WeCommune: Tech Support for Community


From Worldchanging

June 18, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California

Post-ownership living may be closer than we think. We see the evidence all around us, in the form of innovations from community kitchens to emerging mobility solutions. So, if people are recognizing the practical potential in social solutions, why aren’t even more models for collaboration, sharing and product-service systems thriving? According to architect Stephanie Smith, spurring the movement may be a simple matter of providing the tech support.

This week Smith, who heads WeCommune, plans to launch the first software platform designed specifically for, well, communing (if you visit, you may get a splash page while they transition). The platform’s services will allow groups of three or more people to self-organize a “commune” defined by a shared interest or shared zip code, and will provide tools for communicating, organizing and managing projects, and sharing resources.

What is commune-support software?

WeCommune is a networking platform, outfitted with commune-specific project management applications that make it much different from a social networking tool. The software enables common and practical actions – for example, a group of members can organize a buying club, set up a rideshare system, or barter goods and services. And like everything on the web, WeCommune gives users the option to extend their reach: by networking to other communes, groups can make certain assets like bartering and goods-sharing pools more robust.

WeCommune offers the basic platform free to anyone who wants to use it, and even the more complex services are available for a monthly subscription under $2. Smith hopes that by making it affordable she’ll enable communes of all sorts – from those who are already sharing, like condo associations and college dorms, to neighborhoods and interest groups.

“We couldn’t find anything out there like this,” says Smith. “We feel like if we hit a home run, we’re going to be the ultimate community application.”

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