Shareable https://www.shareable.net People-powered solutions for the common good Fri, 27 Mar 2020 02:36:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.3.2 https://www.shareable.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/shareable-favicon.png Shareable https://www.shareable.net 32 32 The coronavirus pandemic calls us to share more than ever, here are 10 ways to get started https://www.shareable.net/the-coronavirus-pandemic-calls-us-to-share-more-than-ever-here-are-10-ways-to-get-started/ https://www.shareable.net/the-coronavirus-pandemic-calls-us-to-share-more-than-ever-here-are-10-ways-to-get-started/#respond Thu, 26 Mar 2020 18:19:13 +0000 https://www.shareable.net/?p=39471 Sharing during a pandemic? Sharing probably isn’t the first idea that comes to mind as it implies physical contact. But there are innumerable ways to share that don’t require physical contact. And here’s why we should pursue them with extraordinary gusto during the pandemic. In short, world leaders have failed to protect us from the

The post The coronavirus pandemic calls us to share more than ever, here are 10 ways to get started appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
Sharing during a pandemic? Sharing probably isn’t the first idea that comes to mind as it implies physical contact.

But there are innumerable ways to share that don’t require physical contact. And here’s why we should pursue them with extraordinary gusto during the pandemic.

In short, world leaders have failed to protect us from the coronavirus. They had a chance to contain it. But through delay, misinformation, denial, and unpreparedness, they have unleashed it on the world.

Now a growing number of us have been asked to cease our normal lives, shelter in place, and practice social distancing for who knows how long. And while it’s absolutely critical we do so to limit the spread of the coronavirus, we’ve been asked to bear the terrible costs of their incompetence in lost lives and livelihoods.

Leaders have also left us to figure out what stance to take in the crisis. From the official messages about social distancing and the like, it’s easy to assume that the only thing we should do is hunker down and wait the pandemic out.

Some messages offer no help. One world leader, when asked what he had to say to people who were scared, insulted the reporter. He had not a single comforting word or practical suggestion to offer.

In short, our supposed leaders have driven us to the edge of a public health and global economic abyss… and left us there. Even worse, some are taking advantage of the crisis to grab more profit and power. We can’t count on them to protect us. 

So, we must protect ourselves.

We must do so by sharing, cooperating, and taking decisive action when leaders have failed to.

We must fill the leadership and systemic voids that the crisis has exposed. The stakes couldn’t be higher — every human on spaceship earth is at risk. This is a moment of decision for all of us.

Will we hunker down, hoard, heap blame on the blameless, stay mesmerized by the media, spread fear, devolve in our isolation, and turn away from others?

Or will we rise to the occasion, fill the leadership void, share solutions, develop as people, and find our purpose in helping each other?

While this choice may not have occurred to you, this really isn’t a choice. There’s no one at the wheel of our collective bus. We must take the wheel or the immediate toll will be more horrific. The long-term damage to the social fabric might even be worse.

While you may not see it, countless thousands are rising to the occasion. A large and rapidly growing wave of prosocial behavior, resource sharing, and mutual aid is sweeping the globe. A growing number of people are defining this moment through their warmth, bravery, diligence, generosity, and creativity.

Need I mention front line medical workers who are risking their lives to stem the toll? Their sacrifice is a testament to the beauty, boldness, and boundlessness of the human spirit.

We need to follow them safely into the breach. If you haven’t already, it’s time to join this wave of grassroots action. If you already have, it’s time to ask your friends and family to join it with you.

Working together (and at a safe distance), we can flatten the curve in a humane way and come out more human for it.

Here are 10 ways to get started:

1. Safety first.

Follow the shelter in place, physical distancing, handwashing, and other safety measures that reputable health authorities recommend. Encourage everyone around you to do the same. Following these with discipline may be the single most important act of solidarity you can undertake. This is a shared responsibility. You’ll protect yourself and many, many others. If in doubt, err on the side of caution.  

2. Check in with your family, friends, neighbors, and the most vulnerable in your community.

Provide comfort, health guidelines, and whatever aid is needed to those closest to you. Stay in it with them. Depending on your situation, you might have your hands full with just this. If everybody does this, then everyone has access to at least a basic level of care and emotional support. 

3. Support front line medical workers and the institutions they serve.

They’re the dam keeping back the floodwaters of infection. We can’t afford for this dam to break. Check in with your local hospitals to see what they need. People and organizations are already donating protective medical gear, medical equipment, meals, and more. You can even volunteer remotely or join an open source team designing medical gear. Start here to see where to jump in.  

4. Join or start a mutual aid network.

Grassroots, volunteer-run mutual aid networks provide community-scale aid, often with a focus on mutual support for the most vulnerable. If you want to increase your impact locally, this is a great way to go. These have gone virtual during the pandemic using spreadsheets to match needs with resources. Here’s an inside look at one of the thousands of COVID-19 mutual aid networks started recently. Directories of them have popped up in the U.S., UK, and elsewhere. Search the web for one in your area. If there are none, start one. Sometimes all it takes are two friends and a spreadsheet.  

5. Support those that need it the most.

This can include the elderly, those most vulnerable to the coronavirus healthwise, those previously or newly on the economic margins, those facing eviction, those experiencing racism or discrimination, people who are undocumented, victims of domestic abuse, people experiencing houselessness, people with disabilities, those with mental health conditions, and more. The pandemic poses unique challenges for people in these groups. Support can be direct, mutual, or through the many local service organizations. Search your area for your preferred channel.

6. Be social, safely.

As Shareable has reported, loneliness was a huge health challenge before the pandemic. Social distancing could make it worse. We already have an economic recession on our hands due to the pandemic, we don’t need a “social recession” to compound the misery. A more constructive approach is physical distancing with social solidarity, not social distancing. This is a time to be warm, friendly, and kind to those you know and strangers alike virtually and when you’re six feet apart IRL. This is also a time to exercise your social creativity. People are holding virtual happy hours, dance parties, birthday parties, book clubs, religious services, and more. Use this moment to reweave the social fabric.  

7. Share reputable information responsibly.

It’s important to keep your friends, family, and community informed. However, the web is awash in misleading and even panic-inducing information about the coronavirus. Make sure what you share is from reputable sources. Cross-reference news reports with reports from other reputable sources. Equally important, make sure what and how you share doesn’t unintentionally induce panic. Balance sharing truthful, alarming news with relevant how-to, safety, and solutions information. To help you stay sane, consider a media diet that responsibly limits your news intake. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in the 24/7 coronavirus news cycle. Panic kills, let’s stay calm. 

8. Engage government.

Governments around the world are deciding how to respond to the immediate threat of the coronavirus and the second-order impacts. These decisions could reshape life in a dramatically different and potentially worse way unless the public’s voice is heard. As always, the rich and powerful are at the bargaining table. Make sure you are too. Check-in with your local and national representation about their coronavirus plans and make your voice heard. Only together can we beat coronavirus capitalism and rebuild on a more just and sustainable basis.

9. Budget time to do the above.

Schedule time each day for checking in, supporting front line medical workers, mutual aid, or preventing a social recession — whatever mix of activities make sense to you. Make it part of your daily pandemic routine. Share your contributions with others. Invite them to join in. It’s natural to feel a tad powerless in this situation, this is a way to take back some control.   

10. Take care of yourself.

Last but definitely not least, take care of yourself. You can’t do the above if you’re not healthy yourself. As airlines advise in emergencies, put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. Depending on your situation, this might even be an opportunity to spend more time exercising, eating right, and finding ways to stay calm like yoga, meditation, and long walks. 

There are many more ways to help. The number and variety of grassroots efforts is truly stunning. And now that you’re in charge, I’m betting you have your own ideas for mutual aid. Please share the actions you’ve taken or witnessed with us by email info@shareable.net or on Facebook.

And just as important — spread the word that it’s time to help each other, share resources, and share leadership.  

