Saturday, 8 October 2016

Share Fair - the idea

Transition MK are very pleased to join the Milton Keynes Share Fair event on 16th October between 11am-3pm at Oldbrook Boulevard. A Share Fair is like a market BUT everything is ABSOLUTELY FREE.

The organisers of this event shared with us more information about the ideas behind Share Fair....hope you enjoy! 

The starting point … to explore activity and event ideas that:
1. Develop a sense of community through joyful shared experiences and stories
2. Address multiple issues such as a) loneliness and isolation b) depression c) waste/recycling
3. Are easily understood
4. Can be adapted to any community.

What if we were to have regular social gatherings, where instead of buying new things, people share, swap or recycle stuff, and instead of feeling isolated, people meet each other to share ideas, stories and skills. By sharing and swapping what they know, do and have, people could discover new ways to value themselves and each other, becoming stronger, less wasteful and happier.

In the past, markets were as much about socially gathering as about trading goods. Nowadays the term market is more associated with money than social, and increasingly virtual rather than face-to-face. What if we keep the idea of an old-fashioned market or fair, fete, souk, bazaar and gala (because this type of gathering is easily understood across cultures) – but exclude money. And by excluding money we keep the notion of a market/fair - but as a place to gather, share and create social rather than monetary capital … We could call it a Share Fair.

A Share Fair would be a way of creating informal opportunities for social face-to-face serendipitous meet-ups; regular but temporary, colourful, inventive ways to transform spaces into people-places in our villages, towns and cities. By making the main purpose of the event sharing, swapping and up-cycling, we can reduce what we throw away and challenge the value that ‘shiny new’ is best.  By including skill-sharing and story-telling we can learn to value ourselves, each other, what we know and what we do.

What could a Share Fair look like? It needs to be easy for people to access; we need to bring the Share Fair to the people because getting people to travel is harder for everyone. Some obvious places to start are where people already go, market squares, shopping precincts, urban corridors, community gardens and parks.

We can invite organisations who are already doing the sharing, swapping and up-cycling stuff, (e.g. Time Bank, Street Bank, FoodCycle). In return for their expertise, we would provide opportunities to: a) reach beyond their current interest group; b) provide safe drop-off, pick-up points for those anxious about stranger danger; c) network with like-minded organisations and build relationships with and between local memberships.

As well as the national organisations, we can invite local groups interested in sharing and swapping, for example local allotment associations and community gardens with seeds and plants to swap, the WI, who’s members could swap jam, pickles and preserves and share recipes, and PTAs who could swish school uniforms. Another important item to include is an arena where local projects (e.g. BLE folk) are supported to share their story and inspire others to join in or start new projects themselves.

Finally, a crucial feature of Share Fairs has to be inclusive social seating areas in which people can chill and chat. These areas will be arranged to encourage different kinds of sharing. For example 1) Craft tables with equipment for folk to share their making skills (digital, crochet, drawing, modal-making);  2) Hay-bale circles around fire pit (probably pretend fire) to encourage story-telling and book sharing/swapping;  3) Pet Corner with seating for owners and pets with water bowls; 4)Café type area for people to meet and share food; 5) Outside living room with sofas, coffee tables and big cushions for people to just take a break.