Yesterday I followed another car for about a mile, stopping at stop lights long enough for the logo in block print on the trunk to register with me: “Wheels when you need them.” City-cars are vehicles you can rent for a few hours or a day, only when needed. In some cities, parking is almost impossible for residents, in San Francisco, for example. Car-sharing of any sort is needed, to be sure.
A long time ago, an acquaintance mentioned his idea that tools and other implements could be shared, from neighbor to neighbor. For example, let’s say you need a lawn mower. Maybe one person on your block owns a lawn mower, so you use it when you need it, then return the lawn mower in the condition you received it. Why, my acquaintance asked, did every house on the street need a lawn mower, or a rake, or a bush trimmer? Why, indeed?
A close friend of mine “rents” her car to a friend one day a week. He has a set of keys, arrives at her house before she leaves for work on the regular day, and uses the car for the day to do errands, to take care of business he can’t make happen easily without a car. No, he doesn’t need a car all the time. No, it’s not a problem for my friend to walk to work on the day her car is otherwise in use. She gets to enjoy the mile walk down an interesting street to her office. At the end of the day, her friend fills the tank with gas and returns the car to its usual place in the driveway. Often, the two don’t see each other for weeks at a time.
Share resources. Such a simple idea. Share resources. Something we have not been accustomed to doing, in our consumer-driven, “each person for him/her self” culture. Why not share the resources we can? Deciding how to share resources can be a community decision. Why not have a few folks from the neighborhood over for a cup of tea one evening to share some ideas. “How can we share resources, the resources we already have?” In community, in a group, our ideas build on the ideas of others, and new ideas arise. This is how group-think works!
Maybe you’ve seen pictures or even a movie that portrayed “barn-raising.” Sometimes in the U.K. the day-long event was called a “raising bee.” On a given day, the community came together to build a barn – an essential for rural life, for animals and crops – to use the resources of the whole community. This custom still takes place in Amish and Old Order Mennonite communities in parts of the U.S. In depictions of “barn raisings” I have seen, the men work all day, “raising the barn,” while the women and children buzz around below, the women lifting colorful cloths from baskets filled with abundant food. All day, the men take time from their work to eat the wonderful food. At the end of the day, musicians magically appear to make music, and the worn-out workers, men and women, find second wind to dance into the night. That’s community. That’s sharing resources.
Sometimes it seems that we are people who have lost our creativity, as if we are marching along, all to the same, droning drummer. To share resources will require some creative thinking on our parts. We’ll have to begin to envision our resources and their use differently.
We’ll have to ask one another for help.