Recently in Sharing for the Community Category

August 16, 2010

The Sustainable Economies Law Center Wants to Help You Share

The Sustainable Economies Law Center was recently featured in the East Bay Express, including an interview by Bernice Yeung with Janelle Orsi.

The Sustainable Economies Law Center (SELC) facilitates the growth of sustainable, localized, and just economies, through legal research, professional training, resource development, and education about practices such as:

· Cooperatives
· Community-supported enterprises
· Barter
· Sharing
· Local currencies
· Intentional communities, ecovillages, cohousing
· Affordable housing and limited equity housing
· Urban agriculture
· Community-based renewable energy
· Community land trusts
· Social enterprise
· Microlending
· Local investing
· Co-op banks/credit unions

In addition to creating and making available resources to the public, SELC provides training to legal professionals, student interns, and others, empowering them with tools to bring about more sustainable, localized, and just economies.  SELC also convenes special working groups, bringing together experts and practitioners from various fields, for the purpose of investigating, collecting resources for, and developing resources in specialized areas.

Based in Oakland, California, SELC is a fiscally sponsored project of Community Ventures, a California 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All SELC projects are currently managed by volunteer attorneys.

August 8, 2010

New Book on Collaborative Consumption

This is great - a new book about the sharing movement will be released in just a few weeks: What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption. Check out their website, including a couple cool videos!

December 23, 2009

Seattle Times Grapples with the Stickiness of Sharing

The Seattle Times' Pacific Northwest Magazine just featured a great article about sharing.  Something I love about the article is that writer Carol Ostrom seemed to search far and wide for examples of the most difficult sharing arrangements, and she grappled with some of our biggest fears about sharing. In fact, she interviewed me at great length about my own most challenging sharing experiences, and probed to learn about how they were resolved. As she puts it, most people's biggest fear around sharing relates to "c-c-conflicts." 

And I'm glad she chose to focus right in on this, because skeptical readers might otherwise roll their eyes an article that extols the virtues of sharing, without addressing the barriers.  This is especially important, because she didn't just write about simple sharing arrangements, such as lawnmower sharing.  She actually gave examples of what we might call EXTREME SHARING, including a moving example of organ sharing (donating a kidney to a stranger).  She even touches on the sharing of lovers among members of a commune (noting, however, that the commune members found that possessiveness and jealousies eventually got in the way of sharing everything). Very interesting stuff!
November 24, 2009

Chicken and Cow Strike Again

In the last few days, 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:
cow and chicken.jpg
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 23, 2009

A Big List of Sharing Ideas from Green Fest

Here's yet another list of sharing ideas!  We collected these ideas on post-it notes from visitors to our booth at the San Francisco Green Festival. We asked people to tell us their ideas for sharing and ways to create more sharing communities. We aren't totally clear on what all the ideas mean, but we figure that no ideas should be left behind. Here's they are:
  • Book swaps
  • Goat sharing for lawn mowing and clearing of brush
  • Sewing collectivestuff.jpg
  • Share a vegetable box
  • Art days
  • Share farm equipment, wood chippers, and snow blowers
  • Sing more
  • Work lunch co-op
  • Have "Soup Night" - a weekly event: invite friends, share poetry and music, and eat soup!
  • Wellness attention
  • Massage cooking
  • Neighborhood home improvement groups
  • Share ideas and eco-ideas
  • Energy raising (neighbors doing energy-saving retrofits for each other)
  • Water raising (neighbors building rain catchment barrels and grey water systems together)
  • Garden raising
  • Frequent potlucks on our street
  • Dance together healthy! (Barefoot Boogie Dance Jam, Berkeley)
  • Gather to can tomatoes
  • Saying "hi!"
  • Chicken feed co-ops
  • Turn loneliness into community; turn consumerism into tool-sharing; turn foreclosure into shared housing
  • Start a neighborhood compost rotation
  • Sing together (you can't have harmony unless you share the song)
  • Share boundaries (land)
  • Share clothes
  • A shared metal workshop (there's on in Mountain View, CA)
  • Corner grocery store
  • Love
  • Neighborhood garden
  • Create/enforce, morals, values & traditions in our youth
  • Be a friendcars.jpg
  • Share artwork
  • Share garden produce
  • Clothes party suare
  • DIY classes
  • Share a household and all of its contents
  • Gather to make butter or soap
  • Shower together to save water
  • Poop together (your guess is as good as ours...maybe something to do with doing a community composting toilet project?)
  • Chicken sharing
  • Acceptance of others: supportive love ("I love you and there ain't a thing you can do about it.")
  • Automatic sharing
  • Of course, LOVE
  • Block parties
  • Jam sessions (make fruit preserves and music together)
  • "Sharing bags" - fill a bag with gifts, give it to someone, and then ask the person to fill it with other things and pass it on.
  • Meal sharing
  • Share a wood workshop (put everyone's tools in one place, use the space for your projects and/or gather to work on projects together). Check out the Sawdust Shop for an example of a community wood working space.
  • Stay soft and open
  • Cohousing
  • Coworking
  • Ecovillages
  • Eliminate zoning. It has done more harm than good.
  • Carpool
  • Not apart from, but a part of...
  • The power of conversation. See World Cafe.
  • Share a dog (I don't want one full-time)
  • Grow and share food locally
  • On Halloween: hand out info and/or non-boxed candy
  • Share office space
November 7, 2009

