Rochester has lots of great momentum in the alternative economy sector, and one of our missions at RocShare is to publicize that! Pursuant to that we have been mapping the resources in our town, and the time has come for their yearly update in the form of a Map Jam! A Map Jam is a get together where people share their knowledge of what's what in their town, and make the information public for their communities. You can see some examples here! This year the Map Jam is a potluck, and should be a lot of fun. You can RSVP on Facebook, or just come by!
We will be collecting things like books, household goods, and clothes at 62 N Union Monday-Friday July 13th-17th, and giving them away 9am-5pm at that location on Saturday the 18th!
DROP OFF HOURS:
M 7/13 AND T 7/14 1-4 PM
W 7/15, TH 7/16, AND F 7/17 1-6 PM
We are excited to see you there! Clear out those basements, closets, attics, and garages!
What is a ShareFest?
ShareFest is an event that has taken place all over the world, where a city comes together and shares their goods, resources, knowledge and talents. Here are some examples from Oakland, Ann Arbor, Louisville, and Rochester!
Rochester’s ShareFest 2015 will begin on July 13 and come to a close on July 19. Throughout the week of July 13th-17th there will be many events being held around the city, and new economic models at local businesses. On July 18th there will be a FreeMarket where you can share whatever you have and enjoy what other have to give. On July 19th there will be a Sharing Summit Potluck where you can meet the Rochesterians who are involved in the new economy and working to help people spend less, create more, and share what they have!
How can I participate?
Come to an event! We will add them to our calendar as they are planned!
Organize an event! Anyone can organize an event! You could host a potluck or a stranger dinner, have a swap for food like home-cooked meals and babyfood, or swap clothes, media, toys, seeds, anything! If you fit into any of these categories: arty, crafty, or green, you may want to try throwing an upcycling event! Or maybe you are more of the techie/maker type and you want to try a repair cafe! If you are concerned with social justice, you may want to create a Street Store! Or if you just want to share any way you can, you can create a Gift Circle! If you are an artist or a musician, you can organize a free show to share your work, a lesson to teach others your art, or have a jam session! If you own a business, you can take advantage of the week to try out new economic models! You could try selling “suspended” items to let your customers pay it forward, like this pizza shop, or these cafes. You could also let your customers set their own price, like these cafes in Denver or Leeds. Whatever you do, just find a time July 13th-17th and invite people! If you want it to be a public event, or if you have any questions, let us know and we will add you to the list of events. Find a way to share what you have!
Participate in the FreeMarket! In the spirit of a potluck or a "Really Really Free Market" and looking like a cross between a free garage sale and a party, the FreeMarket is a place to give, get, teach, learn, and play. Anyone can bring used goods and have them sorted and given away, or can bring their knowledge and creativity to contribute! We will be collecting things like books, household goods, and clothes at 62 N Union Monday-Friday July 13th-17th, and giving them away 9am-5pm at that location on Saturday the 18th! But you don’t just have to share stuff. You could play your guitar, teach people to knit, create a collaborative painting, or something else we haven't thought of! In the past we have had everything from free massages to a hug deli, so be creative with your sharing! If you have something you want to share, just let us know!
Come to the Sharing Summit Potluck! At 5:00pm on Sunday the 19th we will be having a potluck at the Little Flower Community to celebrate Rochester’s growing alternative economy and discuss how we can help it grow!
Volunteer! We are going to need organizers, photographers, videographers, journalists, publicists, marketers, reporters, translators, graphic designers, video editors, copywriters, childcare-ers, volunteer-coordinators, cooks, donation-sorters, poster-sticker-uppers, friendly faces, question-answerers, heavy-thing-carriers, and generally-helpful-people. And if you are not on this list, we could probably use your skills anyway! If you you are interested in helping, just let us know!
We recently did an interview with a participant in Rochester's sharing economy, Antoinette Ena Johnson. Ena talked with us about her passion for generosity, and how the sharing economy has been influential in her life. We hope you enjoy hearing what she has to say as much as we did!
RocShare: How would you describe yourself in one-ish sentences?
Antoinette Ena Johnson: I am a naturalist with survival inclinations for the preservation of myself and those around me through healing, feeding, and protective measures. (I’m trying to be as concise as possible!)
RS: Wow that's great! Concise is good, but let’s unpack that a little: can you tell me about the healing, feeding, and protective measures (I think going into them each separately would be best)?
