But bartering has been around, even if only on a micro-level for a while too. In my travels on a fellowship studying forms of engagement with environmental issues in low-income urban areas, I encountered this sharing- what I call a ‘culture of exchange’- in various forms.
It was in the swap fairs and eco-fairs in various transition movements in São Paulo for example. On a Saturday or Sunday every month residents of Granja Viana descend on an allocated spot, with their no longer used, softly worn items and set up on tables or just walk around and find opportunities to strike a bargain with other buyers and sellers. Also at the eco-fairs are local crafts people and farmers, who either sell their goods (for hard currency) but are also there for an opportunity to exchange items. Books for handmade house decorations, a beaded candle holder for a pot of flowers; an old suitcase for a raffia mat; homebaked breads and cakes for homemade candles; or a particularly happy score: a bag of organic vegetables for an old tv that my host no longer used.
Read the rest of my reflections on a culture of exchange on This Big City.