Ann Arbor Sharing Summit Catalyzes Local Sharing Movement

If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution. It's a sentiment famously expressed by activist Emma Goldman, but Goldman was not alone in her idea of a worthy revolution. Shareable’s #SharingSpring initiative, just one aspect of the worldwide movement toward sharing societies, is proving to involve a fair amount of dancing. Recently, we recapped the Detroit Spring Clean Swap + Skillshare which included a DJ Party and now we hear from participants of the A2 Sharing Summit in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that the event featured Irish line dancing lessons. This is a trend we can get behind!

In the world of sharing, everyone has a skill to share.

The Sharing Summit featured clothing, book and seed swaps, information sharing by the Ann Arbor ReSkilling Festival, A2rCredits, the Food Recovery Network, 1000Tools, A2TimeBank and more. There were also skillshares on such topics as permaculture design, farming and, of course, dancing. Lauren White, a University of Michigan grad student, A2Share representative and dance class participant shares her experience of the class:

“I attended the Irish step-dancing workshop, and not only did I hear wonderful traditional music and try out some Riverdance-worthy moves, but I also learned a little more about how this art form evolved. British soldiers forbade Irish folk from dancing, so they cleverly developed a dance technique where only their feet moved. Ingenious! (and quite a workout).”

The Sharing Summit provided a space for a variety of organizations to gather

Held on the University of Michigan campus, the Sharing Summit was created, according to Ryan Gourley, founding director of A2Share, to “engage and connect the sharing communities of the University of Michigan and the city of Ann Arbor, and expose students and community members to opportunities for sharing knowledge and resources.”

 What's not to like about a book swap?

Judging from the photos and feedback from event participants, the Sharing Summit appears to have been a great success. Here are some of the highpoints of what participants and organizers had to say.

“I thought the Sharing Summit was a great way to connect some of the good work and positive energy already happening in the community. There are so many people working on such amazing projects, and this was a great way to bring us all together.”
—Colleen Rathz, UM undergrad, representative from Food Recovery Network & Impact Initiative

“I feel that the Sharing Summit just scratched the surface of the sharing potential here in Ann Arbor. It's quite apparent to me that there are a lot of individuals here with useful, valuable skills and a lot of others who stand to benefit from those talents being shared...[it] shed light on the importance of making the right connections and forming lines of communication to build this network of sharers...[and] demonstrated that if a community like Ann Arbor really wishes to secure resiliency, it must redefine what it asks of its residents.
—Bekah Kreckman, UM undergrad, representative from Friends of the Campus Farm

“The biggest lesson for me was that creating a community of sharing takes time and baby steps, yet the possibilities are endless! It's hard to stop, be patient, and allow for these communities to develop organically.”
—Laura Pasek, UM staff, representative from A2TimeBank

“The Sharing Summit is one of those events that brings the most interesting people out of the woodwork—everybody from artivists to master gardeners to environmental law professors. The best part about it? Everybody is talking to each other. I am incredibly supportive of this platform that brings people together to share not only stuff, but ideas and passion.”
—Sara Cole, UM grad student, A2Share volunteer

“This was my first Sharing Summit, and I was inspired by people's energy and excitement for this growing dimension of Ann Arbor life. To me, events such as these offer a wonderful opportunity to "plug in" to the rich array of talents and experience that are not often immediately apparent on the surface in a community. Everyone has skills and strengths to offer. Everyone. Sometimes we give, and sometimes we receive, but regardless, the sharing economy has the potential to deeply enrich our lives and enhance our well-being as well. It is our interdependence that makes us great.”
—Lauren White, UM grad student, rep from A2Share

Clothing that one person never wears is a clothing score for someone else

For those who want to create similar events, Gourley participated in the following webinar, hosted by the Center for a New American Dream and Shareable, called How to Organize a ShareFest.

To see if your city is planning a ShareFest and find resources to help you organize one, check out our article, What Are You Waiting For? Join the #SharingSpring!

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