By Cameron McKirdy
I spent the weekend on the Oregon Coast in Seaside, and had spare time to experiment with a new Art project. First, I dug through a recycling bin for cardboard to create a small handmade sign with a permanent pen. Then I rounded up some fun objects I didn’t need anymore, like a Smokey The Bear keychain whistle. These goods would be available to begin the open bartering. I spread out a towel, and placed the trinkets on The Prom’s concrete path.
With little effort, and few resources, a self-serve system was born. A take one, leave one blanket is a place where an item of any kind can freely be exchanged as you see fit. Share this concept with people in your town. You wouldn’t believe the response. Nearly every biker, and pedestrian stopped their forward progress to figure out what was going on. This open trading system seemed to inspire, confuse, and even make some people greedy.
I may have seen people taking without giving, thinking nobody was looking, but I’m not sure. Others had no issue taking nice items, like a Tree of Life necklace pendant, and replacing it with trash. I found the blanket riddled with wrappers, cardboard scraps, and even half of a marijuana cigarette. Take a close look at the pictures, and you’ll see other small stuff, like a paperclip, pocket change, flower, price tag sticker, and a pile of sand from the beach.
I discretely checked back every few hours for a day, and saw some of the action in person. People generously placed beautiful possessions with little hesitation. There were cool things left behind that I didn’t get a picture of, because I didn’t want to interrupt the process. My favorite moment was when a 12-year old girl named Krystin Crawford set down her hand painted sand dollars. She took a braided piece of grasses someone constructed. The girl enjoyed sharing the Art she made, and getting involved. See her craftsmanship below. The found, and re-purposed shells were adorable. Krystin and her mom came back to the free exchange place the following morning with a positive attitude. Everything had changed. This artist endeavour has restored my faith in humanity once and for all, despite some shady, but acceptable transactions by others.
In conclusion, I will try this social experiment again. I was thrilled to see this interactive art piece evolve rapidly. I saw joy on many of the participants faces. This free trading system can be implemented anywhere, at anytime. Let’s spread the concept, and see the random generousity of others displayed in public. And remember, you’ll usually get more than you give. Leave a comment, or question if you like. Thanks for visiting Survival Bros.
Wikipedia information on Bartering and Gift Economy
Oregon Country Faire Take One, Leave One blanket from 2015
This picture courtesy of Regina Mattingly