a boots-on-the-ground view of the change that's a-foot

by Tao Oliveto, Carrboro, NC

I was walking through the downtown neighborhoods with my dogs the other day – enjoying the relative quiet of the old and narrow streets, lined with creatively loved and lived in little houses. I stopped when I saw a homemade posting board near the curb. Here was a note about a lost chicken and another with a Buddha-like drawing. But the real made-me-smile message was from someone suggesting that they form a tool co-op, storing tools collectively in a community shed. The note invited neighbors to start a conversation about what they had to share.

I’ve often wondered at the lack of logic in the practice of people living on the same street but each owning separate sets of yard tools, house tools, ladders, etc.. Unless someone is spending way too much time doing yard work, most of these tools are needed only occasionally, so sharing makes economic and ecological sense. It could even make it feasible to invest in some of the new and improved mowing options, powered by solar. You can find some good tips here on Mother Earth Living. I was excited to find out you can even convert a gas mower to solar-electric power! Of course, hopefully we are all using push mowers whenever possible and/or considering filling your open space with Food Not Lawns (if you haven’t read this book yet, please take a look).

We share tools here in Co-housing and it works out fine. Since there are no garages in our intentional community, we are also considering building a bicycle shed. Sharing stuff lightens the load on the earth, our wallets and our minds. Do you share anything with your neighbors or friends? I’d love to hear about it!

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  1. Sophie Garrett Says:

    I’m so pleased to find this post. There are so many things that could easily be shared, that’s why I started yours2share to encourage this.

    I particularly want to encourage private syndicates, currently these are usually for boats, aircraft and horses. But as the idea grows I hope people will look for like-minded partners to share a wider range of items that are closer to home: cars, tools, equipment (lawnmowers, sewing machines), jewellery, even dogs!

    You can share in many ways, joint ownership or fractional rental (for example, each sharer uses the lawnmower once a week or the boat one weekend a month). It just requires a little imagination and careful discussion at the beginning, together with a written contract for high value items.

    I’ve spoken to many members of private syndicates who have bought a share because it lowers the cost, only to find that the advantages of community, new friends, preparedness to maintain items to a high standard because the cost is shared, have been huge benefits that they hadn’t expected.

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