The post The coronavirus pandemic calls us to share more than ever, here are 10 ways to get started appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
https://www.shareable.net/the-coronavirus-pandemic-calls-us-to-share-more-than-ever-here-are-10-ways-to-get-started/feed/ 0
Project builds and re-fruits urban communities across the UK https://www.shareable.net/project-builds-and-re-fruits-urban-communities-across-the-uk/ https://www.shareable.net/project-builds-and-re-fruits-urban-communities-across-the-uk/#respond Tue, 24 Mar 2020 15:45:04 +0000 https://www.shareable.net/?p=39338 By creating or restoring orchards, an urban nonprofit is strengthening local food systems and building community while reenergizing the farming skills of its participants. With the mission to bring thriving orchards into the heart of urban communities, The Orchard Project has been restoring orchards in U.K. cities and towns for the past 10 years. In

The post Project builds and re-fruits urban communities across the UK appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
By creating or restoring orchards, an urban nonprofit is strengthening local food systems and building community while reenergizing the farming skills of its participants.

With the mission to bring thriving orchards into the heart of urban communities, The Orchard Project has been restoring orchards in U.K. cities and towns for the past 10 years. In the process, it has revived orchard management skills like grafting, pruning, and planting.

Last year, the organization planted or rejuvenated more than 2,000 trees in 70 community orchards. The organization relies on thousands of volunteers, a team of leaders (trained by the project), community group partners, funders, and other supporters. 

The Orchard Project Communication Manager Joanne Hooper said: “Our vision is that every person living in a town or a city in the U.K. is within a walking distance from a community orchard. And we try to achieve that through working with community groups to plant the orchards, and supporting them to maintain them.”

Funded by grants, the nonprofit is creative in how it generates funds while being a value-driven community organization. It offers a variety of skills training, consulting, and sells apple juice and cider from its orchards which is processed with the help of community members. The project created an orchard design kit, which can be bought with consulting services, and it also welcomes donations. 

Recently, the Orchard Project restored 30 neglected and at-risk London orchards, some of which were on land belonging to hospitals, schools and monasteries. With support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, which considered those orchards part of the U.K.’s heritage, the project brought the neglected orchards back to life with support from local communities.

As the project creates a sustainable source of fresh fruit in urban areas, it also helps participants appreciate the process of growing food, increasing their awareness about nature, community resilience and food systems.

“We’re also in the middle of a project to improve biodiversity in orchards in Manchester and Edinburgh by implementing certain features, such as ponds, dry-stone walls, leaving decaying trees standing, which create fantastic habitats for many creatures, adding green roofs on any buildings or sheds, creating bug hotels, all of which attracts wildlife,” Hooper said.

“In the meantime, we’re trying to raise awareness, since orchards are key habitats for wildlife as stated in the U.K. Biodiversity Action Plan, and tend to attract more species when compared to parks and gardens, partially due to the fact fruit trees develop rot woods, cracked bark and spaces for bugs and birds to nest in whilst its blossoms attract lots of pollinators.”

Between planting and restoring, the organization has supported more than 420 orchards. Since 2016, it has rescued 13 tonnes of unwanted apples and pears and turned them into juice and a hand-crafted cider called Local Fox, made with traditional pressing methods.

Project builds and re-fruits urban communities across the UK
Image credit: Tom Broadhead

The Orchard Project has partnered with Scottish churches with an organization called Eco-congregration, which repurposes churchyards to grow fruit. The project leverages parishioners who want to help improve the local area.

“A lot of what we do is about engaging people to help tackle the climate crisis, since by getting involved with their community orchards, they are planting trees, taking ownership of at least one of their food sources,supporting wildlife, and sharing skills,” Hooper said. 

The Orchard Project has a vast collection of free online resources, including lesson plans for those involved in schools and tips on how to prune old fruit trees.

The post Project builds and re-fruits urban communities across the UK appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
https://www.shareable.net/project-builds-and-re-fruits-urban-communities-across-the-uk/feed/ 0
Things got a whole lot more local than I expected due to coronavirus https://www.shareable.net/things-got-a-whole-lot-more-local-than-i-expected-due-to-coronavirus/ https://www.shareable.net/things-got-a-whole-lot-more-local-than-i-expected-due-to-coronavirus/#respond Sat, 21 Mar 2020 16:15:17 +0000 https://www.shareable.net/?p=39431 On March 12, I shared five #LocalYear commitments to help me go more local. Little did I know how local things would get in just one week. The next day local schools closed due to the coronavirus.  Three days later six San Francisco Bay Area counties, including ours, issued a “shelter in place” order affecting

The post Things got a whole lot more local than I expected due to coronavirus appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
On March 12, I shared five #LocalYear commitments to help me go more local. Little did I know how local things would get in just one week.

The next day local schools closed due to the coronavirus. 

Three days later six San Francisco Bay Area counties, including ours, issued a “shelter in place” order affecting seven million people in California’s coronavirus hotspot.

Three days after that, Gov. Gavin Newsom did the same for all of California.

Ordinary life in California has come to a near standstill. Birdsong has replaced the howl of traffic in my neighborhood. Downtown Mountain View is a near ghost town. Many shops and restaurants are closed, some for good. Aside from daily walks, my family is staying at ground zero of local — our house. 

While we’re experiencing “shelter in place” in a profoundly local way, this is also a profoundly global experience. Everyone is vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. Many, if not all, will experience what we’re experiencing. It’s the most powerful example in my lifetime of how all our fates on spaceship earth are tied. And many have shifted even more of their lives to the most global of mediums, the internet, as social distancing becomes the new norm.

To say that events have overtaken my experiment is a huge understatement. In light of the magnitude of what has been and will be lost — from loved ones to livelihoods — my life experiment feels irrelevant.  

And it is, but it also isn’t. It’s relevant to me because it has given my life more meaning and focus when I needed it. It has also prepared me for this moment in surprising ways, ways that may be relevant to others. 

For instance, my media diet has helped keep my mind clearer and calmer than normal. While I’m on social media more than I pledged in order to do my job at Shareable, and also, frankly, to witness this crisis unfold in real time among my friends, I feel that I’m accepting what’s happening with more equanimity than I normally would. It’s helped that I’ve replaced my heavy Netflix habit with daily guided meditation. I’m also sleeping better, which does wonders for mood and energy. 

My Cool Block project also became relevant to the coronavirus crisis despite the fact that it got somewhat derailed by it. I had to cancel the second, crucial in-person organizing meeting due to the shelter in place order, but I pivoted to a virtual event that was well attended. I didn’t think I could manage the full 90-minute, multi-part organizing meeting that Cool Block called for in a virtual format, so I designed a shorter, simpler one focused on how we can help each other during the crisis.

This meeting catalyzed a stream of neighborhood activity. Neighbors offered to run errands for each other and share all kinds of surplus goods. The group decided to reach out to the entire neighborhood to offer assistance. Someone set up a Slack group for community projects including Cool Block. We formed committees for two projects which will eventually need HOA approval — planting fruit trees in common areas and EV charging in parking lots. We’re collecting surplus masks to meet a shortage at local hospitals and compiling a list of restaurants that are open for take out. And before the meeting, one Cool Block member left cocktails on another member’s doorstep! Now that’s loving thy neighbor.   

Ironically, I’ve never had so much contact with my neighbors as during social distancing! My Cool Block organizing work couldn’t have been more timely. That said, I’m not sure if I can get the project back on track. The program doesn’t recommend doing it virtually, but I don’t know how long we’ll be sheltering in place due to the coronavirus. It could be months. I need to find a way forward. That might be with Cool Block or more organic cooperation that seems easier now that I’ve connected with my neighbors. 

Another unexpected development is that I’ve had more time with my family, especially my son Jake who I’m homeschooling. I’m learning more about his needs as a learner. It’s already become clear that I need to spend much more time with him on schoolwork.   

I’ve also had a blast with him during breaks. We’ve been tossing the football out back in our beautiful common area. He’s gotten super creative with his pass patterns. He zigs and zags through groves of Redwood trees. He goes long and dives for catches landing in mud. One pattern involved spinning around a lamppost.

That I didn’t think of improving family life as part of #LocalYear is something worth examining and changing. I will. 

