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The Sharing Conversation Circle

on Sat, 06/08/2013 - 04:11

Have you tried “Car2Go?”  ?  A lot of people have seen the little cars parked around, but weren’t sure what they were. Most of us know about Zip Car, but apparently with CAR2Go you can leave the car anyplace. I wonder if this new idea really works!

In fact, there are lots of new “sharing” opportunities!  That’s why we’re starting a “sharing conversation circle” at the Phinney Neighborhood Center in Seattle WA. It will be a group that explores this new sharing movement and encourages members to try new things.  (We’ll have an introductory workshop on Saturday, June 22nd, 10-12, free.

We want  an ongoing circle because sharing our stories and ideas helps bring about change. People can learn about sharing and get support to try out new things.   For instance, people can talk about their experience using Couch Surfing or Airbnb or renting their text books or borrowing a fancy purse, and on and on.

The sharing economy is new, but of course it’s old, as well — what did we learn in kindergarten! One of my favorite examples was at Evergreen State College in Olympia WA where my daughter went to college. There was always a free box on campus where you could find clothes. It was a great way to meet new people -- you could always go up to someone and tell them how nice they looked in your old shirt!

In fact sharing is a good way to meet new people, as well as save money and use fewer resources. So we win, the planet wins. But will the “sharing economy” make it? We Americans get bored pretty fast, and sharing takes more time than just buying stuff. Plus, we’re so used to being consumers. We want something, we buy it. So that’s another reason for starting the circle. A new idea needs people who are able to really understand the ideas and articulate them. And we’re more likely to try new things if we have support.

And this new movement might need support because lately it’s getting some pushback from corporations. Particularly in the hotel industry. People are saving a lot of money using Airbnb (renting rooms to people via the internet), and the hotel industry doesn’t like it. But think about it. A few people rent out their rooms and make a little money, maybe helping them survive economically. At the same time, I don’t think there are a lot of hotel owners who are just scraping by. Shouldn’t the “little people” get some protection?

Again, that’s the sort of thing we can talk about in a circle. We know we need change. The planet is pushed to the limit and we need to reduce our use of resources. One way to do that is to create a new, more caring and collaborative culture. But to create a new culture, we need a national conversation, a chance to reflect about our direction.We need to come together and talk!

 We need to realize that sharing is learning to think about “we” instead of “me.” The core idea of sharing is that everyone benefits — it moves beyond our obsession with getting as much as you can for yourself.

The circle is a way to stop and take stock, think more deeply. People need to realize that sharing is about much more than just exchanging stuff; it is a basic change in the way we live. We are creating a new culture in which we we understand that our own well-being is linked to the common good.

So, a sharing conversation circle helps people understand and articulate the significance of the sharing movement. But most significant is that  a sharing conversation circle creates community — something that will keep people involved over the long haul, because it’s through community that people begin to feel that they are part of something larger