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Send e-mail to use.usage at gmail dot com. You will receive an e-mail with instructions for becoming a member with the ability to make posts. Thanks for the interest.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Garden Project

See the initial post for details and guidelines.

Hi All,

The first project your fearless moderator could use help on is a redo of the back garden. Currently, it's a weed and grass mess with a cracking concrete patio, an avocado tree that needs trimming/training and a row of sugar cane I think we're going to save.

What needs doing:

- Demolition of majority of concrete in the backyard. Hauling out of concrete (or, if anyone has a mobile crusher, on-site conversion into aggregate would be preferable).
- Trimming/training of avocado tree.
- Laying sand base for stone patio.
- Laying stone patio, ashlar pattern from left-over stone scraps.
- Tilling and grading exising dirt.
- Planting vegetable rows and some ground-cover (maybe grass).

As mentioned in the first post, what I have to offer is masonry, carpentry and writing (I've been a journalist a pr writer and a technical writer for short stints, am reasonably good at all three).

Proposed dates: 5/16-5/17/09. Starting each day around 9am.

contact me at: use.usage at gmail dot com

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

What's This All About?

It's as simple as it sounds, looking for a way for Oaklanders, or folks there about, to trade labor for labor in the hopes of accomplishing goals and saving cash. This is not a full-blown barter registry, it's an experiment, not necessarily a novel one, but one whose parameters are still undefined. I have no interest in policing the terms of anyone's trade or verifying anyone's credentials. If you have contractual worries, hire a professional. As someone in the trades I can tell you that contracts and guarantees make up the lion's share of the premium you pay to have a professional out. There are plenty of projects that can be accomplished for lunch and a six pack between friends and equals. At least, that's the hope of this site.

If you're in a similar boat as me, and you have maybe more labor or more specialized tasks than you can do yourself, but at the same time you're ready and willing to pitch in on someone else's project, than maybe you can benefit. It's going to stay as simple as this:

- Join the blog
- Post your project and your talents. Include an estimate of a start date and how many days to completion for your project. Include the kind of work you think you're capable of in return. "Work" and "labor" might gloss most obviously as ditch digging or timber framing, but that gloss isn't necessarily exhaustive. Typesetting, wordsmything, engineering, marketing- anything a person might need done in exchange for something that person can do.
- Put a way to contact you in the post. Do this any way that seems advisable to you. If you don't put any contact info, no trade can occur, and no one gets hurt but you.
- Please don't try to monetize any interactions on this site. This is one of two things (the other being abuse or harassment) that I will use moderator tools to put an end to. Trading services for goods is fine, but less what this site is about. The philosophy of a labor trade is that, if it all goes awry, the worst you could lose is your time, and at least you got a little exercise in the process, mental or physical. If your time was going to cost you so much money that you'd be in trouble if it went unrecumpensed, than a work trade is not a good trade for you.

Pre-emptive FAQ:

- Isn't this what craigslist is for? Yes and no. There is a barter section on craigslist. I've never had any luck with it. In general, people's needs are far too particular, often tied to a specific material need (lots of Playstation games or password requests or tickets for a Kayne West that night). I have no idea of what the general success rate is, but I know I've never gotten anything done or done aything for anyone using it. At the same time, craigslist has become a massive black market for labor, with as much predatory behavior as you'd expect of any such market (legitimate or otherwise). This is fine as far as it goes but is less than helpful if you're doing something besides holding a low-bidder auction in the labor market.
- What about the liability involved in performing labor for other people or having them perform it for you? Well, it's real, and if you're a home owner your insurer probably gave you some speech about it when they designed your insurance coverage. The expectation of this site is that everyone acts like adults, meaning you evaluate your risks and liabilities and do what's sensible. If you do only what your insurance agent tells you to do, than you will only hire licensed and bonded professionals. If you do that, you will end up much poorer (and the insurance agent will still have a job- funny how that works).
- Isn't this destructive to the legitimate economy? What's so bad about paying people to do things? This is also a real question. As someone who makes his living in the trades, I certainly hope people keep paying for work. At the same time, there is a great inefficiency in using money as the medium to get this work done, as an equal or greater expense to the wages of the laborer are the wages of everyone in charge of making sure the job is profitable: accountants, estimators, managers, etc. What Oakland Work Trade says is that there are plenty of projects that can get done faster and no worse, in many cases better, if money isn't involved.

That's about it. I'll put the moderator hat on when it seems needed. The rest of the time, I'll have a mason or carpenter's hat on (or a writer's hat or a drummer's hat, should it prove useful).