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Within the framework of adaptation and hyperlocal urbanism sharing is one of the three prerequisites for achieving a social order where the residents are motivated in participating social life, production, and management of the localized sustenance systems. The other two are enjoyment and giving. It is said that you can easily unfriend a friend on social media, but you can’t un-neighbor a neighbor. How do we move away from seeing our neighbors as annoying or as competition for the sunny spot in the park – and instead see them as valuable assets who help and support many aspects of our daily lives and add to social resilience? Sharing – of space, of goods, of responsibilities – is an important first step.


One familiar social organization model, cohousing, offers important lessons. Cohousing depends on sharing. The initial residents, usually invited and assembled by the cohousing organizer or developer before the construction, decide what to share. Guestrooms, for instance, are a common shared amenity in many cohousing complexes. Instead of each unit having extra bedrooms for guests, the cohousing community builds a few guestrooms within the community house to share. Woodworking shops, art studios, common kitchens for large gatherings, landscaping tools, and storage sheds are among the other popular shared amenities in cohousing projects. What these have in common is that they are quite attainable if shared, but too expensive if owned individually by each household. (Shared amenities also save space and reduces consumption.) Sometimes these amenities are even rented to the larger community outside the cohousing community; for example, the community house may be rented out for meetings and conferences organized by others, especially in neighborhoods where such gathering spaces are rare.


Sharing becomes a more important enabler as we focus on the diversification of small-scale production. The more diverse the production, the stronger the local economy. This is very similar to the way permaculture involves a diverse set of productive activities that support each other. Within the framework hyperlocal urbanism, a household would have difficulty in producing much diversity even if it were a full-time food producer; the compound scale offers a few more opportunities. But at the block scale we can start talking about shared amenities such as fruit drying facilities, storages with coolers, composting facilities, small gardening machineries, etc. Also, in terms of production, sharing increases diversity via networking and organizing among neighbors. One neighbor brings milk from her goats, the other brings eggs from his chickens, and before you know it there is enough diversity on the table, even at the block scale, for the third neighbor to start a modest bakery with only a few supplies needed from outside. The possibilities grow significantly as we move to the w­­alking shed scale. However, all this sharing and organizing can happen only if neighbors have the desire and time to share.

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