A group in Greenfield, MA that calls themselves “The Neighbors” has been meeting monthly for four years. They incorporate fun and food into their monthly meetings –and have a lengthy check-in at each meeting. They spend time learning together, engaging in mutual aid, and inspiring one another to learn new habits in order to live in a new economy with ecological limits. “We start every meeting by singing,” said one member named Sandra. “Then we have a check-in and discussion.” The Neighbors have read books together, watched documentaries, and generally helped each other out. When members have faced health challenges, they’ve taken turns cooking and accompanying one another to the hospital. Several members started or expanded gardens. “We had a work weekend for one member when she wanted to clear land for a garden plot. We all showed up with saws and shovels to clear the plot.” In addition to their monthly meeting, The Neighbors have a monthly game night usually attended by at least half the group. “This is fun and affordable entertainment,” said Sandra. “Early on we created a list,” said a member named Tom. At 82, he is the oldest member and lives in elder housing in an apartment building. “We identified things we could share and things we needed. These included tools, skills, copy machines, kayaks, and other services.” “The spirit of our exchanges are gifting and sharing,” reflected Tom. “We admire the time bank and time dollars approach, but don’t want to spend all the time keeping score.”
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