One of the manifestations of the Occupy movement has been networking with a variety of community groups – groups of people working together for positive changes in their community. Today’s focus is on some local bartering groups of Waterloo Region.
Citizens from a variety of backgrounds, whether supportive of the Occupy movement or not, have realized that local trading of goods and services are worthwhile endeavours to become a part of, furthermore, it is one of the key things citizens can do to protect themselves in the event of a system collapse.
Through my conversations with barterers and participants of energy and time exchange, it has become apparent that these folks are not necessarily against capitalism; rather, they are for local economic development. These are people simply looking for sustainable methods of acquiring goods and services, and bartering with members of their community gives them optimism for a sustainable future.
There are still many challenges that local barterers must overcome before a local trading system can satisfy all of their needs.
The consequences of these bartering initiatives are delightfully surprising and unexpected.
In addition to finding alternative methods to meet one’s needs and wants, many barterers and exchangers are finding that they are growing as people. Time exchangers are discovering skills that they didn’t realize were there, or were lying dormant waiting for an opportunity to shine again. On the other hand, those searching for quality commodities are finding it difficult to switch their means of acquiring food and clothing from big business to local trade, due to variety of selection. Others are delighted to discover that their home-made products are actually being appreciated by more and more people.
Personal growth and development occur because bartering, for most people, is a completely new skill. Although commonplace in developing countries, trading essential products and services with members of the community is a lost art in this country. Learning how to work with and relate to others of different backgrounds and customs, and contributing towards the development of a new system of trade, is surprisingly challenging, and serves as an opportunity for self-development.
Going to a store and purchasing something from a big business, off someone you don’t know, using fiat currency, is much different than corroborating with another individual to arrive at a defined value that satisfies both parties. A successful trade requires that the barterers understand the item’s relevant value, and consider each other’s point of view.In a bartering system, more time and effort is required to discover where to go for your purchases, and what the choices are – as opposed to going to a store, where everything is conveniently displayed in front of you for easy comparison. Although there is more work at the beginning with a bartering system, many argue that the extra effort figuratively pays off in the end. Some local bartering groups worthwhile looking into include: Backyard Barter, Barter Buddies, Barter Works, and Waterloo Region Time Exchange. All of these groups can be found on Facebook, and for further information on how to get involved, keep checking with the Cambridge Farmer’s Market for bartering events near you.