The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Photo Credit: Flickr user Dean Terry
Imagine it’s Saturday afternoon in the summer and you’ve just found a lawn chair, a good book and a spot on the front porch to get situated. But the one thing you don’t want to do once you sit down is get up again, so you’ll need a ready supply of cold drinks. For that you need a cooler, which, unfortunately, you don’t have.
As luck would have it, last week you noticed your neighbors wheeling a cooler into their place. You decide to knock on their door and ask if you can borrow it. Ten minutes later, you’re back in your lawn chair, not only with your cooler stocked, but feeling a bit better about your neighborhood and your community.
To understand the promise of the new startup Favortree, a mobile sharing service funded by Knight that is now open for registration, think about all of the things that had to go right for you to borrow your neighbors’ cooler. Your neighbors had to have a cooler. They had to know that you needed one. You had to know that they had a cooler. They had to be home for you to borrow it and they had to think you were reputable enough to agree to lend it to you.
Favortree is looking to facilitate more of this type of sharing by making all of that information readily available and by enabling users to build reputations as responsible borrowers and lenders in a game-like format. In the process, it hopes to build stronger communities.
Like many of the other technologies funded through Knight’s Tech for Engagement initiative, our interest is in the ability of Favortree to use technology to build stronger bonds among neighbors and to have those bonds serve as the basis for a more engaged community. Research shows that physical personal encounters remain the primary way people stay informed about community issues. Favortree gives people new reasons to connect face to face.
By Ben Wirz, director/business consulting at Knight Foundation