Cold hard cash is exactly that, coldly impersonal and hard on the folks who don't have much of it. If you're one of the many Montrealers who live paycheck-to-paycheck, there's little doubt you feel the same.
Money is really only fun if you have a lot of it (again, that isn't most of us) and my personal lack of moola has often had me wondering what the world would be like if we did everything like our forefathers, who would trade goods and service for, well, other goods and services.
Otherwise known as a barter trade system, the old-school method of exchange is all but extinct in today's capitalism-driven economies.
Musician Emily Bitze didn't think that was true, or shouldn't be, and created her own modern bartering collective.
Originally housed on Facebook, Bitze's creation, which has become something of a social movement, is known as "Bum's Trading Zone," (BTZ) an online trading service where no cash is allowed.
BTZ works like a clothing swap, except users aren't limited to items of apparel. Anyone on the once-exclusive trading group can post an item they're looking to part with, and other folks can reply with offers for the item in question. Pretty much anything can be used as currency, from other goods, to food, to alcohol, with the last being a very popular choice.
Launched in Toronto, BTZ has become uber popular and is no longer based solely in the 6ix. While Toronto's BTZ is being relaunched as a legit online trading service and app (no word on when it'll be launched though) the concept has come to Montreal in its original form, namely a Facebook group.
Titled "Bunz Trading Zone" (a slight variation on the original name, for whatever reason) the Montreal bartering network has the benefit of not being a closed Facebook group (like the TO one was) meaning anyone can join, post items, and trade.
Montreal's BTZ is quite active despite only having about 1,100 members, with new items posted almost daily. Much like its Toronto forefather, BTZ Montreal has folks trading goods for everything under the sun, like the recently posted tea set that was traded for a mickey of whiskey.
Of course, if you wanted, you could trade just about anything you want for a poutine, too.
A rather interesting evolution of BTZ, not yet in Montreal, is the "Bunz Friending Zone," a psuedo-trading system for dates and pals. BFZ's system works a lot like BTZ, except you pretty much advertise yourself/an activity and invite anyone who's interested to come meet your or partake in whatever you're doing.
Any inspired readers can create a Bunz Friending Zone Montreal, but before anything, get a taste for the goods-for-goods trading system.
You can join Bunz Trading Zone Montreal by heading to the Facebook page here.