More

He wanted to do something beautiful for his dying wife. The Buy Nothing Project delivered.

People join for the free stuff, but they stay for the community.

He wanted to do something beautiful for his dying wife. The Buy Nothing Project delivered.

He wanted something beautiful to welcome his dying wife home for the last time.

When the man, who will remain anonymous by request, thought about bringing his dying wife home from the hospital, he wished for something beautiful there to greet her.

Hospital bills are pricey and he knew he couldn't afford to bring his dream to life. So, unable to make it happen himself, he posted his wish to a Facebook group in his local community.


And lo and behold, when the man and his wife pulled into their driveway, they were shocked and delighted to find that their neighbors had filled the porch with hundreds and hundreds of beautiful flower bouquets.

This photo, provided by the Buy Nothing Project, shows just a few of the bouquets that began showing up on the man's porch the day he brought his wife home.

The Facebook group that the man posted to? It's called the Buy Nothing Project. And it's so much bigger than just random acts of kindness and generosity.

Buy Nothing Project co-founder Rebecca Rockefeller says that the idea for the group originally started two years ago with something really simple: a bunch of green beans.

Rockefeller had a small yard with lots of shade, and was frustrated to find that the only thing her garden would grow was green beans. So she turned to her friend (and BNP co-founder) Liesl Clark, who offered to toss some of her own vegetables into a communal basket.

Soon other friends were pitching in, too. They traded bread for eggs, and vegetables for milk. But Rockefeller wanted to take it one step beyond trading. "I remember thinking: What if we did this not as a trade, but as a thing where literally anyone who comes to the local park can just grab what they need from a big table?" That was two years ago.

Today, the Buy Nothing Project is a worldwide social experiment — all about giving.

There are more than 1,000 Buy Nothing Project Facebook groups where 500,000 people offer up goods and services to their neighbors, all for free.

In this photo, a group of high schoolers joins a psychologist in a group bonding activity. The psychologist volunteered her time, through the Buy Nothing Project, to talk about difficult issues with the students. Photo via Liesl Clark.

Through the Buy Nothing Project, no money changes hands and people don't barter or trade.

Instead, they just give away things they don't need or services and skills they can offer.

"I remember thinking: What if we did this not as a trade, but as a thing where literally anyone who comes to the local park can just grab what they need from a big table?" — Rebecca Rockefeller

As Clark writes on the group's website, "[The Buy Nothing Project is] a Facebook group that'll give you a hands-on chance to take part in a social movement spreading across the country, enabling people and communities to commit episodic acts of daily good together."

Rockefeller says that people come to the Buy Nothing Project because of the free stuff ... at first.

"Let's be perfectly honest: Who doesn't like free stuff?" Rockefeller tells Upworthy, laughing. "They join because of the stuff. But then they stay because of the gratitude."

The Buy Nothing Project defines "giving" in broad terms and sees generosity in many forms. "It could be dinner, a class, even tree trimming," Rockefeller says.

Sometimes people give small things, like a salad dressing they bought but hated or a screw they found that doesn't fit with anything in their house. Maybe their neighbor wants the salad dressing! Or a friend might just happen to have a dresser that's missing a screw!

Sometimes people give big things, like this BNP group that came together to give a couple a wedding where almost every item came from their neighbors (for free!).

Yep, a free wedding! I know, I know. It's a thing of dreams. Photo via Buy Nothing Project.

Through BNP, people offer to teach new skills, like this local master chef who taught her neighbors to make a delicious meal.

Buy Nothing Project members take photos of the meal they prepared with the master chef in their community. Photo via Liesl Clark.

And people request acts of kindness, like this BNP member who asked for 100 birthday cards for their grandfather's 100th birthday.

"On January 13, 2015, my grandpa advances to the age of 100, and joins the centenarian club :') WOW! I'm borrowing an idea from my friend to get 100 cards to him before his birthday," a Buy Nothing Project member wrote. Photo via Buy Nothing Project Facebook page, used with permission.


Sometimes, the idea of giving is even a little more abstract and intangible, like a BNP group who enjoyed an hour of free ukulele music in Seattle.

Who doesn't love a good ukulele session? Photo via the Buy Nothing Project.

So what can we learn from the magic that is the Buy Nothing Project?

"Philosophically, we want to get people thinking differently about our stuff and our time and what we do with it," Rockefeller says.

She hopes people can learn to look at material goods as collective resources that can be shared when communities come together, rather than as commodities.

As Rockefeller explains it, this kind of communal sharing can only happen when people stop attaching their self-worth to what they own and start identifying instead with how well they give to their communities.

"To us, this whole thing is an experiment," she says. "We're watching it unfold and learning a lot about human behavior."

