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Rent or own? The new sharing economy values access over ownership

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Gorenflo had already decided that sharing was an important way to live, both personally and within his community, but didn't feel he could live that life while working for a corporation.

"Money and things are a means to an end," he says, "but not an end in themselves. I went back to my hotel room and sent out a letter of resignation."

Soon he was gathering like-minded individuals into a monthly salon in San Francisco, to talk about living a life that involved sharing. Their brainstorming sessions focused on how a sharing economy might look, tossing around ideas like time banks where hours are the currency or community exchanges.

"People talked about the projects they were working on and where they needed help," says Gorenflo, who even made his career into a shared project. "I began to see it's foolish to live your life and lead your career as if it's an individual project. I open-sourced it. I said this is what I want to do in the world; this is my purpose. And that inspired people to help me. In my old career it was all about competition and struggle.

"This is the total opposite; it's about flow, not competition."

You can even share a dog

It seems the sky is the limit when it comes to the kinds of things that can be shared, individually or on a corporate level. Take Katherine Long's tiny dog-sharing business in New York's Central Park. A Fordham University grad student, she started it in June: For $5, those itching to see what it's like to have their own dog can walk Ms. Long's for 20 minutes. (She is raising money to donate to animal shelters.)

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