Book Review: Sharing Cities – Activating the Urban Commons | Beth's Blog

Book Review: Sharing Cities – Activating the Urban Commons


Sharing Cities: Activating the Urban Commons is a collection of 137 case studies and policies in 11 categories how self-organized, democratic, and people-powered policies and initiatives can help solve some of the most thorny problems we face around the world in urban areas. The problems include inequality, climate change and fiscal challenges.

The book’s case studies offer us hope and inspiration for urban dwellers – that if we put people at the center – not markets, technology, or government – that people can meet their own needs by sharing resources. The book is a practical reference guide for neighborhoods, citizens, and communities that want to create solutions for affordable housing, food desserts, transportation, and more.

The book was created by Shareable, an award-winning nonprofit news, action and connection hub for the “Sharing Cities Movement.”  The way the book was produced also embraces the idea of sharing through collaboratively publishing with a team from nine countries to crowd source the book proposal and write the book. And, the paperback version includes a library card inside the back cover to encourage sharing.

There are many inspiring examples in this book, but a few of my favorites:

  • Walking School Bus: Concerns over safety for children translates into children being driven to school.  That leads to traffic congestion, increased stress on parents, and lost opportunities for physical activity.   As the name sounds, it is self-organized groups of parents and children that walk as a group to school providing many benefits.  The Walking School Bus (and the Bicycle Train) have become a global phenomenon, widely adopted in the UK, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the US.
  •  Restaurant Day:  In many cities, people from different cultural backgrounds live near each other but rarely get to experience each other’s diverse traditions.  In an effort foster cross-cultural interaction, local organizers in Helsinki created “Restaurant Day,” where residents create pop-up restaurants all over the city.  The event is run by a distributed organization and become a global movement with over 270,000 pop up restaurants in 75 countries.
  • Kitchen Share:  Kitchen appliances can take up space and be expensive.  Yet interest in healthy eating is growing and people are experimenting with different techniques that require different kitchen tools.  This project is a lending library for home cooks in Portland, Oregon.  It helps residents save money and learn new skills.

You can learn more about how to get your copy of the book here.

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