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The Offers and Needs Market

by Joel Zaslofsky

The Offers and Needs Market (OANM) is a joyful, guided process where groups come together to discover and exchange their passions, knowledge, skills, resources, and needs. Whether for free, barter, or a set rate, people offer and need things like tech help, a place to live, or some extra produce.

The OANM unearths and shares the diverse forms of wealth we all have and reminds us that so much of what we need for a good life is already within our grasp.

Participants have found work, housing, new friends, a richer self-identity, and even a renewed trust in their community. Each exchange builds a connection, more connections create meaningful relationships, and the collective relationships strengthen communities – and maybe even create new ones.

It's also a way to practice Asset-Based Community Development as you focus on what resources (a.k.a. “assets”) the group already has. The OANM is a simple, playful, and cheerful way to highlight what people can already do, and provides a positive way to short-circuit the “But we don’t have any resources!” narrative. The emphasis is on creating and sustaining a mindset of what you can do to help – and get helped – right now.

The OANM works best when participants learn about them and prepare some of their offers and needs in advance. So do yourself and others a favor: explore the process now.

Are you looking for inspiration? Here's a spreadsheet with real examples of offers and needs from various events and gatherings.

Bring a friend or two and find out what their gifts are as well, plus how you might help each other in new or surprising ways.

All levels

Joel Zaslofsky

Joel Zaslofsky is the community-animator, multipotentialite, and quantum biology fanatic behind a bunch of neat stuff. He’s the Connections and Operations Guy for the Puttytribe, hosts the popular Smart and Simple Matters podcast, and has one overarching theme in life: bringing people together.

You’ll often find him deep into a minimalist spreadsheet, making his wonderful wife roll her eyes at his antics, or playing with his two young sons around Edina, Minnesota. Otherwise, Joel’s out walking on frozen lakes, reigniting his personal renaissance, and Experience Curating.


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