December 26 2013

Building Sharing Communities & Cities: Recapping #thegrid Twitter Chat on Sharing

Last week, Global Site Plans’ The Grid co-hosted a Twitter Chat about the sharing transformation. In cities and towns across the world, people are trading in the traditional producer-consumer relationship in exchange for practices that create a more accessible and equitable distribution of resources to larger populations.  To get some expert insight on the topic, we partnered with Shareable, a nonprofit with the sole mission of spreading this movement to societies across the world. What came about was a fast-paced, hour long discussion that revealed five major trends.

1) There’s Never Been a Better Time to Share

The tides have turned in favor of the sharing economy. Everyday amenities and services – whether they be housing, food, clothes or transportation – are more expensive, making ownership less feasible. As a result, people are finding new ways to make resources accessible. This is where technology comes into play. As @MyTurn addressed, “…technology/platforms are making it much easier to connect and share.” And our lifestyles are changing. @lindsayvanstone said, “…people live in smaller spaces and move cities more often, so sharing [works better than] storing and transporting.” If these trends continue, the sharing movement will continue to grow.

2) Everyone Benefits

Sharing allows communities to be resilient because it enables everyone to be successful. And while there are both social and economic benefits, they are not mutually exclusive. “Revenue, connection + downsizing are all part [of sharing],” as @Peers stated. @Shareable agreed. “…nothing else reduces waste, increase[s] access to assets and and builds [community] simultaneously.” While there are monetary benefits, there are also less tangible, but equally important perks. “Common-shared knowledge leads to faster economic growth,” stated @aevictoratou. Clearly, the benefits are numerous. And that is the beauty of the sharing movement!

3) Lots of Cities are Sharing

We asked the group to provide specific examples of cities that are already adapting the sharing movement, and several examples came up. @Shareable mentioned how San Francisco is starting to engage in “participatory budgeting,” meaning people decide how the city’s budget is spent in their neighborhood. @UrbanAirMarket noted that “#sharingeconomy examples with clothing” are popping up all over the world, with particular references to @twice, @weareablecollect and @scoreswap. @GlobalSitePlans referenced two major examples, those being the legalization of ride-sharing in California and the expansion of bike-sharing in Minneapolis. Argentina and Greece are utilizing bartering systems, as @aevictoratou pointed out. Finally, @SarrahEssbai stated that there are 300 electric cars in Amsterdam for car-sharing.

4) There are Barriers to Overcome

Airbnb is a perfect example of existing policies working against the sharing economy. Regulation comes into play. @Peers provided a simple video that summarizes the “barriers to new economic models,” called the “Economy Sandwich.” There are numerous factors that make the implementation of sharing practices challenging. @Shareable refered to “culture, policy, law, technology, [build] environment, etc.” @boxmanstudios offered a more personal example. “…[it’s] difficult [to] revitalize [communities] when you [can’t rebuild].” Fortunately, they have found a creative way to utilize space with shipping containers! Questions remain, however, because we have not yet seen what will happen when the sharing movement grows. @lindsayvanstone mentioned that government powers may try to restrain it.

5) The Strength of Sharing is Evident

Amidst the recent U.S. government shutdown, we had to ask what that reflected about the sharing transformation. The group was in agreeance. @bobbyp89 said that “It showed cities can be resilient and self-sufficient.” That is why Shareable is creating the “Sharing Cities Network.” The goal is to create more “self-sufficiency [and] autonomy at [the] urban scale,” stated @Shareable. The nonprofit writes about how the sharing economy ramped up during the shutdown. It’s important to know that even while larger powers are ineffective, local entities can help maintain control. And as we continue to move towards an urban future, when more people are living cities, it’s essential we embrace practices that allow cities to govern themselves.

Which is your favorite sharing practice?

Shareable is undergoing a campaign until January 15th to build a Sharing Cities Network. If you are a supporter of the sharing transformation, make your contribution here.

This is only a sample of what took place. If you are interested in the full discussion, check out the Hashtracking report. Stay tuned for #thegrid’s next Twitter Chat, which will take place on Wednesday, January 15th at 3PM EST/ 2PM CST/ 12PM PST/ 8PM BST/ 10PM EEST. We are looking forward to you joining the conversation!

Robert Poole

Robert Poole recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Anthropology and a minor in City and Regional Planning. He grew up in San Diego but now resides in San Francisco. He is intrigued by, yet concerned with the large discrepancies in socio-economic development within the Bay Area. He currently works at a non-profit organization in San Francisco that advocates for new housing development in the City through policy and legislation. As he continues his work, he hopes to gain a more in-depth understanding of the city’s public process in order to develop solutions that create more affordable housing options for the City's low to middle-income residents.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, December 26th, 2013 at 9:08 am and is filed under #thegrid Twitter Chat, Community/Economic Development, Environmental Non-Profit, Government/Politics, Internet Marketing, Robert Poole, Social/Demographics. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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3 Responses to “Building Sharing Communities & Cities: Recapping #thegrid Twitter Chat on Sharing”

  1. Andy Boenau Says:

    Great conversation – wish I was there for the Twitter chat.

    Re: Trend #4 above, I hope people continue to do what’s helpful for their communities without pressure to ask permission from bureaucrats.

    Detroit is either a depressing or exciting case study, depending on your worldview. (My outlook: it’s exciting.) My bias is that I want to see people free to buy/sell/exchange goods and services without abusive government intervention. We don’t need rule-makers to determine what products are good and how much merchants should charge. We need the freedom for two parties to agree on services & terms without coercion.

  2. Robert Poole Says:

    Thanks for the comment Andy!

    I think Detroit can benefit from a lot of the practices within the sharing economy. But because it is such a new movement, there are still questions as to how big it can really get.

    It would be an amazing if Detroit bounced back through the implementation of sharing practices. Regulation will always come into play. But in my opinion, it’s a question of how well the regulatory forces and the sharing economy can work together. Ride sharing being legalized in California under the label “transportation network communities,” is a strong example of a positive relationship between the two.

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