All in all, I’m heartened that my neighbors and many others are defining this moment as one of social solidarity with physical distance, not social distance. We’ve chosen our response, and it’s to come together.

##

This post is part of Neal Gorenflo’s year long experiment on living locally (#LocalYear). Follow his journey by reading the other posts in his series:

The post Things got a whole lot more local than I expected due to coronavirus appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
https://www.shareable.net/things-got-a-whole-lot-more-local-than-i-expected-due-to-coronavirus/feed/ 0
Coronavirus catalyzes growing wave of grassroots action despite social distancing https://www.shareable.net/coronavirus-catalyzes-growing-wave-of-grassroots-action-despite-social-distancing/ https://www.shareable.net/coronavirus-catalyzes-growing-wave-of-grassroots-action-despite-social-distancing/#respond Wed, 18 Mar 2020 16:26:14 +0000 https://www.shareable.net/?p=39391 Isolation, quarantine, and social distancing may be an effective strategy when dealing with a global pandemic like the coronavirus. But, unfortunately, in a global economy that has been plagued by 40 years of neoliberalism, the social bonds that help to create strong, resilient communities have been so badly eroded that the strategy of social distancing,

The post Coronavirus catalyzes growing wave of grassroots action despite social distancing appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
Isolation, quarantine, and social distancing may be an effective strategy when dealing with a global pandemic like the coronavirus. But, unfortunately, in a global economy that has been plagued by 40 years of neoliberalism, the social bonds that help to create strong, resilient communities have been so badly eroded that the strategy of social distancing, while necessary, is having  many unanticipated consequences.

In the face of these challenges, there is a groundswell of grassroots action  in towns and cities across the U.S. and world. Although often hidden beneath the surface, these grassroots responses are growing rapidly in scope and scale. They are often formed spontaneously by individuals and groups who recognize the immediate needs of those around them and choose to act.

Many of these responses take the form of mutual aid — grassroots, horizontal, community-led aid that has emerged spontaneously to help those impacted in some way by the pandemic. There are far too many examples to list here with hundreds of google docs, resource guides, webinars, slack channels, online meetups, peer-to-peer loan programs, and other forms of mutual aid emerging online and on-the-ground. 

One of the most straightforward forms of community response is simply checking up on neighbors — especially the elderly or those who are otherwise immunocompromised. An example of this comes out of Philadelphia, where an online signup sheet for those in need titled “Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Philly Mutual Aid for folks Affected by COVID-19,” has been circulating. Other simple, replicable examples of neighborly help include things like zero percent loan funds for friends and family members in need and even things like soup swaps. 

As we’ve documented in our podcast, The Response, in periods of disaster and crisis, the most vulnerable communities are often the hardest hit. This is no different with the coronavirus pandemic. People that are especially vulnerable to social distancing and quarantining are those living with disabilities and those experiencing homelessness. Over the last couple of weeks the Disability Justice Culture Club in Oakland has begun efforts to address some of the unique challenges these communities are subjected to in the face of a pandemic. 

The group first began their efforts in mutual aid during the PG&E power shut-offs raising money for generators and providing air purifiers to those in need. During the current crisis, the club has continued to be active. “We’ve been making kits with hand sanitizer, wipes, and gloves and distributing them to people that can’t get out of the house or can’t buy these items,” Jay Salazar, an organizer with the Disability Justice Culture Club told Shareable. “We’re going to [homeless] encampments and distributing the kits to those communities as well.”

The Disability Justice Culture Club has also created an online Google doc with the aim of linking able-bodied individuals with those who have unique needs. “The needs can be anywhere from needing food or running errands or picking up meds,” Salazar explained. “Basically, [volunteers are] telling us what they’re able to do and we’re connecting them to the people that need it.”

These kinds of Google docs and publicly available online spreadsheets are a common and effective way of identifying and addressing unique needs during a time of social distancing. For  example, just over the weekend in Ann Arbor, Michigan, dorms at the University of Michigan were closed after Gov. Whitmer announced the first confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state. The community response was rapid. 

“It started with a simple Facebook post letting friends know that my partner and I would take in anyone in the University of Michigan dorms who doesn’t have a place to stay,” organizer Sharif-Ahmed Krabti told Shareable. “From that initial post and other messages in different channels, a group of people came together who were passionate about building a network of mutual aid not just for housing but for other issues like food and transportation.”

The group put together a public spreadsheet where anyone can add resources offered or needed. From there, people who need things can contact someone who has signed up to offer support and coordinate how to meet their needs.

“So far there are over 300 people who have signed up to provide various resources or support to those who need it,” Krabti explained. “Most of the on the groundwork has been digital, which is actually beneficial since people need to stay inside to protect from COVID-19. The only time we are trying to be in-person is to actually deliver aid.” 

A similar form of mutual aid is being provided for children in Ann Arbor. The Kekere Emergency Childcare Collective has formed as a response to coronavirus related school closures. The group is striving to organize mutual aid childcare for families with preschool and school-aged children. Just like with the efforts in Ann Arbor, they have created an online form for those in need of childcare, transportation, spaces for children, supplies, food, etc.

School closures are just one form of cancellation  impacting communities — another hard-hit community are artists. Thousands of concerts, festivals, and other gatherings have been cancelled over the last week, and this has intensified as governments have stepped in to  restrict public events. This is particularly true in major art cities like San Francisco where many artists and performers have seen months worth of bookings evaporate almost overnight. Some are shifting to virtual events and helping other artists and producers do the same. For example, San Francisco-based event producer Scott Levkoff, Creative Director of Playable Agency, who had all his company’s upcoming live events canceled, is now co-organizing virtual events including best practices webinars, storytelling game nights, and variety shows aimed at getting performers paid.

The organization Springboard for the Arts has also put together a number of resources for artists during the pandemic, including a “Principles for Ethical Cancellation” guide as well as resource sheet for emergency relief funds, lawyers, and emergency grants.

“Many artists heavily rely on contract work to make a living, feed their families and to sustain themselves. We know that many artists do this work without strong contracts that protect them from cancellations or loss of income,” Springboard for the Arts stated on their website. “We encourage businesses and organizations to help mitigate the impact on artists, freelancers and contractors.”

Another interesting example of mutual aid comes from the open source community. Italy, which has been hit especially hard by the coronavirus, has been experiencing a dangerous shortage of hospital equipment. In response, a group of good samaritans have been using their 3D printer to make new respirator valves which they are giving away for free. A similar effort is being explored by a San Francisco-based designer who recently put out a call on for other designers and engineers to design an open-source ventilator. 

Perhaps one of the most overlooked and also most important responses to the coronavirus pandemic focuses on simply fostering human connection. Isolation can be incredibly challenging — as human beings, we crave connection. With this in mind, a Facebook group was created by the name of Distance Resistance with the stated aim of “fostering human connection in the face of social distancing, with particular emphasis on ways to connect that respect the physical safety of vulnerable populations during the coronavirus outbreak.”

With almost 3,000 members already and hundreds of posts a day, the group is dedicated to brainstorming ways for people to connect virtually while providing opportunities for leadership to individuals who may not typically consider themselves to be organizers. The group plans to continue on after the mandates for social distancing are lifted, aiming to celebrate the return to normalcy when the time comes.

A similar but much larger series of Facebook groups have emerged in Canada. They are advocating for a ‘caremongering’ movement — a challenge to the idea of ‘scaremongering’ that is so prevalent during times of crisis. The movement, which is comprised of more than 35 Facebook groups and over 30,000 members in total, is asking people to “offer help to others within their communities, particularly those who are more at risk of health complications related to [the] coronavirus.” 

Back here in the United States, we’re still in the very early stages of tackling the global coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing orders are escalating quickly as a number of cities and counties in California, including in the Bay Area, have already issued “shelter in place” orders. There are some measures being proposed across the country that intend to ameliorate some of the suffering that will ensue, such as proposals for eviction moratoriums in cities like San Francisco and San Jose, but these efforts will likely not go far enough nor will they have much effect on the vast majority of people. 

