This guest blog comes from Maria Soledad Riestra, Founder of Ecoed and Carolina Karlström
A few weeks ago we received the wonderful news that our Ecoed app was granted a Social Impact award from the Techies SW via our partners and app developers ojo solutions. The Social Impact Award seeks to reward “a product or service driven by technology that is making a difference to its users and the wider community” (www.the-techies-sw.co.uk).
We are so excited here at Ecoed Life that our app, despite its early stage development, is already finding its way through to individuals, schools, communities and businesses as a useful and engaging tool to inspire people, organisations and educational institutions to significantly reduce their environmental footprint, and perform real actions towards living and operating more sustainably on a daily basis. This makes us immensely proud.
Ecoed game started as a handmade board game, crafted by a bunch of people – including myself – that were (and still are!) passionate about sustainability, and about finding ways of engaging in an open, generative dialogue about personal and group awareness of how our daily choices and decisions can have a significant impact on reducing our environmental footprint. I loved the idea and experience of a physical game, and the ritual of gathering people around a table to have a go at rolling the dice, picking up cards, and moving tokens. There is something about this that brings up smiles, laughter and that witty, harmless competitiveness, reminding me of the good old days of childhood play. Seeing such qualities emerge in a setting intended to address some of the greatest – and saddest – issues of our times was a huge inspiration and revelation. Could Ecoed help us all open up to the possibility of engaging and taking action towards a more sustainable way of living, instead of pushing us further away from it?
I have experienced a huge sensitivity towards the challenges of human and non-human life for as long as I can remember. To this day, I find it incredibly hard to face the daily news regarding the state of our land, atmosphere, air, biodiversity and of course, the social conflicts that cause so much pain in many communities across the globe. As a sustainability professional and practitioner, it is my job and my responsibility to stay informed and up to date with what is going on. As a human being, I feel it is my duty to constantly find ways of establishing a more balanced, harmonic relationship with the ecosystems that sustain my own life and that of my family, my friends, and everyone else. So, what can we do? How do we reconcile these paradoxical forces, the tensions and feelings of, on one hand, despair or even apathy of yet another picture of a plastic island the size of a small nation in the middle of the ocean, and on the other hand, the desire to change, to engage, to look at the problems somehow eye to eye, to spread hope and take action?
This is how the Ecoed game – and its umbrella initiative, Ecoed Life – was born; as a dream, desire and also professional development exploration (this work is part of my ongoing PhD research as a Doctorate in Organisational Change at Ashridge-Hult Executive Education in the UK) to create a space where we can approach the challenges that seem to threaten the long term continuation of life as we know it. And wanting to do this in a way that invites us not to look the other way in fear of what’s in front of us, or to drown in hopelessness and despair, but rather to open our minds and hearts to the possibility that:
- we can play a role and make a difference, even when it comes to small scale, daily actions one might assume are not worth it because they are ‘too small’
- we can use the information and data available to educate ourselves, to reflect and improve, to progress and evolve towards a way of being and conducting life that sustains our society and the environment as a whole. After all, even the distinction of the two is quite a fallacy, one could argue.
Turning the Ecoed game into an app meant a lot of hard work from the Ecoed team and from Ecoed’s developers, ojo solutions. But it has also meant breadth of reach, as the app is available for anyone who wants to download it from both Apple and Google Stores. Without this technological upgrade for our project, we wouldn’t have the potential and capacity to virtually reach anyone in the world, providing the opportunity for Ecoed to be used globally. I still keep my hand-crafted board games in my office, in the hope that I will use them again, the dice and coloured chips intact. However, recognising how technology can help us these days to extend the possibility of impact further than what we could have imagined initially, when we were gluing the pieces of the board game together, has also been part of Ecoed Life’s own evolutionary process.
Ecoed’s journey has only begun, and the hard work from our team and ojo solutions continues up to this day and will hopefully remain in the future, as the app and Ecoed Life grows in scope and audience. The Social Impact Award from The Techies SW is a blow of fresh air; a boost to strengthen our efforts even more, to continue on this path which started some 4 years ago on the kitchen table in an apartment in SE London, and which is now continuously enriching and touching our lives as we move further and further with it. Congratulations, Turby, Halt, Reci and Wavi – our Ecoed characters – and cheers to continuous success!
Maria Soledad Riestra, Founder – Ecoed