Transformation to a Sharing Society

For many years we have heard that we are living in transformational times. If one looks critically at the past 3 or 4 decades, change and transformation have become the everyday.  Structures and institutions, technologies, attitudes, weather and climate, and economic conditions, to name just a few major areas of life, have all undergone and continue to undergo huge shifts and changes.

One of the positive shifts I have noticed in the past few years is a move away from extreme individualism toward community.  More and more groups, ideas and movements are occurring who are exploring new ways of sharing.

About a year ago I had an idea concerning art collection.  As much large-scale, original art is relatively expensive, my idea was that a few people could pool their resources in order to purchase original art.  Then once purchased they would share ownership and housing of the art.  Each group who purchased a piece of art collectively would decide among themselves the timetable of housing the art.

Recently while cruising through wordpress I discovered another blogger, Anthony Haynes, who wrote about an existing co-operative for collecting art. This collective was formed by a group of friends in London.  For The Collective, this is an ongoing enterprise, not a one time event. I was excited to find that my little idea was not separate and isolated but part of a wider bubbling up of community and collective living.  Click here to read more about The Collective.

Slightly over thirty years ago, Community-Supported agriculture (CSA) began in the United States. Over the past three decades this system, in which growers and consumers share the risks and benefits of growing local food, has continued to grow as part of our transformation to a sharing culture.

And now this CSA sharing idea has leaped from agriculture to art – Community-Supported Art. The first CSA for art started in Minnesota four years ago and is now spreading all over the country.  And as it moves it morphs and grows.  Click here to read the recent New York Times article about this trend.

In recent years worker owned businesses have become a growing trend.  The economic crisis has created the space for this change as workers become part owners of the businesses that would otherwise have closed their doors. Here’s a link to an interesting documentary which explores how worker owned companies work.

The recent emergence of AirBnB, a website where people can rent a room, a suite or an apartment to travelers who are received as guests is another dynamic shift away from luxury hotels and mid-range motels. WhipCar and RelayRides, allow people to rent out their cars. Peer-to-peer banking, neighbors sharing tools and collaborative work spaces are other instances of this transformation to a sharing society.

Soul Community, painting by Judith Shaw

Soul Community

People in positions of power are also recognizing the value of sharing societies. “From my own experience there is no contradiction between sound financial policies and supporting the achievement of Shared Societies, in fact they complement each other.” – Pedro Solbes, Former Finance Minister, Government of Spain, Former Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, European Commission.

Two issues are key to this transformation.  One is that people are beginning to value access to goods and skills more than ownership of these things.  The other is trust.  People are building trust between strangers and in the process making friends and broadening their horizons.

Though the transition is not always smooth or easy, the old hierarchic social structure that has kept us locked in distrust and disharmony for thousands of years is now transforming to one of sharing and cooperation.  Progress toward the reinvention of humanity’s true birthright of cooperation is painfully slow but it is happening as we move toward a fuller understanding that we are all connected.

If you know of other instances which are part of this transformation to a sharing society please feel free to … well.. Share!

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