How to Organize a ShareFest

Village Building Convergence, photo credit cityrepair.org

In the spirit of the #SharingSpring, the Sharing Cities Network, the Center for a New American Dream and Shareable's partners are working with communities to host local ShareFests in cities around the world in the next few months. ShareFests create a real life model of the sharing world we want and transform people through the experience. Before officially announcing this initiative, 20 cities had already committed to hosting ShareFests and many more have expressed interest. Of course, the sharing economy can take many different forms and sizes across different communities and that’s where YOU come in. It’s up to you to help put your city on the path to becoming a Sharing City and a ShareFest is a great place to start. 

WHY ORGANIZE A SHAREFEST?

Your ShareFest can have a huge impact on your community. Determine the goals of your ShareFest based on what your community wants and needs. It can introduce the public to sharing through first hand experience and education. It can promote the sharing resources that already exist and help connect them to support each other to  grow the sharing movement locally. Whether you are just getting started or ready to create a complete sharing city, you can use a ShareFest to brainstorm together what new shared resources you want to create for your city. Some general guidelines: ShareFests should ideally be designed for maximum participation from diverse communities, maximum visibility, and maximum connection.

CROWDSOURCE YOUR SHAREFEST

You can co-create the ShareFest with organizations that are connected to your local sharing economy, such as churches, community centers, nonprofits, local businesses, libraries, and city agencies. Make a list and reach out to diverse groups, ask how they might like to collaborate and ask for their input in planning the event. Make another list of volunteer and resource needs. Ask partners to reach out to their members and help with different aspects of the ShareFest. A personal ask is worth a thousand broadcast emails.

MAXIMIZE VISIBILITY

  • Reach out to partners for an accessible event location - churches, community centers, public parks, farmer’s markets, libraries, universities, and art galleries - are likely options for your ShareFest. When choosing a space, consider a more central location that’s accessible by public transit, bike and car. Hosting at or near an already popular location or vibrant intersection can boost off-the-street attendance. Make sure to choose a space that is handicap accessible and in order to attract diverse participants, try to choose a space where people from all walks of life will feel welcome.
  • Create an online event page through Facebook, Meetup or Eventbrite. Facebook is the easiest to invite tons of people and share with your networks, but is less likely to get solid RSVPs. So having an Eventbrite page for registrations is great too - it helps you promote the event, and allows you to send reminders, create tickets to make it official, and limit attendance if necessary. Eventbrite RSVPs are also more reliable.
  • Ask partners and friends to share the event page link on your behalf and give them sample emails and social media posts to tailor. Personal email requests take longer but have a high rate of response.
  • Post the event online to other groups’ social media pages and local calendars and listservs. Make announcements at related events or meetings and hand out flyers. Send the link to the online event page to tom@shareable.net so Shareable and New Dream can help promote it.
  • Reach out to the media to write news stories about your event.  We have developed a list of 10 Steps to getting Media Attention for your Sharing Event as well as a sample Press Release and Media Advisory you can tailor for your event.
  • Be sure to send reminders, one week before your event, and then again the day before, to people who have RSVP’d, post on social media and send an reminder announcement to email subscribers. 

Here is a sample social media blurb you can modify and use for introducing your event:

We are kicking off the #SharingSpring by hosting ShareFest [your city] to promote our local sharing movement! Join us for gathering at [place, date, time] to brainstorm how to make [your town] a sharing city!

An examination of sharing at Fifth Street Share Fair. Photo credit: Rentalic

ENGAGE VOLUNTEERS AND DIVVY UP ROLES

As the host of a ShareFest, you shouldn’t do everything by yourself! So, who can help you plan an event for your community? YOUR COMMUNITY!  Post a call for volunteers on your Facebook and Eventbrite event pages with an email contact or online submission form and then set up a volunteer meeting. Here are some possible volunteers roles that can be delegated:

  • Coordinators for each role.
  • Event logistics: securing location, permits, accessibility, bike valet, food, fundraising at event, etc.
  • Outreach: engaging partners, posting online, putting up posters, handing out fliers and directly reaching out to a diverse community.
  • Programming: recruit and schedule workshops, discussions, child activities, socializing activities, music.
  • Greeters: collect contact information, hand out name tags, direct people to activities and answer questions.
  • Set up/take down: pre-event set up and post-event clean up crews.
  • Translators that translate questions and workshops into popular local languages.                                                                                                                  

