Montreal has a long tradition of passing things along. Around moving day people begin to leave things out on the sidewalks in front of their apartments. Usually, they do this a day or two before garbage pick-up, the idea being to give people a chance to take it home before it ends up on the scrapheap. Some of it is junk, or just unusable (after all, would you want a mattress that had been left out overnight?) But, some of it can be pretty great...classic mid-century style coffee tables, old books, board games, etc...I once had a dresser that a friend of mine had found a block and a half away and that we brought over a drawer at a time.
I've just realised that this post makes Montreal sound like a city of dumpster divers, when that isn't what it's about. I think it's just that people can't bear to think of something as being wasted. That's why the Mile End givebox seems so appealing. If you don't know what a givebox is, it's a small shed or closet-like structure where people can leave things they want to give away, and where other people can go looking for treasures.
The first givebox, as far as I know, was one in Berlin. This past summer, Local Montreal teamed up with Une Banane design collective to design and build several giveboxes. One of the giveboxes is on the corner of St-Viateur and Esplanade, just outside the Chez Latina groceteria. It hasn't taken long for the givebox to become a neighbourhood landmark. Somehow, it just seems to fit.