In times like these, when governments fall short, mutual aid and community response become lifelines not just for the most vulnerable, but for entire communities. It’s unfortunate that those in power are unwilling to step up adequately, yet at the same time, it’s heartening to see that ordinary people around the world are stepping in to fill the gaps, and with great passion and ingenuity.

##

This article is part of our reporting on the community response to the coronavirus crisis:

The post Coronavirus catalyzes growing wave of grassroots action despite social distancing appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
https://www.shareable.net/coronavirus-catalyzes-growing-wave-of-grassroots-action-despite-social-distancing/feed/ 0
14 community-minded books to read during the 2020 quarantine https://www.shareable.net/14-community-minded-books-to-read-during-the-2020-quarantine/ https://www.shareable.net/14-community-minded-books-to-read-during-the-2020-quarantine/#respond Tue, 17 Mar 2020 22:10:28 +0000 https://www.shareable.net/?p=39367 We at Shareable are guessing that you might have some extra reading time these days during the worldwide makeshift quarantine. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a list of books that aren’t necessarily new; although there are a couple of news books like The Buy Nothing Book (available April 14, 2020). We’ve focused on

The post 14 community-minded books to read during the 2020 quarantine appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
We at Shareable are guessing that you might have some extra reading time these days during the worldwide makeshift quarantine. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a list of books that aren’t necessarily new; although there are a couple of news books like The Buy Nothing Book (available April 14, 2020).

We’ve focused on books relevant to the global COVID-19 pandemic like Rob Hopkin’s From What Is To What If. We’re also plugging our latest free ebooks “The Response” and “Beyond Waste.” “The Response” is particularly relevant these days as it’s all about community responses to disasters. Finally, we asked each member of team Shareable what they’re reading, so check those selections out too.

With many libraries and bookstores closing, you may need to source books creatively. You can still buy books online, but why not go one better? Depending on where you live, you may be able to check out an ebook online from your local library at no cost through systems like Hoopla, Libby, and Overdrive. Your local library’s website should provide information on which system they use and instructions on how to download ebooks. We’ve included links to ebooks where possible for each of our recommended books.

What books are you reading right now? Let us know at info@shareable.net! Below are summaries excerpted from each book’s website:

The Response: Building Collective Resilience in the Wake of DisastersThe Response: Building Collective Resilience in the Wake of Disasters by Shareable

When disasters occur, the majority of news coverage teeters on the edge of “disaster porn” at best, emphasizing the sheer mass of destruction in the affected area while celebrating a few token “heroes.” News reporting routinely underplays how local communities come together to recover from the immediate devastation and collectively rebuild the community, often on a new foundation of sustainability and justice. It’s a good thing that people collaborate instead of competing during a crisis because all signs point towards an increase in climate change-fueled disasters in the coming years.

This collection of interviews, articles, guides, and personal stories is designed to deepen the understanding of community led disaster response and support deeper engagement between neighbors, family, and friends In preparation for a future together.

Community-minded books to read during the 2020 quarantineFrom What Is to What If: Unleashing the Power of Imagination to Create the Future We Want by Rob Hopkins

The founder of the international Transition Towns movement asks why true creative, positive thinking is in decline, asserts that it’s more important now than ever, and suggests ways our communities can revive and reclaim it. 

In these times of deep division and deeper despair, if there is a consensus about anything in the world, it is that the future is going to be awful. There is an epidemic of loneliness, an epidemic of anxiety, a mental health crisis of vast proportions, especially among young people. There’s a rise in extremist movements and governments. Catastrophic climate change. Biodiversity loss. Food insecurity. The fracturing of ecosystems and communities beyond, it seems, repair. The future — to say nothing of the present — looks grim.

But as Transition movement cofounder Rob Hopkins tells us, there is plenty of evidence that things can change, and cultures can change, rapidly, dramatically, and unexpectedly — for the better. He has seen it happen around the world and in his own town of Totnes, England, where the community is becoming its own housing developer, energy company, enterprise incubator, and local food network — with cascading benefits to the community that extend far beyond the projects themselves.

Community-minded books to read during the 2020 quarantine

After Now: When We Cannot See the Future Where Do We Begin? by Bob Stilger

On the afternoon of March 11, 2011, massive, overwhelming, incomprehensible disaster struck the northeast coast of Japan. Life for those in the region would never be the same.

This book is about the awakening that follows disaster. About the minutes and hours and months and years that come after now. It is about what happens when we’re smacked on the side of the head and open our eyes, startled out of the trance in which we have been living our days. It is about the opportunities always present, often invisible, to create the lives we want, now.

Community-minded books to read during the 2020 quarantine

A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster by Rebecca Solnit

Why is it that in the aftermath of a disaster, whether manmade or natural, people suddenly become altruistic, resourceful, and brave? What makes the newfound communities and purpose many find in the ruins and crises after disaster so joyous? And what does this joy reveal about ordinarily unmet social desires and possibilities?

In “A Paradise Built in Hell,” award-winning author Rebecca Solnit explores these phenomena, looking at major calamities from the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco through the 1917 explosion that tore up Halifax, Nova Scotia, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. She examines how disaster throws people into a temporary utopia of changed states of mind and social possibilities, as well as looking at the cost of the widespread myths and rarer real cases of social deterioration during crisis. This is a timely and important book from an acclaimed author whose work consistently locates unseen patterns and meanings in broad cultural histories.

Related story: Coronavirus catalyzes a growing wave of grassroots action despite social distancing

The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan: Discover the Joy of Spending Less, Sharing More, and Living Generously by Liesl Clark, Rebecca Rockerfeller (available April 14, 2020)

Inspired by the ancient practice of gift economies, where neighbors share and pool resources, “The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan” introduces an environmentally conscious 7-step guide that teaches us how to buy less, give more, and live generously. At once an actionable plan and a thought-provoking exploration of our addiction to stuff, this powerful program will help you declutter your home without filling landfills, shop more thoughtfully and discerningly, and let go of the need to buy new things. Filled with helpful lists and practical suggestions including 50 items you never need to buy (Ziploc bags and paper towels) and 50 things to make instead (gift cards and salad dressing), “The Buy Nothing, Get Everything Plan” encourages you to rethink why you shop and embrace a space-saving, money-saving, and earth-saving mindset of buying less and sharing more.

Community-minded books to read during the 2020 quarantine

Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire by Rebecca Henderson (available April 28, 2020)

Free market capitalism is one of humanity’s greatest inventions and the greatest source of prosperity the world has ever seen. But this success has been costly. Capitalism is on the verge of destroying the planet and destabilizing society as wealth rushes to the top. The time for action is running short.

Rebecca Henderson’s rigorous research in economics, psychology, and organizational behavior, as well as her many years of work with companies around the world, gives us a path forward. She debunks the worldview that the only purpose of business is to make money and maximize shareholder value. She shows that we have failed to reimagine capitalism so that it is not only an engine of prosperity but also a system that is in harmony with environmental realities, striving for social justice and the demands of truly democratic institutions.

Our Throwaway Society: Raising Children to Consume Wisely by Anya Hart Dyke

‘Our throwaway society’ is an ebook for parents of children aged 2+ exploring how to set ‘planetary’ boundaries for our children and challenge the endemic consumerism and ‘culture of convenience’ that is threatening our world. Full of fun activities, practical tips and stories of children who are changing the world, this will transform your family’s life. Fifteen percent of profits will go to relevant charities.

Beyond Waste: Community Solutions to Managing Our Resources by Shareable

The ebook “Beyond Waste: Community Solutions to Managing Our Resources” features our editorial series outlining ways individuals, organizations and communities are reducing waste around the world.

