As a counsellor, Galya Chatterton wanted to make her services more accessible. So when she learned about the launch of a non-traditional school where students and teachers barter for instruction, she immediately proposed a conflict management class.
“It seemed a little safer than actually running a therapy group,” she said. “It just seemed like something that would be useful in some capacity for most people.”
Chatterton will offer conflict management through the new Trade School Vancouver, which will be hosted at various venues by a volunteer team. Potential instructors submit a proposal and what they’d like to receive in return. Students reserve spaces online and indicate the goods or services they will provide. Bartered goods are exchanged on the day of school.
A group of friends started Trade School in New York in 2010. The concept has caught on in more than 20 cities including Singapore, Guadalajara and Toronto.
Two separate groups of Vancouver volunteers learned from Trade School New York they were both working to establish a Trade School here and so they joined forces. “We’re all really thinking about this as a way to build community, to make education and learning accessible and also to break down the idea [of] who is privileged enough to teach something and who isn’t,” said Allexa Abi-Jaoude, one of the Vancouver organizers. “We’re encouraging anybody from any background who has something that they think they can share to send us a proposal and get involved.”
Trade School Vancouver has received proposals from professors, doctors and stay-at-home moms. Experts aren’t necessarily teaching what’s on their CVs, but sharing hobbies and other skills.
“On our launch day, it was really nice to see all the connections that were made and people meeting people who they would probably never get to know in a different situation,” Abi-Jaoude said.
Upcoming courses include bike maintenance, conflict management, art philosophy and HTML and CSS
Instructors are bartering instruction for baked goods, website help and welding tips.
Chatterton says leading a class is less about her desire for babysitting and personal training and more about providing access. “It’s kind of a fun concept,” she added. “They promote learning and connecting and sharing within community, which promotes mental health.”
Most of the venues Trade School Vancouver uses are in or near Gastown and accommodate 10 to 25 students. The organizers, who work in public health, website design and social media, hope to expand to other parts of the city and to find a facility to accommodate cooking classes. For more information, see tradeschoolvan.com.