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How to Start Sharing

shareable_2.jpgFor over two years, Shareable has explored the new sharing economy in its many forms: how individuals, families, communities, entrepreneurs, businesses, designers, coders, and countless more are building resilience through collaboration and sharing. In that time, we've amassed a considerable library of how-to share guides, and researched and documented how these shifts are transforming the economy, technology, and civil society.

Still, those new to the sharing lifestyle may wonder where to start. As demonstrated in the free New Dream Community Action Kit Guide to Sharingproduced by The Center for a New American Dream in collaboration with Shareable, sharing isn't something we need to relearn. It's a childhood skill we've never lost, like riding a bike:

It's one of the first things we learn as kids: How to share.

But this practice usually fades as we become adults. Our houses become filled with our own “stuff.” Garages, attics, basements, and closets transform into cluttered warehouses. When we need something, whether it’s a chainsaw or a roasting rack, our first thought is to go out and buy it. But why get it new when our neighbor down the street has one we can borrow?

Resource-sharing can be deeply fulfilling, but also frustratingly difficult, especially at the outset.

Anonymous asks (on one of my recent blog posts): What do you do if you live in a conservative Midwestern town, not a hip coastal city, where sharing is seen as a threat or a huge no-no? I've had Midwesterners tell me, oh, no, people will never share cars. Or if you share tools, someone will steal them or break them. That's the mentality. How do you overcome this?

Great question! How do you begin? If you happen not to be in one of those hotbeds of sharing innovation like Portland, Berkeley/Oakland or Brooklyn, how do you start sharing (and with whom) in a way that gives you the most chance of success?


Here are a few ideas on getting started…

First, get in tune with the sharing that already happens around you. Sometimes we don’t have to buck trends or pester neighbors in order to start sharing. Remember when you gave a friend a ride to the airport? Or shared oranges from your tree with a next-door neighbor? Or participated in a bake sale at your church? Or even checked a book out from the library? Not everyone formalizes it by calling it resource-sharing, but we share informally all the time. Notice these sharing behaviors; champion them; build on them.

Second, decide if you’re a natural starter, or a joiner. To get resource-sharing beyond the ‘borrow a cup of sugar from a neighbor’ stage requires a bit of research, planning and oversight. Not to mention some cajoling. Are you the kind of person who enjoys spearheading this kind of effort? If so, dive in. If not, consider partnering with someone who is. But don’t worry. Once a sharing group (a childcare co-op, buying club, tool lending library) is up and running it needs less “starting” and more “tending.” Many groups who reach this point choose to spread the ongoing management responsibilities among members.

Third, save time and start efforts with people and institutions that do not need to be convinced. This idea (thanks Neal!), makes sense especially for folks in rural areas. Many institutions like churches, schools, community centers and libraries hold values – and have actual physical space – that supports sharing. Develop sharing programs inside these strongholds and work outwards.

Fourth, use saving money as a reason for getting started. Few can resist this practical excuse to start sharing. Show friends or neighbors, on paper, how much money you’ll all save if you share.

Fifth, sit down together and talk. Face time (especially over food) is the key to community-building and neighborhood-based resource-sharing. Have a potluck! Sit down with a few neighbors, extended family members or friends, share a meal, and simply talk about this topic. You’ll likely be amazed by the ideas that come up, the feelings of goodwill that arise, and the sense of rightness that will emerge from this experience, as if everyone is taking a deep breath --- ahhhhhhh. We humans are communal by nature, and this may very well feel like coming home.


The first guide in the New Dream Community Action Kit is all about sharing: everything from starting a tool library to organizing a solar cooperative, from holding a clothing swap to launching a time bank.

With how-to tips, fun videos, and useful resources, the Guide to Sharing provides the inspiration and practical tools you need to get started on these projects in your community – right away!

The guide, available as a free PDF download, offers four Action Ideas to help communities tap into their shared assets and resources. The Center for a New American Dream also released a set of videos to demonstrate each idea in action they cover the following topics:


And finally, stay inspired. Creating a resource-sharing based society will take time. The more passionate we are about the benefits of resource-sharing and community-building, the more stamina we’ll have. Lois Arkin at LA Ecovillage (above, left) and 14-year-old Alexandra Reau, a CSA-starter in rural Michigan are two inspiring people who’ve bucked trends, worked against all odds, and created amazing, resource-sharing-based projects for their urban and rural communities. Search this site for more stories about resource-sharing pioneers, and share your own in the comments below.

Got more tips on getting started? Let us know!




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Share Impact

One of our pre-existing Contributors shared this status on their personal Facebook page .


There were many comments below including this one by another Contributor:


Collectively and with no pre-planning these two Contributors demonstrated not only why The Transition is a good organization to get involved with, but also has verifiable proof of the value the site provides to those who actively use the site.


By doing so they re-inspired a formally dormant supporter to get more involved again. Which by default could inspire new people witnessing the thread to get involved for the first time! It comes full circle!


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Use Context Clues

The person who shared this meme on their Facebook wall clearly wants to change the world. 


Meir let's this person know in his comment that follows that if the change they want to make is a positive one that they might be interested in getting involved with The Transition. To further educate them he offers the link to the About page so they can learn more.

