I know the economy is bad. I know that a lot of really, really hard times have fallen on people who don't deserve it. A lot of people are losing their jobs. Some are losing their homes. And everyone I know is wishing and hoping that the economy will turn around soon. As a freelance copywriter and journalist, I'm wishing it too.
But there are a few upsides to the situation. One is that more and more people are staying home. Vacations closer to home, less meals out, more entertaining in the backyard. "Why is that a good thing?" you might ask. One, it means that less gas is being used which is good for the environment. Two, community is important and when people stay home more, they are able to become more a part of their community. This "stay at home" trend also reminds me of the time when my parents were young--a time when families spent more time together and weren't running off in 12 different directions every night of the week.
There is also a growing trend in bartering for goods among friends and family, rather than buying things outright. In the latest edition of Mary Jane's Farm (a great magazine) there is a short article on this topic. This is really good news for the environment! Trading goods means that less new things will end up in the landfill.
If you're interested in bartering or trading goods, check out Craigslist, Freecycle, Swap Tree, Swap Thing, and other bartering sites (try a search under Google for more ideas). Or try setting up an informal bartering/swapping system in your own family or community. It's amazing the great things that you can find for yourself and find new homes for if you get a little creative. If you're into travel, you might want to check out Home Exchange, where you can swap houses with someone in another area of the country or the world. A home exchange, whether here in the US or abroad, will make a very memorable summer vacation.