Arvind Dilawar brought us the story of how Bonnie Linden set up a community cupboard in her California neighborhood; Paige Wolf explained how to start a reusable party pack; and Mirella Ferraz told us about the Fashion Detox challenge and the Right to Repair movement. We featured the Eunpyeong Sharing Center in Seoul, South Korea along with other initiatives such as Oakland’s O2AA maker village, the Japan-based MyMizu app, and Precious Plastic’s DIY recycling module. Finally, writer Marina Kelava described how the small Crostian island of Zlarin is getting rid of single-use plastics; and Nithin Coca highlighted how Japan’s Seikatsu Club Cooperative is challenging consumerism. In fact, Seikatsu Club may be the only retailer with anti-consumerist slogan — Stop Shopping. Download our free ebook here

Related story: Coronavirus catalyzes a growing wave of grassroots action despite social distancing

A Chance For Everyone : The Parallel Non-Monetary Economy by Kendal Eaton

As close as neoliberalism has brought us to real and prospective extinction of species, six years of research into 71 publications and 649 global networking organisations reveals something shocking — it has also brought us to the cusp of an immediately implementable parrallel non-monetary economy. This economy already exists and using familiar methods, organisations and practices, can revolutionise global commerce. It will afford every living human being the inalienable right to earn for anything that society decides constitutes work or labour. Without conflict or coercion with existing capitalist business, it will transform working relationships and liberate all people, including capitalists, from the inhibiting and disempowering effects of monetary dependency, forming the new non-monetary economic market of the 99 percent. This is the only realistic route to rapid recovery of Earth’s climate crisis, by generating the Fifth Industrial (Eco) Revolution.

Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

Drawing together many histories-of anatomical evolution and city design, of treadmills and labyrinths, of walking clubs and sexual mores-Rebecca Solnit creates a fascinating portrait of the range of possibilities presented by walking. Arguing that the history of walking includes walking for pleasure as well as for political, aesthetic, and social meaning, Solnit focuses on the walkers whose everyday and extreme acts have shaped our culture, from philosophers to poets to mountaineers. She profiles some of the most significant walkers in history and fiction-from Wordsworth to Gary Snyder, from Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet to Andre Breton’s Nadja-finding a profound relationship between walking and thinking and walking and culture. Solnit argues for the necessity of preserving the time and space in which to walk in our ever more car-dependent and accelerated world.

Shareable’s Executive Director, Neal Gorenflo, is reading:

Leaves of Grass : Bold-Faced Thoughts on the Power and Pleasure of Self-Expression by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman’s powerful poetry continues to inspire with its rich language, all-embracing populism, and boundless spirit.

Whitman took it upon himself to establish a bold, sensual, new literary tradition that was distinctly American — and consciously set out to be at once the quintessential American poet and the voice of the common man. “Leaves of Grass” remains an enduring touchstone for writers everywhere, and for anyone who wants to get in touch with his or her own creative spirit.

Shareable’s Operations Director, Joslyn Beile, is reading:

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship — and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

“Just Mercy” is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of true justice.

Shareable’s Director of Partnerships, Tom Llewellyn, is reading:

Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Authored by Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha is one of the most influential spiritual works of the twentieth century. It is the story of a young man who decides to leave his wife and kids and embark on a journey of suffering and rejection to finally find peace within and attain salvation.

The story revolves around a young man who leaves his home and family on a quest for the Truth. Embarking on a journey that takes him from the austerities of renunciation to the profligacy of wealth. That leads him through the range of human experiences from hunger and want, to passion, pleasure, pain, greed, yearning, boredom, love, despair and hope. A journey that leads finally to the river, where he gains peace and eventually wisdom.

Shareable’s Editorial and Communications Manager, Courtney Pankrat, is reading:

Wanderlust: A Traveler’s Guide to the Globe by Moon Travel Guides

Moon Travel Guides takes you on a journey around the world with Wanderlust: A Traveler’s Guide to the Globe.Get inspired with lists of mythic locations, epic trails, ancient cities, and more that span the four corners. This stunning, hardcover book is packed with full-colour photos, charming illustrations, and fascinating overviews of each destination, making it the perfect gift for dreamers and adventurers alike.

Walk along the Great Wall of China, climb the Atlas Mountains, or trek through Patagonia. Visit stunning national parks from Yellowstone in the US to Tongariro in New Zealand, explore the Gobi Desert, or set sail to the Greek Islands. Eat your way through the best street food cities in the world, follow wine trails from Spain to Australia, and shop famous markets from the Grand Bazaar to the Marrakech souks.Find the best places to stargaze from Chile to France, or witness jaw-dropping phenomena from reversing rivers and blooming deserts to fluorescent blue haze and the Aurora Boreales. Filled with natural wonders, dazzling celebrations, quirky festivals, road trips, bucket-list sites, epic outdoor adventures, and cultural treasures, Wanderlust is the definitive book for the curious traveller. Where will you go?

##

This article is part of our reporting on the community response to the coronavirus crisis:

The post 14 community-minded books to read during the 2020 quarantine appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
https://www.shareable.net/14-community-minded-books-to-read-during-the-2020-quarantine/feed/ 0
Time to give my #LocalYear teeth: 5 commitments to spur a more local lifestyle https://www.shareable.net/time-to-give-my-localyear-teeth-5-commitments-to-spur-a-more-local-lifestyle/ https://www.shareable.net/time-to-give-my-localyear-teeth-5-commitments-to-spur-a-more-local-lifestyle/#respond Thu, 12 Mar 2020 15:00:09 +0000 https://www.shareable.net/?p=39319 I’m just over two months into my #LocalYear life experiment, and not enough has changed. That has to change or my #LocalYear won’t yield the hoped for results. My main observation about my #LocalYear so far is that while I’ve done some new activities like Cool Block and re-allocated time to other local pursuits, it

The post Time to give my #LocalYear teeth: 5 commitments to spur a more local lifestyle appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
I’m just over two months into my #LocalYear life experiment, and not enough has changed. That has to change or my #LocalYear won’t yield the hoped for results.

My main observation about my #LocalYear so far is that while I’ve done some new activities like Cool Block and re-allocated time to other local pursuits, it hasn’t been enough to change the quality of my everyday experience.   

Simply trying a bunch of new activities, as set forth in my #LocalYear kickoff post, might not do the trick. I want to push this experiment further so a deeper, felt change has a better chance of happening. The below commitments will likely push me into new, possibly uncomfortable territory and force me to create a whole new lifestyle.

Before I introduce my commitments, it’s worth reflecting on the purpose of experiments, which is to validate or refute a hypothesis. In my case, the hypothesis is that a more localized lifestyle will be more rewarding than the one I’ve been living. Experiments impose a unique set of conditions to test the hypothesis and learn something new. That’s what the below five commitments are about — imposing some test conditions in order to learn.   

Granted, this is a less than scientific experiment and the results will be subjective and self-reported. What also makes this different from a scientific experiment is that I don’t know if I can even maintain the test conditions. Some of these commitments will be difficult and maybe even impossible to maintain. That’s OK in my book because I expect to learn as much from failing to meet my commitments as I do from meeting them. I should add that while these will be hard to do, I actually want to do them.   

Even with these irregularities in my experiment, I expect these commitments to ramp up my learning and help spur a more thorough lifestyle change. Here are my five personal #LocalYear commitments:

1. At least one hour a day of #LocalYear activity on average, my civic tithe.

I list this first I believe it’s the most important commitment. To make change, I need to commit time to making it. My time budget should also reflect my priorities. Why one hour? One hour would be around four times the average Americans spends on civic engagement per day according to this report. It would also be just over 10 percent of my non-working, non-sleeping time per day, which represents what I think of as a civic tithe. Tithing is an ancient practice of contributing 10 percent of your yearly income to your religious community. I’d be doing a similar thing, but giving time to my secular community instead of money to a religious one. This might not sound like a lot of time, but it would be a big shift for me. I expect that once I get rolling, the amount of time I spend on #LocalYear activities will increase. Check out what I’ll actually do for one hour or more a day at the bottom of my #LocalYear kickoff post here.

2. Start every day with a meditative walk.

Trying a new lifestyle is more than spending time on different things, it’s also about structuring time differently. In other words, it’s about new rituals. As Shareable adviser Harald Katzmair recently shared with me, ritual makes time habitable. My morning walks will take me to downtown Mountain View (my hometown). They will not only help me stay grounded psychologically, but also grounded in place. Hopefully, this will be this first of more new rituals to help me cement a new local lifestyle. 

