I spent the day developing marketing materials for The Secrets of Clayton County Trilogy and one of the interview questions for my upcoming interview on CBS was, “Why do you feel you had to tell this story?” Of course, my mind went into overtime, remembering the common elements that were at play when I wrote Book 1.
There is just something about rural America that is getting left behind as society rushes forward, looking outwardly for more of what they think is better in a metropolitan setting. The story of Sarah brings readers to the understanding of her leaving rural America in search for that elusive happiness that only occurs when you are in your right surroundings. It takes Sarah to Chicago, yet returns her to small town Iowa where she is woven into the fabric of strong ties and family loyalties.
Bartering was part of my childhood memories – my grandfather in particular shared many moments in discussing some element or another. As I began writing Secrets, I became very aware that bartering must be a part of the story. It is something that many people feel transpired during a time before there was paper currency; however, in the 1980’s it was quite prevalent, and as we look around us – this exchange of goods and services with no actual monetary exchange is making a serious comeback. I felt the story would have some bearing over how well people understood how the fabric of small rural communities wove a strong foundation for the activities to occur. I am sure many of you are much like me… you had parents who tried to instill in you a respect for the power of money. You did chores in exchange for your allowance, and if you had something you wanted to purchase… that didn’t happen until you had saved enough to walk into the store and pay the price on the tag. I also became aware, however, of the need for – and power of – a barter exchange for times when the economy did not necessarily support a full monetary exchange system.
Today, as part of this resurgence, we see farmers’ markets where a lot of exchange naturally happens; in Manhattan it is easy to walk along Canal Street, where you get the opportunity to challenge and polish your negotiation skills. There are numerous online communities which encourage a basic barter philosophy, such as eBay where people set bids on the items they want to secure. In previous posts, I have shared myriad other areas where barter exchange is thriving.
The WHY of Barter Exchange
It is easy to understand the “why” behind the resurgence of barter exchange. Just because the economy shifts does not mean the people are able to make equal shifts in their purchasing habits. Granted, luxury items can be set aside; however, there are many life essentials that must be maintained – no matter how far astray governmental currency goes. Research shows that a number of states, and a few savvy cities, have initiated barter systems to support the needs of their local citizens, establishing practices for alternate currency to facilitate the kind of trade that will stimulate the economy. With this quality of support and advanced technology, it is easier to monitor fair exchange and the essential requirements for taxation through the IRS.