BE RESOURCEFUL

Ideally your event should be free to attend - it’s a ShareFest after all! Fortunately, it generally doesn’t require a lot of money to pull off a great ShareFest. The most important thing you need to remember to do is ASK. ASK for free or discounted space to hold your event, free media ads, people to donate their skills, and food donations or make it a potluck. If you ASK the right people the right way you will most likely be surprised by the support you receive! Many companies will sponsor the event with money or in kind donations in exchange for advertising in your promotional materials. Partner with a local nonprofit to allow tax deductions for donations. Of course, small expenses can pile up, so here are some ways to be more resourceful:

  • Crowdsourcing is a great way to ask for materials once you assess what your event needs. Use a form to solicit donations.
  • Glean resources, like day old bakery bread, farmers market leftovers, or ripening fruit from local trees.
  • Collect donations at the event: pass the hat, set up a donation box at the event, or raise funds by offering pre-prepared food/drink by donation. Check with your city for regulations.
  • Raffle prizes at your event (get donations from folks participating in the event).
  • Set up an online donation link on your event page with Wepay or offer tickets by donation (with an option for free tickets) on Eventbrite.

Maker Corps, photo credit The Henry Ford

DESIGN FOR PARTICIPATION

It’s up to your community to design it with local flavor. Crowdsource ideas for the programming of your ShareFest. What topics do people want to learn about?  What activities do they want to participate in?  How do they imagine your sharing city?  

What does a ShareFest usually include? The sky’s the limit! But keep it manageable - integrating just a few of these ideas will make an awesome ShareFest.

  • It’s more fun and a lot less work if you co-create the ShareFest with others so engage your community from Day One of planning the event. Use the Facebook event page, an online google form (see example) with publicly viewable spreadsheet or wufoo form, or an existing organization’s email listserv or wiki to ask people for their ideas and post it on your event page.
  • Your ShareFest should highlight existing sharing projects, organizations, businesses and government agencies in your community, like the ones mapped during the Sharing Cities Map Jam. Ask local organizations, projects and companies dedicated to resource sharing to table and showcase their work at your event. Additionally, you can host a pre-event bike tour of the sharing projects in your city.
  • Ask organizations to host workshops on relevant topics like: creative reuse and repair, how to start a housing/food/worker co-op or a coworking space, resource sharing (tool libraries, seed banks, etc.), community currencies, co-operative childcare, urban fruit gleaning, soft skills of sharing and more! New Dream’s Guide to Sharing and Shareable’s How to Share library can help.
  • In addition to education, ShareFests usually have experiential activity stations that engage attendees, including children, as participants like: a pop-up repair cafe, bike kitchen, trash to treasure art creation station, swap-o-rama-rama or ‘really really free market,’ open space for skillshares, gift circle, healing circle, potluck with recipe exchange, or speed dating to match-make for coop creation. Ask the public ahead of time to bring something to share for the activities.
  • You can invite the public to participate in a creative “Ignite Sharing” session, vote on the best projects for your community and maybe even give them a jumpstart using the Sunday Soup crowdfunding model.

Open Space gathering. Creative Commons photo by edmittance

FACILITATE CONNECTION

  • Your event can host open space or world cafe discussions for visioning, brainstorming, and planning to collaboratively create a city with shared food, housing, work, finance, health, art, transportation, energy and more. Be sure to have good facilitators and take notes.
  • Schedule some unprogrammed time for informal conversation, networking and planning next steps in an enjoyable space.  Have a cafe corner where people can sit down to drink tasty beverages and talk about your Sharing City. Leave conversation starters on the tables or place butcher paper around the space, so that people can share their creative ideas. 

Communitea Kansas City, credit Colin Barnes

PLAN FOR MOVEMENT BUILDING

Think of this ShareFest as an opportunity for a big leap towards making your city a Sharing City. Take photos to document your success and to capture the creativity that arises. You’ll want to share your story with local media and Shareable (tom@shareable.net). Lastly, but most importantly, don’t forget a sign up sheet to capture  attendees's contact information at the event so that you can stay in touch about future projects and events. The people who attend this ShareFest are your new team of Sharing Collaborators!

Thanks for hosting a ShareFest, it’s going to be a blast! Remember, your peers are here to answer your questions and support you through the whole process. Join the Sharing Cities Network Facebook group to get ideas from other ShareFest organizers and recruit volunteers.

 

 

 

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