Tuesday, September 18, 2012

OurGoods: A barter network for the creative community

I have the good fortune of being on a panel this weekend at the ICEA Conference with one of the founders of OurGoods--a public service platform to support bartering within and among a community of creative makers and doers. In their words, "OurGoods exists so that creative people can help each other produce independent projects. More work gets done in networks of shared respect and shared resources than in competitive isolation. By honoring agreements and working hard, members of OurGoods will build lasting ties in a community of enormous potential."

I love these folks. The emphasis here is on honor, collaboration, and mutual respect. Driven by social and human values, they speak to the idea of industry, hard work and improvement. It's a brilliant service using a thorough and thoughtful process to bring talent together in an open, negotiable and mutually respectful way. What I'm particularly drawn to is their careful consideration on explaining how the process works, so people can confidently engage in new practices. Bartering may seem like a familiar idea because of it's informal nature. But OurGoods is very clear in explaining that bartering is very different than gifting. Bartering is a process of negotiation and expectation setting. There are rules involved that support trustworthy and satisfying transactions and interactions. 

I appreciate too the tone they use throughout their whole service: one that is clear, convivial, and inclusive. There is clear thought that has gone into their values and how they play out throughout and across their service. This service is a real inspiration and important case study for anyone interested in putting together a similar service or project centered around negotiation and resource sharing.

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