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Portland’s Cash-Free Bartering: From Urban Farm Collectives to Coffee Perks

Discovering how the Oregon city’s citizens have embraced an alternative lifestyle of sharing

harley davidson portland oregon bartering

David Amsden on the Harley Davidson Roadster on the famous Hawthorne Bridge in Portland, Oregon.

Christopher Krieb

Portlanders have embraced a movement of cashless commerce – a new school take, in effect, on old-school bartering. It turns out, bartering is both a natural extension of Portland’s off-kilter ethos and, as the city has become more polished and pricier with the influx of tech companies a means of preserving it. It was that instinct that lead Kevin Fiske and Josh Fitz to create the PDX Barter Market, a seasonal get together where locals trade just about anything and everything. 

“Artisanal bread for hypnotherapy – that sort of thing,” Fitz says with a laugh as he walks me through the art gallery where the market is held.

“It’s not that money is evil necessarily, but it’s a way to get things done if you’re not necessarily likable,” adds Fiske. “We’re trying to show a way to have fun without money.”

Here, a look at the people and places where the cash-free lifestyle has taken root.

harley davidson portland oregon bartering

Christopher Krieb

Coffee Klatch

“Some people help washing dishes, others with our clothing line,” says its owner, Natasha Stille, of Necar Cafe.

harley davidson portland oregon bartering

Christopher Krieb

Float On

When Graham Talley opened Float On, a sensory deprivation facility, he liked the idea of using bartering to encourage as many people as possible to try out the meditative experience that comes from entering one of his womb-like saltwater tanks. So while some customers pay $65 for a 90-minute “float,” others have gotten a taste in exchange for the art that hangs on the wall.

harley davidson portland oregon bartering

Christopher Krieb

Floating Free

Rolling Stone correspondent David Amsden experiences sensory deprivation for his first time in a bath at Float On. 

harley davidson portland oregon bartering

Christopher Krieb

Urban Farm Collective

“One slug gets you a pound of greens,” says Holli Prohaska, the Urban Farm Collective’s director. “If you have a lot of slugs, you can give them away to friends, family members, neighbors. It’s all just about being able to eat great, locally sustainable food without the need for money.”

harley davidson portland oregon bartering

Christopher Krieb

Leisurely Reading

Enjoy a good read or people watch from your barstool at Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai in Portland, Oregon. 

harley davidson portland oregon bartering

Christopher Krieb

Food Swap Gals

Lindsay Strannigan (left), the Food Swap PDX coordinator, and Bethany Rydmark, one of the founders of Food Swap PDX and the Food Swap Network. 

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