It saves resources, saves money, and builds community. What I like about this kind of thing is that any of us can start it anywhere at any time without going through any of the existing power structures--corporations, non-profits, government. It's pure citizen action that is both better for the people and better for the planet:
brooklyn free store
It's a store with no hours, no retailers and no customers, reports Colin Moynihan in the New York Times (8/16/10). It's called the Brooklyn Free Store, and as the name suggests, everything is free. Open for just six weeks, it is located on a dirt lot in a white tent under a blue tarp behind a chain link fence with a purple sign that says: Take what you want. Share what you think others may enjoy (not limited to material items)."
Naturally, there are no doors or locks at Brooklyn Free. Its organizers say the store is "intended to demonstrate the feasibility of recycling and to offer an alternative to mainstream capitalism." Items range from canned green beans to brown wingtips, "along with a used toaster oven, a flashlight and a galvanized metal bucket." It's not all junk though: Some participants have "dropped off a digital camera, an electric stove and a TiVo with a recording capacity of 40 hours."
An earlier iteration of the same concept previously operated out of a Williamsburg storefront "from 1999 to 2005." The concept is based on "the original Diggers, a group of agrarian utopians in 17th-century England." Forty years ago, modern Diggers also ran storefronts in San Francisco and New York. "New York is world renowned for having the best garbage," says Myles Emery, an organizer. "There could be free stores everywhere." This one is located on 232 Walworth St. between Dekalb and Willoughby Avenues in Bed-Stuy. ~ Tim Manners, editor.
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.