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Jam Hostel and the solidarity-based economy

Solidarity Economy

The solidarity-based economy is a new, more sustainable, and fairer economic model, were the people’s social well-being is one of its core principals. The Solidarity Economy Network (Xarxa d’Economia Solidària, XES) aims to strengthen this model from a transforming point of view. It includes different organizations that believe in the principles of democracy, transparency, equality, and sustainability.

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We consider that an organization practices and contributes to the solidarity economy when it fulfills the following criteria: 1) When the organization in itself and its way of functioning (either as business or as a cooperative) adhere to the principles described. 2) When the activities or services provided also follow social and sustainable criteria.

How does Jam Hostel’s project fit into the Solidarity Economy Model?

1) As an organization.

The small format of our organizational structure allows for a constant and direct contact between all the people that are part of the group. Due to the type of fiscal policy, there is a mild form of hierarchy in our organization; nevertheless the relationship between the members of our team is based on transparency and honesty. The founding members of the team, two women and one man, make the most important business management decisions, but always taking the others members of the team into account through open communication. In terms of wage equality, all job positions are paid the same per hour. All employment contracts are ongoing, and remuneration as well as the pay scale structure are fair.

The hostel has an environmental management plan that takes into account the three R’s: reduce, reuse and recycle. We also have both a water-saving system and energy-saving and efficiency systems. We promote the use of renewable energies, thermal and sound insulation among other aspects of environmental management. We favor social, collective and local economy, and this is why we collaborate with local and/or socially responsible providers. We try to use cleaning and hygiene products that are environmentally friendly, we have recycled paper for daily use, as well as office supplies that are certified as eco-friendly. We encourage the purchase of fair trade, organic, local products/food (such as the coffee and tea we offer for free to our guests throughout the day). We work with organizations that have the same ethical values as us: the use of an energy co-op, social inclusion, ethical banking, etc. Two important aspects of our daily functioning: cleaning and laundry services are provided by organizations that promote labor integration for socially excluded groups (cleaning service provider) and intellectually challenged persons (laundry service provider). We also promote health-conscious activities such as daily yoga and cycling and walking.

We want to be part of our community and that is why we work with our neighbors in terms of looking for service/product providers in our neighborhood, as well as giving special discounts to families and/or friends of our neighbors that stay in our hostel.

2) As an accommodation service provider, we believe that cities (Barcelona specially) should work towards a touristic model that is balanced and regulated. That is why it is so important that lodging providers that incorporate sustainability at the core of their project exists, to reduce the environmental impact and to better integrate to neighborhood life.

We offer visitors from around the world an alternative to visit Barcelona in an environmentally responsible way, without generating a negative impact to our city and steering clear of the mass tourism model. Our “mom and pop store” approach enables us to have a more personalized costumer service with our guests. We are able to communicate information and share our experience more easily, which in turn facilitates the interaction with our guests, allowing us to share our project and also talk about the current conflict with mass tourism in Barcelona. Our project rejects all tourist offers that contribute to the mass tourism model, such as big tour groups that generate a negative impact to the environment and that have no real relation with local culture. Another important aspect of our project has to do with the organization of environmental, social and cultural events that allow our guests to interact with locals.

We offer our facilities (both lodging as well as common areas) with the intention of sharing our knowledge and experience to the people of the city, going beyond a tourism model centered in consumerism. That is why we are working to become a place of reference in sustainable tourism. This way institutions, associations, international and local businesses (social, environmental or cultural institutions) can come to our hostel to develop activities such as workshops, exchange programs, congresses, festivals, etc.

Constant improvement of our social economy project

 The Xarxa d’Economia Solidària XES (a solidarity-based economy network) has provided us with the necessary tools to measure the social, labor, professional and ecological contributions during the year and determine its social balance. Jam Hostel has completed its first social balance, which will allow us to constantly monitor our actions, and in that way keep striving for our main objective that is being a social and solidarity-based business.

TWO YEARS CREATING OUR PROJECT ON SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

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Now that the hangover of our second anniversary is over, we are taking a look back and pondering about what we were two years ago when it all began, and what we are at the present time. We are still creating, working and improving on our idea to accomplish that we set out to do: a project of tourism that we believe in.

We are still part of the Solidarity Economy Net (Xarxa d’Economia Solidària, XES); and we are one of the 105 organizations that has its own Social Audit. This means that we will get the seal of approval of the XES, which will accredit us as an organization in the highest level of the Catalan social market. We have also increased our colaborative efforts with social economy organizations and the advancement of local and organic economy. Following this line, we are now in the Pam a Pam map (this is the social economy and responsible consumption in Catalonia); as well as in the Barcelona más Sostenible (More Substainable Barcelona is a map of social and envirnomental initiatives in the city); and also in the Slow Barcelona map (which is a sustainable consumption guide of the city).

In relation to the environmental aspect of our project, we are working towards achieving the certification of auto-conformity for the ISO 14001 and ISO 9001 certificates for environmental management and quality at an international level; as well as the EMAS certification for environmental management in Europe.13310400_662470630573053_5996381514354834162_n_opt

We have received the silver GreenLeaders Award from Tripadvisor (The TripAdvisor GreenLeaders Program showcases eco-friendly establishments that are committed to green practices like recycling, and promoting local and organic food).

