Paying for class with coffee? Popular bartering group needs your help

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by Megan Trent

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (October 23, 2014) – Trade School Indianapolis, a bartering organization staffed fully by volunteers, needs some help to be able to continue classes.

The group offers classes on a wide variety of topics, such as cooking, sewing, music and writing. It was started a few years ago by Brittany West and a friend who had learned about the concept in New York.

“We had eight classes the first session. That was two years ago in September. Since then, we’ve hosted about 250 classes,” West says about the group’s booming popularity.

Instead of paying with cash, students bring an item off the teacher’s “wish list.”

Sophie Faught is a jazz musician and a teacher at Trade School Indianapolis. She’s been teaching classes for more than a year. This week she met with a group of about 15 students for an hour and a half at the Chatterbox Tavern on Mass. Ave. for a class called “Listening to Jazz.”

“The concept with bartering is that people trade things of value that they have. So I trade my knowledge of jazz music and my passion for the music, my understanding of how it works and my perspective as a jazz musician, and they in turn trade me something that they have that I want,” explains Faught, who also teaches knitting and applique classes.

Since Trade School Indianapolis is completely volunteer based, there’s very little money switching hands.

“I give them a list of things I want to barter,” says Faught. “My list has stuff like chocolate, heirloom gardening seeds, coffee, a CD of music that inspires you, things like that. Those things are a fair exchange for the knowledge that I am going to give them.”

The classes are small and fill up quickly. Demand just keeps growing, but involvement isn’t the issue. Trade School Indianapolis could close soon if they don’t start bringing in more actual cash.

“I needed help,” admits West. “I do have a full time job. Again, this is all volunteer, so we just wanted to find a way to get more people involved. Also, as a growing organization, we do have out-of-pocket monetary costs that I would have to pay myself.”

As a result, Trade School Indianapolis is having a fund-raising campaign, hoping to raise the funds needed to keep classes going. If people can’t make a monetary donation, volunteer hours are also welcome.

“We wanted to give people the option to donate, or they can donate their time. Trade School relies on volunteers to do the day-to-day activities that it takes to make all these classes happen, so either are welcome. We’re just looking for support and bodies to get involved,” says West.

Trade School Indianapolis is looking for 250 members by November 16th. Memberships come with perks too, like invitations to and involvement with special community events. Members also get a sneak peek and upcoming classes, which is helpful since they fill up so quickly. Some of the membership options, according to the group’s website, are as follows:

  • 35 volunteer hours in exchange for a Teaching Fellowship for 2015
  • 40 volunteer hours in exchange for a Student Membership for 2015
  • $20 Teacher Fellowship for 2015
  • $25 Student Membership for 2015
  • $40 Student Membership for 2015 (includes t-shirt)

For more information, go to their website.