Community Articles
Go to Site Index See "Community Articles" main page
General News · 22nd June 2010
Elinor Bazar
Have you ever wanted to learn about Cortes' wild edible plants or mushrooms? About how to weave a basket, play an instrument, throw clay or build something?

Everyone has a an urge to learn, and yet there's often something keeping us from pursuing our interests. Maybe it's money, lack of childcare or time.

Bartering is a fantastic way to acquire knowledge in your spare time, without money, and in such a way that is informal enough to also welcome children.

Imagine the following scenario:

"Todd would really like to learn guitar for his own personal satisfaction and to model to his 4 year old child the importance and wonder of musical literacy. Todd is a Translator by trade, but also happens to be an excellent handy-man and builder.

Lisa is a single mother who just recently bought her first home on Cortes. It needs some repairs and regular maintenance but she has almost no experience in carpentry or maintenance. Although she is a Home Care Nurse, she also happens to be a fantastic guitar player.

Through the Cortes Exchange List Serv, Todd asks if anyone can offer guitar lessons in exchange for several possibilities, including carpentry and repair services. Lisa responds to him and together they decide that Lisa will teach guitar and Todd will not only repair her home, but he will actively engage and teach Lisa so that she can be empowered to maintain her home independently in the future. Since they both find it difficult to find or afford care for their young children, they decide that it’s okay to bring their children along."

This form of exchange, or barter, has several advantages.
1) Provides an opportunity to learn without the use of money (thus also freeing up financial resources for things like food, housing and clothing).
2) Offers a learning opportunity locally, without the need to travel off island.
3) Allows for a learning atmosphere that is informal and personable, thus welcoming the presence of children.
4) Allows people to use and share skills that they would not otherwise use for generating income.
5) Nurtures connections and builds community.
6)Empowers people with skills to live sustainable and enriching lives on Cortes.

The potential for literacy development is as vast as there are skills and talents on Cortes. Art lessons in exchange for permaculture design, French classes for child-care, computer lessons for gardening help, bodywork for web design instruction… In many cases, parents can offer their own skills in exchange for learning opportunities for their children or their senior parents. The possibilities are endless.

Trading is nothing new on Cortes of course. But perhaps there are ways to better facilitate this age-old practice.

Supported by Literacy Now, the Cortes Exchange (CE) is an initiative that started a few months ago with the aim of facilitating the exchange of knowledge, skills, goods and services on Cortes Island. CE currently has 80 members and functions with a simple list-serv and website ( ) as a one-to-one bartering system.

We are in the brainstorming stage of developing a complementary currency, or tracking system, that will allow 3rd party trading – so that participants can offer services/goods to one person and receive its exchange from someone else.

For more information and/or to sign up for this service, visit . There is no obligation or time commitment required - it is a free service for you to use whenever you wish.

Happy Trading!
Elinor Bazar

Please feel free to post your comments, questions and ideas below. Thank you.