Community benefit (nonprofit) organizations will regularly serve up a list of volunteer needs, seeking people to sign up for pre-determined time slots to complete pre-determined tasks, or to provide pre-determined wish list items. Sure, the envelopes must be stuffed for the mailing, and a table host is needed for your info booth at the farmers’ market. An assortment of very legitimate organization tasks is not being challenged.
What opportunities are being missed that can have a far greater impact in the community? Community benefit organizations exist for the benefit of the community, not the organization. What might be possible if the focus shifts from WHAT WE NEED to WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SHARE?
Ask yourself: What gifts/passions/skills/wisdom/stuff would you want to share with your community, but you have never been asked? Sit with that question for a while, as it may not be one you’ve ever considered before. What did you unearth, or awaken inside of you? What excites and energizes you when you think of sharing THAT with others?
I ask these questions of myself, in my home community, and in other communities into which I’m invited. One by one, each conversation that “goes there” uncovers so many community assets that are ready, willing and so able to be tapped.
People all around the world are asking variations of these same questions of themselves and others. They are not only asking the questions, but they are doing amazing things with the answers. I know this from what I am a part of, and a simple search on the internet, the conduit to massive and endless sharing of awesome ideas to learn from and build on.
A few sharing gems follow, and perhaps they will inspire you to consider what is possible when we take the time to get to know each other better, and together we paint a vivid picture of what a healthy and thriving community will look and feel like. Then we aim our conversations and efforts at THAT.
1. SHAREABLE – “a news, action and connection hub for the sharing transformation. … What’s the sharing transformation? It’s a movement of movements emerging from the grassroots up to solve today’s biggest challenges, which old, top-down institutions are failing to address. Behind these failing industrial-age institutions are outmoded beliefs about how the world works – that ordinary people can’t govern themselves directly; that nonstop economic growth leads to widespread prosperity; and that more stuff leads to more happiness.”
They are not only the CURATORS OF AWESOME through their news hub, they created the Sharing Cities Network and provide incredible resources, learning opportunities and connections to other kindred spirits around the world who believe it is their responsibility to create the future.
Local sharing economies and worker cooperatives are two models to learn from as they co-create resilient systems that are built around sharing what already exists as human and physical assets. Once the time has been taken to determine the WHY, we can always create new processes and systems to get us there.
Skillshare communities exist in varying forms of ongoing activity. The essence of this gem is well said by the Boston Skillshare organizers who “…create a temporary space for sharing practical skills to live more happy, creative, and sustainable lives. We believe learning is plentiful, everywhere, and need not come with price tags or expert degrees. We are all teachers. We are all students. We want to live with enthusiasm, so let us learn with vigor!”
Boston Skillshare has put their annual event on hold, but by simply having their website live it provides me with more fodder to consider what is possible when this is ongoing and embedded in a community’s values, culture, and systems to support this sharing approach.
Whether it is a sharing weekend of mini-workshops, or ongoing skills, knowledge and services shared through community Time Banks, communities who step into the space to consider what is possible are experiencing collective abundance, collective enoughness, and collective strength.
3. COMMUNITY ASSET LIBRARIES
On a practical level, think of the tools in your garage that are no longer (or never have been) used. Now multiply that by your neighbors’ inventories. There is a very high probability that you’d amass quite a nice repository that could be regularly used by your community members. And it could look something like this: Santa Rosa Tool Library
What if it’s not just tools? What would an all-forms-of-existing-community assets library make possible, and for whom? What if there was a centralized hub in your community where residents and visitors would go to seek freely shared and available knowledge, skills, and all forms of stuff? It is not about transactional exchanges, it is about relationships, and community members getting to know each other better.
4. CREATING THE FUTURE
This is my personal share about a Creating the Future Google Hangout I’ll be a part of tomorrow. The recording will be available on the same page to view later.
Creating the Future is sharing on steroids. Everything is out in the open, with the invitation to anyone, anywhere to step into our living laboratory for accelerating social change. Google Hangouts is an incredibly powerful and free tool that helps make sharing of ideas possible in a very connected way. If you haven’t experienced it yet, then stick your toe in the water and click on the link.
I look forward to being together with three incredible individuals tomorrow, as well as anyone who wants to participate live, asking questions and sharing thoughts via twitter and other tools. I will share my thoughts about my transformative journey, which will never be over. That is the amazing part; there is no end. I will continue to learn, to share, to connect, and to partner with individuals, organizations and communities to create the future. Perhaps through my sharing, someone will start their own exploration.