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Picture the Sharing Revolution, Part 1: Garages

Submitted by on July 7, 2009 – 12:50 pmNo Comments

sharing revolution will transform everything about our world — it will transform our streets, our neighborhoods, our work, even our garages. Especially our garages. This is Part One of a series. I’m going to start, piece-by-piece, examining what our world would look like once the sharing revolution takes hold.

Starting with garages.

More than half of all U.S. households have them, and more often than not, they are like GIANT CLOSETS — filled to the brim with stuff we use infrequently: lawn mowers, weed whackers, ladders, snow blowers, sports equipment, tools, junk you’ve been meaning to get rid of but haven’t gotten around to yet, etc.

But to a sharing neighborhood, each garage is 400 square feet of pure potential. If everyone on a block gets together and consolidates their stuff (getting down to one lawn mower on the whole block, for example), if they get rid of some cars and plan more carpooling and carsharing, have a huge neighborhood yard sale, repurpose each garage, and give everyone access, the neighborhood could be transformed into a virtual resort. Picture a block where 8 neighbors repurpose their garages:

  • Garage #1: The Gym. Drawing from neighbors’ existing equipment, put in the stationary bike, a treadmill, an elliptical machine or two, weights, and so on, and give everyone access during reasonable hours. Cancel your gym memberships and save some money, too.
  • Garage #2: The Music Room. Soundproof the heck out of one garage, roll in a piano, put in a drum set, DJ’s decks and a disco ball, and the neighborhood garage bands will be off and rockin’. Sometimes open the garage door and have a dance party in the driveway.
  • Garage #3: The Workshop. Consolidate tools, workbenches, and other useful items into one garage. Be sure to carefully label everything or take inventory so you don’t forget whose tools are whose. All neighbors can come to repair broken household items, or do wood working projects.
  • Garage #4: The Rec Room. Give it a cozy feel with some carpeting and couches, fill it with toys, games, and a ping pong table, and let the fun begin!
  • Garage #5: Art Studio. This would be a place for folks to share art supplies, spread out with their art projects, and store their works in progress.
  • Garage #6: Stuff Library. This is where you store that one neighborhood lawn mower, and any other items that neighbors are willing to lend to each other — bread machines, sewing machines, camping gear, volleyball net, and so on.
  • Garage #7: Dry Goods “Store.” Neighbors who want to save money could make bulk orders together and store goods in once place, and maybe come up with a ticket system for dividing expenses. For example, neighbors could buy 500 rolls of [recycled] toilet paper and store them in Garage #7. Each time a neighbor needs to stock up, he or she can go in the garage, “pay” 4 tickets per roll, and take home what is needed. It’s like having an informal grocery cooperative on your own block.
  • Garage #8: The Library. Carefully label your books and DVDs and shelve them here. Come up with a system for checking items out. Add a couch or two, and the library becomes a quiet place for anyone to come, relax, and get lost in book land.

This all sounds like a huge and possibly daunting project, but the idea can start small. You can start by teaming up with one neighbor. Store things in one neighbor’s garage and turn the other neighbor’s garage into a gym or rec room. When it feels right, propose the idea to another neighbor, and turn their garage into a workshop, and so on. Then add another neighbor. And another!

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