If not now, when?

One American woman. Twenty acres and a 1650 farmhouse in Tuscany. Random introspection and hilarity, depending on the day.

08 August 2006

Let's make a deal

One of the things that I miss the most when I am on the road is the chance to spend time over breakfast or lunch each day catching up on blogs and random happenings in the world. The go-go-go of life on the road doesn't allow for much rose smelling or aimless wandering out in the vast expanse of the world wide web. When I do go a-wandering, without fail, I stumble upon something that reinforces my faith that the world is an increasingly fascinating place.

Today is no different. From a short mention on dear Patti's 37 Days blog, I spent a half hour getting sucked into the story of a Canadian guy named Kyle MacDonald, who traded a red paper clip for a house.

Actually, he traded his red paperclip for a fish pen,
for a ceramic door knob
coleman stove
red generator
"instant party" (keg o' beer and neon sign)
snowmobile
trip to Yahk, British Columbia
Box truck
recording contract
a year living in Phoenix
an afternoon with Alice Cooper
KISS snowglobe
A movie role
House on Main Street in Kipling, Saskatchewan, Canada

What I think is most remarkable is that Kyle's willingness to be wacky unleashed an exponential spirit of creativity in those who heard of his story, from people to entire TOWNS. The trades that ensued started with "practical" and then morphed into experiences, crafted by people who wanted to participate in the spirit of the "event". Creative energy begets creative energy, defying the law of conservation (go back to high school physics). No, this is absolutely not your grandma's barter economy.

Being a generally unmaterialistic person (heck, I sold or donated everything except 13 suitcases of stuff when I moved here!), I am truly fascinated with the concept of barter economies in general. This continual "trading up" appeals to the "one man's trash is another man's treasure" instinct in us all. It's about matchmaking between haves and have-nots. Here in Italy, I can assure you that the barter/trade service economy is alive and well, and I might quietly suggest that America could do with a little more of this spirit, and a little bit less just throwing money at problems. Lack of money begets creativity. That one red paperclip is sure making me look differently at the "stuff" around me.


By the way, that house on Main Street in Kipling, Saskatoon apparently comes with the construction of the world's largest red paperclip, and an annual "red paperclip day" celebration (let's just hope it's not in January!).

My hat's off to ya, Kyle. Because I derive immeasureable childlike delight from quirky random stuff, because I think the world takes itself a wee bit too seriously on occasion (and yes, I include myself in that), but mostly as a tribute to the value of bartering, I'll add "visit the world's largest red paper clip" to the list of things that I want to do in my life.

Sure makes me wonder what I could get for, say... a month in a Tuscan farmhouse?

9 Comments:

Blogger JoJo said...

Undying gratitude?

3:50 AM  
Anonymous patti digh said...

weekend visits with an adorable dog named Blue, several unopened Moleskin notebooks, an orange fountain pen, the phone number of Larry McMurtry, an autographed photo of Johnny Depp (no, sorry, that's going too far), and a month in a Victorian house in a gorgeous mountain town in NC? Pretty please?

(thanks for the mention of 37days, by the way!)

1:11 PM  
Blogger Viaggiatore said...

Golly! While Undying Gratitude seems tempting, it hardly competes with Moleskin Notebooks AND an orange fountain pen... The bidding seems to be getting exciting!

What good sports you all are to play along :>

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about a blue paperclip? With that you might be able to trade for a private jet or become the queen of a small island nation!

9:31 PM  
Blogger Judith in Umbria said...

What an offer! Got any vacation left? I would play except I have an Umbrian country house and my paperclips are striped and spotted and therefore too fancy to trade, really.
I do have a bottle of wine here with your name on it next to mine, of course.
They decided not to take the roof off after all, but I've thoroughly messed everything up before realizing that Ferragosto meant that nothing I broke would get fixed. Life has a way of spitting in one's eye like that.
Still, if you ain't too picky...
Festivale delle Nazione begins this weekend. I've booked 25 thru 30 and again 6th Sept., but there are tix available for all but the ballet?
22 days sans computer, so I missed the original proposal.

12:17 PM  
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