Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch admins include (top row, from left) Christina Hornedo, Lesleigh Helders; (middle row) Brenda Ruhl, Cynthia Kurose; (bottom row) Andrea Tarczy, Thao Bang and Marites Nguyen. Not pictured are Melissa Kwan and Jennifer Parker. (courtesy of Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch)
Buy Nothing is 'sprouting'
By John Gregory

Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch, the extremely popular Facebook page in the very active Scripps Ranch social media universe, is about to multiply. It has grown so much that the members will soon be divided into three groups based on location. In Buy Nothing lingo, the Scripps Ranch group is “sprouting.”

In fact, on Sunday, Jan. 28, Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch announced the process on its Facebook page. The group will soon have a Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch North, East and South. The new groups will be open for membership beginning Wednesday, Jan. 31.

To continue with Buy Nothing, current Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch members should join the appropriate group based on where their home is located. The current Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch page has an explanation, the new geographic boundaries for the new groups and a complete set of instructions for members to join the correct group. 

Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch comments are still enabled so group members can wrap up gifting this week before joining their new group. According to the Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch Facebook page, new posts on the current page will be disabled on Friday, Feb. 2.

The important action for current members is to check the original Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch page for instructions. Scripps Ranch residents who are not yet members but want to join are also welcome.

Loyal Scripps Ranch members have expressed concern online about the upcoming change, but Lesleigh Helders, one of the experienced Buy Nothing admins, recently stated that local Buy Nothing members have nothing to worry about.

“Once it’s all done, people will see that things aren’t going to change,” Helders said. “They’re still going to have lots of stuff and meet lots people and the warm, fuzzy feeling will still be there. It will be fine.”

Helders explained that regional Buy Nothing admins know through their experience that each group should have no more than 1,000 members. Scripps Ranch Buy Nothing has grown to more than 2,300 members. Sprouting into two groups would have left both groups beyond the limit from the start, so it was decided three groups would be necessary.

“We, the admins, thought, ‘This is Scripps Ranch. We are so tight of a community. We are so awesome, we can do this.’ We felt that way until just recently,” Helders said. “Once we got to the 2,000 (member) mark, the feed on Facebook Buy Nothing, it goes so fast and starts defeating its purpose of getting to know people. You become just a number.”

To make the sprouting process possible, new Scripps Ranch admins have been recruited and trained. New admins include Christina Hornedo, Thao Bang, Melissa Kwan, Cynthia Kurose and Jennifer Parker. Veteran Scripps Ranch Buy Nothing admins are Helders, Andrea Tarczy, Marites Nguyen and Brenda Ruhl.

Admins for Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch East will be Kwan and Parker. Admins for Scripps Ranch Buy Nothing South will be Bang, Helders, Hornedo and Tarczy. Admins for Buy Nothing Scripps Ranch North will be Kurose, Nguyen and Ruhl.

“We’re trying to make it more reasonable for the people who are participating,” Helders explained. “Once we sprout, the numbers will continue to grow in each of our groups and we still plan on doing community events together, so it’s not like complete segregation. We’re still a community. We still look at it that way. The idea is that we’re going to get to know our immediate neighbors better and we’re going to have our gifting events as a community for all of us.”

Helders also explained that sprouting into smaller groups will help make the gifting process more efficient and help retain the neighborhood cohesion.

“The sprout will allow members to meet people who are just around the corner who have not posted before because the group was too large,” she said. “There will be more accountability. People who are no-shows will be less likely. Slowing down the feed kind of restores that sense of community that Buy Nothing is all about.”

The Buy Nothing Project is a global online movement organized on Facebook pages for various communities. It’s a private group, but residents living in communities such as Scripps Ranch can join locally by simply applying on Facebook. The attraction is that members may offer items they own to other nearby members free of charge. It’s a convenient way to gift things that are not being used because those who are chosen to receive an item simply pick it up. It’s also a great way for members to gain items they need or want, at absolutely no cost.

While getting or giving items is a great draw, there is a lot more to the movement. The biggest impression is the upbeat atmosphere. It’s a shining example of how social media can bring out the best in people.

“I originally joined because of the concept of the group: getting to know your neighbors through things that we already have … gifting each other things and doing things for each other … to interact with other people,” Helders explained. “It’s the strengthening of the community, that’s what drew me in.”

While there is not a leader of the local Buy Nothing, Helders is very active as an admin and organizer. She said she joined the group as a member in 2015 when there were only about 50 members in the local group. It was just getting started and wasn’t very active. Helders eventually became an admin and helped promote the group to get new members in a rather old-fashioned way considering this is a social media group.

“I became an admin in January 2016. I started working toward growing the group. I would post flyers at Starbucks and restaurants. I would post on the Scripps Ranch Facebook groups,” she said. “When we got to around 700 members, I quit posting flyers because we were growing so fast and the recommended size of a Buy Nothing group is around 1,000.”

Helders said she would cut tabs with the Facebook address in her flyers so people could tear them off and take them home. She thought it was funny when people would send her a cell phone photo of a flyer with all the tabs gone, and ask for a new flyer.

She explained that people first connect through their intent to gift or receive a product, but they often find something in common and soon begin to chat, often beginning friendships. It’s not rare for members to come to the aid of someone in need or to begin a collection of items for a worthy cause.

“When you go to that page, it’s like witnessing random acts of kindness daily,” Helders said. “The way it makes you feel is amazing.”