Learning to love the Avenger and the culture of sharing

If you’d asked me a few months ago what new skills and small pleasures I saw on my horizon, restaurant-style dishwashing wasn’t that high on the list.

That was before I met The Avenger.

avenger pantry and kitchenThe Avenger is the sanitizer used by Beacon Hill Friends House to ensure the cleanliness of the dishes, utensils, cups and glasses used by residents and guests. The drill in brief: We wash by hand anything people have used for eating or drinking. We stack everything in a rack and run it through the Avenger’s high-temperature rinse for two minutes. We remove the rack, empty it and stack everything on the shelves. It turns out that those things dry perfectly well, eventually, without the intervention of towels.

Unless you’re planning to stop by for dinner soon (which I hope you are), that’s an awfully fat paragraph about how clean we keep our dishes at the Friends House.

I burden you with it because the Avenger has become both my favorite chore and my handiest image of what I like about the sharing economy.

avenger closeupMost of the recent trend pieces about the sharing economy focus on the services side — FlightCar for parking at airports, Home Exchange for extended holidays, Airbnb for shorter-term lodging. Carol and I have had good results with such outfits, each offering not only lower cost but more enjoyable experiences than the established services they’re disrupting. Each relies on enterprising applications of technology and information that characterize the common definition of the sharing economy.

At the Friends House, though, we’re discovering a broader sense of the idea — maybe it’s better described as a sharing culture than a sharing economy.

Another way of looking at it, as Wikipedia suggests, is participatory culture.

Whatever you call it, I think it’s got legs.Take breakfast this morning atBHFH: Threehousies at the kitchen table. One finishes first, washes his dishes and stacks them in the rack he loads into the Avenger. After two minutes of high-powered rinsing, the other two of us handle the unloading and stacking.”What a system,” I said as we finished. Added my Avenger partner: “This house proves that many hands make light work.”

The economic frame for the sharing trend relies on the idea that the more use we collectively draw from a resource, the greater value we’ve added to it. When it comes to the Avenger, though, it’s not so much that the 21 of us in the house are especially conscious of enhancing the value of this pricey gadget.  It’s more about the vibe its collective use stirs among us.

11 thoughts on “Learning to love the Avenger and the culture of sharing

  1. I enjoyed the noble sentiments about sharing — and find them challenging. But I also suspect that, noble or not, you would have found some way to write about a dish rinser known as The Avenger. Too cool.

  2. The Avenger! I am envious of your shared burden (is it even REALLY a burden?). I must tussle daily, ALONE, with an insubordinate, overrated, wheezing, non-insured, dishwasher that won’t wash knives, doesn’t really care, and leaves me alone with my 21st century alienated frustrations.

  3. Nothing worse than a dishwasher that doesn’t really care, Anthony. Look forward to introducing you to the Avenger when you’re next in Boston!

  4. But did the Avenger really only wash one housie’s dishes? The greenies will get you. My church has an early version avenger and I think it sucks, so I’m glad someone admires it’s offer of germ free community living. In Fudginia, it’s warm nature might be another thorn in my side, especially when doing dinner for 100.

    • Thanks for your question, Elizabeth. I should have made clear that the rack was full — the aftermath of several housie breakfasts — when the Avenger made its run this morning. Guessing that dinner for 100 would challenge any Avenger…

    • Good idea, Susan. In brief, the house was donated to the Quakers in the late 50s, and residents now pay monthly fees in the neighborhood of $600 per person for rent & $300 per person for food (double for a couple). Food fee includes five dinners @ week prepared by our resident chef, along with enough food to make our own meals @ other times. But you’re right — there’s probably a good post in the finances of co-op life.

  5. Pingback: House of love, school of love | A Year in a Room

  6. Pingback: Thoughts on living large(r) | A Year in a Room

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