With all the justified excitement forming around the burgeoning sharing economy, we sometimes overlook the fact that sharing is indeed a very old tradition. Though use of the internet and social media has certainly popularized this old custom – and even given it a well-deserved second wind – the key to the sharing economy’s survival still rests on its potential to generate a true sense of community. In order to continue its amazing trajectory and stand the test of time, perhaps it still needs to hold fast to its roots, its sense of place, its solid foundation in real life communities. Luckily for the sharing economy, even good old-fashioned community organizations are starting to catch on.

For over three decades, the Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA) – a non-profit community organization in North Seattle – has served its neighbors through a wide variety of programs, events and resources. In honor of yesterday’s Global Sharing Day, though, the organization is attempting to take its history and experience one step further. This week, PNA announced a thrilling new objective: it will become a Community Sharing Hub.

Inspired by the recent popularity of the sharing economy, PNA has declared 2013 to be a Year of Sharing during which it will encourage community members to join them in celebrating the power of sharing, discovering new ways to get access to the things they need, and perhaps even creating programs of their own.

Sharing is nothing new for the PNA, though. Over its 30 years of operations, this celebrated organization has put programs and events in place that have instilled in their community a long-term familiarity with sharing. Their offerings have included a tool lending libraryeducation and skill sharing programs, a hot meal program, book exchanges, community gardens, childcare co-ops, a carpooling program, and Zipcar access. Most recently, PNA also created PNA Village, a community task sharing service specifically suited for its local, senior population. During the Year of Sharing, the PNA will invite neighbors to not only participate in these existing programs, but also to provide feedback for creating an even more active hub of community sharing by adding new programs and events to its repertoire.

Through the efforts of community organizations such as PNA, and the continuing excitement for all sorts of new services, the sharing economy will now be able to rely on a solid, old-school foundation while also using modern technology and social networks to develop the practice of sharing for generations to come.

Patrick Dunn


Patrick Dunn

Founder of Share Starter, The West Seattle Tool Library, & The Community Orchard of West Seattle. Collaborative Consumption & Sharing Economy Enthusiast.