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!