By: Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-5381

If you need it, someone has it. If you have it, someone needs it. This is the inspiration behind the first Student Barter Day on the Connective Corridor, which will take place Saturday, April 5, from 3:30-6:30 p.m.

The day has been developed by Anda French, assistant professor in the School of Architecture and the architect who designed 601 Tully, and Gabe Mugar, a doctoral student in the School of Information Studies and founder of Campus Neighbor, a student startup that launched out of the Syracuse Student Sandbox.

French and Mugar are partners—professionally and personally. They are married and both interested in how art and technology can be used to create social capital and create community. Now they are teaming up as part of CampusNeighbor + 601 Tully to launch the first-ever Barter Day, an event that will bring residents from the Near West Side together to barter with students from SU.

“Bartering is trading real skills, goods, knowledge or experiences without having to exchange money,” says Mugar. “It keeps energy and economies local.”

To be part of Barter Day, go to Individuals can sign up for an account and indicate what skills they have and what needs they are looking to fulfill. The website does the rest, matching individuals based on needs and resources. The system will also set up the terms of the barter to take place.

On April 5, students and residents can meet up at 601 Tully to structure their barter, or meet with Mugar to learn how to use the system. The Barter Day event is part of a group art show at 601 Tully, “Getting to Know You,” featuring CampusNeighbor and other artists, which is on display through April 24, with special events throughout the run.

Mugar had the initial idea for Campus Neighbor in 2010 and built the software in 2012, at the same time he received a spot to incubate in the Student Sandbox at the Tech Garden. He launched Campus Neighbor with a great deal of mentoring from the SU and local community. The idea for creating matches through a bartering system that involved negotiation came from Ph.D. classes Mugar took, which prompted him to explore developing a self-guided system. He was particularly interested in making connections between the University Hill and neighborhoods, playing off the Connective Corridor as an inspiration.

“CampusNeighbor creates a different model for community engagement,” notes Mugar. “People give and receive through bartering. … The inspiration was to create an asset-based community development tool, and the design goal was create a guided process that would create a skills inventory and help negotiate needs-based matches.”

Mugar worked with Dave DiMaggio at SU's CASE Center, as well as colleagues to develop the first version of the platform. The goal was to bridge the campus-community divide. “The match is always student to resident,” he notes, “not student to student or resident to resident. It's about making connections.”

There is scholarship on how barter-based networks build social capital and become self-reinforcing, leading to future collaboration. It’s been noted that as with conventional capital, those who have social capital tend to build more, and Mugar is interested in how technology can become a tool to amplify those connections. Student Barter Day is one tool to help lay the foundation for that kind of collaboration across the Connective Corridor.