AEJ: So I knit, I mix oils that act as elixirs, and I grow food. I just like growing food and it just happens to be good for everyone and a useful skill for the future. I learned to knit a couple of years ago and it keeps me warm and I can make things for other people as well. Again, I just love to do it. Repeat the same story and replace it with mixing oils. Something I learned how to do, it protects my skin, helps heal wounds, and is multi-purpose. I also get to share my skill/product with others.
RS: You have the skill of letting yourself do what you love. Are those three things how you support yourself? Or are they just hobbies? Or something in-between?
AEJ: I would say both. Gardening is like an unseen savings, and this was the first year, so the investment was high, but it will pay for itself. Knitting is pure cash. Yarn is cheap, freely acquired, or apart of the cost, so the production is a mix of hobby (I would just as easily make something for myself) and income, as I charge whatever I want. The elixirs have a smaller profit margin. I make between .50 and $3.00 per elixir I sell, between how much I personally consume, give away as samples, and give away in general. But it's worth it in that the price of the product, cost included, covers all the others, so it is basically free for me.
RS: It's awesome that you are able to use the things you love like that. So, how are you engaged in the sharing economy? I mean, growing your own food is a given, but I'm also interested in how much of your business ends up being non-monetary (gifting, barter, etc)?
AEJ: As of now, I am mostly on the giving end. If I see a need, I try to fulfill it. Other people see when I need something and either give me things when they have them or only charge their overhead. I would love to connect with more people who either need things or have something I could use. In fact the other day, a guy I used to work with kept his eye out of for some yarn for me and I ended up getting around 300lbs of yarn, twine, beads, and thread! I didn't need it all, so I gave some to all my knitting friends, donated some to my local resource center, and am still giving some away.
RS: Wow, that’s awesome!
AEJ: But my friend was the awesome one, he watched out for months for that yarn he found. I gave him an elixir in return.
RS: RocShare definitely talks about creating a culture of generosity and it sounds like you are living in one! Do you have any ideas as to how that happened? Did you seek it out, did you create it, did you stumble upon it?
AEJ: It starts with you. The more I give, the more I get. I think people can recognize it when they see it, and if they can't then you just move on. Keep an open heart, trust people, and be attentive.
RS: I was wondering how this community formed? Is this a neighborhood thing? Or is it your friend group? Coworkers?
AEJ: I'm not sure, I guess it just kind of happened? It depends, it happens everywhere. If you share with the right people, or they see you sharing with others, they are more inclined to share as well.
AEJ: I'm sure you've had to experience the same thing?
RS: Yes, definitely! One of the challenges of the sharing economy is that many people have experienced community like that, but creating it intentionally is difficult.
AEJ: I suppose defining it may take away from the generosity...or the genuineness of it.
RS: That's definitely a risk! If you formalize the love right out of sharing, it doesn't work anymore. But a little bit of formalization can help open the sharing economy up to people that might not be part of it otherwise. It's a fine line.
AEJ: That's true, plus those that are already open and participating in sharing communities may help ease others in. I feel like I am consistent teaching people the meaning of sharing by both doing and explaining it.
RS: Teaching by example! Do you see a need for more sharing? In your community, in Rochester, or in a specific group?
AEJ: I think everyone should be sharing in some way! It helps open communication, trust, support, and so much more. It's a matter of doing it and helping others do it.
RS: I agree! How did you start? How were you first introduced to these ideas and practices?
AEJ: Maybe because my mom is very generous, even when she doesn't have much. She always got so much back in return. That and I think I was taught and shown many of these principles in church growing up.
RS: That's almost exactly how I would have answered that question!
AEJ: ...And Oprah!
RS: I think generous community has been a part of the black community in America for a long time, and an important part of the Christian church historically.
RS: Do you have any other interesting examples of sharing in your life or community?
AEJ: Probably a thousand, but at the moment none come to mind. I can say that I get a lot of "gifts." Things people don't want anymore and so they give them to me, as I have a habit of making a use for everything. In return, I do the same for others. If someone tries on a dress that I have and it looks better on them then on me, then I just give it to them. Oh, that reminds me- clothing swaps. Both are great ways of reusing and recycling clothes.
RS: Oh yes, definitely! Do you organize your own? We hope to organize a big one sometime.
AEJ: I haven't yet, but I might do so in January.
