How Cloud of Goods' Punsri Abeywickrema kept the promise of the sharing economy alive

In June 2008, Silicon Valley software engineer Punsri Abeywickrema was working in his San Mateo, California backyard. He needed a wheelbarrow. A wheelbarrow was sitting idle in his neighbor’s yard, but he didn’t want to ask to use it since he’d already used it several times before. He searched for a place nearby to rent a wheelbarrow, but didn’t have any luck. That was Abeywickrema’s eureka moment. A seed had been planted—one that would change the course of his life.
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South Korean “Mother Centers” empower parents through community-based initiatives

Single mothers often struggle in South Korea, but local “Mother Centers” — based on a German network of cooperatives — are empowering women to take charge of their futures. These centers help mothers of all stripes — not only unwed mothers — help themselves. For all its joys, parenthood also comes with struggles and can leave parents feeling isolated; Mother Centers provide a sense of community.

Sustainability-focused maker villages unite artisans for creative exchange

Creative collaborative housing initiatives are on the rise, allowing people to temper the effects of an unaffordable housing market and surround themselves with like-minded creatives. So-called “maker villages” are springing up in places including the United States, France, and the Netherlands. Housed on the site of a former oxygen plant in West Oakland, California, O2 Artisans Aggregate bills itself as an eco-industrial park that is “home to a network of artisans working collectively to develo

Library cards unlock access to bikes, benefitting communities

What if you could check out a bike — in addition to a book — from your local library? That’s become a reality in over 20 communities in the U.S. and Canada. As renewed fears about the future of the environment spark worldwide calls to action and millennials flock to urban centers — eschewing American car culture for public transportation and biking — communities are taking notice. Some, like New York City, are creating more bike lanes to improve access for cyclists. Others are going a step furt

Social healing organizations unite to weave new future for African American teens

Middle school is a trying time for any teen but the pressures faced by African American teen boys are especially complex. A program in New Orleans is matching 12- and 13-year-olds with mentors that help young men belong in a community that aims to divert them from gang membership and build feelings of empowerment and masculinity that are not predicated on violence. It is a partnership between The Silverback Society, a Louisiana-based nonprofit, and Weave: The Social Fabric Project, which is a program of The Aspen Institute and brainchild of author and New York Times op-ed writer David Brooks.

Harnessing the power of youth travel for good

Observers have long complained about what they see as the vapid consumption of social media, especially that of Instagram travel photos, some even accusing young people of being addicted. But one sharing organization has turned the much-maligned “Insta travel snap” on its head and is using young travelers to spread an important message about international development. Sustainability Adventure is a program that sends gap-year travelers around the globe to report on how different non-governmental

How NYC Books Through Bars is bringing books to people in prison

I recently slipped through a sidewalk cellar door to enter the basement of Freebird Books, a large space crammed with books organized into different sections, where I spent the evening reading letters from prison inmates and selecting and packaging books for them. At least twice a week, volunteers go through the 700-800 letters NYC Books Through Bars, a collective based in New York City, New York, receives from inmates every month and fulfill their requests.

How Brooklyn ceramics collectives are sculpting a new generation of potters

Pottery is "such a visible, shareable art form," says Jennifer Waverek, founder and director of BKLYN CLAY, a studio that since 2016 has served as a coworking community for ceramics artists. Tactile, less technological, slower paced — this world couldn't be further from the fast-paced startup world that brought us a host of coworking spaces. Potters cannot succumb to digital distractions — they must sink their hands into terra cotta or other types of clay and sculpt with laser focus. Pottery collectives, many of which are based in Brooklyn, New York, are bringing artists into a vibrant, empowering community. They're allowing burgeoning and established ceramists to share resources — from kilns to ideas — and sculpt their futures together.