Sharing Cities Workshops (Lancaster and Birmingham)




The sharing economy has become an incredibly popular topic in the last few years. A large number of non-academic publications have been produced, mostly to celebrate and discuss the benefits of internet-mediated forms of commercial sharing (e.g. books such as Sharing is the new caring, Whats mine is yours etc.). More recently, a plethora of anecdotal evidence has appeared on mainstream and social media to denounce the ethical issues of the sharing economy. However, a closer look at these texts shows that what is currently missing in this debate are all the dimensions of sharing and collaborating that do not fit in with what de-facto are the characteristics of the sharing economy.

Traditional or institutional forms of sharing (such as libraries, community or religious spaces, or the commons), informal models (borrowing from a neighbour, a potluck with friends) or grassroots initiatives rarely appear in the same contexts where the sharing economy is discussed. At the same time, there is evidence of the important roles that these models fulfil in the city.

The term sharing city is becoming increasingly popular, but there is very little comprehensive understanding of what a sharing city is or does.

Meanwhile, cities around the world are being called to make significant decisions, while being at best unable to cope with the complexity of all the dimensions of sharing simultaneously at play in the city, and at worst pressured by global actors of the sharing economy. There is a need for tools and the methods to develop a better, localised, and systemic understanding of what is currently being shared in the city and what a sharing city could be.

Is a sharing city that bends regulations to enable AirBnB rentals but that is closing libraries or privatising commons really promoting sharing?

To answer the question what is a sharing city, weorganised two exploratory workshops with local experts(groups and individual involved in initiatives of sharing).The first one took place in Lancaster, and the second onein the ward of Moseley and Kings Heath (Birmingham).In these workshops we mapped current local initiativesof formal and informal sharing, discussed worst-casescenarios (worries, dangers and risks of sharing), andimagined future cities in which positive initiatives ofsharing could be amplified, new forms of sharingcouldbe created, and barriers could be destroyed.

The scenarios built by participants have been visualised in an interactive report that can be downloaded from the Liveable Cities Website:

Here are some photos from the workshops:


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