From a Facebook group to an international organization - the story of OuiShare
It all started in 2010, when Antonin Léonard was blogging about collaborative consumption in French. Little did he know that this was the beginning of the organization we now call OuiShare - a network of people with common values, which have finally been summarized in a manifesto.
In its early stages, the OuiShare community was a Facebook group created by Antonin in April 2011 to connect people who believed in the potential of the collaborative economy and were trying to make it a reality. Shortly afterwards, they began to organize meetups every month in Paris at Next&Coworking or at Nathan Stern's place to continue their discussions about the collaborative economy in person. It was then that Antonin felt he was on to something bigger:
My intuition was that a new culture was emerging, a culture of openness, transparency, empathy and that this culture would be the foundation of what would become OuiShare.
A mutual sentiment felt worldwide
But this development was not only happening in France. Similar communities of like-minded individuals had sprung up simultaneously in other European Countries: in Spain, Albert Cañigueral had launched his blog consumo colaborativo and was connecting the local startup ecosystem; in Italy Simone Cicero and a partner were building the collabortive community blog hopen.it; and in Germany, Daniel Bartel and a team of collaborative consumption enthusiasts developed the blog KoKonsum.org and began organizing the local community through meetups and a Facebook group. Seeing that these communities in different countries shared common goals, it was a given that they would join forces at some point. [caption id="attachment_6943" align="aligncenter" width="622"]
First meetups at Nathan's place in Paris.[/caption] Shareable, a San Francisco based online magazine about sharing, but after long talks with the founder Neal Gorenflo, they came to the conclusion that this was not a possibility, and they would simply remain "close friends."
Uniting the movement with one name
In late 2011, Lisa Gansky and Brian Chesky came to speak in Paris. By that time, the community in Paris, which was still known as the "French Collaborative Consumption Community", was growing rapidly on and offline. Feeling that the group was much more than that, Antonin decided that they needed a name, and suggested "OuiShare" on January 2nd 2012. And as you can see below, everyone loved it, and that's how OuiShare was finally born.
Between that time until the first European summit in May 2012, Albert, Simone and Daniel, who were promoting collaborative consumption and web openness in their respective countries, finally connected and decided that if they worked together, they could have a far larger impact in Europe than if they worked alone. And so OuiShare rapidly evolved from a "French Collaborative Consumption Community" to an international organization with the aim to not only promote collaborative consumption, but focus the macro development it is a part of we now call the collaborative economy.
Putting our values into words
In the course of last year, we realized that - like every organization - OuiShare needs a written manifesto of the values it stands for. Even though shared values are what brought the OuiShare community together, it was challenging to find words that we all agreed upon to express them, especially since we all come from diverse backgrounds, approach topics from various perspectives and feel strongly about different values. After a long process that began at our second OuiShare Summit in Rome last November and ended with numerous on and offline discussions and a document sprint (one weekend during which the community worked on documents we needed from three locations), we are proud to finally present you the ten values we all agreed are at the center of OuiShare. But as our value "permanent beta" hints, we don't consider this list final - it will evolve and be adapted as we go along!
Our values are:
Openness. We strongly believe that a culture of openness has many benefits. OuiShare is a non-hierarchical organization, which anyone can join and contribute to. Decision-making is based on peer governance and meritocracy. What we produce is open source, making it easy to reuse, remix and share alike. Transparency. As an open organization, it is our priority for everyone to understand what we do, how we work and how we are funded. As we grow, our aim is to disclose all information in a reader-friendly fashion. Independence. We are happy to work with companies on individual projects, but do not enter exclusive partnerships of any kind that could compromise our independence. You may not like this at first, but in the long term you'll see the benefits. Impact. Our mission is stated as “to accelerate the shift toward a more collaborative economy”. Maximum impact in doing this is what ultimately guides our actions. MPRL (Meet People In Real Life). Amazing things happen in real-life. The internet cannot replace real-life interactions; it is only a tool that supports them. Action. We don’t like talk without action. When you have a great idea, don’t wait for others to execute. Build something yourself from day one and watch people join you! Permanent beta. OuiShare is an ongoing experiment with a lean startup approach. With curiosity and an open mindset, we strive to continuously try new things and challenge our assumptions. Release early, fail often, learn by doing and iterate. Feedback. Regular and personal feedback is critical to sustaining the participative dynamic of OuiShare and enabling everyone to learn and progress. This is why we praise valuable contributions, celebrate achievements and encourage constructive criticism. Inclusion. Innovation happens in diverse environments. OuiShare benefits from having members across the globe and from very different backgrounds: entrepreneurs, designers, makers, hackers, social innovators, environmentalists, researchers, journalists, public officials, activists, and many more. Play. Work doesn’t have to be boring. We want collaborative lifestyles to go viral, and believe that this can only be achieved if work is as fun and creative as play.