Can the Sharing Cities Network fuel a people-powered economy?
On the verge of 2014, the economic outlook of the common folk appears—at first glance—grim. The 1 percent has turned a years-long recession in its favor, gaining wealth and political power. Meanwhile, the rest of us watch as our job prospects and bank accounts dwindle.
One thing that hasn’t diminished, however, is hope. While many cling to a last shred of optimism that the economy will magically right itself, others have begun to hope for something else. Keeping a wary eye on Wall St., these innovators have turned their focus away from the stock market, toward a different kind of economy—one focused on sharing the resources and skills we do have.
In Santa Cruz, New Orleans, and Portland, people are sharing fruit harvests. Folks in Richmond, California started a seed library, and the citizens of Ithaca, New York have enjoyed a successful community currency since 1991. Rather than watch others make the rules, these people are building alternative systems with their own rules—rules that bring abundance to the entire community.
Now imagine a city that did all of the above, and more. A city with worker-owned cooperative businesses, public banks (or credit unions), tool libraries, hackerspaces, community gardens, and bike kitchens. Most of all, a city with a network of engaged and caring people sharing the abundance they’ve helped to create.
It’s already happening, but so far sharing projects have been eeked out, trial-and-error, in small slots of time between low-wage work and life’s obligations. What if, instead, there was a catalyst: a collective pool of knowledge, resources, and inspiration? There could be.
For years, the website Shareable has been tracking and encouraging the sharing movement, spreading word about cool ways to collaborate, old and new. Now it has a vision to actively broaden and strengthen sharing networks across the U.S. through a Sharing Cities Network. Shareable’s goal is to nurture 100 grassroots sharing movements in 100 cities. Each local network will be different, but the broader network will help scale up and replicate successful projects from city to city.
“We are not protesting, and we are not asking for permission, and we are not waiting. We are building a people-powered economy right under everyone’s noses,” says Shareable co-founder Neal Gorenflo in the video below.
To learn more or contribute to the Sharing Cities Network, go to shareable.net/contribute.
Photo by Ben Grey, licensed under Creative Commons.