How to Start a Sharing Movement

When we look at the way society functions in modern times, we seem to forget that amongst the teeming masses of humanity are made up of individuals.

Individuals of a Society

The thoughts and beliefs, as well as the actions of individuals in this mass of humanity we call society shape the future, the reality of our existence as we know it.

It is then imperative that we understand our own power as an individual. Power is simply the ability to do, to change, or to affect change in a situation, in reality.

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world”
— Gandhi

The fact that we can affect change in our society and as an individual, we must also carry out the obligation that we have to share.

To share, and create social value is a very natural human phenomenon, albeit not restricted to Homo Sapiens alone. To share and to consciously understand and create sharing movements, and values, as well as social value is however, a uniquely human concept.

Sharing is not limited to advertisements on billboards, nor is it, or should it be limited to thirty second jingle tunes on the radio, accompanied on tv by a short clip.

The Sharing Movement is not about the promotion of goods, services, or values for the purpose of collecting a profit. It is a wider social movement to promote a cultural and very human need to be socially connected, through the act of sharing.

The origin of the Sharing Movement is from a cultural and human need to socially connect.

The sharing movement itself does not start, nor does it end with the physical act of sharing either – it starts with a mindset within us, as well as the understanding of what we are doing, and why.

Some people share because they feel great doing it, since altruistic acts in human behaviour actually help to propagate the altruist’s genes in the race for survival in the natural selection process. In certain cultures, sharing is seen as both a form of wealth redistribution, as well as promotion of the largesse of the patron who shares his wealth with others, hence their ability to share material goods.

But looking beyond just personal feelings as well as creating social value for ourself, sharing is about connecting people in an egalitarian manner. This is not about the promotion of our largesse, or the promotion of other’s largesse, but about us, and another person forming a connection through the need for a physical item. This connection can be formed only in the most personal of settings, as it requires trust as a currency, and trusting people is the first step to a closer community of friends, neighbours, and family.

These connections cannot be forced upon people, coerced onto people, nor can they be really effective, since being friendly, and being friendly and trusting are two different things altogether.

How we can truly see this is through ad campaigns for a friendlier neighbourhood, which rarely work. What does work however, are events where social value is created and trust slowly but surely formed amongst community members.

Sometimes, these events are initiated by the local council, made up of more outgoing members of the community, and other times, the local government(rarely).

Most of the time, these kinds of events, such as barbeque cook-outs, communal celebrations and observations of religious, cultural, or ethnic festivals open to everyone in the community are usually started by people in the community.

These are simple, yet effective tools to open up people to the idea of a sharing community that is there for every member to utilise and support.

Barbeques, celebrations and gatherings aren’t too hard to organize for someone of average means are they? yet they are the ties that bind, that hold a sharing community together.

youYet, all these need not be started by companies. Nor governments. These can be started by you.

The people you come with into contact daily, as well as the people you talk to, can be part of the sharing movement, but you have to speak out, and more than just talk about what being part of the sharing movement means, to also act on it.

Share when you can, with the people you can

If everyone did their part, and practiced sharing in their own corner of the world, soon, communities of people accustomed to sharing naturally and consciously will form.

And then, growth of the sharing mindset will increase exponentially, since ideas spread like wildfire.

Ideas are powerful, and so are actions. Alone, you cannot reach the moon, but with friends, neighbours, and other people who share, connecting groups of people will become easier, and more viable, not just economically, but physically as well as socially.



A Tale of Two Sharing Cities: Amsterdam and Taipei

Amsterdam and Taipei are two very different cities. One is located in the liberal heart of Western Europe, while the other sits at the edge of the ocean, and is an Asian city with a very different culture.

Taipei is known for its modernity, it’s food and temperate climate, as well as its geography and unique culture which sets it apart from it’s larger neighbour China. Amsterdam known for its nightlife, its extensive canal system, historic architecture and “coffee-shops” as well as its vibrant culture and as a melting pot of ethnicities and people.

