The Smashed Avo Project
Is it really a barrier to home ownership?
- Start with a freshly made dish of smashed avocado, served on locally-sourced bread with suitable garnishings
- Advertised the dish in the ‘swaps/trades’ section of my local classifieds
- Trade the smashed avo for another item
- List the new item in the local classifieds ‘swaps/trades’ section
- Rinse and repeat the process many times over (much like the real estate game, there’ll be no time limit allocated to each trade – a deal will be struck whenever it feels right)
- Stop trading once it feels right.
It was 7:53am when I met Ryan, Founder of Rarlo Mag, at Caffeine Kings in Miami. He was a third of the way through a flat white the size of a soup bowl, and he let out a laidback chuckle when I quipped ‘want any avo on toast to go with it?’ as I headed to the counter to order my long black.
This local café is like every other hip little joint on the Gold Coast, once a boxy non-descript store now converted to a buzzing hub with a warming community vibe. It acts as a meeting place for many locals and passers-by; a place to chill, to fuel up, to regather thoughts, discuss plans and in every instance, to indulge. But the coffee was bittersweet this particular day, and it wasn’t because of a darker roast of the fair-trade Ethiopian blend. The topic of this catchup was housing affordability, and more specifically, how indulging in barista-made coffees and hand-made organic treats could be contributing to this nation-wide issue.
Sigrid, a new 55 year old friend I found through Gumtree.com.au agrees that young Aussies have a café problem:
“I think it’s the coffee that goes with the avocado smash that’s breaking the bank for Young Australians!”
Just like Ryan, you’re probably wondering why I’m acquiring random acquaintances such as Sigrid on Australia’s leading classifieds website. Truth be told, I’ve found a few random acquaintances through Gumtree lately. Don’t worry, it’s all above board and it’s by no means due to any illegitimate use of the ‘Personals’ section. Hearing from complete randoms is becoming the norm for me ever since I launched the Smashed Avo Project. Since that first ad I placed on Gumtree offering up a serving of smashed avo on toast in exchange for something….anything….. I’ve been attracting unfiltered opinions, questions, rants and offers from everyday Australians.
Smashed avo on toast? On Gumtree? Let me explain….
It all started with an idea conjured up in early 2017, over a not-so-indulgent $10 chicken schnitzel with mushroom gravy in a dingy Surfers Paradise pub. One Friday lunchtime, across the table seating six of my work buddies, the conversation steered from housing affordability on the Gold Coast, to mainstream media’s current debate about reckless smashed avocado habits being the root of the problem. Opinion was divided regarding the impacts of smashed avo and café culture on living affordability; Sam the Marketing Analyst thought it was possible to have your avo and a home too, whereas Glenn from IT pointed out 101 other valid reasons for the disproportionate growth of house prices. Needless to say that by simply witnessing this real and passionate debate, one that continues to divides our nation to this day, a beautiful concept was born; The Smashed Avo Project.
The concept was simple; to determine whether a humble serving of smashed avo on toast was really a barrier to home ownership.
Pint #2 got the creative juices flowing, and a simple social experiment was conceived to ascertain what the world’s leading economists and property experts could not. Start with a solitary plate of smashed avocado on toast and trade the smashed avo for something of greater appeal. Then swap that item for another, and so on.
Like my schnittie, the idea lingered with me for a while. Finally curiosity got the better of me and the project launched earlier this year.
I literally launched the project by posting an ad on Gumtree offering the smashed avo on toast in the ‘Trade/Swap’ section. My most bizarre offer to date is for Big Mouth Larry Lobster, a pre-loved wall mounted lobster that sings and flaps around. I’ve also been offered salt and pepper shakers in the shape of a ceramic pineapple, among other things. I’ve now completed the first trade; I swapped the smashed avo for a vintage cane magazine rack which is pretty cool if you’re into that kind of thing (feel free to check it out the Gumtree ad and make me an offer)
It’s totally viable that this project will have an underwhelming result. Maybe the interest in trades will die off quickly and end undramatically with a set of 1994 basketball cards. Maybe it’ll be a llama.
Maybe, just maybe, the project will prove that you can have your smashed avo and a house too. That is the appeal of the project, the end point is as unpredictable as each step of the journey. For me, the ‘Project serves purposes both metaphorically, by sparking discussions for the good of our nation, and literally, for the good of our entertainment.
Some people respond to my Gumtree ads just to see how the Project is going, or to share their 2c worth about the state of our nation. It’s actually nice to know that the Project is already encouraging people to think about their own finances and discuss amongst their peers. At the end of the day, that’s what this is really about.
I’ve now launched a website (SmashedAvoProject.com) to keep a log of trades and all of the funny stuff that is happening along the way. Follow the progress on SmashedAvoProject.com or Instagram.com/smashedavoproject