My goodness, that there is so much happening around here!
Over the last eighteen months since the Community GATE was founded, we have seen amazing things. While the concept of gifting economies is not a new one, the concept of neighbors coming together to make their communities stronger and more vibrant beyond the elements of sharing "stuff" just might be the re-introduction of a norm that has all but vanished in our modern culture. Let's face it, in today's society people tend toward remaining separate and independent of each other, often to their own loss. We have become such a fractured society, intent on personal agendas and "minding our own business" to the point that we often have no idea what happens in our own neighborhoods...even right next door. But the Community GATE is an effort to change all that, if only in this community where it all began! "How is the GATE so different from other groups that encourage gifting items and community sharing", you ask? Let me explain...
When any organization says their activities are "not about the stuff", that their real goals community cohesiveness, yet they prohibit other discussions in their forums outside of the topic of gifting and receiving items or services...well, they just made it "all about the stuff", didn't they? Or when all interactions are expected to pass through the hallowed portals of the local group's facebook forum, again it has become "item-focused" because forum discussions are limited by rules. Don't get me wrong, we love the ease with which members can communicate with the entire group through our facebook forums! Social media is a valuable tool that provides a convenient stepping stone for meeting folks in our area...but it is not the end-all in-all of communication and it is a joy to see so many of our members enjoying solid friendships with folks they met through their forum interactions. THAT is the goal: People coming together, establishing friendships in their local community, and those communities becoming stronger and more vibrant as a result. THAT is how the Community GATE differs from other organizations who claim the same goals, and as my mother used to say, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating"! We know that what we are doing works because we are living it every day.
We now have five local Facebook groups where members can make connections and enjoy seeing how a gifting and sharing experience works in real life! By sharing our used items that would otherwise go into a landfill or an overpriced thrift store, we take cash out of the equation and meet the needs of our neighbors directly. In the process, our neighborhoods become safer and more cohesive because we actually become acquainted with those around us! We also share our small businesses, home/cottage industries, and special skills with each other, so we can support each other in many varied ways. Many of our members have hired new employees, embarked on new business ventures, developed new skills, and found a great number of needs met through connections with other GATE members.
Also on our agenda is to develop this website into a resource of information. For example, you might have every good intention of reducing waste, but you might need some creative ideas about re-using particular items. Our "4 Vital R's" page will help with that! Or you might be new to gardening and you need some help with composting questions. Perhaps you have limited space and you would like to try container gardening. Our Gardening and Food Security area overflows with helpful information and articles to get you going!
Along the way we strive to provide resource links, as well as adding a section for local small businesses and Artisans to have their contact information available. And of course, our Community Events and Resources section will showcase local events to enjoy as we are out and about in our neighborhoods, as well as organizations in place to serve those in need.
So you see, we have many high and lofty goals! Chief among them is to keep this Gate propped open so that we can easily welcome all who travel through. We are always open to suggestions and input, so feel free to email us any time!