Yesterday we had the joy of sponsoring a screening of our favorite new sharing economy film, "One Couch at a Time", in Oakland. Over 100 people turned out to the New Parkway Theater to meet filmmaker Alexandra Liss and watch the incredible stories she captured circumnavigating the globe via Couchsurfing.org.
Couchsurfing is a website that connects people across the globe to meet and host each other as they travel. It is one of the earliest and largest sharing movements, started in 2004. Once considered radical and potentially dangerous, it's now a common way to see the world and experience new cultures, with people in 100,000 cities participating and more than 6M members. Couchsurfers are known for their kindness, curiosity, and interest in learning about new ways of life. They offer nearly any corner of their living space - couch, closet, floor, spare room, or entire house - to strangers, for free.
We're very inspired by what they've built and the community that showed up to celebrate the film
last night. What became clear, both onscreen and off, was that the human connection was much more important to Couchsurfers than the transactional element of getting a free place to stay. The friendships, learnings, memories, and even marriages that have been formed via the site dwarf the dollars saved. A hotel room and a Couchsurfing room, while at first glance could seem similar, truly can't be compared. One is purely a financial transaction, nearly void of human interaction, and offers very little room to step outside one's comfort zone. The other is based on gratitude and reciprocity, yields rich human relationships and experiences, and allows people to expand their view of the world.
We've seen that at yerdle, the sharing experiences we facilitate have similar meaning. More than just getting a basketball hoop for her kids, we've seen a mom transform the dynamics of her neighborhood and watch her kids build new friendships. For the woman who gave it to her, the joy of seeing her favorite childhood activity ignite a new group of children was overwhelmingly sweet. The text messages and photos they shared with each other about the experience facilitated their friendship, and highlighted the pure, simple joy of giving and receiving. It was a totally different experience than buying a new basketball hoop at the store, or dropping an old one off on the curb. In many ways, the connection and story behind the basketball
hoop was more important than the hoop itself. At yerdle, we're here to create these kinds of human bonds through the sharing of physical things. Thanks to the awesome folks at Couchsurfing for paving the way in building communities built on generosity. We admire you!