Amsterdam Sharing City

Sharing culture is growing steadily, and becoming an accepted and preferred way of life.

Both however, share a very common factor:

The sharing culture is growing steadily, and becoming an accepted and preferred way of life, and led not only by the government, but with business and civic partners leading the way as well.


Taking a look at Amsterdam, it has been on the cusp of becoming the regions sharing city capital for some years, with sharing start-ups leading the way. Since February 2nd, Amsterdam has officially captured the title of Europe’s first sharing city. This has only been possible due to government participation and effort, as well as sharing start-ups in the city and other normal businesses as well.

This collaborative effort to tackle issues and opportunities faced and presented by becoming a sharing city was only possible with the efforts of all actors involved. The prize? A more socially connected city – as well as a more efficient and enterprising economic landscape for both start-ups, businesses and customers.

As Amsterdam has a local government (as compared to some countries with only federal or country-wide governments) , easing and changing rules and regulations to make the city more friendly to sharing start-ups as well as initiatives is easier. They have also been the world first in developing regulations for AirBnB rental transactions – a key concern amongst locals worldwide.


Bikes in Amsterdam

The sharing economy in Amsterdam is not only confined to home-sharing or ride-sharing, but also includes borrowing platforms, which connects people who need stuff to people who can lend it, much like the libraries of things we covered in a previous article.

It must be understood that while Amsterdam still has some headway to make, bigger businesses like banks and insurance companies in Amsterdam are also looking at how they can utilize the sharing community and the power of collaborative consumption to make the city a more connected, liveable space.

On the other side of the world, in Taiwan and the city of Taipei, the issue of liveability – traffic congestion as well as pollution is a major headache in many Asian metropolises. Regardless of wealth, the amount of cars on roads only increases pollution, and with the ever increasing costs of owning a car, city officials are hard pressed to look for alternative.

The solutions to these problems have been many, and some have worked, and some haven’t. Some countries have banned cars with starting even numbers on their licence plates on even numbered days, and conversely, for starting odd numbered cars on odd numbered days. Others, have imposed fines and heavy tolls for cars entering certain areas at certain times to lower traffic congestion, or raised the cost of a car to astronomically high prices for licences or taxes to limit the number of car owners.

All of these have met with some limited success, to one degree or another. But to take people away from cars doesn’t solve the main problem, that people need transportation that is affordable, yet available and if possible, environmentally friendly.


Enter Taipei’s solution. Taiwanese have always ridden bikes, and they have a culture of bike riding, since their temperature and climate is moderate enough to allow for it.

The Taiwanese have taken it a step further, with the YouBike system, as it is called in English, and informally known as the Taipei bike sharing system.Youbike-Taipei11

The simplicity of the model combined with the availability and widespread use of the bikes are what makes this project an ongoing and longstanding success.

For NT$10, one time users can use the bikes as well as people who buy an EasyCard (a wireless payment card used for public transport). What’s more, EasyCard users get the first 30 minutes ride free to encourage the use of the bikes.

Of course, the EasyCard costs about NT$100 which is roughly USD$3 to purchase. As for non EasyCard holders, every 30 minutes of use costs roughly just USD$0.31! The popularity of the system is attested by the empty stands which hold these bikes – the locals use them so much that they are empty most of the time!

In addition to being affordable as well as being widely distributed, as they can be found outside underground train station exits, as well as busy interchanges and transit points, bikes are given leeway and a special path on most roads in the city as well.

The local government, of course, encourages the use of these bikes, as well as creating regulations to create a safe environment for people who use the bikes.

Again, public and civic cooperation along with business partnerships go a long way to furthering the sharing economy and culture across the globe. Without such cooperation, initiatives are less likely to succeed.

Sharing City Seoul

Seoul – capital of South Korea, a gleaming metropolis set in Asia, a modern city, and now, with government initiatives, Asia’s first sharing city.

