EchoAge. Echo: “One small act of giving can echo around the world” plus Age: “Each year I want to make a difference on the planet” Equals: a meaningful twist on birthdays.
Not exactly a whack the pinata and dive for the candy ‘gimme mode’ moment or frenzied paper-flying present grab flashback…but certainly an alternate view of what’s fun.
EchoAge is an innovative digital party planning site echoing the ‘less is more’ concept to create beneficial reverb far beyond a birthday bash, blending evite-style ease with eco-minded practicality, and an eye toward social justice to boot.
One gift. One cause. One easy online media method. Interesting. (that’s mom-speak for “fat chance my kids will opt-in, but hey it’s worth a try.”)
It’s laudable and VERY doable for avid green scene go-getters, but your average-once-a-year cake and candles child may balk with pouty lips at proposing same. Then again, maybe that’s the point?
In our ‘can you top this’ culture of consumption with media serving up status-conscious class divisions and branded, wretched excess (MTV’s Super Sweet 16, Suite Life With Zack & Cody, etc.) this socially forward-thinking online option could be considered a classic counter-marketing tactic, gleaning some coolness cred for bucking the tide and going alternative.
We use those techniques a lot at Shaping Youth for message shifting. When peer to peer word-of-mouth becomes a personal identity statement it can create a positive trend of club-like unity, in this case for generous souls. (think: LiveStrong bands with a party theme; FAQs here)
“Guests are invited to an ECHOage birthday party online. Instead of bringing a wrapped and packaged present, guests simply rsvp and give a secure online gift of money. Payments are pooled for the purchase of ONE special gift and to support ONE meaningful cause. ECHOage will arrange everything, so no need to drive, shop, wrap or even pick up the phone to make a donation.”
Positive impact. Turning ‘getting into giving’ with green teen appeal. No fuss, no muss, no waste. A nice little identity perk for the ‘thinkers and doers’ set…a tax receipt for the parents, and a 15% cut for the site creators to sustain the service.
Not bad. BUT…will it catch on? Therein lies the question…
Personally, I LOVE the idea, in theory. But I’m a few decades shy of being a kid of nine or ten.
Seems like one way to embrace cause-marketing early on choosing from a kids’ cancer site, Earthcore, SecondHarvest, Girls Inc., and any of their other partners, but it’s gotta be genuine and initiated by the child. (nothing worse than a sour-faced party pooper trying to pull off a kids version of Americorps under protest)
Some of our eco-club crew would readily nibble, but to many, birthdays are sacrosanct occasions of childhood frivolity that should be excluded from ‘teaching moments’ altogether…The ‘let the kids be kids’ adage…
On the flip side:
In an ever-increasing bias of ‘Affluenza’ and cross-cultural emphasis on economic status (e.g. coming of age barmitzvahs that use full scale wedding planners; 13 year-olds treated to tees/transport/touring of a hot/hip-hop concert, that’s easily $100 a pop…even “limo” rewards for school magazine drives and prom costs the size of an emerging nation) kids are already being treated as “mini-adults,” not remotely like children…
Seems we’re long OVERDUE for a ‘market correction’ in the ol’ behavioral cue arena of mass messaging, not to mention parents influenced by ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ in raise the bar mode…Will peer activism be a solution?
What do you think?
Would the kids in your world willingly ‘echo’ or would you be the lone voice in the wilderness doing a shout out to an unreceptive child?
Is this a solid compromise to the ‘no gifts please’ notion? (here’s a write up along those lines on the Peppers & Pollywogs kids’ party site) I like the fact that it just presents another choice to begin to plant the seed of caring…but I wouldn’t hold my breath while surfing those seas of change, it’s bound to be a long flow of ebb and tide.
Here’s a snapshot overview of their six steps to doing less but yielding more, and a side by side comparison of a ‘traditional’ birthday party vs. a feel good fest…And here’s a podcast with more, from Green Parenting.
What if it were simply broadened beyond kids’ birthdays to teacher’s gifts, housewarmings, baby showers, anniversaries, and any ‘group’ gifting/donation dilemma TOO?
Would the collegiate crowd or emerging adults be a better ‘target market’?
Could the concept transfer to an intergenerational ‘give one get one’ model of non-consumer goods? e.g. the ‘one laptop per child’ approach, only instead, use knowledge transfer (hugs/gifts of touch, mentoring/corporate entrepreneurship) etc. to redirect excess to fill an area in short supply? (what senior couldn’t use a hug from a child, eh?)
“One small act of giving can echo around the world”…Yep. Sure can. And there tagline is lovely, “Where Children Celebrate Giving.” In fact, the whole concept is, um… “interesting” to me…
Hat tip goes to my friend Kris Cornwall for pointing to this one….What say you, Kris? With young twins and a middle-schooler, would it fly among your crew? At what age, in what circumstance?
What about you, readers? What are YOUR thoughts?
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