RS: Cool. Last question! If you were to give the world one piece of advice, what would it be?
AEJ: Don't judge other people. Hear what they have to say and don't make assumptions. And have patience.
RS: Wonderful. Anything else you wanted to say before we are done?
AEJ: Reread the above carefully!
RS: Alright! Thank you so much Ena!
Our founder and director recently had the opportunity to share at TEDx Flour City 2014. We were very excited to be able to speak directly to Rochester's invested community members, as well as the TED community. Andre's talk is now available online for convenient viewing! Shareable.net also wrote an article about Andre's talk; in it Cat Johnson says:
Primus sees the sharing economy as a way to increase the quality of life for people, regardless of income, through bikesharing and carsharing, farmshares, coworking, community gardens, intentional communities and more. In his TEDx talk, he points out that through sharing books, clothing, knowledge and more we can forge communities.
Primus has an enthusiasm for creating positive change that's contagious. Mira Luna, Shareable’s organizing director, says when she met him and learned that he wanted to quit his job and be a full-time organizer for the sharing economy in Rochester, she was struck by his passion and potential.
“I realized we really need to support people like Andre who have so much passion, determination and talent to help solve the world's problems,” she says, “and keep them from being herded into meaningless jobs at best. Our small part in that was to make Andre a Sharing Cities Fellow.”
Shareable.net interviewed Andre about the ideas that he expressed in his talk, as well as about his experience being part of Shareable's Sharing Cities Network. When asked to elaborate on his ideas about how generosity is an important piece of the sharing economy, Andre says,
When you live in a culture of generosity, you know that you can rely on the generosity of others. That knowledge allows you to feel free to take the financial risk of giving extravagantly because you know your community will be there for you. But most of us live in a culture of self-focus and prideful independence. If you want to change the culture, you need to take the risk of practicing what you preach, of taking the leap that inspires your community to build the safety net.
Andre also talks about his hopes for Rochester and the sharing economy, saying,
My big picture vision is that most people will have most of their needs met by their community in an ecologically and socially sustainable way, and that sharing will become a cultural norm rather than being a government program or a business model.
You can read more about RocShare's director here.
"[Rochester's Central Library] has connected with the founders of RocShare, a local organization which educates Rochester about its sharing economy and promotes local sharing organizations. They agree that this project furthers their efforts to establish a skillsharing network in Rochester, and that the library system is the right vehicle to deliver that access. The library has experience in developing a Human Library and can parlay that experience into developing MindShare. The concept of Human Libraries has been introduced to Rochester over the past 18 months, which has prepared Rochestarians for this next phase in skillsharing."
RocShare has teamed up with the Central Library to form a skillsharing initiative like Rochester has never seen! MindShare "leverages the power of the public library to connect people of diverse backgrounds in order to share their knowledge, ideas, skills, and stories."
MindShare takes this concept in a new direction by developing a curated collection of Human “Books” who are part of the Monroe County Library System online catalog, sharing their skills through meet-ups in libraries and other participating locations. By blending skillsharing and the human library, MindShare allows the public to experience the sharing economy through the trusted expertise of the public library and its librarians.
Imagine you are trying to be thrifty and want to learn how to preserve fresh produce. To access MindShare, you go to the online library catalog, type in "canning" and along with books and DVD options, a link comes up for a MindShare match, someone who has been canning for 25 years. The page includes a list of available meeting times and branch locations as well as a space to detail your question. The MindShare Librarian at your selected branch then reserves a place for your scheduled meet-up.
Or imagine that you have 20 years of experience running a home business and you are eager to share your knowledge with aspiring young entrepreneurs. You can go to the library's MindShare website to sign up as a “book” and choose a time for a 5-10 minute meeting with a MindShare Librarian. The Librarian assesses your communication skills, and if you are approved, they record your availability, assign you a dewy decimal number, and add you to the catalog! Soon you will be helping people in your community start businesses of their own.
MindShare is full of possibility. Expecting mothers can learn from experienced caretakers in a nonjudgmental atmosphere, and recent immigrants can have the opportunity to learn English while teaching their native language and culture. Teenagers can tutor one another on the subjects they have excelled in, from Macbeth, to Pokémon, to Math, to how to compose a rap song. MindShare is limited only by one's imagination and by the curators, who make sure that the information being shared is helpful and appropriate.
You can read more about this initiative here!