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Shannon Bryan

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Out Going with Shannon Bryan
Posted: December 6, 2012

Buy with your time: MECA's Yankee Swap Pop Up Shop

Would you buy a 55″ HD TV if it didn’t cost any money?

What if its “cost” was 100 hours of volunteer time doing good things for friends, neighbors, or local nonprofits? Would you buy it then?

Using community service as currency is the concept behind the Yankee Swap Pop Up Shop, opening on Free Street from 6:30-9 pm during First Friday Art Walk. The one-night-only shop will sell handmade goods and art created by MECA students that can be purchased in exchange for volunteer time.

Meaning you get the art without paying a penny. But you do have to give something: your time.

“It’s giving value that isn’t monetary,” said MECA student Regan Chase, one of the Pop Up Shop’s organizers. And it’s nice to have something handmade and unique to hang on the wall that has a more interesting story than, “Oh, that? I got it at Target.”

The shop was conceived by MECA students in the Art and Organizing: Connectivity & Culture class taught by Professor Paul Gebhardt. And they’re hoping shoppers will reevaluate our dollar-centric culture and recognize the power of consumer activism – and support talented local artists, to boot.

“It’s a nice idea to have not spent money on people, but to have put in time. Your sweat and labor. It makes a gift that much more meaningful” said MECA student Brady Price, whose work will be included at the shop.

Some of the art available at Friday’s Pop up Shop.

Each item at the Pop Up Shop – from sculptures and prints to tees and buttons – will be tagged with the amount of time it took the artist to create it (20 minutes, an hour, four hours, etc). The purchaser agrees to volunteer half that time. So a print on handmade paper that took the arist an hour to create costs 30 minutes of shoveling snow for the folks next store.

It reminds people how much work goes into these pieces, said Gebhardt. “And think about the value of their money.”

Pop Up Shop customers will be photographed with their purchase and a chalkboard indicating the amount of time they’ve agreed to volunteer, and those photos will go up on the Pop Up Shop’s event page on Facebook. The volunteer time can be served in an endless amount of ways: by helping out a neighbor, by picking up garbage around your block, by volunteering with a local organization that’s doing something you believe in. What you do is up to you.

And Pop Up Shop organizers are hoping you’ll take a photo of your community service and post that on Facebook, too.

Could you run off into the sunset with a screen-printed tee and never do any good for anyone? Sure. But then you’d need to have a long sit down with yourself to figure out how you became the kind of person who doesn’t do nice things for other people.

The shop will feature work from 10 students, includes 50-75 pieces, and will be open from 6:30-9 pm Friday at 85 Free St., Portland.

Leave your money at home, but bring your generosity.

FMI: Pop Up Shop event page on Facebook


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