For two years now I have been using hospitality exchange networks while traveling and also to host travelers in Barcelona and now Amsterdam. This added a new and really nice dimension to my life. Thanks to the people I met through hospitality exchange, I extended my vision, scope and aspiration.
I never felt like volunteering for these networks though (couchsurfing.com and hospitalityclub.org). How they are organised simply does not inspire me: they are top-down structured and volunteers hardly have impact on how it is run.
But since a year there is a network that does want to be member-driven: BeWelcome.org. I joined its volunteers last weekend in their yearly assembly when they select the yearly board, do some brainstorming and make plans for the coming year.
I hitchhiked to Essen (Germany) with four cars and had an excellent and very inspiring time. Obviously, since it is a new network there is lots of work that still needs to be accomplished but I am looking forward doing my share for this first hospitality network that wants to be truely democratic (ie. member-driven or grassroots), transparant and opensource – one that is not only able to facilitate hospitality exchange but also able to share the access to the buttons and empower volunteers.
Update 2016: Trustroots is now the way to go for a good couchsurfing alternative!