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Kulturlabor Trial&Error e.V.

S WAPPING MANIFESTO We want to celebrate the joy of sharing, the contentment found in caring, the spirit of solidarity and the taste of freedom! We want to rebuild our trust in future and bring back the sense of responsibility. We believe that Mother Earth is for all of us and every single person needs to take care of it for the future generation. We are doing it together. Swapping is about sharing and giving what you are capable to give and taking what you need. We swap our skills, possessions and time. Swapping culture sets itself as a platform for nourishing sustainable environment. Swapping offers a safe place for saving our time and money and gives us tools to preserve ourselves. Swapping transforms us from consumers to aware members of community. We put this in action by rethinking our resources, reconsidering value of things, upcycling what has already been made and resisting consumerism. We do not buy new unnecessary things. We are liberating ourselves from the obsession of possessions, that contribute to the exploitation of human and nature resources.


T ABLE OF CONTENTS Swapping manifesto ...................................................................................... 2 Intro ................................................................................................................. 4 John ..................................................................................................................5 Voluntary work ............................................................................................... 7 Time bank ....................................................................................................... 9 Community building ..................................................................................... 11 Freebox........................................................................................................... 13 Swapshop ...................................................................................................... 15 Swaptruck ..................................................................................................... 18 Follow up ....................................................................................................... 19 Outro .............................................................................................................. 23


I NTRO Swapping culture? What a puzzling combination of words. To swap for us means to trade, to exchange, to use barter, trying to live on the margins of our mostly capitalist world order. Looking for ways around and loopholes, shortcuts and alternatives, determined to live sustainably and to build communities, based on the values of respect and care: for us it is a culture by itself, set of beliefs, patterns of perceptions and behaviours, that get inherited and passed on amongst generations and societies. Within this project we explored and tried to implement the possibilities swapping culture and swapshops have to offer in areas of youth work and community building. We found sustainable alternatives to consumerism and re-discovered the ancient way of gaining goods - exchange. Exchange without money, often without expecting anything in return, but a simple “thank you�. While practicing swapping we avoid creating of new unnecessary things which is important now more than ever. Seeing the rapid changes that our planet is going through, we all have to reevaluate our habits and adjust them to as zero waste ways as possible. We worked with youth workers from 8 different countries with different experiences in anti-consumerism actions. All of them were highly motivated and ready to implement local events after training course. Dedication to the cause and understanding of the importance of this topic was a key driving force behind the project and its success. Participants shared their experience and future plans, built international networks and worked on new ideas. All of them were inspired and made local events that attracted new interest and are further developed as you read this. By gathering participants from different regions and with different levels of experience we managed to find a balance between enthusiasm and experience, this has helped to build bridges between countries and come up with new solutions and ways swapping could be used as a tool in youth work and community building. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best! To swap is such a well-known and often overlooked activity that can change so much not only for individuals and society, for the environment and our future, creating space for young people to contribute to their local communities. All the little steps count, we are powerful in our everyday actions and they matter now more than ever! 4

J OHN The story of John John, a person with whom everyone can identify, someone who is not aware that John is practicing swapping culture. This is John. John loves fashion. John buys clothes and like most of us John throws them away when John gets bored. One day John witnessed a scene that shocked him. Two people were exchanging clothes in front of a store. John thought: "What a weird thing. Why are they doing that?". John approached them and asked: "Did you just exchange jackets?". "Yes, we swapped", they said. "When you don't need something never throw it away. Give it to others", they continued. On his way home, John remembered that his grandmother used to exchange eggs for sour cream and milk with her neighbours. John also used to exchange shoes with his cousins, he realised that swapping is not something very new, it has been here for a long time.


John did some research. He found out that every year people throw away tones of clothes, shoes and devices. John looked around his apartment and he saw the hat he only wore once, John noticed the eight similar shirts he had and of course, the coffee machine he bought last month even though he doesn't drink coffee. He thought that the best he could do is gather all these things and go to store where he first saw swapping. It was a small shop full of clothes, dishes, toys and many other things. And the best part is that you didn't need money to get want you like. John was surprised to find an analogue photo camera that he has been searching for a long time. He also had a long conversation with a woman from his neighbourhood about gardening. He discovered a wonderful place where people were exchanging not only clothes but also experiences. From that day on John became more conscious about alternative lifestyle, environmental issues, diversity and circular economy. John realized that swapping is about giving a second life to old things and escaping capitalism. You know...nowadays...he is still swapping. Be like John!


