How can a Facebook page help keep Hyde Park beautiful? When it contributes to sustainability by keeping perfectly good yet unwanted items out of landfills, AND, in the process, helps build friendships and a sense of community. Amanda Coen and Diana Ferrara had an idea for the page and turned it into a reality with Give & Get in Hyde Park. As if that wasn’t enough, they also started the Hyde Park Snowball Fight, spreading holiday cheer throughout the community! Amanda and Diana are perfect examples of the impact each and every one of us can have when we have an idea to “beautify” our community and then act on it.
Read their story here:
~Interview by Cathy Horn~
How long have you lived in Hyde Park?
Diana- My whole life minus a few years in my early twenties.
Amanda- I grew up in West Roxbury and have live in Hyde Park almost 2 years.
How did you get the idea to start the Give & Get in Hyde Park (formerly Buy Nothing Hyde Park) Facebook group and how did you get it started?
Diana- I came across Buy Nothing on a mom blog that I follow and decided to look into it. I really liked the idea of being part of a community where real people would use the things I no longer wanted, so I looked for a local group. The closest group was Roslindale, but because I did not live in that zip code they would not let me join. So, I decided to be the local admin for Hyde park and start the Facebook group.
What was/is your vision for the group? What are the benefits of this kind of community forum?
We want to build a community of Hyde Parkers who are helping each other get rid of their things and share among the community. Through this we reduce waste and unnecessary spending, and bring people together at the same time. Group member Jesse Farren-James recently posted about what the site has meant to her, and it really sums up what the Give & Get page is all about!:
“I love this site. I love it for practical reasons, for the “reduce, reuse, recycle” aspect... I love sharing and letting go of items with my guilt alleviated since they will be used and given new life... and I love that sometimes you get a treasure so glorious and amazing and unique like this one! We will give this item a lot of love! Thank you so much!”
(Unique item, and Jesse’s appreciative son, pictured below)
In what ways has Give & Get been successful? In what ways has it been challenging?
The page has been successful in having a growing group of members who work together to move things from homes where they are underused to homes that will appreciate them. It seems easier for people to get rid of things when they know they are going to a loving home within their community. We feel like connections in the community have been made that wouldn't be made without this group.
One challenge is helping members adhere to the free stuff philosophy and not selling items or recommending stores when items are requested. We would also like to think of a way to encourage people to give to each other face-to-face instead of the porch pick-up pattern that is most common. We have found it challenging to manage the personal issues that arise because we are both busy moms and not always on Facebook. We try to keep the page as drama free as possible and this can be challenging when we are busy ourselves.
You recently changed the name of the group and took it outside the "Buy Nothing" network. What were your reasons for doing so?
The Buy Nothing Group founders focused solely on a philosophy of micro-local giving where you could eventually have groups in such a small area that direct neighbors would be the only people in a single forum. This philosophy proved problematic in many ways, the biggest of which has to do with making groups smaller makes them more racially and socioeconomically divided. The founders, who lived on a small island off of Seattle, were forcing Boston neighborhood groups to split along lines they drew based on street patterns and not based on already built communities. We did not want Hyde Park to be split at all, because we are one terrific community all together. We felt it was best to keep the rules and guidance coming from someone within our community rather than listening to leadership from a person who had never been to Hyde park, let alone understood what our community needed. We still focus on the local aspect of sharing, but we have expanded our philosophy to think about reducing waste, helping the community, and bringing the amazing diverse members of our community together.
What are your future plans for the group? Have you considered expanding the scope, or are you happy with it the way it is?
We are happy the way it is, but we would love to have events where people in the group could come together. We dream of hosting a “buy nothing yard NOT sale” where members can have blankets or tables of things and everyone in the community is invited to come and get what they want or need. It would be a great way to bring our community together and have a big trade off of things.
Aside from managing this group, are the two of you involved in the community in other ways?
We have both tried to bring toddler and baby activities to Hyde Park through art classes and playgroups at the Community Center with the help of Michelle Consalvo. The playgroup is on Wednesdays from 9:30-11am at the Muni and we would love to see new faces there! (This is actually how we met and became good friends and now our daughters Isabella & Julia are best friends!) Diana is involved in the Roosevelt School Parent Council where her middle child attends school, and Amanda teaches part-time at the Boston Renaissance School. Diana is the friendly face from Antonio’s Bacaro where she works part-time. She also spearheaded the first Hyde Park Touch-a-Truck event two years ago alongside Pat Tierney and Brian Allieri and then continued it as part of the family day event for Hyde Park’s 150th celebration. We also came together to start the Hyde Park Snowball Fight where we gifted small surprise gifts to 12 houses throughout Hyde Park in hopes that those people could also gift to members of our community creating a snowball effect and bringing a little holiday cheer into our community.
Wow, I had no idea the two of you were behind the Snowball Fight! That was such a great idea and it really contributed to the “beauty” of living in Hyde Park! What advice do you have for others who might have an idea that could benefit the community?
We wanted to do something nice for the community during the holiday season and who doesn’t want a tiny little gift on their doorstep to spread the holiday cheer? If you have an idea, just go for it! This is a great, accepting community and anything you do will be embraced and enjoyed by those around you.
Nominate yourself or someone in the community for a future Humans of Hyde Park story; nominees can remain anonymous in the story or use their first name only if they prefer: https://goo.gl/forms/qgTj1Rh8t2bSbh973.
Quiana first came to Boston as a college student, graduating from Wellesley College in 2002 and returned in 2016 to live in Hyde Park with her husband and two children.