3. One hundred percent local shopping. No more online or chain stores.

This will be a tough one because I love books and I’m embarrassed to say I have a big Amazon.com habit. Obviously, that has to change. Plus, is it possible to only buy from independent retail stores? I’ll find out. In any case, I want to support independent local businesses, which are an important part of the local economy and the formula for shared prosperity. I also want to get to know the people who run them better. I greatly value the local businesses in my city and believe it would be much worse without them. However, they’re facing an uncertain future, which this Institute for Local Self-Reliance report illustrates. Online and chain stores represent a huge and often community-gutting threat. For instance, research has shown that a new Walmart significantly reduces retail wages and economic output in the area for decades. This even has a name, “The Walmart Effect.” I want my spending to match my appreciation for local businesses. This might cost me more money, but it also might curtail my spending. I might forgo items that are hard to get locally or opt for a DIY substitute. Let’s see.   

4. Offset all my greenhouse gas emissions for the year.

I had a mix of personal and professional air travel planned long before I committed to #LocalYear. I’ll limit air travel going forward not only because of the huge environmental impact, but also because travel will disrupt my local lifestyle. Offsetting all my 2020 emissions will keep my climate impacts top of mind and motivate me to limit air travel. I should be able to do this for under $300 at Terrapass, but I’ll make the final calculation at the end of the year. 

5. No use of screens for entertainment. Only two hours of social media per week.

This will be the hardest commitment to meet. I’ve developed a heavy screen habit. This has been a problem since I was a teenager. In my 20s, I gave away my TV because my heavy TV habit was holding me back. Shortly thereafter, my life took off because I simply had to get a life. I went 10 happy years without a TV. Now screens are everywhere, and they’re even more addictive. I spend way too much time on them, especially Netflix and social media. I’ll reserve two hours a week for social media to meet my work commitments, which will be down from about two hours a day.  

The coronavirus might impose some new, local conditions on top of these, though they might not be the flavor I want. I’ll report back next month on my progress meeting these commitments. Please stay healthy in the meantime.

##

This post is part of Neal Gorenflo’s year long experiment on living locally (#LocalYear). Follow his journey by reading the other posts in his series:

The post Time to give my #LocalYear teeth: 5 commitments to spur a more local lifestyle appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
https://www.shareable.net/time-to-give-my-localyear-teeth-5-commitments-to-spur-a-more-local-lifestyle/feed/ 0
How to start a Library of Things inside an existing library https://www.shareable.net/how-to-start-a-library-of-things-inside-an-existing-library/ https://www.shareable.net/how-to-start-a-library-of-things-inside-an-existing-library/#respond Tue, 10 Mar 2020 16:00:12 +0000 https://www.shareable.net/?p=39279 If you’re working as a librarian and would like to expand your library’s collection to include physical objects, there are many resources out there to help you start a Library of Things. Libraries of Things lend predominantly expensive household items to people who otherwise could not afford them or would underuse them, but require a

The post How to start a Library of Things inside an existing library appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
If you’re working as a librarian and would like to expand your library’s collection to include physical objects, there are many resources out there to help you start a Library of Things. Libraries of Things lend predominantly expensive household items to people who otherwise could not afford them or would underuse them, but require a robust logistical framework — something libraries have already. That is why some pioneers of the Libraries of Things movement are setting up within the infrastructure already established by book-lending libraries, and librarians have a crucial role to play within this facet of the LoT movement.

The Sacramento Public Library has built up one of the largest and most respected Libraries of Things in the nation. At two locations and expanding into a third, its Library of Things catalog lists 120 items including handheld metal detectors, an air compressor, projectors, button-making machines, games, musical equipment, digital cameras, pressure washers, sewing machines, telescopes and even a post hole digger. 

Across the country in  Illinois, the Kankakee Public Library has just started  a Library of Things with 17 items – including a ukulele. One challenge they face is that organizers don’t currently have a place to display the items, so they rely on a binder to advertise the library’s existence. 

What does it really take to start a Library of Things within an existing library? While every librarian or community member might have a different perspective, it is important to identify community needs and obtain objects that will serve those needs. Libraries must be open to feedback and adapt to member needs. Passion is important but so are logistics – that’s why building a Library of Things within the strong infrastructure of a public library can lead to a very successful LoT.

Five steps to start a library of things within a library

1. Gather a multidisciplinary team and build resources

When first developing a library-based Library of Things, it’s important to have clear goals. “We thought the idea of the Library of Things would [be] fun, useful, and helpful.  One one hand we thought of purchasing items that you use only once a year and therefore don’t need to invest money into.  Instead of going to the store or borrowing from a neighbor you can come straight to our library. On the other had we also thought it would be a great way to try a product before purchasing it,” says Vicky Forquer of the Kankakee Public Library in Illinois. Once you have clear goals, it’s important to gather a team that can support the achievement of those goals

While the idea for a Library of Things might come from one librarian, no one should embark on this endeavor without a support system. Think about what you might need to get the project off the ground, like legal advice and a marketing plan, and clearly define roles for each member. These roles might already exist within the library, but tackling a new project will require renewed commitment from all involved.

Next, seek out the resources you will need to get off the ground, remembering that you don’t have to start from scratch. Share Starter has published documents with advice on everything from bylaw wording to marketing strategies. Learn from pioneers  like Gene Homicki, the cofounder and CEO of MyTurn, a software program used by over 400 Libraries of Things to catalog and organize their items. 

While a committed team is essential, make sure that the program is bigger than any one person. If a program leader quits, will the Library of Things be thrown into a tailspin? More than one Library of Things has fallen apart following the sudden departure of a core team member. Distribute tasks and set up a system of checks and balances to ensure that power is decentralized. 

2. Develop a budget

Even within an existing library system, the Library of Things still depends on funding, so develop a clear and realistic budget. How much should be invested in the project at the beginning? Set up a realistic and sustainable system for fees, returns, and fines to make sure that items are returned on time and in good condition. Many public library-based LoTs are totally free, but others may charge a small fee to use big-ticket items like lawnmowers or expensive power tools. It may be possible to tap into the library’s existing budget to fund a new Library of Things or leverage its nonprofit or government status to apply for grants. Molly Milazzo, Youth Services Librarian at the Sacramento Public Library’s Arcade Branch, says their Library of Things began as a grant-funded initiative but has since been absorbed into the library’s general budget.

Along with a budget, don’t forget about insurance. Public libraries may need to get an additional rider on their insurance policy when starting a Library of Things, but they may also be fully covered under their municipality. Either way, read the small print before stocking potentially dangerous items like chainsaws.

3. Do market research in your community. 

Every community is different, so no two Libraries of Things are exactly alike. To ensure that your LoT fulfills a purpose, librarians must be attuned to the needs of the community—both immediate and long-term. Vicky Forquer of the Kankakee Public Library in Illinois said geography was a factor: “I would suggest starting small. Also, what works for one library won’t work for another. For example, we heard of a library checking out fishing poles. We didn’t think this would be popular in our community.” Fishing poles may not be popular in Kankakee but in Mesa, Arizona, a hiking kit or telescope (both available at the Stuffbrary) might fly off the shelves. In an urban food desert, gardening equipment could fill a need, while board games would be a welcome addition to a community with many young families.

Milazzo encourages librarians to “reach out to individual community members and local organizations for feedback; some of their suggestions may surprise you and will make for a richer collection.” Once you’ve identified community needs, consider posting a wish list if you are soliciting donated items. Doing basic local market research will ensure that the Library of Things makes an impact. 

4. Plan storage and organization.

Many physical objects at LoTs can be bulky, which creates the challenge of how to store and display the items. Milazzo says, “Think as deeply as possible about the possibility of expansion (adding new items to the collection), maintenance, and storage of the collection. How large or small of a collection can your site conceivably support?” Storage is one challenge that the Kankakee Public Library system is facing right now. Forquer says, “As of right now, we don’t have a display case to show the items. We have a binder with all the items, which works for now but we want the items to shine!”

