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Love thy neighbour: The Sharehood

Kim Larkin

Fri Oct 14 2011


IT looks like “love thy neighbour” is making a comeback with the latest eco-friendly, pocket-friendly, friend-friendly trend to hit Melbourne – The Sharehood website.

The Sharehood is an online community that aims to generate real-life communities. Based around the simple barter system, the Sharehood encourages and helps organise swap-meets and trades between neighbours. It strengthens local communities and provides an outlet for meeting new people.

Carlton sharer and media contact for Sharehood Michael Green says the websites was started as a way to enrich communities.

“I think often in a big city, it can feel intimidating to speak to new people, neighbours and people passing in the street. To me, Sharehood is a good excuse and an icebreaker to do just that, and it’s also a great way to save money.”

The website works in two ways. The first is as an outlet for users in the same community to share sewing machines, vegetables, books, cars, tools and other objects.

The second is as a forum for meeting new people and swapping or sharing language skills, cooking advice, handyman help and even tango lessons. The Sharehood also advertises local initiatives like barbecues and movie nights that are open to everyone in the community.

Micheal says the Sharehood experience isn’t formal. “You don’t have to constantly log on the website. Once you meet someone, you can just call them up and ask them for help or if they have anything to swap,” he says.

Users can both organise and join community events via Sharehood, and the options are unlimited for event organisers.

“I like to show movies in the park in the summertime, when the nights are hot,” Micheal says almost sheepishly, and he invites everyone Carlton!

“In Carlton, we have lots of neighbours who have come from overseas, not just for study but also for work. It’s a really friendly neighbourhood, so when I go outside there’s always someone I know and I say hello,” he says.

“Some of the people who have moved here from other countries have formed whole friendship groups from the social events organised via Sharehood.”

Apart from being able to borrow a cup of sugar when you need it or having a place to wait for a locksmith when you’ve been locked out, knowing your neighbours can also help the environment. Sharehood users have gotten together to build community gardens, organise car-pools and work together to become more environmentally friendly.

And of course, Sharehood users also save plenty of money sharing items like wheelbarrows, tools and books.

Carlton is one of the Sharehood neighbourhoods currently looking for more people to get involved.

Recently on Little Lonsdale St, a group of neighbours paid for all-day parking so they could fill the space with umbrellas, astro-turf, deck chairs, hula hoops and a radio. It was a social event for meeting new people and strengthening the community.

If you’re living in Carlton, or elsewhere in Melbourne, the Sharehood is a great way to make friends and be part of a community. The website doesn’t just give users a forum for trading stuff, but a whole community full of friends at their doorstep.

“Having a sense of belonging, even if it’s just for a short while, is really rich. It’s an important human need. My hope with Sharehood is that people continue to go online, rather than just to get the practical benefits of borrowing things and getting help, but to get a sense of the culture that’s around them,” Micheal says.

To join or create your own neighbourhood, hop on, invite your friends and neighbours and share, swap and meet away!