There are many things that have made us very happy this year, just to mention a few: first, people from the art world as well as professionals dedicated to social and environmental issues stayed with us. Secondly, the creation of the Lost&Found Market; the idea is to give clothes left by travelers a second life, all the money collected from our second hand store will be donated to a social organization. Thirdly, the inauguration of the Clara Nubiola’s “Dear and Dear Well-Come to Barcelona” exhibit, to promote local artists. And last but not least, we are now selling incredibly delicious vegan cupcakes, handmade by Onda Vegana.

 

 

ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL ORGANITZATIONS AT THE JAM HOSTEL BARCELONA

A key element of our project is to provide services to local and international organizations. In this sense, we are committed to offer our space with the intention of contributing our experience and knowledge of Barcelona beyond the tourism centered on consumerism.

There are now many people that say that JAM is “an inspiring space”. That is the reason we have opened our doors to environmental, social and cultural organizations (either for lodging accommodations or for use of our common areas). We provide the space for them to develop or participate in all types of activities: workshops, study and/or work internships, festivals, congresses, etc. In order to maximize these services, we offer discounts to the participants or close the hostel so that they can have exclusive use of the facilities.

Which ones have lodged at JAM Hostel?

During the past year and a half, different groups and organizations have chosen JAM not only to plan and develop their activities in the hostel, but also as a “home away from home” during their stay in Barcelona. The first group arrived from Greece on 2014; they were participating in the Solidarity-Based Economy Fair of Catalonia (FESC).

In 2015, we had different collectives who made use of our accommodations: the NGO Nexes chose JAM as the center stage for the European project: “Social Inclusion Out of the Box”. In this project, 11 organizations from 11 countries used our facilities to conduct workshops and lodging. The Col·legi d’Ambientòlegs de Catalunya organized their Professional and Academic Environmental Sciences Meetings (JAPCAS), also using our accommodations to conduct workshops and as a place to stay. Other events such as the 3rd edition of the Green Drinks (an environmental event) also took place at JAM. The NGO’s: Servei Civil Internacional (international voluntary services), Ripess-Global (connection of social and solidarity economy) or Digg’Out, Stuudio JOY and Egészeségdokk (social integration), also chose JAM as the place to stay and carry out their activities. During this time, other groups such as European schools, orchestras and musical groups have also stayed at JAM.

It is important for us to become a reference point for social, environmental and cultural organizations. We want to be known as a place where these collectives can develop and carry out activities in which creativity, development of knowledge and the exchange of experiences have a significant role!

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OUR PROJECT OF SUSTAINABLE TOURISM

Towards more social and sustainable ways

Looking at a society that is more aware and preoccupied with the social and environmental impact of tourism, in Barcelona we are facing a lack of lodging facilities with principles of sustainability. Even though there are some newer hostels/hotels that have a better environmental management, most of the improvements made are more on the technological aspects rather than on a more global vision of sustainability. In this sense, at JAM Hostel Barcelona we have considered three key issues that are the core of our project as an eco hostel:

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We want to contribute to a social and environmentally responsible tourism.

We believe that there is a need to change not only the quantity but also, the quality of lodging and accommodations in the city. Although this is a very complex issue- one that will require an exclusive post in the future- we think it is important to assess how our actions at JAM contribute to these changes of direction and how things are done.

We offer our world travelers, who share our ideas of a responsible and sustainable tourism, an alternative to what is offered. Our guests are persons that want to get to know Barcelona in a responsible way, without having a negative impact on our city, and also, they are looking to get away from the mass tourism model.

The small-scale format, that is the “mom and pop store”, and the small number of beds offered, allows for a more personal touch and exchange of information and experiences with the visitors. This closeness also allows us to talk about our project and the problems we are having with tourism in Barcelona these days.

The rejection to touristic offers that contribute to mass tourism is also included in this point. We are against activities offered to big groups such as “tapas tours” or “bar crawls” that have a negative impact on the environment and have no true relation to the culture of the land. Instead, we favor first of all, the organization of social, environmental and cultural gatherings that permit our guests to interact with the locals. Secondly, we favor the closeness with our neighbors and provide our lodging services when they have friends or family visiting.

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Lodging organizations socially and environmentally responsible

Another important aspect of our project is to provide our services (both accommodations and/or the use of our premises) to international or local organizations or associations that come to take part of activities such as workshops, exchanges, congresses, festivals, etc. These activities provide an exchange of knowledge and experience with the city, which goes beyond tourism consumerism.

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 We want to work so that the hostel in itself becomes social and environmentally responsible.

At JAM Hostel we have an Environmental Management System that has to do with aspects such as: reduce, reutilize and recycle; energy efficiency and saving water; usage of cleaning products that are respectful to the environment; team communication and environmental education; use of renewable sources of energy; acoustic and weather-proofing, etc. As an organization, we prioritize cooperation (not only on the services provided by the hostel but also with our suppliers) with social economy and solidarity organizations. Among other things, we work with ethical banking services, we offer organic and/or fair trade products, and we also promote local artists.

When we think about sustainable tourism, we often think about rural tourism within green and natural environments. In fact, many of the environmentally friendly lodging facilities in Europe and in Catalonia promoting sustainable tourism are far away from the city smog. But we think that cities most work towards a model of tourism that is regulated and balanced, and that is why we think that it is necessary to create accommodation facilities that have sustainability as the core of the project, in order to reduce environmental impact and also to integrate themselves into the neighborhoods life.

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