Depending on what you're sharing, your sharing partners might be:
- family members
- members of your church, temple, mosque, or other spiritual community
- parents of your children's friends
- people with similar interests to yours, or
- people you meet only for the purpose of sharing.
As you can see, you already know some of these people well, and others not so much, so you'll have to do your best to figure out whether some of them will be good sharers. There are lots of different people who can share well, and the qualities that will be most important in a sharing partner depend on what you're sharing and how. Most likely, you'll have a different set of criteria for someone who occasionally takes care of your children than for someone who occasionally uses your ladder, for example. But responsibility and reliability will be important for both.
There are some qualities that good sharers generally, well, share. A good sharer:
- pays attention to detail, is thoughtful, and plans ahead
- can be flexible and adaptable
- has a generous spirit and doesn't hold grudges
- doesn't worry constantly about being taken advantage of (for example, someone who will suspiciously track every nickel and dime your group spends might become a problem)
- communicates honestly and clearly
- cares about your needs and wishes
- meets commitments, and
- is pleasant to be around.
If you don't already know who you'd like to share with, go back to the worksheets you completed in Chapter 1. For your one or two top sharing ideas, think about who might make sense as a sharing partner, using these questions to get you started:
- Do you want to share something that's stationary, such as a large appliance? If so, it makes sense to share with neighbors. You also might consider sharing with someone who spends a lot of time at your home or vice versa, such as a parent, sibling, or close friend.
- Is your sharing idea motivated by green goals? If so, sharing with someone nearby—again, a neighbor or someone who spends time at your home or vice versa—will probably do the most to reduce your carbon footprint.
- Do you plan to share something that requires a lot of responsibility, such as child care or cohousing? In that case, you'll want people whom you trust and who are compatible with you. Looking for sharing partners among your friends makes sense.
- Are you going to be sharing something expensive, like a house or a boat? If so, your fellow sharers should be people whose financial sense you trust and whose resources you know a little bit about—again, either people you already know or people who are willing to share financial information with you. They should also be trustworthy and responsible.
- Will your sharing arrangement involve a fair amount of contact, like a weekly mealsharing group or a regular child care share? If you'll be seeing your fellow sharers regularly, make sure you really like them! This seems obvious, but don't ignore it. If you have a neighbor whom you find slightly annoying, you might want to think twice before agreeing to a weekly food exchange with him. Instead, choose neighbors you like and want to know better.