Bolinas Free Box

The Bolinas Free Box is a cultural landmark in the town of Bolinas, California. For more than thirty years, it has been a place where locals have dropped off items they no longer needed or wanted -- clothing, books, appliances, bicycles, and the like -- and other locals have stopped by to browse, in hopes of emerging with a treasure, or at least something useful. Several generations of Bolinas children have been raised with wardrobes coming mostly from the Free Box.
The original Bolinas Free Box was established almost by accident in 1974. Late one night as they were hurriedly preparing to move out of Bolinas, a young couple dumped a dozen or so large cardboard boxes filled with books, clothes etc. into the unlocked side vestibule of the Bolinas Community Center. When morning came, it was apparent to passers-by that there were some nice things in this soon-messy load of miscellaneous stuff. A local musician named Dharma Badger took it upon himself to organize everything neatly, and make small signs denoting where each kind of item should be placed: trousers, shirts, skirts, shoes, books, and so on. By the end of the first day, several other local citizens had deposited bags and boxes of their own unneeded items, which other locals quickly came and picked through, and thus the Free Box was inaugurated as an essential institution of Bolinas.
From 1974-1976, the Free Box was located in the Community Center vestibule. When the Bolinas People's Store, or co-op, was formed behind the Community Center in 1976, the Free Box moved to the co-op's shed on the side of the building. By 1985, however, the co-op needed to expand into that space, so the Free Box was moved to another shed, especially built for it, between the co-op and the Community Center, where it has remained up to the present time.
From the start, there were occasionally problems with the quality of the "merchandise" that was left in the Free Box. Sometimes people have abandoned trash bags filled with ripped sheets, single shoes, and totally warped record albums. There were urine soaked mattresses, TV sets with the screens kicked in, empty mayonnaise jars and dead light bulbs.
Another problem was that vagrants sometimes took up residence in the Free Box, sitting inside drinking beer all day, and intimidating locals who wished to look through the box.
The most common (and still ongoing) problem, though, is that people sift through the Free Box without any regard for keeping it neat and organized.
When any of these kinds of incidents begin to seem a bit out of control, numerous tirades and opinion pieces are soon published in the town's local newspaper, the Bolinas Hearsay News. The Free Box's door may be padlocked for a week or two by the co-op's workers, and then a group of volunteers will emerge with promises to clean the place up and to monitor it more frequently.

Comments (1)
1. 10-02-2015 20:36
Me Cuz wrote to to me bout the Freebox, did is vat I sets to her: 
January 29 at 7:33am ยท  
Hi , my local town is opening up a Time Bank. I was looking up what it meant and found that they reference the Bolinas Free Box. Are you still working on that project? 
Hi , this Harvest the Freebox. Here's the thing. Its ongoing work. Collaborative non judgmental volunteerism. The problem? The corruption. Follow the money. Wait Freebox money? Yeah. I know. Its wrong. That's why I detract from the "Freebox Follies" an event to raise money for the Freebox. What wait, money? Yeah. I know. Its so vain, so far from the purpose, yet now acceptable. Yeah I know...WAIT. right? The idea of the Freebox = clothes for kids on the street in winter. Point blank. Or sleeping bags for example...or items for the kitchen for poor moms or dads, gadgets for people living in cars etc... So now even after all the pickers go thru the piles (the community center) still pays a local worker to drive the regular EXCESS of stuff, a full truck load, away to the dump. This after the people who go there regularly to get crap to sell online, or those who go there to get stuff to send to the Philippines, and of course the regular local folks who pick thru regularly, there's is still an abundance left over that its kind of a problem. Ie. The dump runs. It can be a problem with the sheer tonnage. So over the years people, on the community center board have wanted to turn the Freebox into a for profit thrift store. Their attempts have been countless. That is how the Freebox Follies actually got started, sort of satisfying those who would turn the Freebox into a store, it was the"Freebox Follies a benefit for the Freebox" The latest of many a benefit for the Freebox that end in embezzlement. So Petty. Like all those "benefits for a playground" that never ever got built. Remember? All held by the community center board members. So do we need a Freebox anti corruption party? Yeah, I know. Ha ha. The follies thing is so gross and lame to me. Worse that I feel like the odd one out to kinda mention this, especially when people (over last few years) have been like, "hey you totally have to be in the Freebox Follies" Which is like a wannabe Hollywood cat walk fashion show. Hyper Sexualizing clothes or items is intimidating to me, plus so weird when its about the Freebox which is supposed to be about compassion not fashion. So this Freebox Follies event coming up next Saturday, which is straight up just advertizing for $15 at the door and whoa! $5 for kids!!! And this time does not bother to say how the monies will be appropriated...Cause its a given, and it also sets a a standard that monies now be associated with the Freebox no questions asked. So Let's just follow the $ this time and lets hope those people trying to get any capital in cash at all...for themselves, for thier projects...burn in hell. Wait, I know ha ha. By the way Its easy to start a Freebox in ANY place. Get 6 people to commit to a six month trial. Fight the beast. Buy nothing. Make free things accessible to all. The freebox movie thing?, yeah, I really am doing it in peices. Maybe the Freebox will manifest a cool cam jus fer me, jus for it. 
Oh I read that article. The "problems" are not the messyness, its all the over flowing messyness representing more stuff than can be imagined, that has to be processed. So people see a way to make money on it that's the f-ing problem. They wanna close it. They call it an eyesore. But those same people have all the answers when it comes to flipping a bitch and turning this into a for profit deal. 
Vernon the Poet Speaks

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