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A Sharing Community

Heidi Shenk

A Sharing Community

During the last couple of days, we've been mostly stuck in our house after being hammered with a record breaking 29.2 inches of snow within a 24 hour period from Friday night through Saturday. Before the flakes started falling, we talked excitedly with many neighbors on our block, and the recurring end of conversation statement came time and again, "Let us know if you need anything in the next few days!"

And while we haven't run out of any particular supplies or needed anything specific, we've all somehow pitched in together. Andrew made three rounds with the shovel on most of our side of the block's sidewalk as well as neighbor's stoops. In return, a neighbor gave us a bag of salt and another had her kids clear off our cars yesterday afternoon. Another neighbor brought us doughnuts for a late breakfast, so we gave them soup and savory scones in return. Upon delivering the soup, they handed off two bottles of beer in exchange. In each scenario, things just evened out in the end, and everyone was happy.

While I already know that I have incredible neighbors, blizzard or not, these sorts of events tend to bring out the best in people, and I wonder why we don't do the same on a regular day to day basis. Interestingly enough, on the day of the blizzard, my mom also shared this website on facebook. The general premise is that neighbors use stickers on their mailboxes to denote what items and services they are willing to share with others. Shareable items range from a cake pan to wifi, with the idea being that the neighbor who is using the item would share something in return.

Perhaps this concept makes me seem like an idealist, but there is something about sharing in this way that brings people happiness. Being able to share with each other also means less waste. How many times have you purchased that weird kitchen gadget that you've only needed to use once, only to find that you could have borrowed it from someone briefly? Or perhaps you made a batch of baked goods that was entirely too much for you to eat on your own and they went to waste. Or maybe you purchased a book, which ended up going unread on your bookshelf after one use.

Our society often demands of us to buy as much as possible in order to have the largest amount of convenience. And while convenience can be nice, imagine what a sharing community would push us to do. We'd be forced to talk with our neighbors and build new relationships. We'd be pushed outside of our comfort zone and start thinking about others around us instead of just our own needs. Would that be so bad?

Do you already have a sharing community? What do you think about working more actively toward a sharing community?

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