November 28, 2012
As the sharing economy picks up momentum, its reach has become global. In cities and towns around the world, people are creating ways to share everything from baby clothes to boats, hardware to vacation homes. There are also groups emerging that consciously identify with the big-picture sharing movement. These groups focus on education, action and community-building, and advocate for a cultural shift toward widespread sharing.
From neighborhood-level cooperatives to global organizations, these groups work to bring sharing into the mainstream. They see sharing as a new paradigm; a means to a more democratic society, and they understand that sharing is not a new fad but an ancient practice that technology is reinvigorating.
What follows is a far-from-exhaustive list of sharing advocacy groups around the world. There are, certainly, many others. Ideally, this list will serve as a springboard for connecting with a sharing community near you, or one that is aligned with your vision for a shareable world.
With hubs in Paris, London, Berlin, Barcelona, Rome and Brussels, Ouishare is an international network of entrepreneurs, citizens, activists, journalists and designers working toward the development of the collaborative economy.
“To me, the question is not so much about whether access is better than ownership,” says Ouishare co-founder Antonon Leonard. “It's about people. It's a change in culture. People have just started to realize that they have amazing opportunities to express themselves, be their own bosses, and start a new life.”
Leonard stresses that community “is everything” and that Ouishare is built around people who do things, not those who say they will do things.
“We need complex solutions to solve complex world issues,” he says. “We bet that it's only by connecting people with different perspectives that we'll be able to bring sustainable change. Sharing is an amazing opportunity to build a community and you need to build a community in order to make sharing work.”
Based in New York, Shared Squared is helping people to share by holding events, providing resources to empower sharing economy innovators, and making it easier for people to get involved in the movement.
“Our approach is simply to give people the opportunity to learn about, know about, meet and support other people in the same industry,” says Shared Squared founder, Adam Berk. “If there is one industry that should collaborate, it's ours. So I want to make sure we all work together and support each other when possible and where it makes sense...I think we are unique in the fact that we are transparent, do not care about politics and have a no nonsense policy when it comes to competition: everyone in the space is welcome, no matter how big you are.”
Berk would like to see the sharing economy move away from telling people why they should share, and focus on making sharing cheaper, better, more convenient and more fun. He believes that in the future, third parties will play a bigger role in managing risk, inventory and maintenance for P2P companies.
“I do not think you need to be a Treehugger to share,” he says. “Rich people share yachts and planes. When you are not using your money, you put it in the bank. The sharing economy in general has done a bad job at marketing. Hotels are not the antithesis of Airbnb. Hotels are actually shared rooms too, just with a different model. The third party plays a bigger role in a transaction that is still P2P in reality.”
The People Who Share
The UK-based organization the People Who Share is working to bring sharing mainstream. Committed to “reshaping the world through sharing,” their vision is a thriving sharing economy where everyone is a supplier of tools, resources, goods, experiences, time and experience. Recently, along with partners Ouishare and Shareable, they organized the first ever Global Sharing Day.