"Bioneering" Ideas for Sharing, Part 2

We asked attendees of the Bioneers conference to write down an answer to "What Do You Share?"  Here is what they said:

  • Tools
  • Plants
  • Produce
  • A dog
  • Music parties!
  • Yerba mate
  • My/our kitchen
  • Homeschooling
  • Myself in the service of the planet
  • Garden
  • Humor
  • Yoga and dance studio space
  • Orchard
  • Water
  • Food
  • Child care
  • Time
  • Money
  • Energy
  • Crying
  • Intuition
  • Love
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!
November 3, 2009

"Bioneering" Ideas for Sharing, Part 1

The weekend before last, I shared a "Cooperative Living and Sharing Brainstorm Booth" with Regenerative Real Estate at the incredible Bioneers Conference.  Our booth featured a coffee table and chairs in a circle, and we invited passers by to come in, have a cup of tea, and brainstorm with us on huge poster boards.  It's safe to say that was the most idea-stimulating three days of my life!  Bioneers brings together some amazing thinkers and activists, and they shared a lot of thoughts.
bioneers booth 1.jpg

In my next few blog posts, I'll list some of the ideas that we brought home on post-it notes attached to out brainstorm boards.  First, here are some of the ideas we collected in answer to the question: "How do we create STRONG COMMUNITY in our neighborhoods?"

  • Remodel the suburbs
  • Reclaim your suburban neighborhood!
  • Set up a barter system, produce share, and clothing swap
  • Neighborhood kiosks and bulletin boards
  • See what City Repair did
  • Draft ethics and agreements that the whole group creates and supports, creating a sense of ownership/accountability to the community
  • Front yard and safe active common space
  • Connect food and home. Agriculture where we live.
  • Collaboration between landlords and tenants.
  • Create unity among tenants of rental housing.
  • Get out from under the hypnosis of consumerist society and realize a new world is possible.
  • Foster multigenerational communities: children and elders together!
  • Map the skill base of your neighobrs (find out who are the painters, builders, doctors, lawyers, gardeners, massage therapists, etc.)
  • Regular annual food-based house parties
  • It's all about architecture
  • Foster compassion toward yourself and extend it to others.
  • Imagine you're an ecosystem nurtured by "THANKS!!!!" from the future. (We thank Paul Horan of Young Ecosystem Scholars Support Services for sharing that piece of wisdom.)
  • Bring together a community and ask: What are we going to do that is EXTRAORDINARY?
  • Feast together!
bioneers booth 3.jpg

October 5, 2009

This Sustainability Movement is Brought to You by the Letter C

As writers, we are taught to "always avoid all awkward alliteration" and I find myself constantly worried that the letter "C" appears conspicuously, consecutively, and continuously in my sentences - community, cooperation, connection, common, (c what I mean?)

But the other day, I had tea with writer Jennifer Fosket who has co-opted the C phenomenon and created "The Ten Cs of Social Sustainability." In her book, Living Green: Communities that Sustain, she and co-author Laura Mamo, both sociologists, look in depth at ecovillages, cohousing, affordable housing communities, and even single-family housing neighborhoods around the country and explore how those communities have made sustainability a way of life.
livinggreen.jpgThe questions they ask go far deeper than questions about how to recycle, use green energy, etc. They ask: What motivates people to change their lifestyles? What factors affect the choices people make in their homes?  How does the built environment affect the way people live? In what ways do people connect with each other and how does this contribute to the strength of the community? What helps communities to endure through time?

In many ways, these are the most crucial, yet most challenging questions to explore in building a more sustainable world. The Ten Cs of Sustainability came out of Fosket's and Mamo's observations in the communities they visited, and begin to answer the question of what makes a sustainable community successful.  The Ten Cs are practices and considerations that could apply in any development or community.  They include:
  • Culture
  • Context
  • Citizenship
  • Commitment
  • Collaboration
  • Connectedness
  • Care
  • Contact
  • Commons
  • Continuity
Anyone who is currently working to build community around living sustainably could benefit from reading Fosket's and Mamo's book. The communities described in each chapter provide inspiring examples, and the Ten C's are a great framework around which to structure discussions about what it means to build community, connect with one another, collaborate in designing the community, and commit to long-term sustainably.
October 2, 2009

Shareable Has Launched! Please Spread the News!

This is a huge boost for the sharing revolution: has launched!  Shareable is a new online magazine, a breeding ground for sharing ideas, and a space to develop our visions for an innovative, sharing, and sustainable world.  Please visit, spread the word, follow Shareable on Facebook, and let Shareable know your feedback!
I wrote a piece for Shareable entitled The Four Degrees of Sharing, which I see as a sharing manifesto of sorts.  I give examples of the ways people are taking sharing to new levels, creating new organizations around sharing, establishing community-wide sharing programs, and cooperating in new and amazing ways.  Emily Doskow and I will regularly contribute articles and a Q&A column. If you have any sharing questions, please send them to us!

Shareable is sponsored by non-profit Tides Center.  The publisher, Neal Gorenflo, and editor, Jeremy Adam Smith, are social entrepreneurs and visionaries. They have created an amazing space to grow the sharing revolution!