Rebuilding the Barter System

 Posted by on August 13, 2011
Aug 132011

By Shanna Katz

Something I truly love about being a member of smaller communities is that for the most part, we look after our own. When someone needs a ride to an event, people band together to help them out. Here in Denver, we have Leather Magick, a kink specific charity group that local dungeons (public and private) fundraise for. When someone is moving in either of the community, the class is placed to garner help for them. When someone is sick, someone organizes visits from community members, food for family, and more. We frequently take care of our own, which is something I don’t always see in larger communities that tend not to have as many disenfranchised identities.

What I don’t see as much of in these communities (at least, as much as I’d like to see) is the concept of bartering. I firmly believe in bringing back the barter system. As we see our economy continue to ride a rollercoaster, and given that many members of the kink and queer communities are disproportionately broke/straining for money, it’s time to barter.

Now, I’m not saying that I think everyone should quit their job, and that we should live in kinky and queer communes, operating solely off of the barter system. However, it wouldn’t be that difficult to integrate more bartering into our communities. Sometimes, it already exist; many kink and queer events trade free entry in return for volunteer hours, allowing those with lower disposable incomes to still attend events. Let’s bringing that in to the rest of the community. Here are some ideas:

*Barter lessons/information on queer history, queer theory, for homemade goods, for pet sitting, for rainbow gear.

*Barter lessons/information on leather history, Kink 101, play skills (flogging, fire, rope, etc) for service, home made goods, food, massages, etc.

*Barter help with social media, blogging, writing, resume building, flirting, finding a partner, job searching, etc for whatever it is that you need.

*Barter anything for anything.

As you can see, really, anything is barterable. I exchanged help moving furniture to our place with helping someone re-do their resume (both of us are kinky). I exchanged an hour of relationship counseling for a professional photo shoot. I’ve traded home cooked meals for a variety of things. Of course, we do need to be careful around bartering sex and/or play sessions, depending on the laws of your locale and the rules of your play space, but outside of that, barter away.

Why bother bartering? Because it creates community, it supports community and it grows community. You might not have the money to donate to someone hurting in the community, or they might not be willing to take it. However, if they trade you washing and organizing all your rope for fresh food from your garden, you both have supported each other, as well as have inspired the rest of the community. It is a way of giving back while still getting, something that warms the cockles of our hearts in all sorts of various directions.

Now that you’re done reading, take a moment and think; what do you have to barter, and what do you need. Once you’ve got some semblance of an idea, go forth!