I had no idea what to expect when Joanna Polley, Barter Babe 29.0 and founder of Plutarch’s Table, offered to barter a Philosophy Salon with me.
What is a Salon you ask? “The word came into use in the 17th century, through salons that were most often hosted by women who had no official role in the political sphere but refused to be excluded from public engagement. They gathered around them writers, artists, intellectuals, and like-minded citizens who came together to share ideas and inspire and learn from one another.”
After perusing Joanna’s website for all of 5 seconds, I was sold. The topic I chose? Money. Money is inextricably linked to all aspects of our life. This is why it can be such a hot button issue – perfect for a debate.
Lucky for me, Barter Babe 39.0 wanted to cater an authentic Korean meal for a dinner party! The perfect marriage of two barters for one truly interesting night.
The cooking would be done and I outsourced the hosting! All I had to do was invite 9 women and ensure I had enough spoons for 10 people.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Barter Babes Project <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 3:26 PM
Subject: Dinner party
To: Me <firstname.lastname@example.org>
You have been not-so-randomly selected to participate in an experimental dinner party next Tuesday, December 7th at my house!
You have been selected because you currently live in Toronto, are between the ages of 20 – 35, work in various different fields and have different outlooks on life.
This is a double barter for me. Sun is going to cater an authentic Korean meal for the dinner party as her barter.
I’ve got another Barter Babe who will be hosting our dinner party. I am only a guest as well. There are 10 of us total. I will not tell you more details than that.
You have to come with the following:
1. A bottle of wine you to share with the table
2. An open mind
Let me know if you can make it.
That is all.
(it’s not sexual.. so don’t get your hopes up)
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I ended up with a wonderfully diverse group of women for such an occasion. Some were married, some pregnant, some had children, others were single, homeowners, renters, cohabitating and three of the women weren’t raised in Canada.
A truly eclectic group of women from various parts of my life, brought together by philosophy, food, wine and Bing Crosby.
Joanna began her talk by giving us a brief history of money from a philosophical stand point. She started the discussion with a bang by posing the question: “Why are we so uncomfortable talking and thinking about money.” This was neat. We do talk about money – all the time with our friends, however, we can be selective about what information we give.
We are more likely to play down our financial success around our friends who make less than us or are in bad financial situations. Ever done that? I know I have.
We’re okay saying we are “broke and can’t go out this weekend” but we are uncomfortable asking a friend “how much do you have in your savings account?” We’re okay with talking about how bad things are, but very awkward to talk about how good things are.
Some at the table felt like it shouldn’t be rude to ask those types of straightforward questions. They believe that talking about money makes some people uncomfortable because perhaps they weren’t exposed to money issues while growing up. One woman had a theory that this lack of communication when we are young makes us feel uncomfortable to be so blunt about money with those outside our close circles.
We shared stories about what our own experiences with money was when we were children and what affect we think it had today. Is it better to be exposed to the financial ups and downs when you’re young and scared? Or, is it better to remain blissfully ignorant but have no real knowledge or experience about how to ‘juggle a check book’ when you leave the nest.
Also, I was also happy to prove one of my theories on our generation and how we deal with money. I believe there are two very distinct forms of “Money Behaviour” as I call it. Some women are really involved. They have excel spreadsheets, they check their credit card daily and pay it off immediately. They are constantly recalculating what’s in their bank account after every purchase. I call these women the Money-Hawks. These women have a tendency to feel immense guilt about spending any money at all – whether it’s on groceries or a new pair of boots, the guilt is the same. Their mantra is “I shouldn’t spend any money. Ever.” These women feel financially irresponsible whenever they spend anything.
The other type of Money Behaviour is the Money-Mouse. These women are afraid to look at their bills. They have an ‘it will just work itself out somehow’ attitude towards their money. These women tend to “deal with it later” when really, the fear is so real they will most likely find something better to do with their time when ‘later’ rolls around. They feel guilty because they know they should be doing something about their finances and they are not. In addition, they feel financially irresponsible because they aren’t really sure of their current financial situation.
Neither is best. Both can be stressful. We had both types of women at the dinner party. It was wonderful to sit back and take mental notes!
Joanna’s ability to steer the conversation back on track kept it engaging and her thought-provoking questions kept it meaningful.
At the end of the evening, we kept discussing money – well after Joanna had left. It was great talk about something real. Something scary. Something we all have in common but have totally different beliefs about.
It was quite an amazing night… and lest we forget the food. A big shout out to Sun, Barter Babe 39.0, who put together one of the most intricate meals that has ever been cooked in my kitchen. The chopping alone….
Thank you so much to Barter Babe 29.0, Barter Babe 39.0 and the wonderful participants at the Salon. Check out the photos!
Definitely something I’m planning on doing again!
Until next time….
Barter On Babes!