The Fetch Blog

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Interview: SF Local, Neal Gorenflo of Shareable — June 28, 2013

Interview: SF Local, Neal Gorenflo of Shareable

This week we interview Neal Gorenflo, Publisher of Shareable Magazine. Follow Neal on Twitter via @Gorenflo.

Neal Gorenflo
Neal Gorenflo

Shareable’s tagline is: “Sharing by design” – what exactly do you mean by that?

We mean sharing with the intention and rigor that comes with design. In other words, sharing done well.

I believe sharing takes more thoughtfulness than buying, but done well, yields much more satisfaction and practical value.

What were the greatest lessons you took away from moving from the corporate world to starting an online magazine?

That the power of commitment is immense. My commitment to sharing is the first time I’ve felt truly committed to anything. I had been searching for something that I could believe in my whole adult life. It was such a relief to finally find something that was meaningful to me. This commitment is my fuel and compass. It keeps me on track and powered up to do what ever it takes to reach my goals.

You’ve said that you are working towards a resilient society. Why is resilience important?

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from “disturbances” and maintain structure and function.
This is important because life is characterized by cycles, which includes high points and also big setbacks. Setbacks are a chance to rebuild and gain even more resilience.

This is true for individuals and also our civilization. And in a time of big, converging, and urgent crises, we have a chance to go for something better than what’s been before.

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Do you find a political or socio-economic typecast exists when it comes to valuing the sharing economy? Is it for everyone?

Yes, but our story about who we are and what makes us strong in the US is badly distorted. We believe our strength comes from our individualism and our market economy. This is backwards – we’re strong and resilient because of our social ties, our cooperation, and what we share. We take all that we share for granted – language, culture, nature, scientific knowledge, information in the public domain, industrial standards, streets, sidewalks, parks, public transportation, open source software, and more. The health of our market economy depends on the health of these commons. These commons are the feedstocks and building blocks of creative activity. Without them we can’t be the individuals or have markets that we imagine are good for us.

This isn’t to say that individualism and individual freedoms aren’t important. They are, but I believe our real strength comes from being individuals and in community at the same time.

The remarkable book, Made In America, which analyzes the American character from the revolution to today, makes the case that yes, Americans are individualistic, but they also know that to get what they want, they must work together. Americans have a unique drive to work together to pursue common interests, and do it in a bottom up fashion relying on our own initiative aside from government. This is evident in our large and diverse nonprofit sector, and the incredible number of professional and trade associations.

A Henry Miller quote comes to mind:

“To be cured we must rise from our graves and throw off the cerements of the dead. Nobody can do it for another – it is a private affair which is best done collectively. We must die as egos and be born again in the swarm, not separated and self-hypnotized, but individual and related.” ~The Rosy Crucifixion

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What are your favoriting sharing and collaborative consumption startups?

I use Yerdle, RelayRides, Getaround, Sidecar, Lyft, Airbnb, TrustCloud, Scoot, TaskRabbit, Hub SoMa Coworking, and more. I actually conducted a life experiment called, The Year of Living Shareably, where I tried many of these services out for the first time. My family saved $17,000 that year and we made a bunch of new friends.

I’m also interested in the free coworking movement, represented by Seats2Meet in the Netherlands, the new wave of Freecycle-type businesses like FreecyclePlus, and all the new food sharing startups like Feastly and Cookening.

What’s next for you and Shareable?

We’ve built the largest online audience about the sharing economy. We’re going to leverage this to catalyze more sharing on the ground. Stay tuned!

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About our Curator // Kate Kendall is the founder and CEO of The Fetch, a community where professionals can discover and share what’s happening in their city. Before this, Kate led product, content and digital at magazine companies, handled outreach for new startups and organised too many communities and events to mention. Follow her on Twitter at @katekendall.

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