Book of the Week: The Sharing Solution

Book: The Sharing Solution. How to Save Money, Simplify Your Life & Build Community. Janelle Orsi & Emily Doskow. Nolo, 2009.

This is an extremely practical handbook for people who want to organize or join sharing networks in their lives.

This is how lawyer-authors Janelle Orsi and Emily Doskow explain their motivation:

“Some people worry that sharing will end in the loss of friendly relationships if something goes wrong. We believe that the process of working through the potential problems in advance, and communicating openly about concerns when they arise, actually strengthens bonds between friends, neighbors, and fellow sharers of all kinds.”

A recent review writes:

“The Sharing Solution is a well-written, straightforward and inspirational book, overflowing with great ideas for ways we could all share with each other. There are chapters on specific things that can be shared: sharing food, sharing housing, sharing household goods, sharing care for children, family and pets, sharing transportation, sharing work; and, along with inspiration, the book provides concrete steps for forging connections with like-minded sharers and steps to making it happen.

The authors are attorneys and the book includes agreements, check-lists, forms and sample contracts that provide the average person with the tools they need to create protected, mutually beneficial sharing relationships.”

As an example, see how co-author Janelle Orsi approaches the housing issue, in her treatment of Slow Housing. Or here on the trend towards Neighborrow-hoods, through which you can borrow and lend items with people who live near you.

Their blog covers many different examples of sharing in all areas of life.

Excerpt from the introduction:

“As we use the term, “sharing” refers to two or more people coming together to pool property, resources, or obligations or to do or create something together. In other words, the sharing arrangements we talk about in this book are mutual and reciprocal. Everyone involved is giving something and getting something, through endeavors like:

* co-owning property or pooling resources

* sharing use of property, either by taking turns or through
simultaneous use

* cooperating to perform a task, make decisions, share
responsibilities, or collectively purchase goods or services, and

* exchanging goods or services in a barter process.”

Ways to share things:

“You may choose to share in many different ways, including:

• Shared ownership. Each sharer owns a part interest in something, such as a house or car.

• Shared responsibility. The sharers agree to do something together, like trade child care or hire a gardener.

• Shared use. The sharers all use something, even though everyone might not have an ownership share.”

What is Sharing good for?

“For a variety of reasons, people are looking for ways of living that are more sustainable—not only environmentally sustainable, but also economically and personally sustainable. One of the most sustainable choices we can make is sharing.

Sharing contributes to the greater good in lots of ways. First, it’s nice. It can help people feel connected to their neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers. It builds community and meets our needs in creative ways. It sets a good example for our children. Second, it’s economical. Almost every type of sharing we discuss in this book will save you some money—sometimes more, sometimes less, but always some.

Third, it’s green. Most kinds of sharing result in fewer resources being used, and that’s good for the planet. Sharing also makes it possible to afford more environmentally friendly choices, such as solar panels, grey water systems, and community supported agriculture.

In many ways, sharing is already an integral part of our society. We share the sidewalks, streets, and highways—and the cost of building and maintaining them. We share public schools, public utilities, and public services, all of which we pay for through our taxes.”

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