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Bartering and the Sharing Economy Give Hope in Spain

New Orleans  The real estate bubble in Spain cratered the economy ushering in an austerity economy with unemployment rates of more than 25% of the population and a staggering 55% for younger workers.  We might ask how people are surviving, and the answer from banker Julio Gisbert who has written a book called, Living Without a Job, is that “It is possible to live without a job, and that doesn’t mean living without working.”  That observation is a critical distinction.

According to an article in USA Today recently, many Spaniards are making ends mean through the time worn system of bartering, trading various skills for other services and merchandise in what many are calling the “sharing economy.”  In Barcelona there are stories of residents renting land cheaply outside of the city, and then trading the fresh vegetables for good.  Some use the system of “time banking” featured last year in an article in Social Policy magazine.  According to the Association of Time Banks the number of Spanish chapters has doubled to now number over 300 in the country.

Meritxell Mir in her report to USA Today, gives a number of concrete examples of how they are working these issues out collectively in Spain:

  • SocialCar.com “allows people to rent their private cars”
  • JoinUpTaxi “makes it easy for people to share” rides to the same locations
  • Nolotiro.org which means “I won’t throwit out,” allows people to give away things they don’t need anymore like clothes, tools, and other necessities.
  • Mi Huerto Compartido (My Shared Garden) allows landowners to “lend” ground for a share of the harvest in a form of modern sharecropping.
  • Truequebook.es “uses barter school books and other goods for children.
  • My Harvest Ecological Gardens rents 540-square-foot parcels for $40 per month and the new farmers exchange and barter the harvest.

You get the idea, and none of this counts the 100’s of internet based “cybermarkets” that have sprung up for bartering.  Using BarcelonActua more than “7000 people participate in a local ‘favor bank’ where people help others without necessarily expecting anything in return” simply good faith triggered by need.  Experts in the area are arguing that the economic crises is creating “the sharing economy” as a “gate to a cultural exchange in which people rediscover the power of getting connected with other citizens not only to consume, but also to produce for each other, educate each other, finance each other…”

Some Spaniards are teaching all of us lessons.

For questions or comments go to www.chieforganizer.org.

This is Wade Rathke…you take it from here to there.

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