Recently, Silver Spring Shares, a grassroots organization in Silver Spring, Maryland, hosted its first ShareFest. Part of Shareable's #SharingSpring, the event was catalyzed by a presentation that Shareable partner Center for a New American Dream gave to Silver Spring Green about the sharing economy. Mary Murphy, one of the event organizers, says the goal was to showcase local sharing organizations and opportunities, and connect with the community.

“The ShareFest was a continuation of the dialogue about sharing in Silver Spring,” she explains. “Our goal was to raise awareness of the already existing sharing opportunities in the area such as landshare programs, cooperative gardening efforts, bikeshare and rideshare, little free libraries and swaps. We also wanted to see what else community members would like to be borrowing and/or sharing in Silver Spring.”

ShareFest participants mapped where local sharing projects are and where they want them to be

Held at the Fenton Street Market, which provided a lot of foot traffic, the event featured a number of activities including juggling, bird feeder and seed ball making skillshares, information on local sharing projects such as babysitting cooperatives, clothing and toy swaps, tool libraries, time banks, and how to recycle building materials. There was also a big sharing map for people to locate where they're sharing or where they want to share. Murphy says that the skillshares were definitely the highlight of the event and the best way to draw people into the booth.

Throughout the afternoon, kids and adults were, according to Murphy, getting pretty muddy making the seed balls and happily taking them home for spring gardens. The work station was filled with kids and some helpful parents building bird feeders. “It was great to hear all the hammering,” Murphy says, “and kids were quite proud of their finished products.”

The juggling skillshare was also a big attraction. “Beginners worked with scarves, but lots of little kids just grabbed the scarves and had fun dancing around with them,” explains Murphy. “We had a professional juggler show up and he was wowing the crowd with his expertise.”

Juggling the scarves or just dancing around with them, everybody had a good time

A group of 12 people from throughout Silver Spring organized the ShareFest, but they got support, in a variety of ways, from the following organizations: Fenton Street Market, The Harvest Collective, Silver Spring Green, growingSOUL, YardLink, The Compost Crew, Washington Gardener Magazine, Circus Camp, Community Forklift, Habitat for Humanity ReStore, The Columbia Community Exchange, The Arc of Montgomery County Textile Recycling Program, Honest Tea's The Great Recycle, Creative Colony Coworking Space, Silver Spring Incorporated, Silver Spring Regional Services Center, Climate Change is Elementary, the Center for a New American Dream and Shareable.

Young sharers hard at work making birdfeeders

The biggest challenge of the day was a rainstorm that cut the fest short and brought out a smaller than usual crowd to the market, but organizers took it in stride and, in the end, had roughly 100 visitors. “We just decided to go with the event and have fun with whatever was going to happen,” says Murphy. “We were able to last for about two and a half of the three hours before the rain forced us to pack up.”

Getting in on the fun at the Silver Spring ShareFest

Organizers are already meeting to celebrate their successes and discuss next steps for Silver Spring Shares. For those planning similar events, Murphy offers the following advice: Keep things simple, borrow what you can to keep costs down, ask friends to help….and friends of friends too, be sure everyone's voice is heard while planning, have fun with it.

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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Cat Johnson


Cat Johnson | |

Cat Johnson is a writer and content strategist focused on coworking, collaboration and community. She's the author of Coworking Out Loud, a guide to content marketing for coworking space operators. Publications include Yes!