A little bit of news from Britain’s moneyless economy – the two biggest online communities dedicated to free sharing are joining forces. Freeconomy, run by Mark Boyle, is folding into Streetbank to create one big hub for neighbourhood sharing.
The philosophy of both sites is simple – there are all kinds of things that we can lend or borrow from neighbours, skills or advice we can offer or call upon. We just might not know where to look for such things. Today I saw someone round the corner putting a carefully wrapped-up mattress out in their yard with a little sign saying ‘help yourself’ on it. That’s great, and no doubt somewhere on this estate there’s someone who needs a new mattress who can’t afford one – but they’ll only find out about that free mattress if they happen to walk down that street.
Or maybe there’s a family driving their child off to music lessons somewhere in town, unaware that there’s a neighbour five doors down who would teach them for free and walk them home afterwards. And how many strimmers are there in the 15 sheds I can see from my office window right now, each of them dragged out a couple of times a year? If we were even a tiny bit organised, couldn’t we just share one?
A little bit of neighbourhood networking goes a long way, and Streetbank and Freeconomy have been doing some sterling work providing a place for people to do that. I’m less familiar with Freeconomy, but it’s been great to see Streetbank grow over the last few years, gaining some funding and full time staff and emerging as an influential project, even if it’s a little quiet where I am. The bigger these sorts of sites are, the more useful they become, so the merger is good news for users of both.
If you’re not a member already, you can join Streetbank here. It’s free of course.