Dare To Ask

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Cat Johnson:

"Nils Roemen. A Dutch consultant, community organizer, and sharing activist, has co-founded numerous sharing projects. DareToAsk ("Durftevragen" in Dutch), a workshop based on tapping into social abundance by inviting people to ask each other for help.

Through hands-on, peer-to-peer organizing, the local sharing community in Nijmegen has grown into a large network of people who share not only their knowledge, but their stuff, their time, their workspace—whatever they have excess of. As Roemen explains, they started sharing everything and exploring more of the area's abundant resources.

“Now that Nijmegen is a sharing city,” he says, “Let’s see what can be of use to live in a certain state of welfare and happiness. The basic assumption is that there is enough, it’s just not evenly spread out.”

Acknowledging the ongoing tension between good ideas and money, Roemen posed a question: What if you stop asking for money and start asking for what you need? The approach has proven transformative and Roemen and other sharing and abundance enthusiasts have created numerous no-money, sharing projects in Nijmegen.

Here are some of the standouts.

  • Nijmegen Dialogue: Out of the DareToAsk network was born Nijmegen Dialogue, a project focused on building bridges between communities that don’t normally meet each other, including the rich and the poor, and Muslims and Jews. The inspired project was created and produced without money. “People could contribute with everything they want,” says Roemen, “except for money.” Organizers relied on the community for everything, including marketing. They even got a supermarket chain and a bank’s ATM machines to print an invitation to join the Nijmegen Dialogue on their receipts. It cost nothing and had a big reach. Roemen attributes their ability to get big businesses onboard to the people within the businesses who believe in what they’re doing. “If you look at it from the outside, it looks like a big business,” he says. “But it’s about knowing the person inside the business who is interested in your idea. It’s not the bank CEO then down, it’s individual people within the bank who are interested in the project.”



The Sharing City Nijmegen Vision

Cat Johnson:

"When asked about the big picture for Nijmegen Sharing City, Roemen says it’s an experiment.

“My vision is that I really don’t know,” he says, “I’m just trying. What I find in Nijmegen is that as soon as you think you know, there will be people trying to burn it down.”

Roemen tells the story of a journalist who was questioning him in front of an audience. The journalist warned him ahead of time that he was going to ask him aggressive questions about the sharing economy. When he did, Roemen posed a question to the audience: If this is the future that’s coming up, do you want to convict it before you engage it?

“The more you pretend to know how it works, the more people will start convicting it,” he says. “If you start saying, ‘We don’t know how it works, we are creating it, we are playing with it,’ then people will want to come play.” (http://www.shareable.net/blog/nijmegen-sharing-city-embraces-no-money-abundance)