Updated: Feb 11, 2019
The Sharing Economy
The sharing economy is an exciting new development in the economic landscape. It is incredible what becomes possible when people make their private rooms, basements, and houses, cars and other resources available through online services. There is something uniquely special about sharing your personal space in this way. I wonder how we can take what the sharing economy is making possible one step further? How can we use the tools and mindset of the sharing economy in activism and social movements? How can we create a…. generosity economy? An economy where we aren’t just creating new opportunities to make money but we are also transforming our concept of ownership of property.
A Community PA System
I have played music in bands on and off since middle school, so some of my friends know that I have had various PA systems, microphones, and other equipment over the years. The first time I let someone borrow equipment it was to someone I knew who was also in a band and needed it for practicing. Later when I worked for environmental non-profits in Baltimore I offered my PA system for a Fruit Tree Fair event. The organization couldn’t pay to buy or rent a speaker system so my equipment made a big difference for the event. After that, a community association borrowed my PA for a Block Party. The first time I let someone borrow my PA I was worried that it might break or that someone else might steal it or that it would never get returned. Taking the risk the first time was scary but I noticed that each time I allowed someone to borrow it they always returned it in good condition and were grateful. The joy I got from sharing my equipment was actually more than when I actually used it myself. A friend of mine has done a similar thing with his truck and a community group in Baltimore even shares a forklift among several organizations.
Take a Small Sweet Step
Starting where you are figure out how you want to share your resources.
Figure out what already exists in the sharing/generosity economy in your area. There might already be a tool library or time banking service that can help you out.
Brainstorm what you have access to in your network and family. (Vehicles, skills, studio, workspaces, rooms, garages, art supplies, vacuum cleaners, etc.)
Think about the organizations and efforts you are connected to directly that have made a difference in your life and for others around you.
Continue to build relationships and connections with organizations, community groups, and activists in your area.
Ask your connections what would be useful to them and share what you have available.
Set clear expectations for the use of things you are allowing others to borrow or use.
Remember not everything you have available will be useful to others. But the more you show up and are willing to share the closer we will move to an economic system that supports everyone instead of favoring the few