About

Trade School LA is volunteer-run community organization that offers classes to the public using barter instead of money. Our goal is to offer an accessible education resource that also builds trust & community connection in Los Angeles.

Here is how Trade School works:

Step 1) Classes at Trade School LA are taught in exchange for barter items provided by students. For example, if you teach a class about building a website, you might ask students to bring 1 of the following barter items: a pack guitar strings; a paperback novel; a bag of local fruit; help with finding an apartment. Every class's barter will be different, as each instructor sets their own class's exchange. 

Step 2) Students sign up for classes on our website, and, by signing up, they agree to bring 1 of the barter items requested by the instructor.

Step 3)  On the day of class, the teachers & students meet in a space that is made available by Trade School LA. Students give their barter item to the teacher, and the class begins! 

Trade School is a place to learn with other people who value practical wisdom, mutual aid, and the social nature of exchange. We believe that everyone has something to offer.

In December 2015, we asked YOU what you like / dislike about TSLA. You can read the survey results here!

Still have questions? Check out our FAQ section

how do barter classes work - examples of classes exchanged for barter in los angeles

How did Trade School make it to Los Angeles?

Trade School LA was started in May 2014 by Leanne Pedante, a graphic designer, fitness trainer and community organizer who lives in Highland Park. The organization is powered by a small but mighty crew of volunteers & community partners. It's with dedication to the Trade School principles, and with a strong belief that communities throughout LA can benefit from this project, that we dedicate our time and energy to this project. We can ALWAYS use more volunteers - if you'd like to get involved in the organization, please send us an email!

Below Leanne (left) & some of TSLA's volunteers:

Leanne Pedante, TSLA Founder & OrganizerSome of TSLA's volunteer crew

Who came up with the idea for Trade School?

It all started in late 2009 because three of the five co-founders of OurGoods (Louise Ma, Rich Watts, Caroline Woolard) were given an opportunity to work with GrandOpening, and had a wild brainstorm session about many possible barter storefronts. They decided that "barter for instruction" had a lot of potential.

So, from February 25th to March 1st, 2010, they ran Trade School at GrandOpening in the Lower East Side. Over the course of 35 days, more than 800 people participated in 76 single session classes. Classes ran for 1, 2, or 3 hours and ranged from scrabble strategy to composting, from grant writing to ghost hunting. In exchange for instruction, teachers received everything from running shoes to mixed CDs, from letters to a stranger to cheddar cheese. They ran out of time slots for teachers to teach and classes filled up so quickly that they had to turn people away. So they thought, "we should keep doing this!" They opened again from February 1st through April 1st in 2011 in an empty school, paying rent with the support of charitable donations and running on the enthusiasm and donated time they could muster with 8-20 volunteers.

In 2012, Or Zubalsky said, "I want to help you make a system to share with anyone in the world." Or spent over 2.5 months of full-time work writing the code for this software, Rich Watts and Louise Ma spent over a month designing and refining the front end, and Caroline Woolard spends 5-10 hours a week, year-round, answering emails and talking to excited organizers of potential Trade Schools. There are now Trade Schools in 50 cities internationally.

Trade School Everywhere from Alex Mallis on Vimeo.

Trade School LA's Community Partners

These businesses & organizations generously donate classroom space to Trade School LA. We couldn't do it without them!

Book Show & Parlour of Wonders
HM157
Chin's Push
Jacknife Records & Tapes
Gal Palace