V OLUNTARY WORK /principles Voluntary work is when things are done by free will, without a duty to do them and without direct material compensation. Volunteer can be anyone, who is willing to support a cause, that also matches their personality and interests. Voluntary work can be related to different spheres - social, environmental, culture, political. Volunteers are the so called “community glue�, keeping the people together, attracting energy, attention and new people.


Volunteering starts with understanding own personality, interests and considering own goals. When finding matching volunteering opportunity, it is also important to realistically consider own time resources and be clear from both sides about tasks, responsibilities and expectations. There are always existing groups and organisations, looking for volunteers, however, a group of volunteers can also be shaped from people, who are interested in supporting the same cause. In this case learning from peers, searching for information online, through networking events and related initiatives are the ways to start. Spreading word in social media, that like/minded people are wanted, is another tactic. For example, you are interested to support the environmental, social and economic causes by starting a swap shop, but there are no initiatives nearby. After estimating, how much free time you have, the possible start is to look for available information, toolkits online, spread a call for like-minded people in your social media, hang out a poster in social meeting points. In this case you become a volunteer.

/benefits Volunteering is a mutual process - by contributing with their time, skills or knowledge, volunteer can get a lot of benefits, like

↔ expanding own network,

đ&#x;’Ş developing skills new skills, or refreshing unused ones,

đ&#x;’Ť trying our new concepts, learning,

đ&#x;˜Ž boosting social skills and building relationships,

đ&#x;Ś„ being part of something bigger, like community, or cause. 8

T IME BANK Since ancient times communities have used the principle of swapping goods and services, trusting that help will come when needed. Nowadays money replaces trust.

In time bank the validated currency is time, implicating principles of solidarity, equity and trust. It works simple - a group of people decide on - exchange rules (1h : 1h, 1h : many h, or many h : many h), - tools to communicate and track the exchanges (online platform, offline board in available place), - decision making - group decides on plenum, or delegates a community leader/-s, As any communal project, it is built upon shared values of time banking* 9

Redefining Work: Some work is beyond price. Removal of price. Assets: We are all assets. We all have something of value to contribute. Honour of giving: paying forward instead of backward, or reciprocity. Respect: We all matter. Clear and timely communication, honesty, agreement on rules. Community - alone we go fast, together we go far. Diversity and cooperation. *inspired by đ&#x;”—

Around the globe, timebanks can be found in such places as tribes, villages, urban neighbourhoods and educational facilities, keeping its members motivated by participatory approach, ownership feeling and relationships.


C OMMUNITY BUIL DING What are the characteristics of a community, I asked in the session about community building? Friendship, solidarity, shared interests, respect … all the answers would fit under the title VALUES, when shared amongst the group members, it is the crucial milestone in the process of building a community. Either it is a healthy lifestyle, or environmental awareness, close relationships with neighbours or just and social economical system - every community distinguishes itself from a random group of people by the values they, share. Values are the driving force of the human actions, as we can say that the universal wish for meaningful and fulfilled life can come from the feeling of acting in accordance with own values. The values are ordered according to their PRIORITY whilst someone it is important to be honest, another person will always put the environmental awareness first. Even if the group members have similar values, the order, or priorities might play a role in conflicting situation. Therefore, understanding own values and the priorities as well as being aware of the ones of others is the basics of being part of any group or community. Group, as every live organism, goes through a certain process. Tuckman has proposed a 4 (+1) step model to explain THE PROCESS MODEL OF A GROUP/community:

Forming: get into contact, everybody behaves nicely, the environment is encouraging

Storming: conflict, people start being and acting authentically, people start looking for their peers, subgroups start to develop

Norming: an implicit contract is being developed: “aha, this is how we are as a group”

Performing: cooperation and co-creation can start, now the group is able to work What we know for now is that Every community goes through all these stages, The first 2 stages are the “pseudo-community” - it can interact and function, but never go deeper to achieve the same goals, 11

