Share Shed: The answer to Vancouver's anti-social tendencies?

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Share Shed

Share Shed – a new website being developed by “sharepreneur” Daniel Dubois to allow communities to interact and share items and skills with one another – may just be the answer to remedying Vancity’s infamous reputation as being anti-social and uncaring.

Twenty-three-year-old Dubois, a fourth year bachelor of Business Administration student at Capilano University, has a refreshing “what’s mine is yours” and vice versa view of goods and services that is inspiring a new wave of interest in ‘collaborative economy’ in Vancouver. The idea first gained attention a few years ago and, in 2011, was heralded as one of the “10 Ideas that Will Change the World” by Time magazine.

Share Shed was conceived last year thanks to the CapU Changemaker Challenge for Social Innovation, judged by Ashoka Canada’s Charles Tsai, who has since become a mentor to Dubois. Ashoka’s changemakers.com is a global online community of action where anyone can source and collaborate on social solutions.

Dubois, who arrived in Vienna this week, where he has received a grant from the Austrian government to study the European sharing economy during a student exchange experience, commented en route from Germany; “The Ashoka Changemaker Showcase video ‘What would you share?’, directed by Charles, contributed immensely to the pilot project. Community members saw the video and wanted to help.”

Daniel explains that, currently, there is no one common social online platform where an entire community can openly connect with other members outside of their social network. Share Shed will promote collaboration within communities; from working together on local initiatives like clothing swaps and food drives, to sharing equipment, carpooling or providing free lessons in anything from knitting to music, or languages and sports.

He was first inspired by author Rachel Botsman’s speech entitled ‘The Case for Collaborative Consumption’ at a 2010 Ted Talk event, which pointed out that Generation Y’s social sharing matrix has facilitated a societal move from a ‘culture of me’ to a ‘culture of we.’

Some telling statistics from Botsman’s book ‘What’s Mine Is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption is Changing the Way We Live cite that the average lawn mower is used for four hours a year, and the average power drill is used for only 20 minutes in its entire lifespan. The average car is unused for 22 hours a day, and even when it is there are normally three empty seats. So, why buy when you can borrow?

Daniel believes the concept will appeal to multiple demographics; from the environmentally conscious, to those who value a strong sense of community, or those looking to pool resources for economic reasons; and explains why Share Shed is unique for a number of reasons.

  • Firstly, anyone can start their own Share Shed for their respective community, to allow people to connect on a local level.
  • Most community-based websites utilize social media to create a strong online community, while Share Shed will act as an online tool to bring community members together offline.
  • As a social venture, the entire process relies on individuals collaborating and offering their skills to make the movement a success. “Share Shed is based on community collaboration,” says Daniel, “and now a community is collaborating to create this change-maker venture.”

“Share Shed is striving for a B-Corporation certification,” he continued. “It will have the transparency of a non-profit, with a heavy emphasis on local charity, and the opportunity for growth that a for-profit enterprise offers.”

Currently, a group of students including Marketing Director Thanh Le and Project Manager Zofia Rodriguez are working together with key influencers from CapU faculty and staff to make Share Shed a reality. This is the first ever group-directed study where students design their own course as a group and work together to create a social venture.

Dubois hopes that over time Share Shed will expand to communities across Canada, and will redefine wealth from what people own to what we have access to.

The biggest drawback to this online honour system will be trust and reputability, which is why Share Shed will invite users to rate one another and provide feedback. These ratings work well for couchsurfing.org, which has enabled 20 million stays between backpackers and hosts involving 5.5 million users worldwide since 2003. The focus on pocket communities will also encourage trust among the group.

Is Vancouver in the sharing mood?

The sharing economy, or collaborative consumption as it’s also known, is a worldwide movement that’s gaining momentum with every year. Along the same lines as public libraries, parks and community centres, a growing number of organizations have recognized its potential as business ventures.

Examples include car-sharing services like Car2Go, Zipcar and Modo the Car Co-op – a community partner of Share Shed and one of the leading organizations of the Vancouver sharing economy – as well as peer-to-peer travel accommodation companies like Airbnb, Vancouver’s currently ill-fated Bixi bikes and even the growing popularity of “co-working spaces” to rent downtown. The city’s high density and urban culture lends itself to sharing, and is fast becoming a Canadian hub of the sharing economy.

Chris Diplock, who co-founded the Vancouver Tool Library in 2011 as one of the first sharing sites in B.C., spent much of last year investigating our propensity for sharing through a regional survey conducted for the City of Vancouver and Vancity.

The Sharing Project, a multi-staged research project focused on developing the city’s sharing economy, was released in the fall and found that, in addition to technology, the financial downturn of 2008 had a ripple effect that has caused people to increasingly consider sharing their fares.

Diplock believes that this is only the beginning for the movement as less than 10 per cent of respondents reported that they currently lend and/or borrow physical objects or spaces with peers through an online service (i.e. AirBnB, couchsurfing). An impressive 92 per cent agree that the presence of an online service makes it easier to share with people they don’t know, while 70 per cent of this group of respondents agree that sharing online has helped them share offline.

Over 75 per cent of respondents said that the prospect of building social relationships increased their willingness to lend a good. A 2012 report by the Vancouver Foundation showed that the most often cited ‘major barrier’ to community engagement is the belief that people don’t have much to offer, so a preference towards lending speaks to this.

Diplock met with several sharing economy advocates during his research and concluded that the various sharing economy initiatives in Vancouver need to collaborate to make the social movement a success. Dubois approached him some months later to form an official group and Sharing Economy Vancouver was born, still in its early stages of development.

Dubois has directed a film series, to launch in mid-February, that highlights the Sharing Economy through interviews with top leaders of the movement, including Diplock, Neal Gorenflo from Shareable.net and April Rinne from collaborativelab.com, who will be conducting a Canada-wide sharing economy tour next month.

Here’s an exclusive preview for Vancity Buzz on Chief Strategy Officer April Rinne’s contribution:

Share Shed is expected to launch in fall 2014. They are looking for more software engineers and communication designers to join the team. Interested borrowers and lenders can learn more about the start-up by visiting Facebook.com/shareshed or following @ShareShed on Twitter.

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Rachel Healy Rachel Healy is a Social Media Marketing Manager with a background in TV & radio from her native Ireland. She came to Vancity for a one year adventure...and is still here five years later! #toogoodtoleave
@RachelHealyIre

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