How to Kickstart your Local Sharing Movement with a ShareFest

February 10, 2014

NOTE: Images in this archived article have been removed.

In the spirit of the #SharingSpring, Sharing Cities Network and Get2Gether communities (with the Center For A New American Dream) are hosting local ShareFests in cities around the world. Focused on the transformational experience of sharing, these events will be co-created by sharing organizations and the public. 20 cities in the Sharing Cities Network have already committed to hosting ShareFests so far. And many more have expressed interest.

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You can sign up here to help organize a ShareFest in your city! If your city is already starting to organize one, we’ll connect you with other sharing enthusiasts in your city.

ShareFests are participatory events designed to connect the local sharing economy that range in size from intimate 20 person sharing events within community organizations like timebanks, to large three day public gatherings with over 3,000 people! A ShareFest can be a powerful way to kickstart the sharing movement in your city, attested by cities across the world that have organized them from Santa Rosa, CA to Paris, Ann Arbor, MI and Ghent, Belgium and many places in between.Image Removed

ShareFest Ghent repair cafe

ShareFests are the perfect opportunity to bring people together who are just as interested in sharing and excited to create a more sharing city together. For newbies, it’s one thing to read about the sharing economy, and another to experience how rich life can be living in it first hand at the ShareFest. If your city is already well on its way to becoming a sharing city, a vibrant ShareFest will help demonstrate that we are part of a greater movement and aren’t alone in our work!

What can a ShareFest include? It’s up to your community to design it with local flavor.

  • Your event can provide open space for visioning, brainstorming, and planning to collaboratively create a shared city with shared food, housing, work, finance, health, art, transportation, energy and more. Image Removed

  • It should highlight existing sharing oriented projects, organizations, businesses and government agencies in your community, like the ones mapped during the Sharing Cities Map Jam. Ask local organizations, projects and companies dedicated to resource sharing to table and showcase their work at your event.

  • Ask organizations to host workshops on relevant topics like: creative reuse and repair, how to start a housing/food/worker co-op, the commons, how to put the community into coworking, resource sharing (tool libraries, bike/car sharing, etc.), community currencies, co-parenting and co-operative childcare, urban fruit gleaning, soft skills of sharing and more! Our how to share resources can help.

  • In addition to education, ShareFests usually have an experiential component that engages attendees as participants in its co-creation like: a pop-up repair cafe, a bike kitchen, a trash to treasure art creation station, a swap-o-rama-rama (pictured at right) or ‘really really free market,’ an open space for skillshares, a potluck with recipe exchange, or speed dating to match-make for coops.

  • You can invite the public to participate in a creative “Ignite Sharing” session, vote on the best projects for your community and maybe even give them a jumpstart using the Sunday Soup crowdfunding model.

As a ShareFest organizer; you can organize the resources, skills and knowledge in your community, but it’s more fun and a lot less work if you co-create the ShareFest with others. And keep it manageable – integrating just a few of these ideas will make an awesome ShareFest.

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Cob workshop at San Francisco Homestead Skillshare Festival

In the coming weeks, the Center for a New American Dream and Shareable will host a webinar, release an online Toolkit and are teaming up to offer collaborative peer support through the whole process. Please sign up here to co-create a ShareFest in your community!

Here’s some more specific examples of what a ShareFest could look like in your community. We interviewed a handful of ShareFest and Share Fair coordinators to find out how they organized successful events.

Image RemovedChicago, IL, Jami Becka and others working with the Chicago Time Exchange have hosted a string of Share Fairs in the last couple of years. These events have ranged in size, are free and open to the public and regularly have 100 participants or more. They often partner with larger organizations who have access to event venues and extensive mailing lists. They have a core of about 5 volunteer organizers who typically pair up to coordinate parts of the event that they are excited about. Most of their expenses are covered by donated goods, services and event spaces with their primary resource expenditure coming in the form of donated time by organizers and other volunteers. Their success seems to be directly related to the consistency of events they host and their constant outreach to other organizations for new collaborations and partnership.