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Express Your Excitement

When you are excited about something the energy you communicate to others becomes contagious. Share with others what you are excited about and see how your excitement spreads and touches others in a meaningful way.jenise_comment.png

Jenise shares in her post the excitement she has for The Transition website after hosting a podcast interview with me. She also let's people know what she is most focused on accomplishing and provides a direct link to what got her excited in the first place.

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Share Your Origin Story

People are very much interested in how others came to learn about something or why it is they think a certain way about a given topic. Help people better understand you and what you are about by sharing the origins of where your thinking came from.


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Show Gratitude

Showing gratitude is an extremely effective way to promote The Transition or anything you care about. It works in the following ways:

  • It reveals to people you are a positive person, one they might want to work more closely with or get to know better.
  • It informs other people that you will NOT take their actions for granted if they should choose to help you now or in the future.
  • The positive feelings you express are associated with the thing or person you are promoting, automatically.
  • It makes those you show gratitude  tofeel good.
  • The people you show gratitude to are more likely to help you in the future.
  • Showing gratitude creates a reciprocal flow to any relationship. Where there is reciprocity everyone's needs tend to be met.


Frank's post is made more effective by him noting a "Call to Action" for people to take by saying "Please look at the link below." & " I encourage you to get on board with us". 

expert_tip_bubble.png When people edify you publicly like this it is always good to "Like" or "Love" their post. Not only does it show the person edifying you that you appreciate and respect them as well, but it communicates to others that you have a real ongoing relationship with the person.

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Start a Dialogue

Don't rest on your laurels and be a "Like" or "Share" lemming create a segway that helps people open up a dialogue. Remember in order to Start a Movement you have to have a second crazy dancing person and sometimes that "crazy" person needs to be an outspoken or vulnerable version of YOU!


This is a Facebook post belonging to one of my friend's that went through my FB feed. Notice what she writes above this video of nature she chose to share.


I used relaxed spelling and language that is authentic to the relationship I have with this person (heck this isn't even a complete sentence probably should have gone back and edited it! lol). I then shared a related link from The Transition website that directly correlated with what she said above the video.


Sometime after my comment I received a friend request from Ivi Brown (according to FB she is friends with my friend who made this post). I accepted her friend request automatically, not thinking or considering the comment I had made on our mutual friend's FB page. My belief is that anyone that is friends with this friend of mine is an exceptional person deserving of an accepted friend request.


This message from Ivi was found in my "Other" folder in my inbox. Please note the time stamps of the original post and Ivi's message to me. Also, pay attention to how I let her know what my expectations were of her now that I have given her this information.


This is Ivi's next message to me after I provided her the link to Your Action Plan. I am her Point Person so she contact me yet again to make immediate plans for her Review Session. Take note of how she mirrors the same respect I gave her by letting me know when she would be done with her first Phase and looking forward to reconnecting for her Phase Review. Pay attention again the time stamp and how fast it took her to:

  • Find out about The Transition
  • Ask more questions to become engaged.
  • Take next steps.
  • Have her Review Session

It really is that simple! I have daily interactions like this all the time.

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Prospective Team Member Protocol:

Step 1: You must be actively doing Your Action Plan and preferably be on or beyond Phase 2.

If you are proceed to step 2.


Step 2: You must be available to attend team meetings see Calendar for current scheduled meetings or contact your Point Person for more information.

If you are proceed to step 3. If you can not make scheduled team meetings, ask your Point Person  if meeting days and or times will change in the near future. If not it's possible for you to be a Consultant depending on your skills skills and expertise. If not you are unable to do any of the above then you are ineligible to be a Transition Team member.


Step 3: You must understand and agree to the 13 Team Commitments.

If you agree to them ask your Point Person when the next meeting will be held that prospective team members can attend. 


Step 4: Please take the following personality tests and send your results to your Point Person BEFORE the team meeting you will be attending as a prospective team member.


Step 5: Attend the next team meeting you committed to going to as a prospective team member.

If you DO attend the meeting both the team and you will decide if everyone is a good fit. If they do not attend the opportunity is lost less you reschedule and you actually attend the next available meeting. However, "no call, no shows" are taken into consideration when determining if you are capable fulfilling the role of being a Transition Team Member. Not making commitments diminishes your credibility to the team as a whole.


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Transition Team Membership Levels:

Member- A member is someone who follows all team commitments, attends all meetings, is actively working on a project within The Transition, has agreed to Our Trust and adheres to the responsibilities of a Trustee therein.


Consultant - A consultant is someone who assists The Transition team, may attend some meetings to elaborate or help the team with their skill set, and may or may not contribute monetarily to The Transition funds.


Contributor- A contributor is someone who was once a supporter, but wants to become more proactive and is assisting with a monthly contribution to be used as pooled funds to help The Transition grow and create and implement programs. They may or may not be a member of the Transition Team.

All contributors should be actively following and participating in the Our Plan.

Supporter - A supporter is someone who supports The Transition’s Mission, but is not taking an active role. They may use free resources off the website (, but do not have a paid Contributorship. They do not actually belong to the Transition Team and only support the work that the organization does in general.

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