Last month, New Dream got word about a recent interview with Juliet Schor, one of our co-founders. She spoke with Steve Seeger, the founder of Steve's Weave: The Green Classifieds Center, about the impetus behind New Dream and her persistent argument that, “by working less, spending less, and consuming less, you can enjoy life more.”
We followed up with Steve to get the backstory on his project: why he created it and how. His vision is based on the desire to do more for the environment than “just living as simply and as rationally as [he] could.”
You want to find a food co-op. A place to study permaculture. A housing share with people who recycle everything. Where do you look?
Right. It's not obvious.
But for me, this lack of possibility provided inspiration for something I'd been longing to do: contribute to the environmental movement in ways beyond just living as simply and rationally as I could.
I've been a vegetarian for 20-plus years. I must have recycled 200 times my body weight (even my weight when holding my layabout long-haired tabby, Esmeralda). I've owned a car for all of four months. And I almost lost a few friends asking if they really needed to take that flight to Florida.
But I wanted to do more. That's why, about a year ago, I launched Steve's Weave: The Green Classifieds Center. It's a green classifieds website, featuring free ads for everything under the sustainable sun. For the first time, I hoped, people would have a first place to turn to when hunting for, well, whatever they need to help our planetary restoration.
Of course the name is an homage to Craigslist (while being sufficiently distant not to forfeit the goodwill of Craig's lawyers). That was the ideal: to create, as it were, the green Craigslist, with a Craig-like breadth and usefulness.
But with a difference. I wanted the site to be as non-commercial as possible. I don't believe we can shop our way out of our environmental dilemma. And there are enough “Buy Organic Eye-Makeup Cheap!” websites already out there. I'm hoping to keep Steve's Weave economically sustainable without assisting unsustainable practices.
I had no background in this type of project at all. My work, for an international agronometrics concern, is essentially unrelated. I know nothing of programming, less of coding. I count every second not staring at a screen as a prize. A bigger techno-nincompoop you've never met. But I do have eyes. Which let me know we shouldn't be consuming so much. And that we'd inherited a miracle that we really should be looking after. This seemed a sufficient motivation.
Lift-off was arduous. Two web designers were less than honorable. A million hours was spent gathering email addresses for contacts that were never used. When we launched, our home page carried dozens of ad categories and sub-categories, all listed alphabetically. It was an obvious idea, and entirely unworkable—there were too many things coming at you, in no practical order.
So we turned to meta-categories. Listings are now grouped under broader rubrics. One is “Green Living,” which features minimalist mainstays like “Recycle/Reuse,” “Free/Share/Swap,” and “Ecological Communities.” Other metas include “Agriculture” and “Get Involved.”
Later, we added an event calendar (for now, only in Massachusetts), then a blog. Recently, for our blog, we received the gift of being able to interview one of the founders of New Dream, Juliet Schor. She spoke of, among other subjects, over-consumption, downshifting, and their effects—one bad, the other altogether good—on the environment.
Our latest addition is “Friends and Partners,” listings for green-minded singles. (A thicket, that, but it's working out.)
The site is still officially testing in Boston, but we're live nationwide. One thing you can do on Steve's Weave that isn't currently available with friend Craig: you can run an ad all across the United States. Makes sense: environmental concerns are often larger than local.
Ultimately, my dream is for the site to serve as a means to forge community—to seed and landscape an e-commons for the environmental movement. The website offers opportunities for folks to post and trade ideas about all things eco. One set of listings is called “Celebrations—Shout Out the Good You've Done.” Another goes by “Declarations—Tell Us What You'll Do for the Good of Mama Terra.”
You see the point: give people a platform to revel in their green good deeds, and maybe inspire a few more. I'll consider the site well-woven if even a bit of that happens.
Steve Seeger is the founder of Steve's Weave: The Green Classifieds Center.