Why we need Sharing Cities now more than ever

We recently partnered with SPUR, an urban policy think tank in San Francisco, California, for a panel discussion about Sharing Cities — a vision for cities that's rooted in practical, community-based solutions to meet the needs of residents — to mark the publication of our latest book, "Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons." Five years ago, Shareable, along with SPUR and the city of San Francisco, catalyzed the Sharing Cities movement at SPUR's headquarters with the launch event of San Francisco's Sharing Economy Working Group. Since then, more than 30 cities around the globe have launched Sharing Cities programs, hosted countless events, and published a number of articles to advance the movement. Revisiting the Sharing Cities topic at SPUR last Wednesday felt like we had come full circle. 

I kicked off the panel by arguing that Sharing Cities is more relevant than ever at a time of growing social divisions that make it increasingly difficult to meet acute and intersecting global challenges like wealth inequality and climate change. Sharing Cities can be a powerful antidote to this alarming situation, which I dubbed "the multiplicity" in my introduction (a play on the singularity), if we direct our attention to common needs and commons-based solutions to them.

The panel discussion that followed highlighted the many facets of Sharing Cities. Rani Croager of Uptima Business Bootcamp spoke about wealth-spreading dynamics of her member-owned business accelerator and cooperatives in general. Yassi Eskandari-Qajar of the Sustainable Economies Law Center detailed what cities can do to promote worker cooperatives and dispelled some of the common misconceptions about them. Arno Hesse of Credibles underscored the potential of peer-to-peer funding of local enterprises and how the capital needs of a community are often best met by communities themselves rather than big, distant, profit-driven banks. Neeraj Bhatia brought an architect’s perspective to the topic underscoring the role of the built environment in enabling sharing, social cohesion, and civic life.

The audience Q&A period was equally vibrant. You can dive deeper by watching the recording of the discussion below:

Header photo by Tom Llewellyn/Shareable