Sharing is infectious. In fact, often the biggest barrier to sharing may simply be ourselves.
West Seattle already has a tool library. And that tool library spawned a "fixers collective", which works collaboratively to repair and rehabilitate broken consumer goods.NE Seattle Tool Library open for business
Now the library can also take partial credit for further seeding the spread of the sharing economy. As Rob Hopkins over at Transition Culture reports, NE Seattle Tool Library has just opened its doors for business. Offering a wide variety of hand and power tools to local residents on a pay-what-you-can basis, the tool library is an obvious way to share expensive and often resource-intensive products that many of us only use once in a blue moon. Why do I need to own a full-length ladder when I need it once a year to clean my gutters? (And often fail to do so anyway.) Why do I want a chainsaw when I'll only need it when a hurricane strikes?
Sharing as a gateway drug
But as we noted in this piece on Portland's tool libraries, the sharing of specific tools is really only a starting point. By bringing people together in a community space to share resources, tool libraries also create a forum for sharing skills, ideas, projects and support. In fact as Rob notes in his piece, the NE Seattle Tool Library's own website points to a larger, more disruptive goal:
The Tool Library aims to inspire its community to participate in community projects such as park restorations, and pursue sustainability through fun projects like backyard gardens, home energy improvements, and water harvesting.
Ushering in the Plenitude Economy
And this really gets to the heart of all this sharing business. There have always been tool rental businesses and for-profit lease arrangements for items we use only rarely. Those business models have their uses too. But community-based sharing offers something bigger (and in some ways more tricky to manage), namely a gateway into the Plenitude Economy and an altered economic paradigm, where one act of sharing, giving or collaborating makes the next act that much easier and that much more rewarding.
Here's hoping the idea spreads.