Up for grabs: Share Fair offers myriad of trash-turned-treasures


Britnee Meiser / Staff Writer

A string of pearls lay unattended in Schenley Plaza pavilion Friday afternoon, as a prowling student circled the luxury, snatched it up and continued on his way.

This wasn’t some great jewel heist— the student was participating in the Share Fair, hosted by the Pittsburgh Student Solidarity Coalition. The fair was  a three-hour community outreach event where trade is key — people brought items they want to give away and take anything that catches their eye, regardless if they leave anything behind. According to the event’s Facebook page, 2,000 people RSVP’d the event, but PSSC member Raghav Sharma estimated that only 150 people participated. This was the third fair that the coalition hosted

PSSC is a coalition of students from Pitt, Carnegie Mellon and Point Park.. The group aims to bring people together to form solidarity within the community. Though the free items draw people in, the real purpose of the Share Fair is to establish public spaces like Schenley Plaza as a space for social interaction for students, rather than just something to pass through on the way to work or class.

“It’s important for people to come away with an understanding of the community they live in and the multiplicity of perspectives that exist there,” Sharma said. “Understanding those different perspectives is the only way we can form serious relationships.”

The fair was lively with chatter between friends and new acquaintances, but the real action occurred in the search.

People traded everything from clothes, books and DVDs to big ticket items, like TVs. Everything was splayed out under the pavilion in an unorganized, free-for-all style.

At first, people sifted through the free items timidly, as if they were feeling shy or didn’t know what to make of the chaos. In a half hour, though, everybody got the hang of it — shirts started flying, students scattered magazines across tables and somebody made a mad dash toward the TV.

Don’t worry — nobody got hurt.

“You’ve heard the saying, ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,’” said Zane Zheng, a program coordinator at the Pittsburgh Science and Technology Academy who attended the fair with a Pitt student. “But it’s true. You find cool stuff here.”

Zheng walked away with a digital photo frame and some fresh eggs, but comparatively, he had a modest haul.

“We hope to shed some light on the scope of stuff people have that they don’t need or use,” Sharma said.

PSSC’s fair draws attention to recycling as a way for college students to save money on basic appliances while also saving the world.

“[College students] are victims of an endless cycle of consumerism, and Americans produce more trash than anywhere else in the world,” Sharma said. “Rather than relying on traditional avenues [to rid of unwanted items], we decided to make the change and give the power back to the people.”

The fair’s atmosphere emulates a strong sense of community. Complete strangers chat like longtime friends. Some people had armfuls of goodies, while others seemed content just standing around, enjoying the positive atmosphere.

There are no official plans for a fourth Share Fair yet, but Sharma is confident it will come. In the past, the fair has happened approximately once per semester.

“It seems like we struck a nerve,” Sharma said. “It’s amazing. If people are interested, [the Share Fair] should continue.”

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