News

News, events, and articles for the Catalyst Network of Communities.

The Monthly Shareholders Meeting

The Monthly Shareholders Meeting
By Rasheta Driver

Remember when you were younger and you were forced to share your toys with the other kids? If your experience was anything like mine, the situation probably resulted in a temper tantrum on your part and an adult saying something like, “You have to share.” Then, they would pry your sticky little fingers off of your favorite toy and hand it to your classmate. As a kid, all my experiences with sharing weren’t the most pleasant, but they did eventually become rewarding in my eyes when I began to see how the other kids enjoyed playing with my toys as much as I did. Sharing is something most of us are taught early on and is a concept we sometimes forget as we progress through life.

Photo by Tracie Rodriguez

Last month, I attended an event that reminded me about the importance of sharing and the benefits it has in bringing people together as a community. Catalyst holds an event every month called the Seven-Ten Swap where everyone is invited from the community to come out and participate in exchanging gently used items all while eating and enjoying each other’s company.

Jewell Faamaligi, a coordinator of the event, explained, “It builds community in that we tie people to the area. People come from all over. They are coming around a shared interest (sharing, swapping) but they are also connecting to larger things like Long Beach and things that are going on here.”

The Seven-Ten Swap has been happening on the third Friday every month and the community is celebrating its four year anniversary on July 18, 2014 at 6:30pm at 641 Pine Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802. It has inspired many people across Long Beach to come together as a community.

 Photo by Tracie Rodriguez

Photo by Tracie Rodriguez

“This is a piece of society that I believe most major cities have lost touch with,” said Pastor Brent Williams, an attendee of the event. “It represents people of different backgrounds coming together,” he continued.

Williams also stated how this event is completely different from any other he has attended.  There are people of different backgrounds, viewpoints, and age groups gathered together in this small communal space.

In business, shareholders own a piece of a company. But here these shareholders are demonstrating what it looks like to collectively own the community together - by giving and sharing and engaging with one another. The Seven-Ten Swap is like the monthly shareholders meeting for the community.

Sharon Moiseiff, another coordinator of the event, elaborated on the impact events like these has on the community. “This is important because we don’t do this enough and we should be doing this all the time. It’s not like charity. It’s different and there are no expectations about giving and receiving. People show up and become more open to sharing,” she said. “People initially attend the event hoping to gain material possessions, and they do, but they also make friends and become closer to Long Beach as a community.”  

“It means a lot of giving and sharing. There’s no way we can turn our backs on one another,” said Gwen H., frequent attendee and volunteer of the event. She described her feelings towards sharing as positive ones and explained she feels the event exemplifies a pay it forward message which we could all apply to our daily lives.

When I left this event last month, I took away a healthier outlook towards sharing because it made me realize how easy it is to band together as a community over something as simple as sharing food and clothing. The people around me and the kindness they showed towards one another represents the closeness of a community that I had not seen in a while.  I’ll be happy to see it again this coming Friday at the anniversary celebration.


Rasheta Driver is new to the Long Beach area and is a full time student attending California State University, Long Beach. She is an intern with Catalyst Network of Communities and hopes to become a positive influence on the community by connecting with the people of Long Beach.


Sharing Reciprocally to Build Community

Sharing Reciprocally to Build Community
by Sharon Moiseiff

When I first encountered the concept of a Human Library, I thought to myself “wow that is a cool idea!”  I had seen articles that spoke about people sharing stories, opening up, and showing genuine interest in just listening to others talk about their lives.  

I was also skeptical.  I couldn’t imagine that it would be easy for people to just open up to others and share so much about themselves. I didn’t think that it would be easy to get people to show up ready to ask questions and show genuine interest and just listen.  I thought that it could be hard on both ends of this for people to truly engage in this kind of activity because I think most people are not accustomed to approaching others in that way. I would suppose that most people are more closed off and put up barriers.

Photo by Mehriya Jashniya Sidiqi

I’ve participated in a lot of Sharing Events and I can see parallels between sharing stories and sharing material items.  Working with the Long Beach Free Store project through Catalyst, we set up opportunities for people to come together to simply share with each other.  We learned that  we could encourage people to make deeper connections and have meaningful interactions with each other by creating an environment for people to share.  And that’s what we saw happening every time. They shared!   

At the same time, there is still apprehension.  There are always some who are reserved about the giving, and they hold back.  On the other end, there are also people who are reluctant to receive. Some feel uncomfortable about getting something that is freely given.

The thing about sharing is – for it to REALLY work, it has to be reciprocal.  People who come together to share need to be open and ready to both freely give and receive.  They don’t need to feel guarded or regret about letting go.  It’s okay to reach out and offer what we have.  They don’t need to feel uncomfortable or guilty about receiving; it’s okay to accept graciously.  When we are all committed to reciprocal sharing, all of our needs are met and we can feel good about knowing that our community as a whole has become all the more better.

Photo by Tracie Rodriguez

So when I saw the Human Library event in Long Beach actually happen, I was pleasantly surprised to see that I was wrong about my initial skepticism.  As a volunteer I was able to work behind-the-scenes and just observe what was going on. What I saw was exactly what I always hope to see at any sharing event. People were openly, freely, and eagerly sharing. It was reciprocal. The sharing of stories went both ways and everyone seemed excited about it.

 

**Editors Note:

For another opportunity to share, come by the 4th anniversary event of the monthly Seven-Ten Swap hosted by the Long Beach Free Store on Friday, July 18, 2014 at 6:30pm for a community exchange and potluck. The location is 641 Pine Avenue, Long Beach, CA 90802. Find more info on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/events/1504489139766876/.


Sharon Moiseiff is a sharing economy, gift economy, collaborative consumption, alternative economy enthusiast. She is founder of the Long Beach Free Store, Board of Director for Catalyst Network of Communities, and advisory board member of the Whittier Time Bank.