live|work: Rent it. Share it. Fall in love?


The Gold Blend couple sharing coffee.

The other day I came across Erento on PSFK. It's official, renting or sharing stuff is socially acceptable AND, potentially, socially or romantically rewarding. (Renting things like TVs has been seen as the poor sister to owning your own for so long). Remember that once upon a time dating services were socially un-cool (well, they were in the UK) and now they are simply another mechanism to close a social gap and breed lurve. Well, you can kind of draw parallels with the renting/sharing movement. And add a bit of romance into the mix.

Erento is a German site with limited translation to English and I don't speak German, but I can tell there are a lot of things on the site (from tools to cars to vacation homes to horse drawn carriages) up for rent. The site pairs renters with potential borrowers. That means, of course, we don't have to own everything. And in particular it means we don't have to own things that a) we will only ever use a few times in the whole lifetime of the product like the classic power drill example, or b) we don't have to buy things before we are ready to and rush into making wrong decisions or cheap/fast decisions that we'll then depose of.For instance, I've just moved into my new apartment in New York and I have very little furniture because I've moved to a new city. I can either fill the flat with emergency purchases and rush to make decisions on things I will probably later regret or I can put up with emptiness for a while. I'd love to be able to hire some really beautiful pieces of furniture while I take my time searching for my own bits (or not!) versus going IKEA all the way untill later. I think there are a few hire companies, but pretty limited/dull.

How great Erento is championing the sharer and connecting people and tools and homes and people and more together. PSFK's piece on Erento charts the ability to be able to rent protestors at "rent a demonstrator" — all apparently young and attractive!

Going back to the topic of dating and the social rewards of sharing, I've mentioned before a few of the services I know that are bringing people together in the process of making them happen. Zopa brings people together to lend each other money. Nike/Apple bring people together to get fit. Community Supported Agriculture brings people together to create investment in new food communities. More recently there's been an explosion of sites that enable you to meet and coordinate travel together, like sharing a taxi to the airport or a room in someone's pad on the other side of the world. Likemind brings people together for breakfast, all over the world, just to share ideas. Green Fusion in San Francisco supports LC Biodiesel's "Biodiesel User Group", a collective of likeminded people wanting to purchase an alternative fuel, and provides a fuel tank outside its renowned eco home store in the Marin County.

Renting from each other, enabled by a service like Erento, brings people together: you connect to someone who has something to lend. And making renting public, has made it cool and social. I have some good friends who met because he was moving out of his rented apartment, letting it to her. They fell in love and have been together 10 years and are now married.

What I like about the renting service or the examples of shared services is the way these sorts of behaviours are reconnecting the world, slowly shifting from a separate/disconnected world view to a participative one. So renting and sharing has the potential to breed romance and reconnect us Just like the Nescafe Gold Blend couple of the '80s (You can read about the romance and the coffee here).

My assumption is a participative world view has the potential to be world changing and full of potential romance.

Written by Tamara Giltsoff

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