Cameron: “Community found”

The following is a symbiotic story from Cameron, a Simbi member currently living in Salem, OR. Cameron has a dream of starting his own permaculture project, and is actively involved with solidarity and human rights work in Central America. He joined Simbi to be a part of community-based economics as an alternative to capitalism.


When I was 21 I spent a year in Nicaragua. Normally I hate to make generalizations about cultures – every culture is as complex as it is rich, and the people within it as diverse as they are similar – but for the sake of expediency I will say this: The emphasis on collectivism and hospitality I experienced is something that made a big impression on me.

There are many other cultural values that I failed to understand or assimilate in my short time there, but as I returned home I felt sure that I was returning a changed person. It did not take me long to realize that recreating the sense of community I experience abroad in my hometown was not as easily accomplished as I thought; it takes more than one person to change a culture, especially a culture as individualistic as our own.

After struggling with and overcoming reverse culture shock, the stresses of modern living and financial independence, and a personal mental health crisis, I find myself once again ready to take on the challenge of becoming an agent of social change. To some extent I have succeeded in finding communities to which I belong, but these communities are limited to the societal niches they are designed to occupy. I still long for the pervasive sense of welcome I felt when I lived in my home away from home.

Enter Simbi: Everything I could have hope for and more. Discovering this online community of extravagant giving has done wonders to help me fill the void left by my adopted country. While I still may not be able to go to my neighbors to help satisfy my need for sharing, learning, or receiving, I now find myself with hundreds of sisters and brothers around the world I can turn to at a moments notice. I want to share my experience with one person in particular.

My first deal on Simbi was with someone named Michelle. She had posted a request for Spanish Lessons and as I was fluent in Spanish I figured “Why not? I’ve got to start somewhere.” I wasn’t against the idea of a tarot session, but I wasn’t super excited about it either. That’s why when I learned that Michelle offered counseling I jumped at the chance to work with her. I had recently stopped seeing a therapist and although I was functioning fine, I still wasn’t thriving to the degree I wanted to.

Meeting a new counselor is nerve wracking, especially when that person is somebody random you’ve met online. Michelle put my fears to rest immediately, proving herself to be not only extremely capable but also extremely kind. I think the most rewarding part of our interaction though wasn’t that she had something to offer me, but that I had something to offer in return. Our relationship isn’t limited to the confines of a professional interaction in a clinical setting, and because of that all of the power distance that prevents true mutual friendship has been eliminated.

I signed up for Simbi looking to learn a new skill, and instead ended up making a new friend. To the many more future friends I have yet to meet, don’t be a stranger; Make the plunge and contact someone. I promise you won’t regret it.

Cameron M.


Simbiotic Stories are real anecdotes told by you and other Simbi community members. Tell us about your Simbi deals and experiences with other members. If your story is published, we’ll credit your account with 150 simbi. Submit your entries by starting a conversation with us via this link.

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