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Meet Charlo Maurer

Q: What brought you to Watertown?

We moved to Watertown 20 years ago from Cambridge where we raised our kids. Watertown was a draw for its early 1900's architecture with beautiful gumwood trim, quieter streets, and the ability to live where we could walk in five minutes to a bank, a few small grocery stores, restaurants, a pharmacy, and a hardware store. At the same time, the 71 bus makes getting to Cambridge so quick and easy. Since we moved here we discovered so many other things to love about the city.

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in a small town in Ohio and moved to the area in 1977. I had a few careers in my lifetime, ending as a financial advisor in my financial planning business, Peace of Money. One of my values around money management is that it’s important not to get caught up in buying things when your priorities are probably saving to buy a home, pay for college and retirement. Thats why I find great pleasure in the sharing of possessions that we do in Buy Nothing Watertown.

Q: What is Buy Nothing?

It's an international movement, founded in 2013, that encourages the giving of consumer goods and services instead of purchasing them.The aim is to collaboratively share the abundance around us, building community connections, reducing our footprints on the earth, and saving us all money.

One of the main reasons I love Buy Nothing is that it is designed to be hyper-local, so that as the Facebook groups grow large, they are encouraged to break into smaller groups. That’s why we now have four Watertown groups. I can now walk to most of the homes of people who are gifting me items, and in doing so, I get to know my neighbors.

Our culture is to be as kind to our fellow members as possible. For example, we don’t always gift to the first person who asks for something we've offered. The gifter might rather consider why someone needs or wants the item we are gifting. We also help each other out with gifts of service as well as gifting items. And we encourage people to not just offer things, but also ask for things they need, before buying.

I enjoy Buy Nothing so much that I've volunteered as an administrator for 4 years. If you are on Facebook, check us out!

Q: Tell us a little about HONK!

My husband, Paul, has been a musician all his life, and for a number of years he played in a brass band, the Second Line Social Aid and Pleasure Society Brass Band.

Members of that band started a free music festival in Somerville called the HONK! Festival 18 years ago. The festival brings activist street bands together to play in the streets, to parade together, and to discuss what they are doing back in their home cities.

Ten years ago I started to play trombone so that I could join his band and could be not just a volunteer at HONK!, but also a member of the band community. HONK! has spread around the country, and also to Australia, Costa Rica and there are now five HONKs in Brazilian cities.

This year, the 3-day free festival in October will bring brass bands from across the country to Somerville for a celebration of music, community and activism. There will be a giant brass music scene in Davis Square with 20 + bands on Saturday, and a parade on Sunday. Check it out!

Q: Charlo, what else are you doing with your free time now as a retiree?

Aside from music making, Paul and I are avid board game players. We love the modern style of board games that involve less luck and more strategy, so on many an afternoon or evening, you might catch us playing Azul, Ticket to Ride, Cascadia, or Clank. We also volunteer together doing food rescue through Food Link in Arlington. I also do some darning and clothing repair, small art projects, and I do indulge and love watching Korean dramas or Kdramas.


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