Bring Back the Barter System

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Wouldja just look as these pictures of my kids?

These are what our friend David shot today at a park.

A little background. Each year, I pay a handsome sum to have professional photographs of my kids. We’re homeschooling, so we don’t get the annual school photo, and it’s something I still feel nostalgia for. Not sure why, since my own school photos were consistently hideous. At any rate.

This year, it dawned on me that I should ask David to take them. He’s at every function snapping the most beautiful shots that lovingly capture peoples’ essences. Just for fun, mind you. And so, I asked if he would do the honor of photographing the kids. He kindly and enthusiastically agreed.

It’s a generous favor of time and talent he gave us. But it’s a little weird to exchange money between friends, though I’d gladly do so. Instead, what we agreed on was a barter of electrical work that Mauricio can do for him. To use a tired corporate phrase, it’s a win-win.

Not only did we get a great photo session today, but we also got  a playdate at the park with David and his family. They’ll get some light fixtures installed soon. Most importantly for me, we got photos that reflect the love and understanding of my little peeps that you simply can’t get from a hired service provider. David cares for my kids and it literally shows.

Because our whole capitalist system is set up for us to default to spending money for everything, we never even think about the wealth of talent surrounding us. I want to bring back the barter system. Not because we end up saving money. But because the value we get from goods and services shared by friends is infinitely more valuable than anything we can buy.

In my immediate circle of friends and family, I have seamstresses, graphic designers, artists, lawyers, opera singers, musicians, math teachers, German speakers, Spanish speakers, skiers, naturalists, chefs, entrepreneurs, craft brewers, gardeners, and most importantly, loving caregivers. And that’s just off the top of my head. Wouldn’t it be amazing to share more of our talents with each other through a barter system?

Do you barter? What do you barter? I’d like to know. I feel like I’m barely scratching the surface of possibilities.