For a Fairer & More Sustainable World.

The Power of Community Sharing

Sharing is not a new concept – it is what humans have done for millennia in order to survive as families, tribes and clans. A globalised digital society has replaced the old relationships and norms, however, and we find ourselves disconnected from our selves, communities and land. A move towards a ‘sharing economy’ is now placing community sharing within a context of the positive societal change that is desperately needed.

The Village that Shares
Over the last few years, the community of Muir of Ord has come to see itself as ‘the village that shares’. We have a community fridge and larder through which hundreds of kg of food passes every month. We have 25 grow boxes dotted round the village filled with organic fruit and veg that are open for anyone to help themselves from. A casserole club links up people to prepare an extra portion of dinner and share it with someone unable to access healthy, home-cooked food. Community resources such as an apple-press are held and made available for community and individual use. Our schoolchildren grow food in their polytunnel and share it to the community fridge which they also clean on a rota. Becoming a ‘village that shares’ has created a community which is kind and inclusive. We are also resilient: as covid 19 arrived, we were already in a position to swiftly support those sheltering or suffering – the network of relationships was already established, enabling support, food parcels and a swap shop to spring up almost overnight. Sharing creates a state of reciprocity, which prompts even more sharing.

What do we share? We share food, conversation, seeds, tools, ideas, gatherings, knowledge. We also share vision and ambition, which births a shared responsibility to others and our collective future. Individuals buy in to a shared identity which not only creates a sense of belonging and support, but also enables people to define themselves through social connection, reputational standing and a sense of collaborative achievement rather than the commodity treadmill of mainstream consumer culture.

The Bigger Picture
An individual sharing an item can seem trivial, but it actually creates a powerful gateway towards a different mind-set, a different culture and potentially a different future.

Mainstream consumer culture bombards us with powerful messages that we need more: that we are not and have not enough. We need more money, more things, more time, more love, more muscles, more friends. It is based on the unspoken idea that if you have more, that means less for me: I must hurry to get what I ‘need’ otherwise it will all be gone. It leads us all into a decision-making process based on fear – fear of loss, fear of scarcity, FOMO. People have always measured their wellbeing by comparing with neighbours, but technology now means we can compare ourselves with the whole world. Scientific studies have shown that when a person perceives themselves to be in a position of scarcity, they experience changes in the way their brain works – neural pathways are limited and a person’s ability to problem-solve is decreased. It’s likely we can all remember a moment when stress and fear prevented you from seeing an obvious solution. Our brains translate an attitude of scarcity as a threat to our survival, embedding the feeling of ‘not-enough’ which in turn prompts us to consume more. The irony is that the climate, biodiversity and health crises are a very real threat to our survival as a civilisation, and yet our decision-making process is sabotaging our ability to find sustainable solutions.

What if we were able to encourage an abundance mind-set? What if instead of seeing the outcome as fixed and inevitable, we were able to hold multiple outcomes as possible. What if instead of stashing individual resources, we were able to trust that within our communities were the resources we needed? What if our decisions were based on trust instead of fear?

Sharing creates and maintains an abundance mind-set. It involves a conscious choice to trust that we and our communities have the resources, skills, inspiration and capacity for what is coming.

A Shared Future
The bottom line is, we all live together on a planet with finite resources and an increasing population: we are going to need to share in order to survive. Balanced, sustainable ecosystems are based on reciprocity – an understanding that all elements of a community are connected: we rely on each other.

When we engage with the state of the world, it can feel overwhelming – there’s so much that needs to change and so much changing out with our control. I challenge you to step away from the natural reaction of fear and scarcity, and remember that the outcome is never inevitable. Reach out, share a conversation and make a choice to trust.

A big thank you to Ele at MOO Food for this insightful and inspiring contribution to our blog.

1920 1067 Ele Forster
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