When you were a kid, did you trade the peanut butter and jelly sandwich in your sack lunch for someone else’s baloney sandwich? Or maybe you agreed to do a house chore for your older sister in exchange for riding her bike.
When I was a starving college student, I agreed to do a fellow student’s laundry in exchange for a home cooked meal. I also edited and proofed reports and papers for six packs, bottles of wine and other staples of college life.
This, my friends, is bartering. It’s a centuries old system of exchanging goods and services without the use of money, and the practice thrives today. Just skim posts on Craigslist or Nextdoor. Some neighborhoods and communities still organize barter fairs and time banks.
Steve and I regularly barter with friends and neighbors. I knitted a hat for a friend in exchange for one of her decadent homemade desserts. We’re urban farmers and so are some of our neighbors. We recently traded some of our wonderful garden produce for a dozen of our alley neighbor’s free range chicken and duck eggs.
And do you know what’s so cool about this local bartering? It builds community. We get to know our neighbors and they get to know us. And knowing your neighbors makes our world safer and friendlier.