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Jan 9, 2010

"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." --Hans Hofmann

Living Without Money For 13 Years

Twenty-two years ago Heidemarie Schwermer, a middle-aged secondary school teacher just emerging from a difficult marriage, moved with her two children to the city of Dortmund, Germany. Shocked and unsettled by the city's significant homeless population, Schwermer set up what in Germany is called a Tauschring-- a sort of "swap shop"-- a place where people can exchange their skills or possessions for other skills and possessions, a money-free zone where a haircut could be rendered in return for car maintenance; a still-functioning but never-used toaster be exchanged for a couple of second-hand cardigans. This project found success among an unexpected audience, and its philosophy would become the inspiration behind her quest for fulfillment; one that would lead her to dramatically downsize her life, alleviate chronic backaches and body ailments, publish two books, find herself speaking in schools and on television, and grow exponentially in happiness.

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