“Waste not, want not,” as the old saying goes. Mommy’s old saying rings true with members of Ithaca’s Share Tompkins sustainability group, who are firm believers in practicing what they preach through their community swaps.
On Sunday the Ithaca community is welcome to the Ithaca Sound Maze from 1 to 4 p.m. to participate in Share Tompkins’ Community Sound Swap. Attendees can bring anything from new CDs to old cassettes, violins to electric guitars and amps to trade with their neighbors at the sound-themed swap.
Shira Golding, co-founder of Share Tompkins, said there will be something for everyone at the Sound Swap. Participants are encouraged to bring sound-related items that are personally crafted or locally produced to trade or give away.
Before the swappers begin trading, Golding said each person lists the items he or she brought and can address anything specific he or she may be looking for.
“The swaps are similar to a community round table,” she said. “In this way, everyone leaves with something they need.”
The Ithaca Sound Maze is participating in and hosting the event. Owner Christianne McMillan-White said she is willing to give corn to people who enter the maze.
“We have the ears of corn,” she said. “We just need the ears of humans.”
Made up of three generations of farm materials, the Ithaca Sound Maze has reused sinks, soup terrines and blades from a harrow as musical instruments. White said the maze is collaborative and open-ended, which creates a good environment for musicians and non-musicians alike.
“People find when they get into the maze they start listening more carefully,” White said. “It’s a kind of different sensory experience.”
White said she hopes participants gain a greater appreciation of sound and the purpose of the maze.
“I’ve never been to a share before,” White said. “But it is right in line with our theme of reusing stuff that’s too good to get rid of.”
Committing to reuse on all levels, McKenzie Jones-Rounds, one of the core organizers of free market events and community swaps for Share Tompkins, is responsible for taking care of leftovers from the Sound Swap. She said any surplus is going to benefit local businesses, such as Hickey’s Music or Ithaca Guitar Works.
Golding said the mission of this volunteer-based group is to help people find ways to share virtually anything by bringing together all the “haves and wants” of Tompkins County. She said the group’s operation is something she’s proud of.
“We like the fact that we’re able to do things pretty much with very little money and with all volunteers,” she said.
As a Cornell student, Golding was inspired by the community’s sustainable vision and returned to the area to pursue founding Share Tompkins.
“Ithaca has a well-documented tradition of being really progressive and community-minded and specifically being creative about the sharing of resources,” she said. “There’s so much great stuff going on, so [we] keep playing with this methodology.”
Golding said Share Tompkins has focused on locally produced items since its beginning, which fosters microeconomics and free aid as well as a sense of community. With an emphasis on human connections, these events develop a more sustainable and connected society.
“The second you start creating these opportunities it’s so exciting,” she said. “Not only are you sharing and bartering at the events but we also have an e-mail list where people are constantly sharing needs.”
After experiencing the value of sharing through the online sustainability list-serve, Golding said she will look to incorporate a social media component to the Share Tompkins website. The sustainably-minded people of Tompkins County will be able to post their needs and continue to swap outside of these events.
“It would be like a social network,” she said. “You would create a circle of friends that you trust and know, and within that group your haves and wants will be communicated.”
Golding said she hopes someday people recognize surpluses and take advantage of those around them to help meet local needs.
“It’s about taking these old ideas, which really get at human nature and our desire to share and not just compete,” Golding said. “I hope to live in a society where we don’t need to have events to share but that it’s just commonplace.”