Published in Adbusters #85, Thought Control in Economics
Debbie from two streets away is offering to teach cartwheels and handstands. She wants to plant a herb garden, starting with mint. I’m dying to cartwheel. I’ve wanted to learn for years. I imagine myself standing at the end of a clear supermarket aisle, and then cartwheeling all the way down – a life-affirming act in a lifeless store. I’m growing enough mint and other herbs to share.
Debbie and I are made to trade. But we would never have met if my next-door neighbour and I hadn’t started a Sharehood. We leafleted all the houses a few streets around ours, invited them to a community BBQ and directed them to the website, www.thesharehood.org.
The Sharehood was started by Theo Kitchener, a Melbourne web developer and activist, in 2008. “It’s all about sharing skills and resources within your neighbourhood,” he says. In his hood, neighbours are already trading garden produce for worm juice, babysitting each other’s kids, fixing cars, sharing compost heaps and chatting over tea.
The website helps neighbours meet face-to-face. It allows logged-in members to see profiles of other members who live within 400 metres. People post events, list things they can share and things they need. The site has its own trading system, a radical local currency to reward those who give to others. Everyone’s details are private.
We’re just starting out, but interest is high. There’s a supermarket not far away from where I live. Maybe when I can cartwheel and our Sharehood is strong, I’ll visit one last time and find a clear aisle.