Swaps, trades, and time bank gain traction on Bainbridge Island

Ballerina…clown… fire chief. With just a few days left before Halloween, Bainbridge island resident Lynn Ferguson sifted through a collection of costumes at KiDiMu.

“I want to be a kitty,” her granddaughter Alexandria said.

Sure enough, Lynn pulled out a pink tiger costume that fit the bill.

Sierra Berry, 5, already knew what she is going to be for Halloween — a Dalmatian. Imagine her surprise when she found some great spotted canine ears and a collar.

The costume cache is part of KiDiMu’s first Halloween costume swap, a hub for exchanging outgrown get ups. Seriously. How many times can you be a pirate? Rather than plunging all that (often plastic) plunder into the landfill year after year, why not circulate them among families?

KiDiMu’s program coordinator Gabe Carbajal organized the effort inspired by and staff brought in a few costumes to “seed” the exchange. Then KiDiMu invited members and the community to donate “gently used” costumes or costume accessories. Through Sunday, visitors to the museum can choose a costume from the current selections for free. You don’t need to donate a costume in order to take one, and you can certainly donate one or more without taking one.

After Halloween, KiDiMu will accept clean, gently used costumes for next year’s swap.

The only scary thing about it? Navigating construction on Winslow Way to get there.

The costume swap is just one of several programs cropping up on Bainbridge that facilitate free exchanges among community members.  Sharing, of course, is not a new idea. Neighbors used to turn to neighbors for “a cup of sugar” or to keep an eye on things when they were away.


Bainbridge Barter

One of the island’s newest efforts in exchange is Bainbridge Barter, a weekly meet up at Waterfront Park. The name is a little misleading since there is no actual bartering or negotiating. People simply bring what they’d like to offer and lay it on the picnic table. At a designated time,  participants can begin selecting from what’s available.

“It’s closer to the concept of a potluck where you bring something and take something,” said Liesl Clark, one of the group’s co-founders.


Freecycle Bainbridge

Freecycle Bainbridge is an island-based online Yahoo! group that has been around since 2005. Members  post items under “offered” or “wanted” categories while indicating in which neighborhood they live. For instance, this week, someone offered a wrought-iron rose arbor and another had a universal weight machine they didn’t need. Within a few days, after others had claimed the items, the offerers posted another notice marked “taken.”

The volume of exchanges varies, but in August, 530 messages were posted. Unlike Craigslist’s region-wide listings, Freecycle Bainbridge focuses on island exchanges. To try it, sign up for the free online group at


Resilience circles

Following a presentation on Bainbridge in April by Chuck Collins, founder of Common Security Circles, residents here and in Suquamish formed their own “resilience circles” to explore the idea of coming together to deal with the challenging economic climate.

During one of the weekly Saturday meetings held in the Virginia V Apartments across from the library, participants brainstormed together, assembling a list which identified skills they are willing to share and services they might want. For instance, someone in the group may know how to cut hair but needs handywork. Another person loves to cook but needs help in the garden. Using the matrix, members can contact others from the list and offer or ask for services.

In fact, one of the organizers, Kat Gjovik, said most people had no problem offering to others, but found they needed to practice asking for help. Building trust takes time.

If you’d like to participate or learn more, contact Gjovik at

Gjovik, who works with David Korten, co-founder of YES! Magazine and author of numerous books on the economy, is part of a group working to take this one step further –  by creating a local time bank.


Time bank

Like the exchange of services in resilience circles, a time bank allows members to exchange services without cash. A software platform helps keeps track of hours which are accrued by performing services for others in the system. For instance if  a member washes someone’s dog, they “bank” one hour of time. They can use that credit for an hour of someone else’s service, say help doing their taxes.

“The exchanges help build community,” said Gjovik. “The value of everyone’s hour is the same.”

The fledgling group meets at noon on Wednesdays at OfficeXpats in the Pavilion.

There are numerous time banks throughout the country including several in the Seattle area.

For more information, visit www.


Agate Pass Exchange

Out of conversations about time banking came a desire to be able to exchange goods as well as services, something prohibited with a timebank system.

Bainbridge resident Chuck Estin was involved in establishing an alternative currency in Port Townsend that’s part of a bio-regional group Fourth Corner Exchange. Similar to a time bank the Fourth Corner system keeps track of transactions between members, with the added dimension of being able to exchange goods as well as services. This makes it viable for businesses to participate.

Agate Pass Exchange, the new group forming on Bainbridge and North Kitsap will be part of the Fourth Corner network.

For more information, visit To connect with the local group search Agate Pass Exchange on Facebook.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Oct 21
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.

Friends to Follow

View All Updates