The system is clearly broken and the game needs to be changed: We need a new blueprint for the economy and a new infrastructure and culture to support it. After the 2008 financial collapse it began to change with the emergence of the Occupy movement and with growing numbers of young adults beginning to create their own economies based on a do-it-yourself ethic (or rather, more accurately, a ‘do-it-together’ ethic), and sharing what they have (materials) and what they know (cognitive) with their peers. If greed was a major characteristic of the dying economy, sharing is a key element of the blueprint or DNA for the new economy. Instead of a trickle down economics managed by representative policy makers, we have a new generation that’s having fun building the new economy from the bottom up through sharing projects.
Sharing might sound soft as a social change strategy, but it also has a broad appeal and the advantage of transcending traditional political boundaries. Sharing was a basic moral principle imparted repeatedly since my days in day care when we children fought over toys — even God asked us to share over and over again in the Bible and named greed as one of the seven deadly sins. Sharing, even in a culture of competition and free market economics, is a really tough idea to argue with — and if you do you seem, well, just plain greedy.
Another powerful aspect of sharing is that many of its manifestations, such as community gardens, co-operative houses, free skools, childcare collectives, community acupuncture clinics, tool and seed libraries tend to address Abraham Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs better than the selfless and delayed gratification in most conventional activism. This makes sharing both more attractive and more sustainable, especially for the cash-strapped, debt ridden Generation Y. Sharing can help you meet your physical needs for food, housing and transportation, and also the needs of economic and emotional security, caring relationships, self-esteem, self-actualization and creativity. It can also drastically help you cut your living costs and help other people do the same, which means we are less dependent on jobs that are working against our principles.
Sharing is also direct action: often, it involves no demands on a representative in power to do something on your behalf and hoping that someday it happens — you just do it. It is more complicated, though, if you’re trying to get your city or university to support something like a major bike-share program. Even then, it’s an easy sell: save money and other resources, protect the environment, and serve your constituents better. Who could argue?