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We’re used to the notion of sharing libraries, public parks, and train cars. But in many ways, American culture in particular drifted away from sharing as a value when we spread out from city centers and into the suburbs. Molly Turner, the director of public policy for short-term rental lodging website Airbnb, evokes the iconic image of Richard Nixon, in Moscow, introducing Nikita Khrushchev to the modern marvel of the state-of-the-art washing machine, available for private consumption in every American home. Beginning with the era of that washing machine, Turner argues, we forgot how to share.

We came to prize instead personal ownership – of multiple cars, of large homes with private backyards and space inside for appliances that would never fit in a modest city walk-up. Today, this kind of bald consumerism is considered almost tacky. But the reasons underlying that cultural shift reveal why we’re witnessing a true change in paradigm. Much has transformed in the last few years alone: the economy, technology, and the allure of cities themselves.

“What’s really going on here is the urbanization of the world and the reurbanization of American cities,” Turner says. “Either consciously or subconsciously, [people] are realizing that that involves the public realm, the commons, sharing goods and services and infrastructure. And I think that kind of bleeds into your personal life.” In other words, if you’ll share a subway car, why not a kitchen?

This move back into city centers also coincided with the Great Recession. Those big houses and multiple cars, it turns out, were beyond many of our means. And it’s no coincidence, Turner says, that Airbnb – a company founded around shared housing – was born in 2008, just as the U.S. was entering a recession built on a housing crisis. For many Airbnb members, the spare rooms they were able to rent through the service helped them keep their homes. City living, for all its allure, is expensive, but the sharing economy makes it possible for more people, whether they’re sharing a car because they can’t afford to own one, or sharing a bike because they’ve got nowhere to store it.

A quote from The Atlantic Cities article, 'Share Everything:Why the Way We Consume Has Changed Forever'. Check out the rest of the article here.

Image source: Collaborative Consumption

Around Town: 'The St. George Sharing Library'
I was biking along the 10th Ave bikeway the other day and noticed this neat lil library hanging on the fence in front of a house. So I stopped and snapped a picture of it. The ironic thing was when I went online later in the day I turned up an article looking at community based pop up libraries here in Vancouver! It even had a section covering this one. Here’s an excerpt:

"The two-tiered structure on East 10th Avenue, near St. George Street, was assembled by George Rahi and his roommates. Previously an old shelf found discarded in an alley, it is now stacked with dozens of books, free for the taking – a little library made by, and for, the community. Recent offerings include textbooks, novels and children’s books; a notice board is covered in hand-written thank-you notes. (“I have found quite a few little gems at your library hot-spot, and for this, I am grateful,” reads one.)"
(Source: Globe & Mail)

I’ve got more photos here if you’re interested.
Related:
‘How to Create a Pop-Up Library’ (Shareable)
‘From Clothing Swaps to Tool Libraries, Sharing is Not Rocket Science’ (Treehugger)

Around Town: 'The St. George Sharing Library'

I was biking along the 10th Ave bikeway the other day and noticed this neat lil library hanging on the fence in front of a house. So I stopped and snapped a picture of it. The ironic thing was when I went online later in the day I turned up an article looking at community based pop up libraries here in Vancouver! It even had a section covering this one. Here’s an excerpt:

"The two-tiered structure on East 10th Avenue, near St. George Street, was assembled by George Rahi and his roommates. Previously an old shelf found discarded in an alley, it is now stacked with dozens of books, free for the taking – a little library made by, and for, the community. Recent offerings include textbooks, novels and children’s books; a notice board is covered in hand-written thank-you notes. (“I have found quite a few little gems at your library hot-spot, and for this, I am grateful,” reads one.)"

(Source: Globe & Mail)

I’ve got more photos here if you’re interested.

Related: