I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Texas in the spring of 2008, and proceeded directly into graduate school in Asian Cultures and Languages. As I was finishing up school that May, I had been helping my college ministry put on some different events when a somewhat regular experience launched me onto a slightly different road than I had planned.
Going by a friend’s house to put up, of all things, a dry erase board, I noticed five movies sitting underneath his TV that I had rented that semester from a local store. I proceeded to make a joke that he should have been a friend and let me borrow them instead of me going out to spend money on them. “Well, you are a friend,” Josh said. “You should have asked me. I would have let you borrow them.” It was a Catch-22 moment. He had what I was looking for, and would have let me borrow the films, but I wasn’t aware that he had them. Had I known, I might have saved $30, been a more sustainable consumer, and probably had some good conversations about the movies with Josh as well.
I continued thinking about the idea throughout the summer, wondering how best to establish a network that would be an access point for friends to see what was available to them before deciding to purchase something. I was blessed to come across a course called Social Entrepreneurship. This course allowed me to flesh out an idea for a social venture as though I were presenting it for start-up capital. I was encouraged by my professors to make ActsofSharing.com a reality, and instead of going back to India for another summer studying Urdu, I decided to take my plan to investors.
I was able to raise the initial seed money to create Acts of Sharing, which had a soft launch on Earth Day last year, right as I was finishing my Masters degree. Recently, Acts of Sharing was named an SXSW Interactive Finalist, and we were able to participate at SXSW in the Trade Show and received publicity and accolades from companies and individuals who want to bring AOS to their communities.
As of Earth Day 2011, we have launched our Acts of Sharing iPhone app, with the Android app in the works. The App allows people to share on the go, and even scan/search for items they are shopping for to see if a friend has them before they buy them.
We really do have more together, and if we leverage the resources we already have, we can recreate the culture of the first church described in Acts 4:32 “All the believers were one in heart and mind, no one considered anything to be his own, but they shared everything they had.”
Like Blessed Earth, Acts of Sharing helps people care for God’s creation by encouraging them to share the things they have (from gardening tools to books to camping equipment to DVDs) in order to bless others, rather than continually buying things we only use a few times. Most of what we’re looking for, a friend already has locally. By sharing together we live in deeper community and live in a more sustainable way, both environmentally and financially.
Brian Boitmann is the founder and chief sharer of ActsofSharing.com. Originally from Southlake, Texas, he attended the University of Texas at Austin graduating with an M.A. in South Asian History. Brian leads Singles and College ministry at Lake Hills Church in Austin, TX, where he resides.