GOOD

Trade School: Will Barter for Skills

From now until the first of March, OurGoods, an online...

From now until the first of March, OurGoods, an online barter network, is running a pop-up storefront on the Lower East Side of Manhattan called Trade School, where entry into classes is based not on money or talent, but on meeting the needs of a particular teacher. And while some classes like grant writing and butter making have already filled up, there's still plenty of room to learn more about irrational decision-making and chair-bound pilates, not to mention composting and improvisation.

We asked one of its founders, Caroline Woolard, to shed some light on how Trade School came to be-and potential plans to keep it going.

GOOD: Introduce us to the concept of OurGoods and how it works.

CAROLINE WOOLARD: OurGoods is a barter network for creative people. Members of the OurGoods network barter skills, spaces, and objects, with "haves" and "needs." OurGoods matches barter partners, tracks accountability, and helps the business of independent, creative work. The site can be used to find collaborators, see emerging interests, or just execute projects without cash. For example, I can help you write a grant if you help to make my costumes. OurGoods is a new model for valuing creative work. It fosters interdependence and strong working relationships. You will get your independent work done with mutual respect instead of cash. (Here is a quick visual primer.)

GOOD: Who's running this?

CW: There are five OurGoods co-founders: Jen Abrams, Louise Ma, Carl Tashian, Rich Watts, and me. OurGoods will work because our computer programmer, Carl Tashian, was the senior site engineer at Zip Car for the first five years, answering phone calls in bed until the site made resource sharing ubiquitous; because Jen Abrams has self-produced shows in a collectively run, sweat-equity theater space without cash for a decade; because two of the best designers in NYC (Rich Watts and Louise Ma) have donated hundreds of hours to user interface design and architecture; and because I won't stop until OurGoods is great.

GOOD: How does OurGoods relate to the Trade School?

CW: Artists and designers comprise a transient community, one that's always on the move. In some ways, OurGoods.org is simply a directory of available creative people ready to connect in real space to share skills and head towards a barter negotiation. In-person meetings are incredibly important. This is why we jumped on the opportunity for a five-week storefront on the Lower East Side.

GOOD: So it's shop by day and school by night. How does that work, exactly?

CW: If you teach a class at night, you can share the Trade School space during the day. Trade School is only open to the wider public (as students) at night, so the shared office, or common studio, fosters deeper relationships for Trade School teachers. This day office also encourages enthusiastic students to engage with the Trade School/OurGoods network more fully by teaching a class to spend more time with the group during the day. Everyone has something to share.

GOOD: How did you come up with the idea?

CW: At one point, I wondered: Why can't I get my favorite band to play in my studio? Is cash the only way to pay for a labor of love? I didn't know the band members personally, but hoped we'd have a mutual understanding of the passion and respect that motivates labor. I wanted to work hard for them because I love their work. We decided that they'd play if I gave the lead singer one of my Work Dresses and the guitarist a day of spackling and sanding help in his studio.

GOOD: What has the response been like so far?

CW: The enthusiasm has been shocking. Most classes are full (with waiting lists) and students come from all over the city. I've been asking teachers why they are interested in Trade School, and each teacher refines my understanding of the power of peer learning.

GOOD: Describe the typical participant.

CW: There really is no typical participant. Trade School brings out the multiple identities of creative individuals because classes are based on enthusiasm rather than professionalization or expert knowledge. We've had students from Washington Heights and the West Village, private chefs, art historians, former real estate developers, and vegan dumpster divers. Creative people often live multiple lives.

GOOD: What have you learned that you didn't know how to do beforehand?

CW: People really like fulfilling Trade School teachers' obscure barter requests. Going through a teacher's barter requests (in exchange for a class) allows students to get a sense of who they are. The composting teacher, Amanda Matles, was wooed by a trombone solo, I am getting running shoes in exchange for grant writing, and Emcee C.M., Master of None, received handwritten stories about wildness. People are incredibly thoughtful and responsive. Oh, and I had no idea that I would love organizing a storefront and running public programming. I hope this becomes my paid day job.

Graphic and photo via OurGoods' Flickr stream.

Articles
AFP News Agency / Twitter

A study out of Belgium found that smart people are much less likely to be bigoted. The same study also found that people who are bigoted are more likely to overestimate their own intelligence.

A horrifying story out of Germany is a perfect example of this truth on full display: an anti-Semite was so dumb the was unable to open a door at the temple he tried to attack.

On Wednesday, October 9, congregants gathered at a synagogue in Humboldtstrasse, Germany for a Yom Kippur service, and an anti-Semite armed with explosives and carrying a rifle attempted to barge in through the door.

Keep Reading Show less
Communities
via Andi-Graf / Pixabay

The old saying goes something like, "Possessions don't make you happy." A more dire version is, "What you own, ends up owning you."

Are these old adages true or just the empty words of ancient party-poopers challenging you not to buy an iPhone 11? According to a new study of 968 young adults by the University of Arizona, being materialistic only brings us misery.

The study examined how engaging in pro-environmental behaviors affects the well-being of millenials. The study found two ways in which they modify their behaviors to help the environment: they either reduce what they consume or purchase green items.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

One of the biggest obstacles to getting assault weapons banned in the United States is the amount of money they generate.

There were around 10 million guns manufactured in the U.S. in 2016 of which around 2 million were semiautomatic, assault-style weapons. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry's trade association, the U.S. industry's total economic impact in 2016 alone was $51 billion.

In 2016, the NRA gave over $50 million to buy support from lawmakers. When one considers the tens of millions of dollars spent on commerce and corruption, it's no wonder gun control advocates have an uphill battle.

That, of course, assumes that money can control just about anyone in the equation. However, there are a few brave souls who actually value human life over profit.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via Reddit and NASA / Wikimedia Commons

Trees give us a unique glimpse into our past. An examination of tree rings can show us what the climate was like in a given year. Was it a wet winter? Were there hurricanes in the summer? Did a forest fire ravage the area?

An ancient tree in New Zealand is the first to provide evidence of the near reversal of the Earth's magnetic field over 41,000 years ago.

Over the past 83 million years there have been 183 magnetic pole reversals, a process that takes about 7,000 years to complete.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Pixabay

The final episode of "The Sopranos" made a lot of people angry because it ends with mob boss Tony Soprano and his family eating at an ice cream parlor while "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey plays in the background … and then, suddenly, the screen turns black.

Some thought the ending was a dirty trick, while others saw it as a stroke of brilliance. A popular theory is that Tony gets shot, but doesn't know it because, as his brother-in-law Bobby Baccala said, "You probably don't even hear it when it happens, right?"

So the show gives us all an idea of what it's like to die. We're here and then we're not.

Keep Reading Show less
Health