Amidst the maelstrom of graduate school in England and the insipid winter weather of southern England, I discovered the Sharing Economy.
I had used AirBnB and Wimdu previously during a European excursion, simply thinking these services were smart and effective pieces in the traveler’s arsenal; a glimpse into city life in foreign climes, like Paris and Barcelona, without the hassle of hostel dormitories or the impersonality of hotels. I did not realize these two p2p rental sites were in fact essential in identifying a movement, collecting praise from across the world as the visible face of the Sharing Economy.
Benita Matofska, the founder of The People Who Share, spoke briefly at an event I attended in the House of Commons. She extolled the benefits of sharing resources and curbing materialism and wanton throwaway tendencies. I emailed her the next day, inquiring of her need for an intern, someone to help out or do tasks she simply was too busy for.
My life as a Sharer began in earnest; meetings with bankers in the Square Mile, searching for partners in West Hempstead, all the while learning as much about the marketplace as I could. The Sharing Economy now appears in magazines like The Economist and news outlets like CNBC. Just a year ago, in early 2012, it was a disparate group of people deeply committed to changing economic systems amidst global catastrophe.
I watched the movement grow; I began to see a rise in general interest from people on the high streets, in Marylebone and Brixton, Croydon and Brighton. People understood immediately how their lives could be transformed by sharing.
With little money, and volunteered time from people from across the globe, Matofska built a website and celebrated two events extolling the benefits of the Sharing Economy. In June 2012, National Sharing Day launched in Britain. The miniscule budget for National Sharing Day meant Matofska relied on the goodwill of others to volunteer their time and expertise to help cultivate public awareness. By noon on 21st June, National Sharing Day was trending globally on Twitter. People from the Philippines, Ukraine, and North America pledged support.
National Sharing Day’s success encouraged The People Who Share to plan for Global Sharing Day 2012. In November, 60 million people in 147 countries heard the news of Global Sharing Day. With no budget, an all-volunteer staff, and little media coverage, the power of Global Sharing Day reached millions. It reinforced the belief that sharing could and should be bigger, bolder, and occur more often.
Global Sharing Day and The People Who Share seek to offer a home base for the Sharing Economy. Matofska wants the movement to reach people across all nationalities and socioeconomic classes. The message of sharing depends on people sacrificing their time to build something great.
On 2nd June 2013, the second annual Global Sharing Day will be held. The past successes enabled The People Who Share to garner sponsors, like Marks and Spencer, who sponsor a Schwopping (clothes swapping) campaign, and Mealsharing.org, a food sharing organization based in the United States. This Global Sharing Days again seeks to highlight the success stories within the Sharing Economy, in addition to giving voice to burgeoning social enterprises offering a bold and innovative vision for long-term economic and ecological sustainability.
In handing out fliers outside King’s Cross, London School of Economics, and Kilburn’s Salusbury Road, I learned about the visionary aspiration behind the Sharing Economy and the need for its message to grow. People wanted to share, had inordinate amounts of items to share, but lacked a venue. Enabling an avenue for sharing, highlighting its transformative socioeconomic power, and extolling its environmental impact is what Global Sharing Day is about. Given the opportunity, people will share their time, their energies, their insights, their passions, books, cars, spare rooms, back gardens, and the innumerable and unquantifiable possessions they possess within themselves. It is within this act of sharing that we learn about our neighbors, our communities, and ourselves. It is with within this act of sharing that we live better, more fulfilling lives.