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.
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.