In The Norming and Performing stages the groups are “authentic communities�, that can actually not only perform the superficial functions, but also achieve a shared vision. In order to become a real community, the conflict stage is inevitable. It does not have to be a violent clash of values, but a discussion and compromise, consents process. If the conflict is avoided, the group comes back to the first stage. Changes of circumstances, new members joining the group - some internal or external factors are leading to group, returning to the Forming stage and having to re-define its shared values. What does this have to do with a swapping culture? In order to create a living example of a swapping culture, a community is the corner-stone. The understanding of how a group is being created, what processes does it goes through, and how and why individuals are joining groups, helps the group of engaged people join their efforts and create a sustainable initiative.


F REEBOX “Give what You can, take what You needâ€? đ&#x;‘ Where to be found: in your staircase, hallway of a school, backyard, street, park‌ anywhere! đ&#x;‘&#x; Objects: clothes, books, shoes, household items and anything in between đ&#x;‘‰ Purpose: sharing of resources in a place maintained by commons, simply put - swapping

/how does it work ✔







like-minded peers - a group of motivated individuals build the structure and, if necessary, maintain it; for whom is the swap box – think about people who would be interested and motivated to take care of the box. It can be publicly available to everyone on the street, it can be built in the school for kids and parents, it can be on public or private property. Different situations ask for different measures; find a place – spot, that is accessible, weather-proof, easy to maintain, has a social function in the community, decide on rules – instructions, how to use the box, principles behind it, be aware of different languages and attitudes. Be patient; set up the structure – materials, tools, time (daylight or night), think if it will have an official opening; support the process – maybe at the beginning it won't be clear how to use the box, you might have to bring some objects to swap, have a look, if there is garbage gathering, if new instructions are necessary; decide on ending – decide, how long shall the box stay there, who will take care of dismantling it or if it can stay there for indefinite period of time.


/needed wood materials (try to use old materials, already existing structures – shelve, old phoneboothes and such), screws, tools, group of devoted individuals, signs with instructions. /risks vandalism, legal aspects (permissions, private property), place gets messy or used as a trash bin /tips ✔

✔ ✔

✔ ✔

in order to get an official permission to place such object in a public space, an organisation, or individuals, that take responsibility of the place are needed; for ideas to share food, check the Foodsharing initiative; engage the community – use the potential of involving the people in decision making, building up the structure, or taking care of the box; learn from feedback – observe how the box is being used, who uses it; trust the process – whatever happens is what is supposed to happen; be aware of the cultural differences.


S WAPSHOP “Swap yourself happyâ€? ‌ imagine a clothes shop, that works without money. A place, where You share, what You have and receive in exchange much more than clothes. A kind person offers You a tea, You sit down and hear two neighbours, talking about the community garden nearby. You watch families, some youngsters, sorting out clothes, suggesting each other the best matching shirts. An elder person enters the shop with couple of hand-knitted socks, two persons with craft skills offer to repair the broken chair on the street. Someone asks, “Could anyone help me to translate this from Arabic?â€? and You have already offered Your help. Time has passed, You have met people from neighbourhood, that are passionate about upcycling, the same as You, and You walk home with a new jacket in the bag, warm heart and head, full of ideas.










/why a swap shop? Everything is already produced. On this Earth there is enough food, enough houses, enough clothes for everyone. Only not everyone has enough money to buy it. But we all do have time and knowledge. SWAP SHOP is a marketplace, where no money is used. The visitors can exchange their own items, time or knowledge in order to get other items, people`s time, or knowledge. There are no prices, 15

customers estimate the value of their desired items themselves. NB! Swap shop is just another shop! Its not a workshop. It doesn’t invite You to run inside and grab unnecessary things just because its fun. It does offers You to experience alternative shopping and invites to estimate the actual value of things You share: ITEMS – visitors as well as organizers are invited to bring things what they do not need anymore. It can be books, shoes, clothes … anything. In the shop they are placed in shelves, boxes, cloth hangers, easily visible and available for the visitors. TIME – a visitor can “buy” time and get somebody to teach You how to make, for instance, a valet from empty tetra pack. A visitor can also pay with time, helping to maintain or improve the infrastructure of the shop. Or maybe someone wants to pay with time, making sandwiches for other, or helping to clean the shop. KNOWLEDGE – maybe someone in the shop need some language skills You have, maybe there is a newcomer, who needs help to show around in neighbourhood, or a parent that would like to share with another one. Interactions and connections is the social capital of the swap shop. /need ✔

✔ ✔

A place, visible, available to community, affordable, with infrastructure (bathroom, kitchen, etc), A group of determined volunteers, that will keep the shop running, A concept - how will the exchange happen? What else do You want in the shop?

