How Can Cities Benefit From Sharing? Transdisciplinary Autumn Academy and Sharing Night in Wuppertal

Sharing is often promoted as a solution to sustainability challenges, but the practical details are not clear. What are the benefits for a city, the needs of the citizens and how could existing structures be improved to enable more sharing? Using a design thinking approach, experts from practice and science explored the potentials of sharing in Wuppertal during the transdisciplinary Autumn Academy.

From 01 to 05 October 2018, the 8th Autumn Academy of the Association for Ecological Economy Research (VÖW) took place in Wuppertal in cooperation with UrbanUP, a joint research group of the CSCP, Wuppertal Institute and Transzent. Themed “Sharing and the City”, the event showed the potential of sharing in the city as a more sustainable form of economic activity.

At the core of the diverse programme participants developed ideas for the sustainable use of Sparkasse buildings as public spaces and communication solutions for food sharing activities at Arrenberg via a design thinking approach. As partners of UrbanUP, Sparkasse Wuppertal and Aufbruch am Arrenberg e.V. welcomed the participants and presented their current challenges: the Sparkasse is looking to open its locations for multi-use purposes, to invite citizens and become a more public space. Aufbruch am Arrenberg e.V. wants to reach more people with their foodshring initiative. They reported their difficulties with people reacting very differently to the concept of foodsharing and not being very receptive to the idea.

Participants developed a communication strategy to normalise foodsharing and establish it in Aufbruch am Arrenberg’s target group. Suggestions for Sparkasse Wuppertal ranged from urban gardening in Sparkasse branches and a stage for featuring local bands, to a concept for displaying the important work of Wuppertal volunteer groups and giving them a forum to promote their work – also after normal opening hours. The results of the group-work was well received by both partners. Sparkasse Wuppertal is considering the suggestions to make their existing as well as new premises more accessible and inclusive to the public.

The results were also at the centre of the “Sharing Night”, which took place at the Wuppertal City Library. All ideas were very well received by the participants and visitors, which included initiatives such as clothes swapping, car sharing, community supported agriculture, food sharing, urban gardening, repair cafés, who also presented their activities to the audience in a market setting.

Contact Alexandra Kessler for further information.