You need a tool but don't want to buy it. You have a piece of forestry equipment and wonder if anyone else could use it. You want to know how to sharpen a chainsaw but don't know anyone nearby who could teach you how. All these and many other problems would be solved if there were a website that put you in touch with neighbours who could help or who need help. If such a platform existed it would help solve your problem and you would make friends locally. In fact such a website exists already! Streetbank.com was established as a not-for-profit enterprise to allow people to share things and skills for no cost, and it really works. Yesterday I was with Sam Stephens, the founder of streetbank, and he was showing me the live feed of what people are offering and asking for and the site was buzzing with activity - there was a log-splitter requested, topsoil offered and pea sticks available. As soon as a person makes a request or an offer everyone within a mile is notified to see if they can help. It's free to use.
As Sam says, "this isn't just about sharing tools, it's about changing our relationship with the things we own. Sharing allows us to hold what we have less tightly and changes our view of our neighbours: we move from thinking of them as noisy or a nuisance to people who are 'surprisingly good'." He has almost 40,000 sharers already and is working on expanding overseas to build up what he describes as the "sharing movement". Already 10,000 of the users are in America and he hopes to translate the website into other languages.
I have just subscribed and found that within a mile of me there are 226 people who want to offer their things, borrow mine and learn stuff. According to Sam, over 30,000 people will meet up this year as a result of the streetbank project and together they will save over £500,000. It's not particularly focused on woodlands but many of the tools offered are relevant to woodland management. When a person makes a listing they can give away or ask to borrow or can just use it to request help. Sometimes people are asking for information - such as a recommendation of who might help with tree surgery or even just house cleaning. Cheryl, near me, offers garden shears and a ladder and in a separate post offers to "run errands for those not able to do so themselves". Another offers off-street parking and one requests a compost bin and a water butt. The streetbank project is a world away from the out-and-out marketing of many online firms and social media sites but the purpose isn't to build a community online but to build a real neighbourhood community and to use local sharing to fight against social exclusion, isolation and waste. People could offer the use of their woodlands for events such as picnics or weddings through streetbank.com