/to keep in mind ✔

Clear structure with signs, wide shelves, tables always helps. Items in large boxes, or high piles are not practical to keep the order. From experience, there are always more clothes, than You can swap with the regular attendees of the shop. Find charity organisations, social projects, stay in touch with activists, that are collecting clothes donations, to make sure, that Your shop does not drown in clothes. Balance between freedom and rules. Rules in the shop are not always a bad thing, it also helps people to orientate and know, what is expected from them. Language - if You decide to hang out signs, make sure, that the people, attending the shops, can read them. Use visual language as explanation. 16






Find a solution to protect personal items of the visitors - either by clearly marking the area, where the things are for swapping, or reminding every visitor to look after their things. As it is a swap shop, misunderstandings can happen. Avoid broken, dirty and unusable items - You can check the things people brought, before distributing them in the shop. Swap shop is a joint effort - help people to orientate but encourage to be part of the swap shop by distributing own clothes, helping to keep the place clean. Every now and then make inventory - maybe there are things, that are in the shop for too long and need to be upcycled. Volunteers are the key - make a guest book, note down contact information of the people, who seem eager to help.

/tip To maintain the transparency and communicate, that the shop is not there for granted, but joint efforts are needed, You can set up the “donation barometer� - a poster, or installation, that shows, what are the actual monthly expenses of the swap shop (rent, materials, etc) and opportunity to visually show, how much has been acquired so far.

Few nice examples (clickable): đ&#x;”—Tauschladen - Kulturlabor Trial&Error Swap Shop in Berlin, Germany đ&#x;”—BrÄŤvbode - Free Riga Swap shop in Riga, Latvia đ&#x;”—Skoros Athens, Thessaloniki, Greece


S WAPTRUCK /first steps


Find the truck and repair it: old school bus;


Find a workshop place: to store and separate the things we collect;


Find volunteers: to drive and run the truck, the driver may be the owner of the truck;


Funding: crowd funding and donation for gas.

/how to implement


Promote: posters, brochures, social media, local activities;


Gathering things from family, friends;


Go around to gather and swap;


Repeat previous steps.


F OLLOW UP Germany, Kulturlabor Trial&Error e.V. - Night Swap party on 26th of January 2019. The swapshop is running since 8 years and opens twice a week. For a lot of people the normal opening hours of swapshop don't work, so it was decided to use the opportunity to swap all evening long: celebrating the exchange and making it more accessible for everyone.It was a lovely evening! Our Bar team did wonderful job fixing everybody with delicious homemade Kombucha & water-kefir based cocktails, we had a creative diy corner where people made clothes and jewellery out of trash, a makeup corner, “trashion photographer”, yummy cakes and even a heated discussion about ecological footprint. And most importantly we reached many new people and loads of clothes found a new loving home. Solidarity and sustainability go hand in hand!

Latvia, Liepaja “RADI VIDI PATS” - clothes swap and screening of the documentary “The true cost” on 28th of November 2018 Radi Vidi Pats is an association that works with topics related to environmental education for youngsters, in recent years they have grown into the sphere of social work.

Latvia, Riga “Free Riga” - their own swapshop Link of Swap shop: They are running swap shop once per week. Around the Christmas time a special event was done with the locals who volunteer at the swapshop. They were swapping stories, experiences and they did a photoshooting. Most of them are old and lonely, so it was decided to make a little party for them with photo corner and other activities.


