Is paper currency necessary? Your high school economics teacher sure seemed to think so. But one man has decided to devote his life to returning to the days of the barter system, and he's bringing his message to Miami.
Shantanu Starick is an Australian photographer who decided over two years ago to give up money as we conventionally think of it.
No more buying food, gas, clothes, or, most seriously, apps. Instead of using hard currency to survive, he chose to use his skills as a photographer as a commodity to trade. That's the main idea behind Pixel Trade, Starick's project with the goal of traveling to all seven continents without spending a single cent. So far, the photographer has made it to five of the seven by completing 167 trades.
"I made a promise to myself. I would remove the language of money from my life and I would do what I love," Starick said via email from Europe. "From this, the Pixel Trade Project was born. [It's] a representation of all the experiences I've had in my life and what my parents have taught me."
Starick's parents were self-described hippies who taught him that dreams were more important than wealth. Today, as a twenty-something, Starick uses his upbringing as a way to craft a unique outlook on life.
"Take a pause and question the norm," Starick said. "If there is something you truly love to do and money is the obstacle, question the way it is done. Whatever you do, don't let money stand in the way."
A few months back, Miami native Elizabeth Monterrey heard Starick's message at a conference in New York City. After being spellbound by his presentation, Monterrey knew that she needed to bring Starick to the Miami area.
"There was something disruptive about the way Shatanu sees the world," Monterrey said. "As a society we have become so profit oriented, it was refreshing to see someone doing something different."
Starick will be in Miami from July 7-15 and will stay at Monterrey's home. In return for the room and board, he will do some photo work for Monterrey's marketing company.
"All my experiences have been different," Starick said. "When you take money out of the equation you are able to establish a deeper relationship with your clients, almost a family like environment."
Monterrey said that she wants Starick to do other trades in Miami during his time and thinks it could be a good thing for the community.
For Starick, his main priority is trying to find a way to get to South America and Antarctica, the last two continents he hasn't yet traded his way into. But even if and when he gets there, he may not stop the Pixel Trade.
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"I was a photographer raised by hippie parents, it is all I've ever known," Starick said. "I won't go back, I will only keep moving forward, questioning the norms."
Here is a clip of Starick speaking at Ted Talks X Brisbane last year: