Share Exchange: A Community Center for Sharing

The Share Exchange in Sonoma County, California is planning to launch in Santa Rosa later this year. 

What is the Share Exchange? It's not easy to describe because I've never seen anything quite like it. A Share Exchange is a community center for sharing and a lot more. It combines the following: 
  • An exchange for sharing tools, toys, bikes, vehicles, and more
  • An incubator for neighborhood-scale micro enterprises
  • And space for citizens to hold classes, celebrations, and meetings
  • A cultural center
  • A market featuring local food and products
  • A shop for fixing & fabricating with a focus on materials reuse
  • A jobs and lifestyle training center
  • A home for local economy tools such as time banking, community currency, and community investment

The goal of the Share Exchange is to aggregate sharing tools in a central, persistent place in the community to catalyze a green local economy. If the successes of coworking and The Hub social enterprise community centers are any guide, the Share Exchange may be onto to something. The lesson of The Hub is that grounding a movement in a shared physical place adds tremendous value. 

Could this work? While the Share Exchange offers an ambitious array of services, the broad scope could be an advantage. Multiple programs could translate into multiple sources of support.

Coworking hints at why the Share Exchange might work. I've noticed that the most vibrant coworking spaces do more than just rent desk space. Parisoma, for instance, rents desks and event space, takes sponsorships, offers consulting services, and chronicles events on their site. In fact, the space is set up like a TV studio, with permanently affixed stage lighting and cameras, so they can livestream their events, another source of revenue. 

This demonstrates the wisdom of going for scope when scale isn't possible. I believe the key to the scope strategy, however, is offering the right combination of services. In Parisoma's case, all their activities complement each other instead of competing.

I'll be keeping an eye on the Share Exchange. If successful, it could be an important catalyst for the sharing movement like the The Hub is for social enterprise. Learn more about the Share Exchange here.

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