Not your average, ordinary, kind of Facebook yard sale group
Monday, January 18, 2021
Courtesy of Tunde Paraczai
Ironically, Paroczai had nothing to give away when she started GEHW, so she called on friends who she knew had things to pass on. "My husband was a little surprised when he saw the garage," she laughed.
It was the Kitchen Aid mini-mixer that got everyone’s attention. Powder blue. Three years old. Mint condition. And … free.
“Oh my God! Can you believe there’s a Kitchen Aid?” gushed Renata Storck, an image/style consultant and mom of two from Horizon West, the sprawling new community development that spans Windermere and Winter Garden. “Everybody wants that.”
Well, at least 81 people anyway, really wanted the mixer. But unlike most Facebook groups dedicated to passing stuff you don’t want to someone who does, being first to comment doesn’t grant you automatic dibs.To keep things fair, the mixer’s owner waited a full week to give everyone a chance to get a gander at the coveted Kitchen Aid. Then she planned a drawing to choose the lucky recipient. That gave everyone an equal shot, whether they were the first to comment or the eighty-first.
That’s the way they do it in Gift Economy of Horizon West (GEHW) where the emphasis is on giving freely: no money, no expectations, no strings allowed.
The group’s “About” section explains: In a gift economy the more you give the richer you are. The purpose of this group is to function as a space where we can give and receive the material items we no longer use or want, to one of our neighbors without bringing money into the equation. A gift economy strengthens bonds, builds community and friendships, as well as reduces consumption and waste.
Inspired by the Buy Nothing movement, which promotes building communities around neighbors sharing and recycling what they need and want rather than buying it, GEHW was started by Tunde Paroczai, a new arrival to Horizon West, just after the New Year.
“I was part of a Buy Nothing group in New York,” said Paroczai in a phone interview. “My children and I made a lot of friendships through the group. When we moved here, I looked into joining another group, but because of how far we are, I was not accepted. I thought about starting my own, but Buy Nothing has a lot of rules that I don’t necessarily agree with and don’t feel are always in the best interest of building community, so I figured I would start my own group, do things my way, and see how it works out.”
She’s off to an auspicious start. Within three days, 180 people had joined her group, and more are awaiting approval. Anyone in Horizon West may join. “I want people to be close to each other when they’re picking up things so they can meet neighbors and make connections,” said the Hungarian native. "I’m hoping to meet new people because we left everybody behind in New York when we moved here.”
What can you find in GEHW? “Anything legal,” said Paroczai. In other words, this isn’t your Purple Haze hookup ... unless you’re actually looking for a Jimi Hendrix album. But you will find the usual household stuff, hashtagged #gift and #ask. Paroczai envisions services being asked for and offered as well: babysitting, resume burnishing, dog walking, grocery pickup. “It just has to be given for free,” she emphasized. “It’s not like I watch your daughter for a day, you watch my daughter for a day. The gift is without any strings attached.”
More than the exchange of goods, Paroczai’s ultimate goal is fostering a sense of community where people really do feel connected to their neighbors. “When you pick up a gift, maybe you chat with a person you otherwise wouldn’t cross roads with, so you meet new people, make new friends, build a community that’s able to help each other if they need,” she said.
As for that Kitchen Aid, Commenter Number 23 got to take it home.