Moldova, “PHOENIX” - EcoVisio FreeShop of gifts on 12th of January 2019 More than one hundred people came.It was done in partnership with EcoVisio, an organization that does similar event since 1 year, this was their most successful one. Space was created where various people who do not know each other came together and shared their personal objects. Together they gave value to things that were unused, but that still had the potential to bring joy to someone else. Clothes, accessories, gifts, bags, paper, even batteries were recycled. And above all, it showed that it is possible toget something new and exciting without any expense. Phoenix is a young non-profit organization that supports creative and innovative approach to local entrepreneurship and promotes civic engagement, gender equality and human rights among youth, targeting youngsters at risk of exclusion.

Greece, “Greek youth mobility” - Swapshop event on 28th of December 2018 Greek youth mobility is an informal group of young people that has participated in various international and local activities based on non-formal and informal education. They develop activities for social change, equality, tolerance and creativity, together with other youngsters who share the same beliefs and willing to provide their knowledge

Georgia, “Georgian Youth for Europe” - “Swapping clothes” event on 8th of December 2018 The mission of GYE is to empower youth of the Kvemo Kartli Region of Georgia to achieve their full physical, intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual potential both as individuals and as responsible citizens. Exchanging clothes and having a discussion about swapping culture and R4: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Recover That was followed by an event on 16th of January 2019 that included upcycling workshops together with an active swapshop. First they did an Upcycling workshop with the stuff they have in their office. After that they were swapping


clothes and having discussions. In the end of the event, they showed documentary film "True cost". “Summing up this follow up activities, we can say that, this events had an impact

with our young people. After discussion we had, slowly, they will start to think about how to reduce our needs and to understand the damage that may unwittingly set in our environment. We had an idea to make this event time to time, to raise awareness with young people, because we think this is a generation, who can make a big difference in our community and they are able to make a big changes in their daily life.” Armenia, “BEM” - screening of the documentary “True cost” on 26th of January 2019 “BEM” seeks to provide information, means and tools necessary for the transition into a more eco-friendly, sustainable, civic responsible lifestyle. Film was followed by a discussion and met a great response from locals that are eager to do other events in the fututure.

Egypt, Alexandria “MI-HI” - SWAP - Save The Environment on 15th on February 2019 “MI-HI” is a social enterprise and youth organization that is designed to empower youth and take them out of their comfort zone to explore new possibilities of personal development. This was the first swap event in Alexandria, Egypt where two of the project participants shared their experience and inspired people to explore sharing instead of buying. They had fruitful discussions and sessions about the swapping culture, and how to keep the sustainability of the environment, by reuse and recycle your stuff. And they implemented what was discussed through the swapping, as most of participants brought their unused stuff (clothes, books, food, etc) and swapped them with each other.


Palestina, “Bait Byout� - ‘Mudakasheh’ on 29th of January 2019 “Bait Byout� is a youth led organization that aims at building a free society through creating positive impact in the lives of individuals. First swapping event ‘Mudakasheh’ gained massive attention from local media and has inspired similar events in other Palestinian cities.

đ&#x;”—Palestine national TV

đ&#x;”—Ajyal Radio



O UTRO Don't buy - don't throw away - swap!

Swapping culture training course might be over but swapping is far from being forgotten. It's still all around us. In the times of rapid urbanisation and migration across the borders as well as striking effects of climate change, caused by nonsustainable ways of using natural resources, young people with different cultural and socio-economical backgrounds are brought together, having to share spaces and resources. Unable to facilitate the changing conditions, we have to deal with consequences of social, economical and environmental processes. This project addressed the needs of the youth workers to build capacity, gain courage for innovations, knowledge and skills to engage with youth through a universal and easily applicable tool - exchanging.


The toolkit is a joint creative effort of Kulturlabor Trial&Error e. V. collective and friends, who met in the youth workers mobility “Swapping culture: a tool for sustainable youth involvement strategies” in November 2018 in Berlin.

The project was made possible through a grant from ERASMUS+ European Union, with a project number 2018-2-DE04-KA105-016948 from JUGEND für Europa Nationale Agentur Erasmus+ JUGEND IN AKTION.

This work is shared under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) License. We would like to encourage anyone to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format, to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially:

Illustrations and photos: Rowan Vellinga (front cover), Lorena Terzi, Vahagn Vardumyan, Ana Costov, Vladislav Belkin

Contact Information: Kulturlabor Trial&Error e. V., Braunschweigerstraße 80, 12055 Berlin, Germany, FB: kulturlabortrialerror


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