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Julie Cook Kitchener September 23, 2021
Hi everyone,

Though the pandemic, lockdowns, and vaccine passports have created a lot of social tension, it is inspiring to know that many people have found creative ways to build community and engage in acts of kindness through it all. There's a heartwarming story from The Guardian in the UK demonstrating that the pandemic boosted sharing behaviours via online and offline swap shops. The online FreeCycle network saw its posts increase by 50% in June 2020. Those sharing behaviours have been sustained as they emerge from lockdown.

I'm curious to know the extent to which this is true in other countries as well. Here in my city, Kitchener-Waterloo (Ontario, Canada), there is an online swap shop similar to FreeCycle, called "Buy Nothing KW", that has over 7000 members. We also have a number of little free libraries on people's lawns, some focusing on Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) writers. I even saw recently a small cabinet on someone's lawn that had free non-perishable food and household supplies in it. 

These kinds of initiatives have multiple social and environmental benefits: they save money for those who are cash-strapped, they keep items out of landfill, and they foster community connections, which is so important for mental health. I hope you'll explore your own local community to see how people are building resilience in your area.