Darren Sharp is a sharing economy strategist with a background in community engagement, research and consulting. As founder and Director of Social Surplus he leads strategy and facilitates capacity-building using strength-based approaches including asset-based community development, appreciative inquiry and human-centered design. He works with clients to design programs that amplify the strengths of people and communities through sharing. As the Australian editor of Shareable and Melbourne coordinator of the Sharing Cities Network he advocates for commons-based solutions to urban challenges using social innovation. Darren is part of an international team writing a book on Sharing Cities for urban innovators and is a Ph.D. candidate with the CRC for Low Carbon Living where he is undertaking research on Transformative Social Innovation for Sustainability Transitions.
Australia is in the midst of a transition from an extractive economy led by the mining and agricultural sectors, towards a knowledge-based service economy. While digital innovation and startups are lauded for their ability to create jobs and stimulate the new economy, an extractive logic which privileges individual reward over mutual benefit remains dominant. Platform co-operatives provide an ethical bridge to the new economy through collective ownership and democratic governance of digital platforms to keep wealth and decision-making in the hands of value creators. Australia is home to a nascent cooperative platform ecosystem comprised of networks like the Commons Transition Coalition and enterprises including AbilityMate, AnyShare, bHive Bendigo, Geddup, Open Food Network and YLab. These system entrepreneurs and organizations are working in partnership with the communities they serve to bring an equitable and inclusive new economy to life.