The UsuryFree Eye Opener

The UsuryFree Eye Opener is the electronic arm of the UsuryFree Network. It seeks active usuryfree creatives to help advance our mission of creating a usuryfree lifestyle for everyone on this planet. Our motto is 'peace and plenty before 2020.' The UsuryFree Eye Opener publishes not only articles related to the problems associated with our orthodox, usury-based 1/(s-i) system but also to the solutions as offered by active usuryfree creatives - and much more for your re-education.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Sharing Economy: Cultivating Community

NOTE:  Along with the "Sharing Economy" the "UsuryFree Time Currency Movement" is a key element of any commitment to re-build any local community. 

by Tricia Edgar

Share and share alike: is this a lesson we learned in kindergarten? Possibly not. While we might send casseroles and loan things to friends, our well-stocked closets reveal that we’re also rather fond of owning things. Butprolific ownership can be a problem for the planet, and increasing our consumption isn’t really an option. We’re hitting the limits. Climate change, toxic rivers, and obliterated forests tell the tale of our love of things and the sharing economy is an idea whose time has come.
On a much smaller scale, our love of things is also hard on us. We buy things and then we need to maintain them. We need to get more space to house them. We need to get rid of them when it all gets too much. Then the bills come in, and we wonder how exactly we’ll pay for those things that we’ve gotten. Even if we’re not profligate about the things that we buy, it all adds up, both in time and in money. It becomes so tiring, this burden of things.
A life with less sometimes seems attractive, but would it work? We are somewhat enchanted with folks who go around the world with only a tiny suitcase or own only ten objects, or twenty, but we might be afraid to leap, afraid that living with less is extreme. It isn’t. A sharing economy is emerging; one that says that it’s fabulous to share what you have. Increasingly, the web is becoming a community of collaborative consumption. You don’t need to own everything, because someone out there has what you need. In turn, you have what others need.
What does the sharing economy look like? It looks like libraries on the street corner: give a book, take a book. It looks like web sites like Yerdle that allow you find the objects that you need in your neighbors’ closets. It looks like car share and bike share cooperatives, or neighbors gardening in other neighbors’ yards. interviewed Bill Wilson in Victoria, British Columbia, who has opened his home to travelers through the home sharing site Airbnb. Through Airbnb, you can travel the world by finding shelter in someone else’s home. For the homeowner, it’s a way to earn a bit of extra money while hosting interesting people from around the world.
Wilson started renting a room through Airbnb a year ago, when he was traveling himself: the hotels in the city he wanted to visit were prohibitively expensive, and he needed another option. He discovered the house-sharing network and booked a room. Then he started to rent out his own space as well.
Wilson sees sharing sites like Airbnb as an easy step into the sharing economy. For travellers, the site offers a way to book a room that is probably less expensive and more personal than a hotel. The rooms featured can also be intriguingly unique. Want to stay in a European castle? Sure thing!

Although Wilson says he’s not really in it for the money, the sharing economy does offer a form ofalternative employment to those who participate. Need a job? Rent your stuff, use your car to move others around the city, and rent out a room in your home, and you might find that the resources that you already have can help sustain you.
For Wilson, it’s the community formed by the sharing economy that’s really important. He says that people tend to try and match with others who share similar interests, so the home sharing experience becomes an educational one as well. His experiences sharing his home have led to friendships with people from around the world.
Why is the sharing economy emerging right now? There are a few reasons, and they point in the directions of ecologyeconomy, and community.
Ecologically speaking, the sharing economy is an ode to the precious nature of objects. A home, a car, or any smaller object is full of embedded energy and materials. It’s made out of oil, metal, plants, and other earthly substances, all crafted into something that we find useful. Using objects collaboratively can honor the resources used to make them.  Sharing what’s already there means that we don’t need to dig up more minerals, find more oil, or cut down more trees. We just need to borrow our neighbors’ stuff.
The sharing economy is also a reaction to the desire to avoid owning things. After all, things cost money when we buy them. After we buy them, they sit in closets and bookshelves and driveways. While they may be loved and used, they may also be ignored for much of the time, our investment in them underutilized. Whether it’s a hammer or a car, bringing an object into your life for a shorter time just makes sense.
Increasingly, challenging economic times are moving people together. Humans are social creatures, but when we have enough – or too much – it’s easy to get along by ourselves. If we can pay for the food that we want to eat, buy the childcare that we need, and get the clothes that we like to wear, why bother sharing?
When the economy is hurting, it reminds us to use the wealth that we already have. Do you have tools that you don’t use? Excellent: you can rent them out, support yourself, and give others in your community a great deal that allows them to use an object temporarily instead of owning it forever.
Culturally, the sharing economy poses questions that challenge our notions of individual ownership. What if every bookshelf was a library, every car a taxi, and every home a place to rest? The sharing economy challenges our object-loving, individualistic culture shift to embrace a culture of collectivity and community. Are we ready for a good old-fashioned barn raising? Are we willing to borrow a cup of sugar from a neighbor? If we are, the ties that we create will go much deeper than the things that we share.
In 2011, Time Magazine voted the sharing economy as one of the top ten ideas that would change the world. In 2013’s fast moving and web-based world, it’s an idea that already has. The shift is happening, and it’s happening quickly.  From car co-ops to bike shares, from home-based hotels to collaborative gardening, the sharing economy is thriving, growing local economies and communities and creating alternatives to consumer culture.
NOTE: This article is originally published at this website:


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