. Cooperation

In the spirit of Liza’s recent post on the benefits of swapping, here’s a handy graphic by Ari comparing systems. While it’s impossible to fully extricate ourselves from capitalism while living in the USA, we are actively building cooperative alternatives that empower us as individuals and as a community.

Share Tompkins on Shareable

We're on the homepage of Shareable!

Shareable, a website that “tells the story of sharing,” invited us to write a how-to article for their site and we seized the opportunity in the hopes of inspiring similar efforts in other communities.

Read the article:

Ithaca Freeskool Distance Learning Videos

The Ithaca Freeskool brings people together to equalize the distribution of knowledge and confidence with an emphasis on skills and issues of local importance. As part of D.I.Y. Movie-Making, we’re filming other Ithaca Freeskool classes and making them available online for anyone who wants to participate. We’re hoping this will inspire people across the world to start Freeskools in their communities.

This first class we video-taped in full is D.I.Y. Tooth Care, a discussion of tooth care strategies including diet, pain relief, cleaning and preventive care facilitated by Lily Gershon at the Umi House in Ithaca, on July 16th, 2009. The last part of the class is a collaborative experiment in making tooth powder – you can follow along and make your own! For more information on tooth care Lily recommends paradisenow.net/healing.html. Video and Music by Shira Golding.

Stay tuned for more videos…

Resources list is up

The new Resources page is up! The idea is to provide quick access to local resources and services (and less-local but still locally-useful websites) that can help us all to find things for free, share and barter, and otherwise meet our needs in equitable and affordable ways. This page is a starting point – it needs your knowledge to help make it a useful guide.

Please check it out and leave comments on the page to tell us about the things we’ve missed. Thanks!

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