“solutions, not problems; practice, not theory; transformation, not incrementalism.”
– Amory Lovins
When I first dug into the Living Building Challenge I was at an interesting moment in my life. A long, arduous career change that forced me to doubt my resolve along the way had finally landed me in THE job. I know the threats this planet faces…the bleak future we will hand the next generation if we don’t act now. In 2008, I decided to dedicate my life and all my energy to be a part of the solution. Then I got a job with the world’s most sustainability-driven city government, an organization that shares my impatience with our response to global environmental disasters.
When I started, the City of Santa Monica had just begun envisioning the design concept for a new, city-owned office building. We asked ourselves, can we build the world’s greenest building? Inevitably, this led us to the Living Building Challenge, a rating system that sets the bar at zero impact. It invites us to design a building that is not just “less bad” but environmentally restorative. A building that harvests its own energy and water, processes its own waste and contains no cancer-causing chemicals. We must give back more than we take. If it CAN be done, it MUST be done.
So what does this have to do with the sharing economy?
I’m also the co-founder of StokeShare, where our mission is to connect the world to nature through action sports. At our basic level, we are a marketplace that allows people to rent each other gear. But we are much more. We are building a transformational movement. StokeShare believes people protect what they love, love what they know, and know what they experience. The planet needs a future filled with humans who work to restore balance with nature. Sadly, that’s not the trajectory we are on. Kids are growing up more disconnected from the outdoors than ever, especially in disadvantaged communities. We are out to solve this problem.
Through our One Watershed program, StokeShare uses gear listed in our marketplace to take underprivileged kids outdoors. To date, we’ve partnered with five youth non-profits and four environmental organizations to take 100’s of kids surfing and standup paddleboarding in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The goal is to expand to other cities around the world. We have a model that works. When we become the world’s largest library of outdoor gear, we can deploy One Watershed everywhere to ensure nature will be accessible for all.
Innovators are often mocked for being radical in the early stages of a movement. Like the Living Building Challenge, we want to commit to being radical. It’s time for radical. Changing the way we build is radical. Restoring nature while doing business is radical. Choosing access over ownership is radical.
StokeShare is inspired by the mission of the International Living Future Institute. We believe we’ve created a business that gives more than it takes.