We had the opportunity to visit the Ojai Foundation and tour the beautiful grounds and ask questions about the community. They focus on sustainable practices, being stewards of the land, and creating a space for retreats and connecting with the land. We all felt inspired by being out in this place in the middle of the natural setting.
We had another opportunity to visit the Regen Co-op in Pomona and talk to some members. They made space for some great conversations about group dinners, diversity in members, house meetings, communication styles, what makes someone well suited for living in a community, and getting involved in the neighborhood in a way that really creates positive change that goes beyond the homes themselves.
Here’s what I’ve been reading and listening to lately about sharing.
The Sharing Solution is a great book with the practical side of how to buy and share things together. Its tagline is “How to save money, simplify your life, and build community.” All of those things certainly appeal to me. The book covers many topics such as ownership entities: unincorporated association, nonprofit, cooperative. There’s a good chapter on effective communication, something that will be important to any group. One tip reminded me of a workshop I participated in recently, where I had to repeat back the main points of what the other person had just said. That really showed me how much I miss if I’m just waiting to talk, and was a good exercise to make me focus on the other person’s side. There are also many questionnaires, fact sheets, and legal documents that are ready to use. I recommend the book, and I was able to find it at my library.
Yerdle is a site where you share items with people across the country, earning credits when you share an item which you can use to get other items. It mainly uses shipping, which costs a few dollars, and is not as personal. It’s a bit like a huge national garage sale. I learned about Yerdle from The Good Stuff podcast, which has had several episodes on the sharing economy. (This is the same group with Annie Leonard who created The Story of Stuff – a must-watch video.)
Buy Nothing Project is similar but local: it has the objective of neighbors sharing items they no longer need, by joining an online group (limited to your city or neighborhood), posting a picture, and seeing who needs it. At first, it seemed like extra effort to arrange times with others to come pick up the item. But when I gave away my first items, I understood! I met people in my neighborhood I wouldn’t have otherwise, and I got a warm fuzzy feeling when they could use and appreciate something I didn’t need. My group is now talking about hosting local events such as free garage sales, so I view it as a big community-builder.