Simplified: The so-called "sharing economy" is alive and well in Sioux Falls. Whether you're looking to share tools, tech, homes, office space or even garden seeds, there are an increasing number of options available where you can borrow, not buy.
Why it matters
- The broader idea of the "sharing economy" largely focuses on shared resources powered by tech (think: Airbnb, Uber, etc.), but Sioux Fallsians are also finding more analog ways – sometimes called a "library of things" – to share everything from tools to toys.
- In the last several years, the city has seen more and more of these shared resources pop up, and this year alone Sioux Falls has seen the addition of a new co-working space at Startup Sioux Falls, a free tool lending library and a new location for Common Roots Seed Library. And there are more resources to come.
- These types of resources aren't a new concept. But, for the folks running them, the increase in sharing and lending shows Sioux Falls is starting to get on the level with bigger cities around the country.
"We're really staring to enter the mature phases of our development (as a city)," said Ryan Reiffenberger, founder of the Sioux Falls Computer Library, a tech lending library set to open in the Whittier neighborhood in the coming weeks. "We're really starting to establish ourselves as a leader of small cities around the United States."
What are some examples of the 'sharing economy' in Sioux Falls?
Strictly speaking, if we're looking at shared resources made possible through technology, there are a number of examples.
- Look no further than the more than 400 short-term rentals (Airbnb, VRBO, etc.) that have popped up in town over the last several years. Or, look at the continued success of ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft.
If you take a broader definition of "sharing economy" to include shared community resources not dependent on being shared through a mobile app, there are even more examples.
- The Toy Lending Library is one of the shared resources that's been around the longest – starting in 2015 – though it's seen tremendous growth in the last couple of years.
- Common Roots Seed Library launched in 2021 as a way to share seeds for heirloom and other garden plants. Just a few weeks ago, it expanded to a pilot program at the Ronning Branch Library (and, if successful, it'll expand to even more library branches), founder Rachel Saum said.
- Sioux Falls Computer Library is set to launch later this year in central Sioux Falls. The goal here is to bridge the gap in providing access to computers for people who need to use them but cannot afford them, Reiffenberger. He anticipates they'll have laptops, printers, scanners, keyboards, mics, webcams and maybe even entertainment devices like VHS and DVD players.
- Sioux Falls Tool Library is also in the start-up phase. Right now, the group is looking for tool donations, and when it's up and running, the idea is that the library will be a way for people to have access to household tools without having to purchase them. There is a fee for library members, but organizers say not to let a lack of funds keep you from reaching out. They want to work with people.
- Project Food Forest is another organization that's looking to – forgive the pun – take root in Sioux Falls, Saum said. The idea is to create a public food forest (think fruit trees, edible plants, etc.) that's accessible to the community. There's an example of a food forest in Luvurne, Minnesota, and Saum hopes to someday have a community food forest in Sioux Falls.
Why is it important to have these shared resources?
It helps build community, for one.
"People are talking to each other more and exchanging ideas and resources," Saum said. "And sometimes exchanging physical things – but beyond that (sharing) generates conversations and a sense of community among people."
That community building is also evident at Startup Sioux Falls, a co-working space downtown that opened earlier this year.
"What’s critical about the co-working space is less about having tables and chairs, and it's more about the connections between people," Startup Sioux Falls Vice President Sara Lum said.
It's also no secret that Sioux Falls is a bit behind the curve on the "sharing" trend, but in the last few years, Saum said she's seen more interest in and energy around creating these community resources.
"It sort of fosters that sense of, 'We're all in this together,'" she said.
How can I help?
Each of these organizations have their own unique needs, but the best way to get involved and support the work they're doing is to reach out.
- Websites are linked above where you can find individual contact information.