Children are constantly trained to share with those around them, but as people grow older sharing tends to go out the window as more personal possessions are acquired. In the Northwestern US and all over Europe, people are going back to sharing again. In dense cities such as Portland or Seattle owning your own car is expensive and probably not useful that often with all of the available public transportation. Often people might only need a car to leave the deep city for outings or groceries, but now thanks to Zipcar and Getaround car sharing, owning a car is no longer necessary. Both are car sharing programs that work a little differently.

Zipcars are a quick car rental program for members only. After applying and paying membership fees, the zip member will receive a zipcard. Once the zipcard is activated members can go online, by phone or head into a zipcar store and reserve a car. The zipcars are strategically located all over the city in an assortment of makes and models. Members can reserve a car based on location or model, whichever they would like; as long as the car chosen is not reserved the member is welcome to rent for as long as they’d like for up to four days. The car is accessible with the zipcard for locking and unlocking. The car comes with a gas card for filling and the only fee to pay is the hourly rate. Short of a few technical rules it’s simply a reserve and go system. Getaround cars all depend on a vehicle owner, known as peer-to-peer car sharing. Individuals that own a car can earn up to $10,000 dollars a year just for sharing their vehicle. The system is convenient and Getaround fully insures the renters. The vehicle owner sets the price, who can rent and when the car is available. Renters will be able to save money and keep things simple by not owning a vehicle. Although this is a more primitive form of car sharing, both Zipcars and Getaround cars work to relieve dense cities of every individuals vehicle.

Co-housing, a long established form of living and sharing among neighbors could serve as a slightly more sustainable way of living. At Daybreak Cohousing of Portland, residents are encouraged to engage in communal activities with other residents. Each resident has a modest sized apartment or condominium stacked and wrapped around a common courtyard. There is a common study/library, dining/activity hall, industrial kitchen where communal meals take place weekly and the cohousing can conduct meetings, events and rentals as they see fit. Common areas are also located in the basement as well: exercise room, laundry room, shop room and bicycle garage. Instead of owning an expensive tool set or power saw, residents can simply share and save the money.

This particular cohousing unit values sustainability as well, therefore gardens surround the building and all rain water is saved from runoff which allows for a tax credit. Daybreak is also located very close to public transportation so that a majority of residents do not even own cars. Cohousing is not for everyone, but people looking to save resources and live amid neighbors might find Daybreak or other cohousing units as a more than valid place to live and thrive with others.

Deep in the industrial district of Seattle sits a plain factory building that houses one of the most renowned innovation centers in the nation. McKinstry Innovation Center offers start-up companies an uncomplicated foundation for beginning an innovative technology, program or product. After a rigorous vetting process, tenants are offered a very reasonable rate in a modest indoor office. Common printing areas, kitchen, lounge and meeting rooms are there for tenants access. Other common areas include:

  • Shop space for prototype development
  • Demonstration space
  • Access to mock-up demonstration platforms for testing
  • Two large and four small conference rooms
  • Kitchenette, coffee and wine bar
  • Fully equipped copy and production center
  • Fireside Grille dining area
  • Wellness Center with cardio, weights, locker rooms and showers
  • Onsite parking

Innovators are also at liberty to use services provided by the McKinstry group, which will definitely come in handy for start-ups:

  • McKinstry mentoring and consulting services
  • Office concierge
  • Secure building with card access
  • Telephone/voicemail
  • Computer line with T1 access
  • Fiber connectivity
  • Secure LAN dedication
  • Notary public
  • Mail service
  • Janitorial

Essentially McKinstry offers innovators a chance at a reasonably priced private office without the regular hassle of maintenance or office infrastructure. Collaboration with other professionals and innovators is also probable with all of the common areas that will regularly be used.

There is something to this idea of sharing with neighbors. It does not automatically warrant a sustainable label, but it is moving in that direction when common resources are shared. At least in dense cities with adequate public transportation, car ownership is not a necessity when car sharing is available. All offices might learn from the McKinstry innovation center and office buildings wouldn’t need to be so massive if common areas existed between organizations in the same building. Cohousing would be a great alternative to suburban sprawl with added security, friendship and family ties.




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