Share Tank. It’s not our name for the fancy office aquarium we’ve recently acquired. Nor is it a revolutionary next step in the development of community-oriented, collaborative warfare. Rather, it’s our attempt to offer a platform where Vienna’s Sharing community can get together, discuss current developments, problems and ideas and lay the foundation for practical solutions. It’s also a possibility for people who haven’t heard a lot of this ‚Sharing‘ shebang yet to plug in and get a good introduction on where we stand and what current issues are.
So last week, our friends at Co-Space let us conquer their facilities for an evening to host the first one of these events – and we’re happy to report that it was a success! Between forty and fifty people chose to brave the stifling heat to check out what all the fuzz was about. For this introductory event, the schedule was basically split in two parts: first off was a panel discussion with invited members of Viennese Sharing movements, then came a discussion round involving everyone.
Our panel consisted of Vienna Shares’ very own Mirjam de Klepper, FragNebenan’s Stefan Theißbacher, and Urban Geographer/ TEDx curator Joshua Grigsby (who insisted he’s not exactly part of the Sharing movement, more interested in it on a personal and academic level). Hosting this trio and their discussions was Impact Hub team member and Social Impact Award Coordinator Diego Heatherman. Each of the panel speakers got a couple of minutes to present their experiences with and interpretations of Sharing as well as their thoughts on terms like Sharing Economy and Collaborative Consumption. Stefan elaborated a bit on his project’s focus on the neighborhood as one basis for sharing, Mirjam spoke about ViennaShares’ intention to bring about more connection between individual Sharing projects in Vienna, while Josh focused on the Sharing Economy as a predominantly urban phenomenon.
One of Josh’s points about how academic literature has problems pinning down what the ‘Sharing Economy’ actually is carried over directly into the open discussion. Everybody seems to have a vague idea about it, but there are always different emphases. Is Sharing mostly a counter-initiative against urban isolation? Is it an economic alternative to a world-system focused too much on consumption? Linked to that, isn’t there a pronounced ecological side to it in that less consumption means less pollution? If Sharing means non-profit, can we include companies like Uber and Airbnb in the concept of a Sharing Economy or do we have to use a different term altogether?
As was to be expected in an introductory event, there were way more questions than could be answered – especially as these are the kind of questions that lack a fixed answer. So what is the future of our Share Tank? Seeing as we’re really happy with how this turned out, and the feedback during and after the event was so positive, we definitely plan on making this a regular thing. One of the things we’ve discussed for the future is taking on a more narrow thematic focus for each of these gatherings. What’s more is that we want to put more effort into involving the community as well as looking for practical solutions to problems, so we’re thinking of going away from the panel approach a bit and introducing more workshop elements.
We already have some ideas for upcoming Share Tank topics and agendas, but if there’s an issue you think the Sharing movement should tackle, please let us know in comments! Our Share Tank is bound to return. Watch this space.