Many people consider the throes of May to be a great time to do their annual spring cleaning. This year, why not add a healthy dose of sharing to the mix? As you clean out your closets, prep your garden, and plan your summer activities, consider doing it all shareable-style. Here are Shareable.net's most helpful guides to doing just that:
Swappers show off their finds at Eat, Drink, and Be Mary. Photo credit: SharonaGott. Used under Creative Commons license.
Kids tire of toys almost as fast as they outgrow their shoes. By culling through and trading their play things with other families, you can extend the life of the toys you paid good money for while also harvesting a fresh batch of fun for your kids.
Hot tip: “It's easier to exchange without kids, but it's likely some children will be there, so have something for them to do elsewhere so their parents can "shop" more easily.”
Now that the kids' closets are taken care of, how about rummaging through your own and discarding all those clothes you haven't worn for six months or more? Encourage all of your stylish friends to do the same, plan a clothes swap, and, in the end, come away with a new wardrobe.
Hot tip: “Either establish a one-bag of discards to one-bag of discoveries policy or let people bring what they have and take what they like, with no maximum or minimum.”
If the local community garden is full up, but you have a patch of dirt and want to grow some food for yourself and your neighbors, then get to it! Even in the city, a little space can go a long way with proper planning and commitment.
Hot tip: “Growing food can require a good chunk of time and energy investment; it's always more fun and inspiring to dig in and work toward a common vision together. With very little money, a few friends, shared resources, and a potluck lunch, a kitchen garden can be born.”
Work gets underway at the Sunshine Castle garden. Photo credit: Kitchen Garden SF. Used with permission.
Keeping kids occupied during the summer months can be a challenging task. In urban centers, getting kids out into nature is an excellent way to keep their brains and bodies busy. It might even be fun for the parents, too.
Hot tip: “Choose your friends wisely: Maybe it seems backwards to pick the members of your group after forming the group, but there is good reason. Most likely you’ll start off with a core group of families ... 'New people keep the group fresh and make it about something more than just hanging out with friends,' says Jessica.”
With a variety of things to get rid of, a yard sale is always a solid choice. In this day and age, though, there are a lot of extra technological tools at your disposal to make your sale stand head and shoulders above others in your neighborhood.
Hot tip: “Create a web presence: This step makes all the difference, but it doesn't need to be complicated! The easiest method is to create a Facebook event. It's quick to set up, and you can invite most of your friends and neighbors.”
Some urban dwellers don't have a space where or even neighbors with whom they can plant a garden. They are left to their own creative devices when it comes to growing some food. Not to worry. Balcony gardening is all the rage!
Hot tip: “Don't worry about having the perfect place or the perfect time or the perfect whatever the excuse is. The only perfect thing is right now, so work with that and just do it. Another piece of advice that I'd give is to stick with it. You aren't going to be 100% successful. No one is. The most important thing is that you learn from your mistakes and continue to improve ... and have fun.”
In days gone by, hanging out on the front porch or outside the sidewalk cafe were the norm in urban neighborhoods. These days, many areas need a helping hand to become conducive to that sort of community-minded behavior.
Hot tip: “Remember that people want a reason to stay and be a part of the environment. Be sure to provide plenty of seating, things to read (maps, build simple kiosks to use as community boards, food/drink), chess boards, et cetera. Print out and post the story of the block (its history, its present, its future as a neighborhood place).”
Another way to get kids outside and active is to cordone off a space at the local playground and plant a habitat garden. It combines fun and education with nature. And that's always a winning formula.
Hot tip: “Once you plant the garden, your circle of families is responsible for maintaining it...for the rest of its natural life. In some ways, committing to the year-round growth of the garden should be step one ... think first about your goals and long-range commitment to the project. A habitat garden is actually an excellent choice for this kind of activity.”
Following up on that point ... when entering into a sharing arrangement of any kind with neighbors or friends, plotting out expectations and exit strategies are very important. That rule – and others – holds true for the sharing of a vegetable garden, particularly because physical labor is involved. Whether you are on the side of the homeowner or the side of the neighbor, you'll want to talk through all of the possibilities.
Hot tip: “Many homeowners worry about liability when they invite others onto their property. That’s why it’s critical for you and your neighbor to discuss how you can reduce the risk that someone will be injured.”