How you can be part of the 'Sharing Cities' story

Two years ago, our team at Shareable embarked on an ambitious project. We launched a fellowship program to work with experts from different disciplines on a collaboratively-produced book about how cities and city residents are sharing resources to build a sustainable world. After months of research, writing, editing, and revising, we are two weeks away from the worldwide release of the book.

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11 core principles for Sharing Cities

www.shareable.netIn 2011, Shareable, the nonprofit media outlet I co-founded two years earlier, hosted a daylong conference called Share San Francisco. We brought together 130 leaders from city government, nonprofits, and social enterprises to explore one key question: How can we amplify the city of San Francisco as a platform for sharing? After all, cities are fundamentally shared enterprises. We aimed to catalyze positive change from a set of sharing-related opportunities coalescing around cities — some particularly evident in San Francisco.

As we hoped, this event set off a chain reaction that catalyzed a global Sharing Cities movement. Today, there are more than 30 cities with active Sharing Cities programs including Seoul, Amsterdam, and Milan; a network of city governments working together under the Sharing Cities Alliance umbrella; and thousands of people working on related projects in publishing, research, and activism.

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Read the introduction

“Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons,” is a collection of 137 case studies and policies in 11 categories that demonstrate that a city run by the people is not only possible, but that much of it is already here. From participatory budgeting in Brazil to resident-managed public spaces in Italy to taxi cooperatives in the U.S., there’s almost no service that can’t be run democratically by citizens for each other.

With the backdrop of worsening income inequality, climate change, and fiscal challenges, the growth of self-organized, democratic, and inclusive means for city dwellers to meet their own needs by sharing resources couldn’t be more relevant. These cases and policies taken together offer a new vision for cities that puts people – not the market, technology, or government – at the center, where they belong. Moreover, the book represents a claim on the city by people – a claim increasingly being made by city-residents the world over. This book was written for a broad audience, but may find special resonance with those who share this people-first vision of cities and want to act on it. Written by a team of 15 fellows with contributions from 18 organizations around the world, “Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons” not only witnesses a movement, but is a practical reference guide for community-based solutions to a range of challenges cities face such as affordable housing, sustainable mobility, and more.

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How to Crowdsource a Book Proposal in 10 Not So Easy Steps

As you may have heard, Shareable has embarked on an adventure in collaborative book publishing. We’re self-publishing a book on sharing cities to be released this October. Naturally, we decided to walk our talk in terms of process. We’re collaborating on everything from the book proposal to licensing (Creative Commons) to distribution. We believe this process will strengthen the sharing cities movement.

The first step after assembling a team of twenty from around the world was to decide the scope of the book. In other words, It was time to develop a book proposal, and do it collaboratively with input from around 50 people. Our team’s collaboration coach, Simone Cicero, designed a process for us based on Nilofer Merchant’s QuEST method from her book, The New How. Shareable's Tom Llewellyn coordinated the process.

Here’s what we did:

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International Team Kicks off Sharing Cities Book Project

2016 may be the year the sharing cities movement goes big. That is if a new, talent-packed team recently assembled by Shareable has anything to do with it. Shareable started the sharing cities movement over four years ago with the first event held under the banner of sharing and cities, ShareSF. Since then, Shareable has supported hundreds of sharing cities events to push the movement forward, offered continuous coverage, and dozens of cities have launched a sharing cities program, often with our help. Most notable is the city government of Seoul, South Korea which has invested heavily in creating a sharing city.

Shareable’s new book project and team (see below) aims to help the sharing cities movement get to the next level. The idea for the book emerged directly from Shareable’s work with its Sharing Cities Network. One of the biggest needs expressed by network leaders was greater clarity about what a sharing city is and how to get there. Shareable committed to address this need. The first step was to create a draft book proposal and hand-pick an international team to create the book together.

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