Sunday, February 16, 2014

Collaboration and Connection

The new buzz words are Collaboration and Connection. In the past, Competition and Winning reigned. The times, they are a’ changing.

In the past, Rachel Botsman coined the term, Collaborative Consumption in a TedX talk ( She highlighted the benefits of our joining together and sharing our products, tools, and skills just like when we lived in communities with extended families. For instance, instead of buying a lawnmower individually, and using it once weekly, we might ask a few neighbors if they want to pool their resources and buy a lawnmower that we can share. How much less expensive and more cooperative life might be.

Ms. Botsman reported that the 20th century was about individual consumption and the 21st century is about sharing. We have collected so much stuff that our garages and closets are bursting. Now, we may be moving from separation and waste to creating a more sustainable community that meets our inner needs without giving up our lifestyles and our freedoms. But, for many people, letting go of or sharing stuff is hard.

Not only do some companies rent cars, bicycles, and cleaning services, we can also sell and trade our stuff individually if we trust each other. Recycling stores for clothes, furniture, sports equipment and all sorts of other products have been around for years. I often buy recycled clothes and then give them to Goodwill, rather than buying brand new ones. We have prided ourselves on what is mine but maybe we are shifting to see the beauty of giving away, sharing, trading and bartering.

Our current technology gives us quick and easy results. Think about eBay and Facebook. Technology helps us stay connected with others. I am part of some email list serves where people share referrals, services, products, and emotional support. What a wealth of information at our fingertips! Instead of focusing primarily on ourselves and our families, we can participate in collectively helping our community, moving toward what is ours not just mine.

People now share jobs, child care, YouTube videos, homes and even pets, and don’t always use money for the exchange. As I observe my mother living in a retirement community, I see great benefits like sharing meals, conversation, activities, transportation, and more. Collaboration also makes good economic sense.

We have collaborated for years. We pay taxes to help our government build highways, supply us with services like fire and police departments, libraries and schools. How else can we collaborate and connect with others?

There are many lonely people in the world, some who feel isolated, depressed and despairing. They sometimes don’t know how to reach out to others. If we collaborate more as a common style of living, perhaps we won’t be as solitary and self-involved as we have been. Maybe in giving to and sharing with others, we can help each other as well as help ourselves. 

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