August 22nd, 2019

Onion River Exchange Pops Up on Main Street

Onion River Exchange members have traded around 38,000 hours since 2008. Here, time trader Lila is helping Fred create a webpage for the publication of his new book.

Onion River Exchange members have traded around 38,000 hours since 2008. Here, time trader Lila is helping Fred create a webpage for the publication of his new book.

By Aaron Retherford
With the opening of a tool library and a pop-up this week, the Onion River Exchange is picking up steam as it heads into its eighth year of existence.

ORE, a time trade that serves Central Vermont and is located at 46 Barre Street in Montpelier, has exchanged around 38,000 service hours between time traders. For years, people have been able to provide services like planning parties, creating websites, teaching piano lessons, shoveling snow and more for credits toward services in return.

Now, time traders will be able to borrow tools with the opening of the tool library.

ORE received a grant from Home Depot in order to purchase materials, so members could go into other members’ homes and help with home repairs. After that, there was still about $1,000 remaining from the grant, so ORE purchased tools to start a tool library. ORE outreach coordinator Heather Kralick said the hope is to hold Do-It-Yourself workshops, so members can learn how to weatherize their homes and do simple repairs with the tools in the library.

“I see it as an expansion of the time bank. The time bank is people sharing human resources, their skills and talents. This is an extension of that with the sharing of tools,” Kralick said.

The tool library consists of both manual and power tools. Members can also browse the available tools online through the use of free software, which has a picture of each tool in the library.

That’s not the only big news coming out of ORE this week.

ORE has been located in various office spaces over the years, and has been at its current location for about a year and a half. Unfortunately, ORE is in a “nun cell” at the old St. Michael’s School, leaving the organization with very little space.

ORE staff members wanted to be more visible in the community. So along the same lines as pop-up restaurants, ORE will be popping up at the former location of the Green Mountain Film Festival ticketing office at 13 Main Street in Montpelier from April 8-11.

“Two years ago, we had two or three rounds of members offering different workshops to the community. But our staffing time was reduced, and we really didn’t have time to develop workshops like we used to,” Kralick said. “But we thought since we’re going to pop up for four days, let’s just make a big splash and see if we can organize some workshops.”

During the pop-up, there will be several workshops run by members for anyone interested, ranging from tarot card readings to repurposing sweaters to Zumba to Intuitive Feng-Shui. However, the highlight of the week will be Friday night from 6 to 8 p.m. when ORE members Susan Reid, Ron Sweet and friends provide live music. Hors d’oeuvres will be served.

During the week, there will be a member orientation as well as an introduction to the tool library in hopes of building on the goals of helping Vermonters save money, learn new skills, meet new people, feel connected and helpful to the community, and increase community sustainability.

“We’re a struggling non-profit. I think most non-profits are always looking for fundraisers and how to get grants,” Kralick said. “When I go back to our mission of what we’re trying to accomplish by providing a network and what we actually do, I’m always inspired…It’s really member to member, neighbor to neighbor helping each other.”

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