Image credit: Mike Babiarz, used under Creative Commons license.
Yesterday I posted on a BBC story about the rise of collaborative consumption, and suggested that borrowing stuff could not just cut environmental footprints, but build community cohesiveness in the process. Just as small fridges make good cities by encouraging us to shop locally and interact with our communities, so too owning less and borrowing more can promote a sense of neighborly trust. That's why a couple of London residents have set up a new website dedicated to encouraging and enabling lending between neighbors. But it doesn't just stop with shared tools....
Mentioned in yesterday's post on collaborative consumption, StreetBank is kind of like Freecycle except the focus is primarily on lending, not giving, and there is a tight geographical radius of one mile from your location (although items are also being offered to give away too). Offered as a completely free website, the aim is to break down barriers and encourage lending, borrowing and (gasp!) maybe even social interaction with your neighbors.
As founder Sam Stevens explained in the BBC story, the original inspiration came from his evolving relationship with his downstairs neighbors that began by lending out some chairs for a dinner party. What wasn't mentioned yesterday however, but which Sam describes in a little more detail here, is that this new relationship eventually resulted in the two households taking down the fence between their gardens. We've seen neighbors taking down fences and starting gardens before, but who knew it could all begin by just borrowing a few chairs?
More on Lending, Borrowing and Collaborative Consumption
Neighbors are Learning to Share More: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption
How Portland's Tool Libraries are Building Community (Video)
Here's an Idea: Share More with Your Neighbors!
Roo Rogers on the Rise of Collaborative Consumption
Public Library Offers Seed Lending Library Too