Let’s look at why Seoul has seen the need to become a sharing city.

Seoul declared itself as sharing city

seoul_sharing_cityTheir Sharing City Initiative defines itself by stating its overall vision as a “city that solves urban problems by facilitating people to share idle products, time, information and space”.

Why does Seoul need sharing though? The constraints of living in an urban metropolis has changed the living environments and landscape over the years, putting constraints on both natural and human resources, such as space, leading to the need to utilize resources as efficiently as possible.

To understand why Seoul needs sharing in the first place, let’s look at the history of Korea, Seoul, and the Korean people.

“Sharing is the way of life
for sustainable tomorrow”

South Korea is a very traditional country, and a very traditional Asian society that focuses on the family as a core societal unit, with elders and age being venerated and respected, and it is also a very patriarchal society as a whole.

South Korea came out of their war with North Korea devastated with few natural resources and an enemy at the border. After which, rapid industrialization and modernization followed by years of growth marked it as one of the four Asian tigers.

“The youth were particularly affected by the increased inequality”

In this rapid period of growth, the traditionally closeted and conservative chaebols (Korean: 재벌), or family businesses dominated the economy, and as years passed, higher costs of living, increased income inequality and slowed growth has led to an modern urban metropolis with a lack in community spirit.

The youth were particularly affected, as the lack of growth and job opportunities has affected their ability to live in bigger cities like Seoul.

The purpose of this sharing initiative then, is two-fold.

  1. To make cities more affordable and liveable for everyone,
  2. To foster a sense of community lost in an urban metropolis, to make a place to feel at home with friends.

It is not possible to keep bloating the public sector with more jobs to achieve this, nor is it possible in the capitalistic model to keep exploiting and utilizing already overstretched and shrinking finite resources such as space.

“The idea behind the sharing city is to utilize existing facilities, resources with new practices centred around trust”

However, this isn’t going to be free bonanza of sharing – it is a pragmatic approach to the constraints of the city. It is a pragmatic approach to a very real problem, of more tourists, having less places to stay, less people having places to stay, not enough parking lots, not enough books and crayons for needy children; the list goes on.

Over 60 Sharing Services are encouraged by the government in Seoul:

Seoul Sharing Services


Tourists – the city is actively encouraging tourists to stay at local B&B’s or rent empty rooms within a house for their stay in Seoul.  As with the lack of apartments to stay in – the cost of living has a factor to play in this as well as trust. In a very economy driven city like Seoul, most times, apartments stand empty not because there are no landlords leasing the out, it is because prices are too high.

Businesses – the aim of the project is to allow organizations and entities also to participate in the project, with a motivational sum of a 9 million Won ($7,700* USD) project grant, as long as the organization or entity has its service activities in the city of Seoul.

The city also goes further by listing several areas and laws that need to be acted upon that prohibit or make the sharing economy harder to operate.

Transportation – Article 81 of Passenger Transport Service Act, eases the ban on the usage of private vehicles for commercial public transport! This is easy to understand, since the popularity of ride sharing services is well know, as is the alleviation of traffic congestion due to the lowered number of cars on the road.

Taxation – Article 50 of the Restriction of Special Local Taxation Act, to exempt taxes on religious organizations when they share facilities with the public. This is interesting, especially since it could promote social cohesion and dialogue between different generations and sub-cultures within Korean society.

Food Industry – Article 37 of the Food Sanitation Act  eases regulations when dealing with restaurants who share their space with the public.

As for the other areas, they call for new regulations in the areas of Insurance and Construction, with Insurance being vague, and construction calling for the use of sharing practices in the design of new buildings.

It remains to be seen if the Korean government at large will be able to implement these practices and actions quickly enough to cope with the changing urban landscape and societal attitudes. However, the proposals and measured outlined in their document bears hope for a better, more sharing, and caring Seoul.
*KRW to USD rate as of May 7, 2016