• Finance, Community

Help Build the Collaborative Economy

Editor's note: Amy's questions at the end of this post sparked a conversation at, so be sure to check out the comments there after reading.

collaborative-economy.jpgHow to create a collaborative economy has been tapping at my brain for a while, but I haven’t cracked the code. I need your collaborative juices to figure it out.The good news is that the why and the who of the collaborative economy are a no-brainer, because they’re already in place. Here’s why we need a collaborative economy: The status quo isn’t working. More specifically, college students are having a hell of a time getting jobs. College degrees aren’t necessarily working. Forty percent of 20-somethings move back in with their parents at least once. My dad, now 66, got laid off at 64 and spent a year and a half trying to find employment. And when he finally did, he got laid off again after six months. Why didn’t he just retire? Because the 401(k) that he’d invested in for 20 years tanked. These are just a few of the reasons why the status quo isn’t working. I’m sure you’ve got your own list. As for the who of the collaborative economy, here’s who should participate in the collaborative economy…actually, it’s more like, who shouldn’t participate? In short, anyone who has a skill to offer and who is willing to share their skills for the greater good should pitch in. Luckily, at this very moment in our crappy, confused economy, we—as Americans and as a global community—are comprised of some of the most educated, volunteer-spirited, creative people than at any other time in history. In everyday life, I meet people of all ages who are tech-adept, globally aware, generous, flexible, and eager to take on challenges—way more so now than 10 years ago. I often feel like we, as a community, know that we can no longer take the world’s resources and its people for granted. We’ve been through a disadvantaged economy for long enough now that we know it’s time to get with the program—whatever that program may be. Which is precisely the point. We’ve got smart and capable people raring to go to redesign a new economy and build sustainable employment opportunities. The problem is that we need a better system. We need a better process with tools to help us collaborate. Chances are, with all the apps, websites, social networks, and brainiacs, the tools already exist. It’s just a matter of putting them in place and showing people how to use them in a way that coalesces communities. So, talented readers, can you help me hook up your ideas with other ideas to figure out what the Collaborative Economy looks like? Let’s start with these questions:

• With your skill set, what can you bring to the table in a collaborative economy to develop new businesses and work opportunities? • When we’re not meeting in person, what technology should we use to move ideas forward? For instance, should we use Facebook groups, Splashlife, Google+ or something else? • What’s the best way for our ideas to intertwine? As in, what kinds of questions should we ask each other and how should we communicate in person, on the phone, and online?

-Amy Schroeder --- Amy Schroeder, founder of the DIY Business Association and Venus Zine, writes a biweekly column about figuring out entrepreneurship. She produces the work in partnership with, a new site that’s like the AARP for people under 30. __This photo was taken at the first Brooklyn DIY Business Association Conference on June 26, 2011, by Eleanor Templeton

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