October 22, 2021

By Cassidy Foulds

The Idea Exchange’s Queen’s Square branch in Cambridge dished out a little bit of traditional community love along with a serving of tacos. On Nov. 25, the Taco Stand Project was set up at the branch to kick off an exhibition that prompts and promotes social and economic interaction.cf-taco-stand-1

The project was developed in conjunction with an exhibition called With Mexico, From Love. The project runs until Feb. 18, but tacos will no longer be served. However, it will continue to be an open space where the community can come and share stories, skills, items and anything else for the three months it will be up and running.

“The intended outcome is for the community to come together and to think about different ways of dealing with life,” said Tamara Louks, the Queen’s Square branch publicity and promotions specialist.

“It’s very easy for us to run off to a store and to buy things that are cheap, and we dispose of them quite easily. We’re hoping that, through this project, people will realize that we can repurpose a lot of things, we can swap or share items that we no longer need.”

There’s hope that, once the project has run its course, it will be picked up by the community. Maybe not exactly in the form of a taco stand, as taco stands are unique to Mexican culture, but as a place where people can share what they have and what they know with those who seek it.

Iga Janik was the one who brought the concept to Idea Exchange after visiting a major international art fair in Mexico, where taco stands pop up unregulated in areas where people congregate to share resources, experiences and knowledge in exchange for food, resources or services. Janik’s goal in bringing it to Ontario is to give a broader perspective on ways to interact with the community you live in.

“What we’re borrowing from it,” Janik said, “is this idea of navigating towards improving or finding solutions that are outside of the main system framework.”

There are two ways to participate in the Taco Stand Project, one of which is booking the stand to give a workshop, perform a demonstration, tell a story, or to talk. Culture, skills and expertise can be shared. The stand can also be used to trade things without any cost. For example, walking someone’s dog in exchange for getting your car washed, or trading old items that someone else wants for something you need.

Anybody can book the Taco Stand Project by going to the Idea Exchange website, ideaexchange.org, and searching for Taco Stand Project: An Experiment in Sharing under “Upcoming Exhibitions.” The only rules are that the stand has to be environmentally friendly, it has to contribute to the wellness of the community, it can’t be about money and it should promote the spirit of exchange. There are no fees to participate. The final day for submissions is Feb. 16.

“It’s about cost-free resources and empowering the community to do better with less,” Louks said. “We really hope it spreads its wings.”

For further information, go to ideaexchange.org.


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