Car Sharing Mechanics

If industrial capitalism and climate change do not destroy everything, it will be because people (especially people in rich countries) change their behaviors.  I have long believed that part of the mission of the intentional communities movement is to communicate our experience and tools for resource sharing to a mainstream audience.

I have written about car sharing and the mainstream problem of failing to design good sharing practices because of the tendency to create brittle agreements.  Today i will focus on the communication systems which make it work at Twin Oaks, unfortunately with slightly blurry pictures.

It starts here with the Vehicle Log.

vehicle log

If you want a car, you need to make a reservation.  You make your request in the vehicle log, depicted above.  You specify who you are, when you are going (what time of day, there is a unique sheet for every day), where you are going (LT is Louisa Town > 7 miles, LL is Louisa Local < 7 miles, C is Charlottesville, R is Richmond, A is Acorn, etc) and what type of vehicle you want (sedan, station wagon, mini-van, cargo van, pick up truck, 15 person passenger van) and what area is going to pay for the vehicle.

You sign up at least before 6 PM the night before you need the vehicle, then the vehicle assigner comes in and decodes this puzzle which has been created for them. When i have been well behaved and signed out a vehicle in advance, i have perhaps half a dozen times in the 15 years that i have been here not been able to get a vehicle.  Typically, this is because i want a car for a personal trip and everything is signed out for commune business of some  type.

Before you freak out about how it would be completely unacceptable for you to ever not have your car exactly when you wanted it on a moment’s notice, consider this:  In the last 15 years have you ever tried to start your car and it did not go?  This does not happen to me.  The mechanics in the community keep the cars running nearly flawlessly.  And while perhaps every other year i have to scramble around for a carpool or borrow someone’s car, i get at least half a day’s notice on this.

magnet board for cars

When the vehicle assigner gives you a car, they write what you have been assigned in the vehicle log and they place magnets on the above depicted board (which is usually more crowded than this picture).  Part of the reason for this board is so that people who are not well behaved (as i often am not) can show up at the last minute and figure out easily which vehicles are available for last minute personal assigning.  If there is a conflict between the vehicle log and the magnet board, the vehicle log supersedes.

magnet board detail

The magnet board also helps by telling people about the vehicles which they have been assigned.  There is a little picture of the profile of the vehicle (if you had 17 cars you might need to be reminded of which looked like what).  The number of seats is indicated.  Manual versus automatic transmission. The full name of the car and the letters which appear on the vanity license plates.

key box for cars

Our default in community is that we trust people.  For 35 years we kept the keys in the cars (this is not that unusual; most of our neighbors here in rural Virginia do the same thing).  Then someone stole one of our cars and we bumped up our security a notch.  We took the keys out of the cars and put them in the lock box depicted above, which is open most of the time and combination locked when there is no one in the office.

So once you have figured out which car you have, you grab the keys and go.

[Edited by Judy Youngquest]

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About paxus

a funologist, memeticist and revolutionary. Can be found in the vanity bin of Wikipedia and in locations of imminent calamity. buckle up, there is going to be some rough sledding.

15 responses to “Car Sharing Mechanics”

  1. Max says :

    Hi Paxus, As a x-member of Twin Oaks in its second year, I enjoy and find your posts very interesting and informative. When one of my emails from another source referenced this following article, I wondered if you were aware of this development. It seemed to me that TOC, EWC, and some other US communities might be interested in being involved. Yours in Respect, Max M. Lund

    • paxus says :

      Dearest Max:

      i dont see the article you are referencing.

      Paxus at Twin Oaks
      6 Conflict of Interest 2013

      • Max says :

        I recognized my incompleteness immediately but apparently my additional comment didn’t go through. Here it is I hope: From: “Critical Thinking”
        To: “Max”
        Sent: Saturday, October 5, 2013 9:58:16 AM
        Subject: What future?

        What future?

        Hi Max,

        Political activists and those seeking change are faced with a dilemma – to address injustices and problems which have a devastating effect on people’s lives today or de-construct the systems and structures which create them.

        In the Critical Thinking project we are focusing on the latter but cannot ignore the immediate need of relief for those worst affected by the symptoms and consequences of the current flawed economic system.

        The question is how best to effect change.

        In the Occupy movement, the debate polarises between those seeking to change the existing system at its heart and others who see the best strategy as being to create alternative systems, applying them locally, which render the existing paradigm redundant and irrelevant. Both strategies have merits and disadvantages. Arguably there is ample scope to pursue both although individuals may find it difficult to straddle the divide. But in the spirit of “be the change you want to see”, developing alternative ways of living moves us closer to changing the world – successful experimentation is infectious.

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        earth sanctuary status offers an immediate and lawful way for people to transcend the illusion of national identity and borders, as well relinquish ideas of ownership in favour of custodianship and guardianship. it enables a clear and uncompromising exit from the grasp of rogue bureaucracy and undesirable enclosures. underpinning the earth sanctuary platform is the earth sanctuary universal trust; which will serve as an extraterritorial protectorate for the lands and communities within its global family.

        the exemplar-zero initiative demands a policy-perspective recognition of the urgent need for a harmonious balance between the built and the natural environment. it also invites an active consensus between governments, industry and grass-roots ushering in environmental sustainability. the e-z initiative fosters and incubates breakthrough sustainable technologies and solutions, and was launched by humanitad as a planetary initiative at the united nations millennium plaza in new york city in 2010.

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      • paxus says :

        this looks great and it looks like it is froma website, can you share the URL, so we can see it ina nicer format with buttons, etc

        Big thanks

        Paxus at Acorn

        Paxus at Acorn
        6 Conflict of Interest 2013

      • gskabes says :

        I don’t see reply buttons on the lower two comments. I think this is the website being quoted: http://www.new-earth-project.org/

      • Max says :

        That website has all the buttons on the left side and one them has the article.

  2. North Star says :

    Are there any restrictions on who can drive a car? In my experience some people are much better drivers than others.

    • paxus says :

      Dearest North Star:

      There are not restrictions on who can drive, beyond needing to have a valid drivers license and being able to be insured (one recent member had too many speeding tickets for our insurance company and could not be insured until one “rolled off” their record). Vehicles do get grounded for everyone during serious snow.

      Paxus at Twin Oaks
      6 Conflict of Interest 2013

  3. Max says :

    One of the websites to the New Earth Project is: http://www.new-earth-project.org/new-earth-institute/

  4. http://super-super-cars.tumblr.com/ says :

    This genuinely gets to me. I just want to write as amorously as you do.

  5. Carfreecommute.com says :

    5) If you want to take your car sharing one step
    further and you have a lengthy commute to your place of Glasgow you may wish to search for locals who
    aren’t necessarily colleagues and they would pay only
    for the distance they have covered. It also happen with many
    vehicle persons that when there arise some technical problem in their
    car they don’t know that how to overcome it temporarily.
    Calgary auto insurance can seem complicated, and there are a lot of options out there for the consumer.

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