Image RemovedAnn Arbor, MI, Ryan Gourley, founder of A2Share and a small group of volunteers hosted the first annual Ann Arbor Sharing Summit last Summer. The event brought together representatives from 25 different organizations and local projects, in addition to fresh faces from the public, at a garden space donated by the University of Michigan. The organizations had tables where the public could learn about how to engage in more sharing locally and the event was structured around open space breakout groups on: Sharing as a Business; Sharing, Science, & Tech; Sharing Food, Sharing the Arts, and Sharing, Governance & Legal Implications; and Sharing Living Spaces and Sharing Skills & Knowledge.The gathering was relatively small and intimate, which offered a great opportunity to connect and form new relationships. As a result of the summit, there has been increased participation in local sharing projects and use of the previously created Ann Arbor Sharing Economy and Detroit Solidarity Economy Maps. (Both can be found at A2Share) Their success has come from bringing organizations together who have now unified to support the growth of the sharing economy in Ann Arbor.

Image RemovedGhent, Belgium, Angelo Meuleman, Autopia, and Netwerk Bewust Verbruiken (a network for consumer awareness) hosted the third annual Ghent ShareFest with great success! After initially hosting this event to promote car sharing it has grown by leaps and bounds in the last 3 years to include collaborative transportation exhibits, animation for children, creative hair cutters, ‘share bar’ (buying a drink was not allowed), repair café, book swapping and more. Angelo says it best: “The ShareFest created many opportunities: neighborhoods could inspire each other, people got in contact with many projects and organizations, representatives from the city council got a better understanding of the real potential of the collaborative economy, and the media used this momentum to make in-depth reports.” They were able to attract 3,000 people by hosting their event on “Car Free Sunday” when there was a built in audience of people walking and riding through the city center. They received a local government grant to cover all of the associated costs of producing an event of this size. Their success seems to come from being in the right place at the right time with enough resources to support their ideas.

Image RemovedParis, France, Francesca Pick, co-chair of OuiShare Fest, has had a lot of experience coordinating sharing events in cities all over Europe. OuiShare Fest is a completely different animal requiring a lot of planning and a large organizing team. The second annual 3 day conference will see 1,000 collaborative economy visionaries coming together for keynote speeches, presentations, networking and more. On the final day, portions of the event will be opened up to the general public for an estimated attendance of 3,000! With a core group of 3 organizers and 14 volunteers, they are still careful not to let the event get out of hand and be spread thin. They are very resourceful and secure most of the things they need to produce their events for free or through sponsorships from local companies and government. Programming is crowdsourced directly from the sharing community throughout Europe and beyond and embodies the cooperative nature of this movement. Their success comes from a strong grassroots network, years of experience coordinating sharing events and learning from their challenges and triumphs.

Image RemovedSanta Rosa, CA, Kelley Rajala and organizers of Share Exchange coordinated a large Share Fair and street festival to launch their community sharing initiatives. It was a great success with a diverse turnout of 2,000 people. They closed two downtown city blocks and brought together local businesses, artists, performers and most importantly all of the local sharing projects. With a wide range of entertainment, workshops and organizations they were able to attract a large, more mainstream crowd who may not have come to a strictly “sharing” based event. Although the event was free to attend, they had a stuff swap area where people were able to walk out with camping gear, kitchenware, clothing and more for a $5 entrance fee with all the proceeds going to cover the costs of the event. Their success came from having a lot of different attractions appealing to different kinds of people, being located at the center of town and creating a family-friendly atmosphere.

Join cities across the world, sign up here to support a ShareFest or other sharing event in your community this #SharingSpring!

This article is cross posted with permission from

Mira Luna

Mira Luna is a long time social and environmental justice activist, community organizer and journalist, working to develop an alternative economy. She co-founded Bay Area Community Exchange, a regional open source timebank, the San Francisco Really Really Free Market and JASecon, and has served on the boards of the Board of the San Francisco Community Land Trust and the Chiapas Support Committee and currently serves on the boards of the US Solidarity Economy Network, and Data Commons Cooperative.

Tags: #SharingSpring, ShareFests, sharing economy