Shared City

Brian Chesky
Mar 26, 2014 · 6 min read

Imagine if you could build a city that is shared.

Parc Monceau in Paris, France, photograph by Loïc Lagarde

Where people become micro-entrepreneurs,

Airbnb Host Caitlin, the first host I ever stayed with, in Denver, in August 2008

and local mom and pops flourish once again.

Jon Whitehead of Radius Cafe in San Francisco, a place I go to all the time, down the street from the original Airbnb where I still live

Imagine a city that fosters community,

Cesar Chavez in Austin, Texas, photograph by Nathan Michael

where space isn’t wasted, but shared with others.

Home in Duboce, San Francisco, photograph by Aubrie Pick

A city that produces more, but without more waste.

Host Marco Giammatteo sells fresh produce to his customers in Rome, Italy, photograph by Ailine Liefeld

While this may seem radical, it’s not a new idea.

Farmers’ market in Weatherford, Texas, photograph by Russell Lee circa 1939, via Library of Congress

Cities are the original sharing platforms.

Fujisawa, Japan by Utagawa Hiroshige circa 1848, via Library of Congress

They formed at ancient crossroads of trade,

Galata and Constantinople, Turkey circa 1890, via Library of Congress

and grew through collaboration and sharing resources.

Picadilly Circus in London, England circa 1890, via Library of Congress

But over time, they began to feel mass produced.

New buildings seen through a window from BITEC in Bangkok, Thailand, photograph by Paula Bronstein

We lived closer together, but drifted further apart.

Apartment buildings in Ariake Tennis Forest Park in Koto, Tokyo, Japan, photograph by Masaru Goto

But sharing in cities is back, and we want to help build this future.

We are committed to helping make cities stronger socially, economically, and environmentally.

Open space in New York’s Fort Greene Park, photograph by Julia Robbs

We are committed to enriching the neighborhoods we serve.

Improving the neighborhood in San Francisco, California, photograph by Marc Olivier Le blanc

We celebrate the cultural heritage of cities.

One of the oldest homes in the country I stayed in on Elfreth’s Alley, Philadelphia

We are committed to being good neighbors.

Friends hanging out in North Loop, Austin, Texas, photograph by Nathan Michael

We are committed to supporting local small businesses.

Old School Hardware, in Washington DC, is an active member of local business associations, photograph by Chris Weisler.

We are committed to working with cities to share with those in need.

A family in Gloria, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, photograph by Sam Comen

We are committed to fostering and strengthening community.

Nathan and other members of the Airbnb team and community volunteering at Bryant Elementary School in San Francisco

We believe in bringing back the idea of cities as villages.

A view of a street in Cortes, in the center of Madrid, Spain, photograph by James Rajotte

We are committed to illuminating the diversity, arts, and character of cities.

Bowery graffiti wall by Aiko Nakagawa in New York, photograph by Youngna Park

We believe cities thrive best with micro-entrepreneurs.

Josef Bray-Ali working at Flying Pigeon, a bike shop that he co-owns in LA, photograph by Lauren Devon

We are committed to the safety of neighborhoods and their homes.

Local residents in Glover Park, Washington, D.C., photograph by Chris Weisler

To honor these commitments, and to realize a more enriched city, today we are announcing Shared City.

Shared City is our initiative to help civic leaders and our community create more shareable, more livable cities through relevant, concrete actions and partnerships.

I am very pleased that our first Shared City is Portland, Oregon.

Portland’s Lloyd District and the Willamette River, photograph by Leela Cyd

I first met Mayor Hales as we discussed plans to open an office in Portland. We worked with Mayor Hales and his staff to understand how together we can create shared solutions that address Portland’s needs and help them achieve their vision of what a Shared City could be.

Mayor Charlie Hales with Molly and Marie from the Airbnb team

Ideas for a Shared Portland:

We will make it easy for Portland hosts to donate the money they earn from Airbnb to a local cause, and we will match those donations as a percentage of our fees.

Joe at a community meet up with Hosts in Portland

We have made free smoke and carbon monoxide detectors available to hosts in Portland (and across the country) in order to help our hosts make their homes safer.

Airbnb’s Home Safety initiative strives to inform Hosts about safety best practices

We’re offering to cut red tape and to collect and remit taxes to the city of Portland on behalf of our hosts. This is new for us, and if it works well for our community and cities, we may replicate this project in other U.S. cities.

Brent from the Airbnb team helping support Hosts, photograph by Mandy Harris

We want to make sure all of our hosts represent the best of Airbnb. Corporate property managers who abuse our platform, hurt the city’s housing stock and give guests a bad experience aren’t welcome on Airbnb and we will work with the city to help ensure hosts cannot abuse our platform.

In addition to our disaster relief program offering free housing in cases of emergency, we will work with Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Management to establish training programs to help our hosts respond to crisis.

Airbnb’s Disaster Response Tool

We will work with Travel Portland on joint campaigns to promote the city as a destination to our global community, highlighting its unique characteristics and diverse neighborhoods; and sending visitors to local small businesses throughout the city.

Travel Portland’s “Portland is Happening Now” campaign

It is not a coincidence that Portland is our first Shared City. Portland has a history of being a leader when it comes to urban innovation. Portland has long been a great home for entrepreneurs and has led the way in promoting green tech, conservation, and co-working spaces.

So how can you become a Shared City?

If you want to live in a Shared City, email me your thoughts and ideas for how we can work together:

If you are a city leader that wants to partner with us, or learn more, let us know:

Our goal is to become even better partners with more and more cities over the coming months and years.

We are committed to enriching cities and designing the kind of world we want to live in.

Together, let’s build that shared world city by city.

Bastille neighborhood, Paris, photograph by Marc Olivier Le blanc

    Brian Chesky

    Written by

    Co-founder, CEO of Airbnb

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