Monday, October 26, 2015
Back in the day, women were not treated as equals (Ha! As if they are now.) If you found yourself unmarried, widowed, single parenting, well, you didn't have a great future ahead. Times were going to be tough for you.
But of course women are a resourceful lot and they never just sat down and did nothing. They used the resources they had to provide products and services where there were gaps in the community. What does this mean? It means that they took in washing and ironing and sat at home with their babies at their feet and cleaned other peoples dirty undies. It means they cooked meals, looked after kids, and those that had a spare room would rent that room out. Often they provided cheap rooms for travellers or single people looking for work.
After WW2, it was more common for apartments and flats to be built so the boarding house was not needed so much. Women soon started to get a little bit of money until they could support themselves, both the supply and demand went down and it was rare when I grew up to know any women renting rooms out to travellers.
But here we are 60 years later.
And my Mum takes me to a function hosted by AirBnB. Mum has a house that's too big for just her and it needs people to share it's history. She listed it on AirBnB and was first to reply to an invitation to go and meet other hosts and speak with the AirBnB team. While I was there I chatted with a stack of people who were just so generous in nature. It's a whole new community of people who want to meet people from all over the world. People who want to share their homes and their lives and then shout out the benefits of what they are doing and encourage everyone else to join in too.
They had great ideas, they provided encouragement and so many of them were single women. Not particularly those in tough times, but women who had a home that had space to be shared. They talked about what they did to ensure they felt safe, they laughed about the oddities of some guests and the things that all guests were really looking for. Do you know what it was, the thing that guests from all over the world want...it's a good mattress and good linen. They don't care so much about the size of the room or the size of the TV. It's all about a comfy bed, a place they can get a good sleep to ensure they are rested for whatever they want to do the next day.
Thousands of people are now using 'boarding houses' again. We just use them differently. We use them when we are the tourists and those that run them treat them like a micro business that provides them with more than just a little extra income, but also connections, community, fun and to learn about other cultures.
Last year we took a holiday to Singapore and made a great friend when we used AirBnb and now I see my Mum already meeting a whole new community of people too.
Yet, really, while we all think the whole AirBnb concept is so new, it's really not, it's just been made easier for us to go online, find a place that's perfect for us, and to book in.
Once again online technology is bringing people closer in real life.
I like it.