In the second of this two-part series, and following on from our introduction to Echo in Economy of Hours – a growing Echo from a flourishing community, Paul Gambin introduces us to some of the game-changers that make up the Echo community and discovers how they are using the concept of time banking to bridge gaps in communities and share skills between talented individuals.
Meet the community:
Nat of Cordwainers Grow:
Tucked behind Hackney’s London School of Fashion, the verdant patch of land on which Corwainers Grow flourishes brings to mind a scene from a Beatrix Potter novel: peaceful, but full of life. Primarily run by a team of 25 voluntary members, the organisation aims to inspire a generation of environmentalists and innovators by offering a variety of nature themed workshops: from making your own herbal soaps to creating and using natural dyes in garments. Given their success at bringing people together, Cordwainers Grow are now using Echo as a platform through which to offer their events and, in doing so, to inspire a generation of environmental enthusiasts. Nat and Cordwainers Grow see Echo as an innovative method of nourishing unlikely synergies and ensuring that old skills are not forgotten. In much the same way they use their accumulated credits to explore new skills in order to keep their mission going.
With an expansive career as a commercial, fashion and music video director having worked very personally with artists and musicians such as Placebo and Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes, Charlie is now looking to take the plunge into a different style of directing by exploring the realms of filmmaking and writing. Often taking an innovative approach with his work, Charlie is coupling Echo with his creative writing process by using the platform to reach out and follow actors in rehearsal as an exercise to aid him with the character design for his new production. In return he is offering to help budding or transitioning directors with treatment writing, advice on being a commercial director and help with music and live video directing. He views Echo as a great platform through which to meet interesting people one would otherwise struggle to get in touch with, all the while proving a rewarding experience.
A newcomer to the world of time banking, Jess has unsurprisingly found it to be a confidence boosting experience. Signing up to be a member of the Echo community, Jess began to think of what niche expertise she could provide that people would be interested in learning more about. In doing so she realised the value of her skills, and has since begun offering workshops on how to use knitting as a way of unplugging from the incessant digital presence in our lives. As the guiding thread through a life spent in different countries, knitting has become a rejuvenating meditative activity with no language or cultural barrier. In an age when people can feel priced out of their own improvement, Jess sees Echo as a democratisation of the opportunity to learn about different things and hopes to spend the credits she earns to broaden her professional expertise.
Having mentored aspiring young creatives through London’s “Pitch It!” programme, Kitt, the multitalented sportsman and model turned musical artist, is now using Echo as a method of expanding his altruistic approach to life. Much like his inspiration, the Balearic music scene of the 70s, Kitt’s approach to creating and sharing music involves tapping into what feels right in the moment. With a collaborative piece in the pipeline he hopes to use Echo as a way of learning more about digitally generated art in order to design his own website and album artwork. In return Kitt offers a wide variety of services, from all vinyl, funk, soul and disco DJ sets, to music production and coaching. In much the same way as Pitch It, Kitt sees Echo as a community enhancing platform which generates opportunities for budding professionals to shortcut any barriers to entry by learning from industry experts.
Megan of Begin Anywhere:
Having established Begin Anywhere as a means of connecting experts with beginners through bespoke events and workshops, Megan is now using Echo to promote her organisation with time banking. With extensive experience in the world of start-ups Megan, who “loves being an amateur”, has now teamed up with Echo on their business and start-up centric course Echo ++, and can often be found aiding nascent businesses as a mentor. She is using Echo and their currency as an alternative way of selling tickets to Begin Anywhere events, which are known for hosting a range of talks on subjects as diverse as Beekeeping and North Korean architecture. In doing so she is not only able to reach out to a wider audience of passionate and curious individuals, but is also able to hire venues for Begin Anywhere by using the Echoes made through ticket sales. Megan believes Echo is having a positive impact in communities by introducing reciprocity to what would otherwise be a concept limited to the more altruistic minded among us.
What’s next? Igniting the Power of the Sharing Economy
Through their members and Echo ++, Echo is clearly building a network around the elements that April Rinne listed as being essential in her recent Salt Ideas Essay “Igniting the Power of the Sharing Economy”: resource underutilisation, decentralisation, and relationships and trust. It is tackling these by tapping into the concept of underutilised time as a means of paying for services; decentralising the service industry by allowing anyone to offer expertise through their platform, and building up people’s trust in each other by enabling communities to build relationships they would have otherwise struggled to develop.
Whilst they are still expanding across London, Echo have no plans to keep growing beyond the communities they are helping to flourish. Instead, they want to create a sustainable model of time banking, with a proven social impact, which can be replicated across different communities. In so doing they are keeping to their initial focus of creating something with local value, instead of a platform with a bloated membership which has lost sight of the communities it had set out to reconnect.
By ensuring that its members are more appreciative of the value of other people’s time Echo truly stands as a viable complementary economy which is successfully bringing compassionate business thinking and community values back into the minds of busy professionals – creating more empathetic and inclusive communities in the process.
To find out more and to get involved head to economyofhours.com
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