Swap Party Revisited

Transition South Lantau is finally shaking itself into life as we emerge from this – for Hong Kong – interminable winter. It’s only been cold in relation to what we normally get here during the winter months, but it will still be good to see plants putting on a spurt as the days warm up. So, to celebrate Spring I thought it was time to have another Swap Party, as it’s been months and months since our last one.
The idea is to bring along any items that are in good condition which are no longer wanted, so that you can swap them for items that other people bring along that you do want. You get a token for each thing you bring, whether it’s a book or a microwave oven. Everything is counted equal: no prejudice, no class distinctions, no male or female, no superiority or inferiority! Each token entitles you to one item from whatever has been brought by other people. Everything gets spread out on the tables, loosely sorted, and you go around choosing what you want, and handing in a token for each item you take. It couldn’t be easier. No money exchanges hands, but you do manage to get rid of stuff you no longer want, whilst picking up some great bargains to take home. In fact, they’re not even bargains, they’re just free. Books, clothes, electrical goods, DVDs and CDs, knick-knacks, kids’ toys, games, anything at all as long as it’s in good condition and complete. We trust people to abide by these conditions, and so far people have always done so. Anything that is left over gets donated to PALS, the local charity which rescues and finds homes for abandoned and stray dogs.

Swapping stuff is the rationale for the parties: it helps us keep useful items in circulation, moving them from those that don’t need them to those that do; and it keeps stuff out of the landfills. But also we hope that it enables people to feel a certain pleasure at giving and receiving without counting the cost: the act itself is rewarding, and much of the pleasure comes from the complete disregard for the individual ‘value’ of each item. Thus the event is a way of replacing the unhealthy, obsessive consumerism that we can all see in the shopping malls every weekend, should you choose to do so, with a somewhat more healthy form of consumerism that helps to forge links with others in the community. On top of that, it’s good fun! Bring your children, meet old acquaintances, make new friends, and stay for two hours or just ten minutes, it doesn’t matter. Come and enjoy yourself.
Julie and Rachel, who run the China Beach Club Restaurant, where we usually hold our Swap Parties, not only allow us to use the Club’s premises for free, but they also deal with passing on the leftover items to PALS. We’re enormously grateful to them for being so supportive of our activities, as they also allow us to show films there for free. It would be good if everyone showed a bit of gratitude in return by at least buying a drink while they are there, or even trying some of the splendid, homemade food that is available.

The Swap Party will be on Saturday 17 March, 2012 from 4pm – 6pm at The China Beach Club, 18 Tong Wan Tau Road, Mui Wo, Lantau. Follow the path that takes you along by the beach and around the bay until you come to The China Beach Club on the waterfront, with brightly coloured awnings on the first floor. You can’t miss it. See you there.

Don Latter


About transitionsl

I've been an English teacher for the best part of 30 years, teaching in England, Tanzania, Brunei, Australia and Hong Kong. I've always been interested in nature and environmental issues, but it was the discovery of Peak Oil about five years ago that galvanised me into trying to help my local community to prepare for what will be a dramatically different world to the one many of us have been used to. I've been helping to run a transition group, following the guidelines created by Rob Hopkins's Transition Movement in the UK. This blog is an attempt to engage in discussion with a wider group of people in Hong Kong on the ways to transition from our current oil dependency to a state of fossil-free local resilience.
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