What Would You Trade To Feed 5,000 People?

2StinkyFish is a dream of humble beginnings that has grown into a project with huge aspirations to feed hungry people. Carl Winter (above) of San Mateo, CA, singlehandedly started the project hoping to prove that a small dream can grow into a miracle.

I sat down to talk to Carl about his project and vision, but what I really wanted to know was what one person could do to fight hunger.

Michelle Martini (MM): Your inspiration came from the One Red Paperclip Project in which one man, Kyle MacDonald, made a series of trades starting with a red paperclip and ending up with a house! Can you explain where you were in your life and what got you started in trading?

Carl Winter (CW): I had just come back to the US after living in Brazil for a few years, getting to know my mom’s side of the family who lives there. That time gave me the opportunity to dream up some fun social projects, none of which actually came to fruition. One foggy morning in San Francisco the idea for 2StinkyFish just came to me, to combine the One Red Paperclip project with the story from the Bible where Jesus feeds 5,000 people. It seemed like a great way to do something good and have a lot of fun.

MM: What is your grand vision for the 2 Stinky Fish project?

CW: The GRAND vision is to continue to do bigger-and-better trading projects for good causes. I hope to do a 2StinkyFish project with my cousins and friends in Brazil, where a feast for 5,000 means even more than it does here [in the U.S.]. I’ve also started a quicker trading project, 52trades.com, which will make one trade per week for a year, allowing each of my 52 traders to promote a cause of their choice. Whoever gets the most votes for their cause at the end of the year will get auctioned-off cash prize from our final traded item.

MM: Many people saw the publicity One Red Paperclip gained and wanted to emulate it. Few followed through. Why are you different?

CW: I’ve had a few projects of my own that I haven’t followed through with, so I know that feeling! This project is too important, too good, and too fun to not continue to pursue. I haven’t done it alone at all. My friends and family have helped a lot, even connecting me with the band MGMT’s manager to get the guitar signed.

MM: Your blog is similar to One Red Paperclip- unassuming, non-pushy, and lacking background information. How have you gained publicity and support?

CW: Thus far I haven’t really reached out to try to get publicity for the project, but I think it’s time that happens! My cousin Matt Anderson has been really instrumental in a few of my big trades, finding a way to get Burton (of snowboard gear fame) interested as well as MGMT. He’s been a great help to 2StinkyFish. In addition, a Brazilian blog got word of my project and helped me get a little publicity there–thanks to my friends in Brazil for that one!

MM: What do you do full-time? Are you busy? Why start such an ambitious project?

CW: I am a creative director in San Mateo. My boss and team is extremely supportive of my projects, which is another big blessing. It means that if I get an idea at work, they don’t mind me taking 15 minutes to sketch something up. It’s a wonderful place to work. Thus far I haven’t devoted much time to 2StinkyFish, but I hope that it grows to the point where it demands more of my time–I really enjoy working on it.

MM: Tell us about your new project, 52 Trades. What else do you have up your sleeve?

CW: 52Trades is a companion trading project to complement 2StinkyFish. 52Trades is meant to be a quick trading project, making one bigger-and-better trade per week. Each person who trades with me then gets to promote a cause of their choice (from a sibling’s surgery fund to the Red Cross to a wedding cake–it’s up to them). Anyone can then vote on the causes, and the cause with the most votes at the end of the year receives the cash from our final auctioned-off item! I’m looking forward to seeing if the trades can truly keep getting bigger and better, given the speed of the project. We’ll see!

MM: Any fears that you may get “stuck?”

CW: Yes! I’ll try to get creative to keep that from happening, but it’s a very real possibility. I’ll need others’ help to keep the word spreading. If we get enough people talking about it, though, I’m sure it’ll be able to grow.

MM: Very few people in our society participate in trading. What’s the draw?

CW: I’m not sure! I’ve never traded anything before this! I just loved the idea of this “Bigger and Better” game, and saw an opportunity to play the game for a good cause. 

MM: What was the first step you took to start 2 Stinky Fish? How can other
individuals step-out and start something?

CW: That’s the best part about these projects: they start with just a small step, and grow quickly. My first step was coming up with a catchy name. My sister Joy came up with “2 Stinky Fish” and the project was born. :)

Follow on 2StinkyFish on Twitter

Photo by t-bet on Flickr


Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle6 years ago

I love the idea of trading. Bartering is done in so many countries around the world, by people who don't have a lot of money. People in the old days in America used to trade, and nowadays workers and artisans trade too, because they have so little money, but they have needs. It helps each.

Yvette T.
Past Member 6 years ago

Love this.

Esther Lance
Esther Lance6 years ago

Interesting, and helpful !
All the best!

Lorraine C.

welll done

Lika S.
Lika P6 years ago

I cook. Lots. Many times I have extra. I give it away. Just paying forward. :)

Will L.
Past Member 6 years ago

going to myyearbook.com and making a million lunch bucks to donate to 17 charities works fine at 1000 bucks real dollars to per month 17 charities for 3 years..2 years left in my 750 grand donation from Insurance corp association of America..hah. took 2 weeks crosswords..check it out. click a deal. buy a million bucks lunch bucks for 10 bucks donate and it is matched real bucks 100 bucks per charity each month..get it going on.

Barbara Erdman
Barbara Erdman6 years ago


Carl W.
Carl W.6 years ago

Hey everyone! I'm going to take the 2StinkyFish MGMT Guitar to Dolores Park in San Francisco today, if anyone wants to come by and say hi!

April Thompson
April Thompson6 years ago

Very interesting!

Manuela C.
Manuela C6 years ago

Interesting cause.