Bartering Generously

When I lived out West, I occasionally encountered little pockets of a modern-day barter economy.

People would trade skill for skill, work for work, item for item — or some combination that felt right. People who live on the land, especially, still have a neighborly economy going: ranchers schedule their brandings on consecutive weekends so the extra hands can help with each; everyone works the stock together, then comes in for a big dinner afterwards.

I always enjoyed things like this: broadly speaking, I grew up with the suburban model — if you wanted something, you drove out and bought it.

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in some creative barters, and it’s been another lesson in generosity and refusing to let money be a limiting factor. The price is still the price, but it’s sometimes possible to cover some of it by creating value rather than paying money.

It’s a fun and neighborly way to do business, and I’m always amazed at how such generous interactions build and broaden a community.