By Sarah Kass
In a few weeks time, when we read Parshat Eikev, we will once again be invited to contend with the warning in Devarim Chapter VIII against building big houses and amassing great physical assets, lest we “become haughty and forget God” and foolishly think it was we and not He who gave us the strength to make wealth.
In her new book, The Mesh, internet pioneer and author Lisa Gansky lays out a vision of a post-ownership society which might begin to address the Torah’s concern. In Gansky’s view, the future of business is sharing. She chronicles the success of companies like Zipcar and Groupon and Netflix to suggest an emergent post-ownership mindset that is good for people, good for the planet, and good for business. Mesh businesses are those where the “core offering is something that can be shared, within a community, market, or value chain, including products, services, and raw materials.” They use “advanced web and mobile data networks to track goods and aggregate usage, customer and product information.” As an example, Zipcar tees off the phenomenal fact that most owned cars sit parked 23 hours a day, and allows people to use a shared car for the one hour they need to drive.
Imagine if our Jewish Day Schools adopted a Mesh mindset and saw their school buildings not as owned-assets but as shareable assets. If a school is used at full capacity from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 180 days a year, that means it is used only 1440 hours per year, or 16% of the time. How might the other 7,320 hours in the year be made available for other purposes? How might those other purposes benefit the community and benefit the school? How could the sharing of the building augment the mission of the school? Imagine if Jewish Day Schools taught their students the Torah’s concerns about the dangers of material wealth, not just by talking the talk but by walking the walk.
Lisa Gansky’s Ted Talk
Click here to see one Pastor’s take on how Gansky’s framework could save his dying Church.
AVI CHAI concluded its general grant making on December 31, 2019.
21st Century Torah
Posted by: SKass
July 12, 2011
By Sarah Kass