photo via Ourgoods.org on Flickr
In this month's inaugural Life in Beta column I wrote about how the Internet can enable our natural generosity. Caroline Woolard, a visual artist who manages a cooperative artists' space, is putting this insight into her life's work for the creative community with OurGoods.org, a site that enables artists to barter space, material, and services, and Trade School, a cross between a 1960s "free school" and a performance art piece, currently running in New York City's NoLiTa neighborhood.
Q. What is your background—educational and work and avocational?
It all started because three of the five co-founders of OurGoods (Louise Ma, Rich Watts, and myself) were given an opportunity to work with GrandOpening, and we had a wild brainstorm session about many possible barter storefronts. We decided that "barter for instruction" had a lot of potential.
So, from February 25th to March 1st, 2010, we ran Trade School at GrandOpening in the Lower East Side. Over the course of 35 days, more than 800 people participated in 76 single session classes. Classes ran for 1, 2, or 3 hours and ranged from scrabble strategy to composting, from grant writing to ghost hunting. In exchange for instruction, teachers received everything from running shoes to mixed CDs, from letters to a stranger to cheddar cheese. We ran out of time slots for teachers to teach and classes filled up so quickly that we had to turn people away. This made us think, "we should keep doing this!"
See a list of current classes here: