Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stories: Strangers Connecting Over Free Stuff

After the last Free Swap, I noticed that another blogger (previously unknown to me) had linked to my blog.  I was curious about the connection and so I checked it out.  Over at I was surprised and delighted by what I found.

Amanda of Burlap and Denim is a talented interior designer/stylist.  She can put a creative spin on anything she may have on hand or find on her journey.  The post that included the link to my blog was all about a re-do on an item that she found—for free—at the Orem Free Swap in June.  She turned a tattered cloth backpack into a decorative pillow for her son’s surfer-themed bedroom.  Read it here.

At first reading, I was pleased that she came, participated and found something that she could use.  That was the whole idea.  Then as I kept reading I noticed that the subject of the project—the backpack—had been mine! 

I was so pleased to see that the idea—that is, people giving and receiving each other’s things—worked.  To know that something I no longer used could be infused with new energy and be given a second chance at life was quite satisfying. 

Our stuff has stories to tell.  That moment—when two strangers swap tales about the life of something they both shared—is . . . well, magical.

That bag’s life started in the Philippines, where my brother lived for 2 years (yup, as a Mormon missionary).  He brought it back for me.  That was around 1992 or 1993.  I used it over the years for various things—probably over-used it and that’s why it got tattered.  Over time I realized that it was spending most of its time in storage.  So, come Free Swap time I bid it farewell and passed it along.  That was the end of my story with it.

But the beginning of Amanda’s story.  And her surfer son.

Who knows what adventures it will have next?

This kind of thing fascinates me.  Community members connecting in the simplest ways.  Stories.  Stuff.  Sharing.  Our collective humanity is richer in these intersections of storylines.  I am hoping to gather Free Swap stories to eventually post over at the community free s:w.a.p. blog.  If anyone wishes to share such stories, please email me at

Come to the free swap on Saturday, September, 29th, 9 am to 1 pm at the Orem City Center Park—on Center Street, midway between State Street and 400 East.  Find items in your homes that are ready to have new adventures or come and find new-to-you items that may have their own history, to which you will add another chapter.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Orem Fall Free S:w.a.p. Coming Soon

Because the response to the June Free Swap was so positive, I decided to organize one more before the cold sets in.  (My plan—at this point—is to organize two free swaps each year, the first Saturday in June and the last Saturday in September.)  Though, as before, pretty much anything goes, I would like to place a special emphasis on items like children’s winter coats, boots, and other cold-weather gear.  Children usually grow out of their winter clothing before those items lose their usefulness.  If you have winter gear that can still keep a child warm, please consider bringing it to the swap.

I talked to one woman at the last event who said that she found some items that she would save for the children’s Christmas presents.  So, gift ideas could be another motivation for participants—either as they clear out possible gifts to bring to the swap or as they look around at what others bring.

Here’s the information for this next event:

Saturday, September 29, 2012, from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Orem City Center Park Rotary Pavilion 
(on Center Street, midway between State Street and 400 East) 

Donations are welcome—from furniture and home d├ęcor to sporting equipment and winter gear.  (Please limit donations to items that can be carried by one or two people; nothing that needs special moving equipment—i.e. dollies for refrigerators, etc.)  Simply bring them to the free swap and then stay and browse the rest of the selection for anything that you could use.  

NOTE: There is *no* requirement to donate to benefit from the offerings—please take what you can use.

All shoppers are welcome, but not required, to bring food bank items to be collected for later delivery to the community Food Bank in Provo.

Looking to volunteer?  Please contact  
Or simply show up and be ready to work.