The Sharing Project: Chris Diplock, Lead Researcher
Vancouver, British Columbia
In the fall of 2010 a small group of young Vancouverites met to start Canada's first cooperative tool lending library. Eight months later, the Vancouver Tool Library (VTL) was born. The coop, that started out with a handful of members and only a couple hundred tools, now boasts over 800 members and more than 1000 tools.
THE SHARING PROJECT IS BORN
One of the VTL's co-founders, Chris Diplock, was interested in seeing sharing grow beyond tool lending in Vancouver. Thinking back to an initial conversation he had with a local credit union, Chris realized that there was no information to guide the growth of Vancouver's sharing economy. So in the summer of 2012 he set out to research Vancouver's sharing economy by creating The Sharing Project.
The Sharing Project was supported by a dedicated group of researchers, local funders and committed sharing organizations. The sharing economy was one of the most talked about trends of 2013. The Sharing Project was featured on the front page of the National Post, as well as in other Canadian news publications.
Research for The Sharing Project was conducted from January – July 2013, and involved interviews, focus groups and two city wide surveys. The research results were release in a report October 2013.
With the help of their research, The Sharing Project is now focusing on working with communities to start new sharing initiatives, as well as building a network for Vancouver's sharing organizations.
As Chris had observed, "The Sharing Project has filled a knowledge gap. Before we produced our report there were not any resources that someone could point to that showed a clear demand for sharing in Vancouver."
The report has addressed this knowledge gap through city-wide research into the motivations, preferences and factors that affect how Vancouverites share. This report sheds light on not only why people want to share but also on specific categories of objects and spaces that Vancouverites are interested in sharing.
SHARING PROJECT TOURS
The report is now making its way into the hands of policy makers and social innovators. The Sharing Project is also conducting a sharing tour of Vancouver neighbourhoods to help kickstart conversations about new sharing initiatives in Vancouver.
In addition to its research efforts, The Sharing Project has also been a catalyst in bringing together different sharing organizations in Vancouver to discuss how they can work together in the areas of advocacy, promotion and support.
The initiative has contributed to change in spreading change in the city with respect to:
1. People (aspirations, empowerment, capacity, engagement): Chris says, "Our research found that the prospect of building social relationships increased peoples willingness to lend to their peers. Sharing offers a great way to build meaningful connections in one’s neighbourhood."
2. Processes: Approaches that enhance civic engagement and reconfigure relationships, governance, resource allocation, etc.
The sharing economy has the potential to change the way resources are currently allocated. Sharing allows people to receive the benefit to ownership without needing to own. Sharing has been cited to reduce consumption and also encourage the purchasing of better quality goods.
3. Places and spaces: Tangible changes to physical places as well as virtual and institutional spaces.