The resource-sharing movement is building, but to get it to the next level (where sharing is a natural, easy part of our daily lives) we need more people to dive in and start doing it. The more people do it, the better we’ll get at it, and the more incentive there will be for entrepreneurs to develop products and services to help us do it even better.
Manifestos have a way of crystallizing movements and galvanizing folks into new patterns of behavior. Remember Obama’s Yes We Can? That was a manifesto.
I think it’s time for a sharing manifesto.
Typically manifestos are written to someone. The Diggers’ wrote one to the Mayor of San Francisco in 1968:
Here's the text, just in case you can't make out that handwriting:
A modest proposal:
San Franciscans, in the interest of eternity, & out of respect for their mayor, will recommend the following course of action to that office this afternoon, April 25, at 4PM:
1) that city-owned buildings remaining empty be restored to the people for reconstruction embellishment, & refurbishment so that those people might live there freely
2) that all foodstuffs & materials in surplus not accounted for in current welfare distribution be returned to the people for redistribution free through ten autonomous neighborhood free stores whose rent shall [be] paid by the city
3) that presses & trucks be made available for the dissemenation of free news throughout the city so that the people will come to know one another & make channels of access available to each other
4) that the city provide resources for autonomous neighborhood celebrations of the city, the planet, & their own free beings
5) that parks & other public spaces be returned to the people for free life acts: all permit authority to be rescinded.
These are visions which will be realized by the people of San Francisco. The mayor's office is invited to share in that vision. Citywide celebration of the summer solstice will mark the entrance of free San Francisco into eternity.
Or read Adbusters’ manifesto written to “the teachers of neoclassical economics”:
True Cost Economics Manifesto
We, the Undersigned, make this accusation: that you, the teachers of neoclassical economics and the students that you graduate, have perpetuated a gigantic fraud upon the world.
You claim to work in a pure science of formula and law, but yours is a social science, with all the fragility and uncertainty that this entails. We accuse you of pretending to be what you are not. You hide in your offices, protected by your mathematical jargon, while in the real world, forests vanish, species perish and human lives are callously destroyed. We accuse you of gross negligence in the management of our planetary household.
You have known since its inception that one of your measures of economic progress, the Gross Domestic Product, is fundamentally flawed and incomplete, and yet you have allowed it to become a global standard, reported day in day out in every form of media. We accuse you of recklessly projecting an illusion of progress.
You have done great harm, but your time is coming to its close. Your systems are crumbling, your flaws increasingly laid bare. An economic revolution has begun, as hopeful and determined as any in history. We will have our clash of economic paradigms, we will have our moment of truth, and out of each will come a new economics – open, holistic, human-scale.
On campus after campus, we will chase you old goats out of power. Then, in the months and years that follow, we will begin the work of reprogramming your doomsday machine.
Here are notes towards a few manifestos I’d like to see written:
Dear Oprah… We recommend that you hire a community expert. You’ve got Dr. Phil for marriage, and Suze Orman for finance, and experts for diet, exercise, spirituality and more. Why not community? Gwyneth Paltrow (GOOP), I’m talking to you, too. And in a similar vein, Barnes & Noble, why no ‘community’ section in the bookstore?
Dear Bank CEO… Be forewarned, we are moving beyond you. A grass-roots movement is building. We’re creating a new economic system that is supportive of community. We’re creating a user-controlled, community-centric, localized, relationship-based model of exchange that utilizes economic tools that have been with us since biblical times. This is a community-based resource-sharing third economy. It’s economy-as-ecosystem, with a decentralized, emergent character and no central point of control. It’s created and implemented by the people who use it, not by a handful of bankers on Wall Street like you. It puts economic power into the hands of the people, to use to strengthen their families and their communities; and to save money (and even make money) in the process. Be forewarned…
Dear Entrepreneurs Looking for the Next Big Thing… This is it. We are what you’ve been waiting for. We need better online and “offline” tools. Better products and services. Get in the game. Enough said.
Dear Social Scientists… We need a standardized definition for community. What is it? How does it work? Is it a noun (a place) or a verb (a behavior)? How do I know when I’m doing it? ‘Touchy-feely’ and vague definitions simply don’t cut it anymore. Community is too important to us as a species. Let’s dig deeper into the science of community; its causes, its effects, and how things like resource-sharing contribute to strengthening it.
Dear Local Governments… Sharing is too hard. We need you to make sharing easier. We need code changes, and zoning law revisions, and more. Please don’t force us “off the grid.” We want to stay where we are and make our existing communities better. You can help.
Dear Costco… We recommend that you launch a “shared” buying club to incentivize sharing. Sanction the thousands of informal buying clubs that have formed to save money by divvying up your bulk items. Bring us into the fold. Your brand and your business model will be the better for it. Wal-Mart and Amazon.com, you need to dive into the 'sharing' space, too.
Dear Facebook… You call that sharing? We think you could be doing so much more to encourage true connection and communal cohesion. How about facilitating cross-generation dialogue between our wise ‘elders’ and our imperiled youth, for instance? For good or bad, you are our current caretaker of social and communal life. If you don’t do it, who will?
Post your manifesto notes below!