The biggest lesson so far? Whether it's salad dressing or flowers for a dying woman, giving can make us feel a lot more connected than receiving.

Courtesy of Back on My Feet
True

Having graduated in the top 10% of Reserve Officer Training Corp (ROTC) cadets nationwide in 2012, Pat Robinson was ready to take on a career in the Air Force full speed ahead.

Despite her stellar performance in the classroom and training grounds, Robinson feared other habits she'd picked up at Ohio University had sent her down the wrong tracks.

First stationed near Panama City, Florida, Robinson became reliant on alcohol while serving as an air battle manager student. After barnstorming through Atlanta's nightclubs on New Year's Eve, Robinson failed a drug test and lied to her commanding officer about the results.

Eleven months later, she was dismissed. Feeling ashamed and directionless, Robinson briefly returned home to Cleveland before venturing west to look for work in San Francisco.

After a brief stint working at a paint store, Robinson found herself without a source of income and was relegated to living in her car. Robinson's garbage can soon became littered with parking tickets and her car was towed. Golden Gate Park's cool grass soon replaced her bed.

"My substance abuse spiraled very quickly," Robinson said. "You name it, I probably used it. Very quickly I contracted HIV and Hepatitis C. I was arrested again and again and was finally charged and sentenced to substance abuse treatment."

Keep Reading Show less

Would Bob Dylan by another name still sing as sweet? Lost letters and interviews from Dylan are up for auction at Boston-based RR Auction, and they reveal a rare insight into the legendary singer's feelings on anti-Semitism as well as his name change.

The archives include transcripts of interviews between Dylan and American blues artist Tony Glover conducted in 1971, as well as letters exchanged between the two musicians. Some of the 37 typed pages are scrawled with handwritten notes from Dylan. "In many cases, the deletions are more telling than the additions," Bobby Livingston, the auction house's executive vice president said.

Dylan, who was born Robert Zimmerman to Jewish parents in Minnesota, discussed his name change with Glover. "I mean it wouldn't've worked if I'd changed the name to Bob Levy. Or Bob Neuwirth. Or Bob Doughnut," Dylan joked on March 22, 1971.


Keep Reading Show less
Photo courtesy of Claudia Romo Edelman
True

When the novel coronavirus hit the United States, life as we knew it quickly changed. As many people holed up in their homes, some essential workers had to make the impossible choice of going to work or quitting their jobs— a choice they continue to make each day.

Because over 80 percent of working Hispanic adults provide essential services for the U.S. economy, the Hispanic community is disproportionately affected. Hispanic families are also much more likely to live in multigenerational households, carrying the extra risk of infecting the most vulnerable. In fact, Hispanics are 20 times more likely than other patients to test positive for COVID-19.

Claudia Romo Edelman saw a community in desperate need of guidance and support. And she created Hispanic Star, a non-profit designed to help Hispanic people in the U.S. pull together as a proud, unified group and overcome barriers — the most pressing of which is the effects of the pandemic.

Because the Hispanic community is so diverse, unification is, and was, an enormous challenge.

Photo credit: Hispanic Star

Keep Reading Show less

Electing Donald Trump to be president of the United States set an incredibly ugly example for the nation's youth.

We know how it's affected the national discourse of regular adults. But there's no denying the conduct of a president impacts how children around the world see the example being set for them. Every day for the past four years, children have been subjected to the behavior of a divisive figure that many of their parents chose to exalt to the most powerful office in the world.

Sure, adults can make excuses for him saying he's an "imperfect messenger" or that they "didn't vote for him to be reverend," but these are all just ways to rationalize voting for a man with zero character. What a message to send to children: Act awful and you'll be handsomely rewarded.

But what if you took away the "Trump" name and examined the character traits of him as an ordinary person? More specifically, what if your daughter came to you and said this was the kind of person she was planning to date? Well, one MAGA family found out and the results are funny, insightful and quite revealing about how we somehow hold our leaders to different and lower standards than we expect from ourselves in our day to day lives.

Keep Reading Show less
Great Barrier Reef Coral Australia - Free photo on Pixabay

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 species of coral, along with dozens of other species. But since 1995, it's lost more than half of its corals due to warmer waters and climate change. Recently, one of those pieces of coral has been found. And it's big. It's 1,600 feet tall, to be exact, making it taller than the Empire State Building.

Not only that, but the coral is healthy and thriving. The coral has a healthy ecosystem and a "blizzard of fish," lead scientist Dr. Robin Beaman said per Reuters. "We are surprised and elated by what we have found."

Even better, the coral didn't show any evidence of damage, even though the section of the Great Barrier Reef it was found in experienced bleaching in 2016. Bleaching happens when the water gets too warm, which causes the coral to expel living algae then calcify and turn white.

Keep Reading Show less