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November 24, 2009

Chicken and Cow Strike Again

In the last few days, Shareable.net posted not one, but TWO great articles related to chicken and cow sharing, entitled How to Share a Cow and How to Share a Chicken (or Two). There's just something about chickens and cows that mooooves people to come together, build community, start co-ops, raise animals together, and share food. This won't be the first time I've pointed out that chickens are leading the sharing revolution. They are very organized about it, too, as you can see:
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Actually, this is a sharing art installation by Emily Doskow and Luan Stauss, meant to draw the curiosity of and start conversations with the herds/flocks of passers by at our San Francisco Green Festival booth last weekend.  Oddly, during the course of the weekend, not one, but TWO of the cows disappeared. Now who in their right conscience would steal from a booth about sharing?  (The chickens have been brooding about it ever since.) Whoever you are cow-nappers, just know you got a special cow on your hands and she fully expects to be shared.
November 4, 2009

Grocery Shopping in the Age of Sharing

EcoSalon posted a nice piece today: "Sharing: It's not just nice, it's necessary."  I love the "rundown of the 15 coolest sharing concepts." 

Coincidentally, I know the journalist who wrote the piece, Vanessa Barrington, because we are both members of the same cooperative grocery, The COG.  She mentioned the value of the relationships she has developed with other co-op members, and I feel the same way!  I love that we have turned our grocery shopping experience into more than just a trip to a big store.  It really has become a place where community develops.  Plus, we have serious fun.

Tomorrow, I have my regular two hour work shift at the COG, which I usually spend stocking shelves (good upper-body workout, which is not something that I get in my lawyer line of work).  We have a tradition of having a quick dinner party during my shift. We take turns bringing a meal, usually from a local cooperative, like Arizmendi. Tomorrow, also coincidentally, we'll be eating falafel from the same Liba falafel truck that Vanessa mentioned in her EcoSalon article.

And then there are the monthly food tastings, cooking classes, and/or potlucks.  Last month we had a massive cheese tasting party, including a cheese-making demonstration, poetry about cheese, and a cheese quiz game called "Jeopar-Cheese!"  This Sunday I'll be back at the COG for a potluck and some live "West Coast Mardi Gras" music.  Anyone is invited!  Bring a dish to share and I'll see you there!
October 1, 2009

Plant Sharing - Good For Us, Good For Our Plants

Every year, my mom, an avid gardener, puts out the word to her friends and colleagues that she is having a massive plant give-away. Her garden seems to get more vibrant every year, but I found out that part of the work of maintaining it is digging up a good portion of the plants annually. A lot of perennial plants tend to grow outward from the center, forming ever-widening clumps, while dying back in the center. This explains why my mint plants all grow to be shaped like donuts, and eventually just look pathetic. What I should do is take the mint out of the pot, divide the soil into four clumps, keep one clump, and give the other three as gifts.

By dividing literally hundreds of plants and giving them away to good homes, my mom gives her garden really good karma. I mean, look at at it:
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I also read a heart-warming story about a woman in North Carolina who grew 2000 vegetable starts to give away, after learning that many local families were struggling to put food on the table as a result of the recession. First, she put out the word on the Internet and got a ton of seeds donated. She started them in small pots, then had an event to hand them out. She gave them to anyone, on the condition that they also share the harvest. Great way to spread the sharing spirit! She literally planted the seeds of sharing in the community - I love it!

By the way, if you want to do something for Climate Action Day, giving out tons of seedlings is an idea!

September 17, 2009

Sharing Food and Making Friends

Here's a great idea for sharing food in community with others: get a bunch of people, many of whom are strangers to one another, together in a kitchen and give them cooking assignments in small groups, with the result being a big, delicious meal that everyone eats together.

This is Frugal Foodies, a Bay Area group that brings people together to cook and eat in community. Founded by J Moses Ceasar in 2005, Frugal Foodies has thrived since then in Berkeley and San Jose. Menus vary (according to the site's blog, a recent evening was an experiment in veganism) but are always vegetarian and mostly organic.

My friend Margaret went a couple weeks ago and came back glowing with great things to say about how it works and how much fun she had. I hope to try it soon and report back on another fun way to share food.
June 30, 2009

Why Are Chickens Leading the Sharing Revolution?

Now that The Sharing Solution is officially released, Emily and I have spent much of the past few weeks talking - on the radio and in bookstores - to people about sharing. I love it when people respond with their sharing stories and ideas, many of which will ultimately make their way on to this blog.

But I NEVER would have guessed that one of the most frequent comments we hear is: "Oh, my neighbor and I have been thinking about sharing chickens!" The first time I heard this, it was charming. Cool idea, I thought. But now we've heard it again....and again....and AGAIN! Chicken sharing, chicken clubs, coop-building parties, and all kinds of people who are really putting the "coop" in "cooperative."

Chicken sharing actually makes a lot of practical sense. Let's say you, like most people, eat eggs, and you are thinking about getting chickens (and by that, I really mean hens; roosters make noise, not eggs, and they are often illegal to keep in high-density residential areas). If you live in an urban or even suburban area, this could meaning devoting a significant portion of your yard to building a coop and giving the chickens a little free range. Many people wouldn't go to all of this effort for just one or two chickens. But what if you get 15 chickens, have a coop building party with seven of your neighbors, and start taking turns caring for the chickens? You could even take down part of a fence so that the chickens can have more space to roam into your neighbor's yard. Each neighbor is assigned one day of the week to feed the chickens and collect eggs.

What do you get? Fifteen hens will produce, on average, around 7 dozen eggs per week. This means that each neighbor will have a dozen fresh and delicious eggs. If that sounds good, take a look at www.backyardchickens.com, which has all kinds of great resources to get you started.

Chicken sharing is very much in line with the movement to eat fresh, local, organic, and sustainably produced food, so it makes sense that many people are turning to chicken sharing. And I imagine that chicken sharing will naturally lead to other kinds of sharing in the neighborhood. If I had a dozen or more eggs per week, I'd probably make a few quiches and share them with the neighbors, which might lead to more regular meal exchanges. Maybe we'd plan a monthly brunch potluck. Maybe start a shared vegetable garden in another neighbor's yard, and start cooperating to compost all of our food scraps. Maybe start a dog-walking rotation, or a child care cooperative. The possibilities are endless.

So I still don't know which came first -- I just know that both the chicken and the egg are at the forefront of a movement, and that every neighborhood with a chicken club has already hatched a small sharing revolution.