I’m not pregnant anymore. I was. 9 months ago. And then this little guy arrived.
Since I found out he was coming, I decided this was going to be a shared pregnancy. Not what you’re thinking…well, unless you are thinking about changes in business models that are deeply affecting our life styles. Having experienced the new paradigms of the sharing economy for my food, my rides and my objects, I launched myself in a new challenge: getting from the community most of Noah’s baby stuff.
Where it all started
I made the Shared Pregnancy Project public during one of Crowd Companies council meetings – invited my friend Jeremiah Owyang, I spoke about my 75 days living inside the sharing economy to startups and corporations that are collaborating to leverage technologies that allow people to get what they need from each other. The guys at Crowd Companies do a great job at keeping track of industries that are being disrupted and the opportunities that arise. Check their Honeycomb.
The sharing economy brings back the village
People say “It takes a village to raise a baby.” And it does (oh, it does!). But this notion of the village got lost one or two generations ago from ours, as effect of the globalization, that physically spread the people, the new structure of the family with two working parents, and the mass production of goods & services aimed at addressing mom and dad’s cluelessness. Nowadays, a humongous diversity of consumables tries to (poorly) replace the knowledgeable advice and the hand-me-downs we would get from grandmas, grandpas, aunties, neighbors and the likes. Alone in the task, newborn parents turn to brands and “experts” to make up for the lost community. I, instead, turned to technology to rediscover my village.
I started with Nextdoor.com, the community gathering website that once saved my dinner. Just few hours after publishing a post asking for baby stuff, I collected bags and boxes of hand-me-downs that came to be about 95% of Noah’s wardrobe – and they will last up to when he turns 2 years old! The greatest part of the items showed little or none at all worn signs; some I handed-down afterwards also untouched by Noah. That’s how fast babies grow.
In the beginning, I just asked for baby stuff because I had not the slightest idea of what I’d need for a child. Turned out, I learned a lot from merely exploring what I was given. As the learning curve progressed, I identified I wanted a co-sleeper. Turning to Craigslist, the following day I was meeting with a 2-year old’s mom who sold my son’s future bed for $80 (less than half the retail price). A weekend after, also via Craigslist, the mon of a little boy sold me a standing bathtub for $50.
By then, I was shameless to ask around. A mom of two boys, that I met at the Crowd Companies council, kindly sent me pajamas that had dressed her boys. From a dear cousin from Iowa I got a package of clothes. To carry what came from this other friend here in the Bay Area, we had to rent a truck, since she hand-us-down a rocking chair and ottoman, a crib, a high-end stroller, tons of baby books and assorted baby items.
Why the community instead of the store
Some might say it would have been easier to just open a registry with “Babies r us”. But I truly believe it was so much more MEANINGFUL to have this happy event of new life being created strengthening the bond with my community, reducing unnecessary consumption and waste, and, why not, saving us a lot of money. Most everything Noah owns has a story behind it, and the thought of it puts a smile on my face. What also makes me smile, and laugh, is that sometimes, it’s Christmas in May. Sometimes Noah is launching a “hobo baby” trend.
And he is definitely not dressed like a little lord…ever. But none of that matters to us. What matter is that our family is truly part of the village.
Next week: How much money the sharing economy saved me and how it all goes full circle.
I’d love to hear your stories using the sharing economy. Please comment & share!