How to start a Library of Things inside an existing library
Image provided by Kankakee Public Library

You also need to catalog the items and set up a system for lending them. Some libraries have incorporated the items into their existing catalog systems, while others use MyTurn, including the Sacramento library. One advantage of donated items is that the entire community often feels a sense of ownership and responsibility regarding the items, making it more likely that the items are returned on time and in good condition.

5. Keep an open mind.

Starting and running a library-based Library of Things is not without its challenges, which is why it requires an open mind. Learning about the objects is a significant aspect of ensuring that the community benefits from them but it can be time-consuming. If librarians embrace it as part of their daily life, the community will benefit. The librarians who oversee the Sacramento Public Library’s Library of Things have taken a hands-on approach from day one. They polled the community and, once the items were acquired, they used them themselves to make sure they knew how to show members how to use them. Milazzo said that having staff handle the items themselves — taking a GoPro on vacation, using a sewing machine, and testing a hedge trimmer and leaf blower — helped them anticipate potential complications and buy additional supplies like needles and thread.” As with any area of the library, such experimentation has allowed us to speak with greater authority about this collection and the different ways our patrons can use it.” 

Sometimes change means downsizing or expansion. The Sacramento Public Library is considering expanding its Library of Things to South Sacramento. Milazzo explains, “We’re considering both the individual needs of South Sacramento communities and using data accumulated from the Library of Things on the most/least popular items, as well as which items require more attention than others (i.e. a lot of accessories that we’ve had to keep track of). Ultimately, this will likely manifest in an online poll and in-person feedback from patrons, since those methods have served us well in the past.” 

When libraries decide to start a Library of Things, they leverage their reputation as a well-known, trusted community resource to meet a community need. With a clear plan, flexibility, and a dedication to patrons, Libraries of Things have the potential to change members’ lives for the better. 

##

This post is part of our Winter 2020 editorial series on libraries of things. Read our other articles in the series:

The post How to start a Library of Things inside an existing library appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
https://www.shareable.net/how-to-start-a-library-of-things-inside-an-existing-library/feed/ 0
The Response: A Permanent Real Estate Cooperative to combat the affordable housing crisis https://www.shareable.net/the-response-a-permanent-real-estate-cooperative-to-combat-the-affordable-housing-crisis/ https://www.shareable.net/the-response-a-permanent-real-estate-cooperative-to-combat-the-affordable-housing-crisis/#respond Mon, 09 Mar 2020 19:12:03 +0000 https://www.shareable.net/?p=39274 This month’s episode of The Response features an interview with Noni Session, the executive director of the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative (EBPREC), which “facilitate[s] BIPOC and allied communities to cooperatively organize, finance, purchase, occupy, and steward properties, taking them permanently off the speculative market.”  The interview, originally published as a Q&A on Shareable last year,

The post The Response: A Permanent Real Estate Cooperative to combat the affordable housing crisis appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
This month’s episode of The Response features an interview with Noni Session, the executive director of the East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative (EBPREC), which “facilitate[s] BIPOC and allied communities to cooperatively organize, finance, purchase, occupy, and steward properties, taking them permanently off the speculative market.” 

The interview, originally published as a Q&A on Shareable last year, explores Oakland’s affordable housing crisis, how EBPREC is working to address the situation as part of a broader Just Transition movement, and what people can do to get involved and invest in this transformational work. 

For the past two years, The Response podcast series has explored the remarkable communities that come together in the aftermath of disasters (and how they are building increased resilience before disasters and other disruptions occur). 

While much of the show has focused on the response to acute events that are often framed as “natural disasters” (tsunamis, earthquakes, fires, etc.), we feel like ongoing structural inequalities that pervade capitalist economic systems can be just as catastrophic. Furthermore, it is often these existing social and political factors that exacerbate the negative effects of disasters and other disruptions when they occur.

The conversation with Noni Session is part of Shareable’s special series exploring the history of land use and housing policy and solutions to the housing crisis (with a focus on increasing equity).

The entire series has been wrapped up into an eBook with the title “How Racism Shaped the Housing Crisis & What We Can Do About It”. You can download a free copy right now here.

The post The Response: A Permanent Real Estate Cooperative to combat the affordable housing crisis appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
https://www.shareable.net/the-response-a-permanent-real-estate-cooperative-to-combat-the-affordable-housing-crisis/feed/ 0
Bay Area governments fight displacement through tenant organization https://www.shareable.net/bay-area-governments-fight-displacement-through-tenant-organization/ https://www.shareable.net/bay-area-governments-fight-displacement-through-tenant-organization/#respond Thu, 05 Mar 2020 16:00:16 +0000 https://www.shareable.net/?p=39247 On February 20, 2020, a crowd gathered around an apartment complex on 10th st. in West Berkeley for a press conference announcing Berkeley’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). The group included Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Dominique Walker of Moms4Housing, the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), local land trusts (Bay Area Community Land Trust

The post Bay Area governments fight displacement through tenant organization appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
On February 20, 2020, a crowd gathered around an apartment complex on 10th st. in West Berkeley for a press conference announcing Berkeley’s Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). The group included Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin, Dominique Walker of Moms4Housing, the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC), local land trusts (Bay Area Community Land Trust & Northern California Land Trusts), and tenants organizing against and affected by displacement. This is the first TOPA to be introduced, among many others soon to be announced, in the Bay Area and California.

Seema Rupani and Hewot Shankute, staff attorneys at EBCLC and the authors of the TOPA, highlighted the devastating effects of displacement of being priced out primarily on people of color, and particularly for Berkeley’s African American population, and the dire need to make housing into a human right. This sentiment was also expressed by Dominique Walker who said in the press conference, “Housing is a human right that ought to be in the U.S. Constitution.”

Tenants from 10th st. as well as from another Berkeley property on Solano ave., where tenants are being displaced, spoke out about the need to equalize the playing field for all races and to make access to housing based not purely on one’s ability to pay. Peggy Magilen, an ex-resident of Solano ave. highlighted how easy it is for landlords to evict tenants under the Ellis act, which she called “renoviction.” Renoviction is the phenomena of displacing tenants to update units and convert them for another use, such as condos. At Solano ave., she revealed that the landlords had begun renoviction risking the safety of current tenants, exposing them to toxic asbestos and lead. Many of Solano ave. tenants are elderly and on fixed incomes and cannot afford to move elsewhere in Berkeley or even the Bay Area. For these elderly tenants living in their apartment units, some for as long as twenty years, the effect of being displaced is devastating.

San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley have all recently created or are in the midst of developing cutting-edge affordable housing policies to fight displacement. These policies include the TOPA in Berkeley and Oakland, Community Opportunity to Purchase Act (COPA) in San Francisco, and Small Sites Programs in Berkeley and San Francisco. In addition to fighting displacement, these programs are advancing permanent affordability and Community Land Trusts as important players in influencing local community development. They are also connectings CLTs to important local financing and resources for property development and acquisition.

 Since the 1980s,  TOPA has successfully been preventing tenants from being displaced by providing them with the first opportunity to purchase their building when the owner decides to sell in Washington D.C. The TOPA also creates timelines for owners to notify tenants of their intent to sell, provides them with the opportunity to decide whether to buy, and get financing together. 

Under the DC TOPA shared limited equity ownership has grown through the LEC (Limited Equity Cooperative) or LEHC (Limited Equity Housing Cooperative) to around 100 projects and over 4,000 units. More recently, the Douglass Community Land Trust was formed to further advance permanently affordable housing by acquiring properties through the DC TOPA and place them under CLT deed restrictions. CLTs have had very little benefit from TOPA in DC until recently. However, the DC TOPA has set an important precedent as a model for shared equity housing to ensure permanent affordability is advanced in future TOPAs in both Oakland and Berkeley. In Oakland, a TOPA based on the Berkeley ordinance is similarly being discussed by its City Council. Introduced by Councilperson Nikki Fortunato Bas’s office in response to the Moms4Housing campaign, the TOPA is slated to be introduced on March 24, 2020 (the same day that the Berkeley’s City Council will vote on Mayor Arreguin’s proposal).

