Aaron Cael

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Towards a Lazier, Less Emotionally Intense Gift Economy

#ihave / #iwant

I like free stuff. A lot. I’m a curb checker, trash picker, dumpster diver, recovering connoisseur of the Craigslist free section. Used to post to the ol’ free section quite a bit too. Got some hearty handshakes and a few six packs out of it as I shed vintage video equipment and futon frames and complicated memories.

While Craig and his List have been so good to so many and yes, Freecycle and OurGoods also exist, from time to time there comes a stirring in my soul for something that works a little more elegantly to reroute the good stuff to people who need/want/hoard it.

I started thinking in earnest about this back around when the Brooklyn Free Store got torched back in 2011. Since holding space for non-profit-driven things was so hard (and occasionally subject to violent response/arson) what about a Virtual Free Store parasitic on other existing networks for such exchange?

One thing with multiple plugins, rolled out in stages.

1: a hastag
Piggyback on Twitter:
#ihave 2 cans blue paint
#iwant winter jacket black
2: A search engine that searches freecycle, twitter hashtags, craigslist free section
3: map mashup on site. Connections to community orgs that need volunteers and give things/services. A hub.advertise this with stickers, flyers, etc
post free stuff on craigslist with a link to this network

if successful and expenses mount, allow sponsorship from individuals and organizations. No ads, just a simple ‘Jane Gooddall sponsored us this month’

Then, move into other means of organizing efficient consumption/non-consumption:

Ad-Hoc Co-Op buying – getting together with a dozen interested parties who have certain shared needs for foodstuffs on a regular basis. Semi-nonperishable stuff. Flour, nuts, beans, protein flakes, raisins and the like. Bottom-up/Swarming Groupon, basically.
What Can I Do With This? Meal/Project suggester – Scan an item’s barcode or type in the name of a thing and it suggests a recipe or project you can do with it.
Scan: natural peanut butter. Suggest: Thai peanut noodles
Type in: bottle jack Suggest: apple cider press

Etc, etc.

The tricky bit would be the initial promotional phase. Getting momentum. If someone starts searching #ihave tags and comes up with little that’s satisfying, that first impression is blown. Would love to hear other ideas in this vein.