Sunday, September 9, 2012

Trade School Toronto

Not too sure how I stumbled upon this website the other day, but I really wanted to share it with you, as I think it is an intriguing idea with a lot of potential. Trade School Toronto is an alternative learning space that runs on a barter system. The idea behind it is that you pay for each class you take by bartering an item with the teacher such as food, skills, supplies or assistance.
The concept really harkens back to a program I participated in 2003 as a part of Anarchist Free University. Anarchist U was an open, volunteer-run, non-hierarchical collective that organized community events, workshops and a variety of courses on arts and sciences. Each of the courses I took met about once a week, and were lead by volunteer educators with a special interest or background in that specific field. So for example, I took a course on Pre-beat, Off-beat  and Post-beat literature, with Charlie Huisken - owner of the former This Ain't the Rosedale Library, one of my favorite bookstores in Toronto! Another successful course I took was entitled, Show and Tell - Projects in Progress, with Toronto artist, Janis Demkiw. Each week we would meet at a specific location or at a different artists studio, to present and critique works in progress to a group of peers. Little did I know at the time exactly how much each of these workshops, and the relationships I built out of each of them would contribute to my life during those formative years.

Now back to the Trade School! The Trade School model started in New York in 2010, and this Fall, a group of artists and community organizers in Toronto have banded together to organize 4 days of workshops, offered on a barter system.  Each workshop is set-up to be an hour and a half long, and will work out of the not-for-profit space, Harvest Noon.
Each of the organizers involved come from a not-for-profit background, and as such, are all interested in promoting alternative modes of currency, especially when it comes to education. This is an entirely volunteer run organization, and they are encouraging those who have an idea,  a space, or would like to teach a course, to get into touch with them via email @

Sounds like it could have the potential to be really awesome, if the right people sign up! Workshops run from Sept 29th -Oct 3rd, with the hopes of scheduling more regular events over the coming year. If you are interested in the program, please contact Trade School Toronto, or read more about them on their website.

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