In Berkeley, the ordinance was developed by the EBCLC and its community partners (Bay Area Community Land Trust and Northern California Land Trust) in collaboration with the City of Berkeley. Tenants will not only be able to exercise rights to have an opportunity to buy their building but also to assign their rights to qualified affordable housing developers like CLTs. Furthermore, in Berkeley, qualified non-profits like CLTs will have a secondary right if the tenants decide to pass up the opportunity, similar to how the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act works in San Francisco. This program in Berkeley complements the recently launched Small Sites Program, with the first pilot project to be completed this year by the Bay Area Community Land Trust. The Small Sites Program is a program in Berkeley and San Francisco aimed at anti-displacement of residents in rental buildings that have between 5-25 units. The program works by offering subsidy assistance for residents and CLTs to purchase their buildings and convert them into permanently affordable housing. Unlike San Francisco’s Community Opportunity to Purchase Act, the program views Community Land Trusts as qualified non-profits and encourages the creation of Limited Equity Housing Cooperatives. This program will be aligned with TOPA and with Berkeley’s Affordable Housing Policy Framework, authored by the Mayor’s Office and former Housing Director Stephen Barton.

There is currently a lot of misinformation about TOPA by property owners and the real estate lobby, however their accusations that TOPA usurps the rights of property owners are incorrect: 

  • TOPA does not compel property owners to sell, nor does it require them to sell at below market value: TOPA creates legal rights for tenants to have the first chance to purchase, and allows time for the tenants to decide if they have the will and the financing to purchase their building. However, the owner can get a third party offer after the tenant’s make an offer which the tenants have to match. Furthermore, the property owners who participate in TOPA are rewarded with a tax break on their transfer taxes, so rather than negatively affecting property owners, it is giving them a huge incentive to sell to their tenants.
  • TOPA is NOT a failed policy in DC: Contrary to what some are saying, TOPA in DC did not fail and has been in existence since the 1980s. It has been successful in preventing displacement over the last four decades by creating thousands of affordable housing units. If that is not a best practice then what is?
  • TOPA timelines will not cause property values to plummet: The prescribed timelines under TOPA only allow tenants opportunity to organize NOT to delay sales indefinitely. Since the policy has been introduced in Washington DC these timelines have not affected property values nor caused a reduction in demand in the real estate market.

Policies like TOPA, COPA and Small Sites, are critical to creating affordability where it is needed most when it is needed most rather than waiting for market forces to “trickle down” affordable housing which can take more than a decade. People in the SF Bay Area are currently being displaced by the thousands, breaking up communities, and forcing critical workers like teachers, public workers and first aid responders out. More responsive policy is clearly needed to address this housing crisis of epidemic proportions. TOPA, COPA and Small Sites are the types of policies which address the housing crisis now, while people are still in the SF Bay Area, as opposed to waiting until no one but those of high incomes remain. 

For more information about TOPA visit: https://yes2topa.org/. If you are a Berkeley resident and interested in testifying on behalf of TOPA at the March 24, 2020 City Council meeting please contact saki@bayareaclt.org.

The post Bay Area governments fight displacement through tenant organization appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
https://www.shareable.net/bay-area-governments-fight-displacement-through-tenant-organization/feed/ 0
Despite jitters, I succeed in hosting a Cool Block introductory gathering https://www.shareable.net/despite-jitters-i-succeed-in-hosting-a-cool-block-introductory-gathering/ https://www.shareable.net/despite-jitters-i-succeed-in-hosting-a-cool-block-introductory-gathering/#respond Thu, 05 Mar 2020 02:16:21 +0000 https://www.shareable.net/?p=39250 We had cleaned the house, set out the refreshments, and arranged chairs in a circle in our living room. Two weeks earlier, my son and I had knocked on all our neighbors’ doors —57 in total — to invite them to a Cool Block introductory gathering in our home. Guests were set to arrive in

The post Despite jitters, I succeed in hosting a Cool Block introductory gathering appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
We had cleaned the house, set out the refreshments, and arranged chairs in a circle in our living room. Two weeks earlier, my son and I had knocked on all our neighbors’ doors —57 in total — to invite them to a Cool Block introductory gathering in our home. Guests were set to arrive in 15 minutes. 

But would they come? I didn’t know, and I was worried they wouldn’t. Part of me thought that if I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t. Like ours, their lives are busy enough, right? And busy lives are the norm in Silicon Valley. 

Thirty minutes later, our house is full of neighbors. Fifteen of the 18 people who said yes to joining our gathering made it. A few brought wine. The social part of the meeting went swimmingly, thanks to my wife Andrea who put out an amazing spread and helped me welcome folks.

I was surprised and grateful for the showing, but now I had new questions — could I navigate the meeting to a successful conclusion? Would anyone join? 

A month earlier I had taken the Cool Block leader training and committed to the program. I wanted Cool Block to be part of my one year life experiment, The Year of Living Locally (#LocalYear). The training didn’t go into great detail about how to manage the introductory gathering, but there was a fairly detailed meeting guide on CoolBlock.org.

The agenda for the gathering included attendee introductions, a visioning exercise, a program introduction, Q&A, and finally, the most important part, forming a Cool Block team. That seemed like a lot to cover in 90 minutes. 

Much to my surprise, the meeting went fairly smoothly. In the introductions, everyone shared why they decided to join the gathering. Many had similar motivations as me — the desire to improve their quality of life, make progress on global warming, get to know their neighbors better, and make change at home. That was reassuring.

People became wonderfully animated during the visioning process. This was by far the most lively part of the evening. People shared their ambitions for the neighborhood. I got the sense that some ambitions were long harbored. The Cool Block process was surfacing them in a format where they had a better chance of being acted on. The ideas ranged from community composting to electric vehicle charging stations and from planting fruit trees to establishing an emergency phone tree.

The discussion didn’t stop once everyone got a chance to share. It went beyond the allotted 20 minutes and could have continued on and on. This discussion was boisterous and bonding, but my job was to keep the gathering on track. I tried tactfully to do so a couple times before I was successful. That was a tad stressful.

After I explained the program, a robust Q&A session followed. As expected, there was some concern about the time commitment, which is about two hours a week for a minimum of four months. That said, there wasn’t undue concern. The questions were perfectly understandable. 

This led up to the key moment, seeing who would join.

The guide recommends asking for a show of hands for those who want to join, then addressing concerns of those who don’t raise their hands. I expected that to be messy because presumably you’ll have some recruits then, but you’re going to pause the team formation process to handle concerns? That could dissipate the momentum and undermine the resolve of those who’d just joined. Not to mention that it might be awkward for the undecided folks. The process seemed less than ideal, but I didn’t see another way to do it. 

As expected, it was messy. It mostly worked, however. Of the 15 people who came, 13 raised their hands representing 11 households. I tried to handle concerns on the spot, but I found that difficult to do. I probably went too quickly into scheduling the next meeting for the joiners. The undecided drifted out, which was not ideal. I didn’t thank or see them out properly. The joiners quickly decided on the next meeting date. And before I knew it, the meeting was over.

I felt bad about how the meeting ended for the undecideds, so I followed up with them the next day with an apology and an offer to discuss the Cool Block program further.

Overall, the gathering was a success. My worry about how it would go was mostly unfounded. A lot of credit goes to my neighbors who just rolled with it and my wife who also helped keep the meeting on track. The next step is the team building gathering where we schedule the remaining activities. I’m looking forward to getting the schedule nailed down… and actually taking some action!

##

This post is part of Neal Gorenflo’s year long experiment on living locally (#LocalYear). Follow his journey by reading the other posts in his series:

The post Despite jitters, I succeed in hosting a Cool Block introductory gathering appeared first on Shareable.

]]>
https://www.shareable.net/despite-jitters-i-succeed-in-hosting-a-cool-block-introductory-gathering/feed/ 0