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Learning for change: Sharing Cities: Activating the urban commons

Shareable offers a platform for exciting stories and experiences about sharing as to inspire others worldwide to make a start and grow with their own sharing initiatives. To further support the emergence and interconnection of local sharing initiatives, Shareable activates local enthusiasts to map out the sharing activities available in their surroundings. Shareable’s newest book ‘Sharing cities: activating the urban commons, is an important milestone on the way towards, finally, what they call a ‘sharing transformation’.

This workshop aimed to contribute to this activation and transformation. It highlighted people, projects and policies working to create real equitable sharing cities, with a focus on projects in energy, finance, housing and water. The session has shown examples from over 120 model policies and case studies that are discussed in this new book. As participants came from countries and cities with various (professional) experiences, the workshop addressed a diversity of ideas and thoughts.

What is the local potential of this movement? Using a world café-method, everyone was invited to contribute their ideas and local experiences, to think of the potential that already exists in their communities and how it could be enhanced. Ideas ranged from growing of intangible values and non-monetary exchanges, which are actually difficult to realize.

What is necessary for the local context to get there? We need strong local communities that foster social innovation and sharing initiatives, and we need to be able to change policies and regulations. Political re-engagement and empowerment, too, is necessary. And we should be brave enough to not obey to all the rules, but to create some ourselves and find the loophole that enables to pursue our sharing and work in a directly democratic way with each other. Open access and collaboration are practices that can kick-start not just our political, but also our social re-engagement. We also need to acknowledge that regulations and practices cannot be simply replicated from the one to the other context, but at the same time, that the ‘urban commons’ (and also here) is a concept and a practice that is useful and applicable in various contexts (as Bologna and Barcelona show).

Apart from that, intangible and non-monetary values are important – but are they important for everyone? How to accommodate such a cultural change in thinking and feeling? It was put forth that we need better methods for engagement in advancing several sharing-practices that are accessible for people ‘after a long day of hard work’, as one of the participants put it. Are the dominant participation-methods enough for motivating the residents? And we need spaces for coming together: common spaces and time, where we can meet and grow the seed of sharing. For example, shared or co-housing projects increase the amount of shared facilities while reducing the size of each individual apartment, making it possible to reduce the cost of housing construction while enhancing the potential for informal, convivial interaction among the residents.

The website of Shareable offers many stories and experiences on local sharing initiatives. Would you like to start an initiative yourself and connect with others? Have a look at the ‘how to’-page.

About the authors:

Wolfgang is an economic geographer and Shareable fellow. His Shareable book chapter focuses on energy and finance in the sharing economy; more broadly he is working on strategies to advance an ‘economy of abundance of life’.

Linda is an urban sociologist at the Erasmus University Rotterdam, with a specialization in use, production and regulation of public space and qualitative research methods. She is dedicated to contributing to cities that are smart, sustainable and inclusive. Shareable featured as a case study in the TRANSIT-research.

Shareable provides a range of services to nonprofits, businesses, and governments worldwide including keynote speeches, workshops, consulting, site sponsorship, and editorial projects. To learn more about our services, please drop them a line:

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