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Friday, December 26, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 33.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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The Muffin Exchange operates on good works from you

Credit:Linda Falkenstein

Say, what would you give for a muffin? $1.50? Nope, sorry, that won't do. To get a muffin from Ian Klepetar, you're going to have to cough up something more personally crucial than the bills in your wallet.

Klepetar exchanges commitments for muffins. Like you might agree to "Take a hot beverage around town and share it with at least three strangers," or stop using your credit cards for a weekend, or shovel a neighbor's driveway "expecting no thanks." Or "tell 15 strangers that you are glad to see them today."

Agree to do one of the 20 items on Klepetar's commitment list and you'll get one of his muffins, which he bakes every morning, four or five dozen per day, in flavors like apple-flax-raisin or banana-walnut-whole wheat (gluten-free available). You can't agree to do something you already do regularly -- or you could, but that would be cheating.

Klepetar came up with the idea for the Muffin Exchange himself, and hopes the concept spreads. He would like it if the project prompted people to consider "what are we working for on a day-to-day basis -- after the essentials, what more do we want? What is the picture of the life we want to obtain? It's about getting into the nectar of life."

The Muffin Exchange is more or less unique to Madison so far, although he has initiated similar projects in Austin, Texas (with PB & J in corn tortillas) and Missoula, Montana (ice cream, toted in a cooler).

Klepatar, 34, is originally from Saratoga Springs, New York. He travels around a good deal, and arrived in Madison on Christmas from the Twin Cities, where he works on the Bicycle Benefits program (also in place at various businesses around Madison). As winter in Minneapolis is "not a good time to encourage people to bicycle," Klepatar decided to pursue the Muffin Exchange, at least through January 31, in Madison. So far the response has been "really beautiful."

Sometimes Klepatar will approach people on the street, sometimes go into a business. He delivers by bike. No one has yet refused a muffin.

"A lot of the commitments, I've come up with myself," he notes. If you have a cause or principle or idea you'd like added to his list, donate a muffin ingredient. To request a muffin visit, you can call him at 518-396-8376 or consult "The Muffin Exchange" on Facebook for more info.

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