North Olympic Peninsula residents are looking to each other to stretch their bottom dollar through trades and bartering.
Piggy-backing off groups in Port Townsend and Bellingham, the North Olympic Exchange group in Clallam County is forming and gathering members in Sequim and Port Angeles. Members can trade services, goods and time to pair unused resources with unmet needs.
The first orientation meeting is set for 6:30-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 3, in the Sequim Library. It will be informational and no bartering will occur on site.
Barbara Lott, of Port Angeles, is one of the local organizers and has participated in the other exchange programs, usually trading language skills.
"I needed a bicycle, so I posted online at the group's site that I needed a bike and that I had language skills to trade," Lott said. "So someone can give me a bike and I can either trade back my own skills or they can receive 'time dollars' as well, which they take to someone else for something they need."
The barter system is gaining momentum. The Port Townsend group, which started with fewer than 15 people a couple of years ago, now has more than 100 members.
Proponents like Lott argue the alternative currency can be immune to economic downturns and point out the need for a monetary reform.
"It is not only a way to get what you need by paying for it with something you can do rather than money you've earned," Lott said. "It's also a community builder. You get to know your neighbors and in times when money is tight, we can band together and make things work in our community."
Time dollars are tracked online through the organization's Web site, www.fourthcornerexchange.com. Lott said the idea of time dollars may seem foreign, but the practice was a mainstay before the development of a uniform dollar.
"Bartering is an ancient way of obtaining and providing vital good and services," Lott said. "Even now in places where money is not easily obtainable or where a currency system is unstable, bartering is the main means of trade."
Lott gave an example of trades happening in Port Townsend.
A man with a broken chain saw does some cat sitting. In return the cat owner awards the man with time dollars for each hour of work. Then the man posts on the Web site that he is looking for a new chain saw and can trade his time dollars for the tool or trade some other sort of service and keep his time dollars for another investment. All participants must be members of the group.
"For now we are just getting a group oriented in the area," Lott said. "Soon, after we have a couple meetings to get organized the trading will begin."
For more information about the local group, contact Barbara Lott at 417-1613 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about the national movement, visit www.fourthcornerexchange.com.
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