Thursday, May 15, 2008

Community Spotlight: Echo

Over the past year of doing research for my website Better World Betty, I’ve appreciated the friendly embrace of the seasoned earth-lovers among us, who have been living green long before it was 2008 and hip to be green and headlined almost daily in mainstream media.

I have found these activists, farmers, citizens, writers, and people from all across the spectrum are happy to see our new faces (though they might wonder what took us so long). Not that we weren’t engaged in environmental-friendly activities before, but the urgency of the matter facing the human race has really propelled so many in an exciting, collective bar-raising of pro-environmental engagement. There’s no room or time to relive past wrongs. We’ve got work to do!

Which is the way Jim and Anne-Marie feel at Echo, a monthly publication in town that has always prided itself on its environmental sensitivity and community-mindedness and fore-thinking. With titles like "Lovin' the wind" (wind power), "Environmental consensus pioneer,: and "Eco-Friendly building materials," in 2002 and “ My 21st Century House" from 2005 Echo has been ahead of the times when it comes to thinking green.

After writing a guest article last month, I recently sat down with them for tea and honey bunches at Cville Coffee to discuss the focus of their publication. Jim Ward, the current owner, editor-in-chief, friendly face came to Echo in 2001 only six weeks after arriving in Charlottesville. Anne-Marie, has consulted with them for over a year now. And it has come a long way from a 20 page black and white paper distributed within a limited radius around Charlottesville. Now the paper is 32 pages of color and features an eclectic array of articles, listings and features and is distributed to places as far away as Harrisonburg and Orange.

Their vision: to be a free, open-minded, upbeat publication that celebrates local people who may or may not be represented by the mainstream media. They serve the “cultural creative” a lovely term for those among us who have creative energy and a drive to do something in the world that will effect positive change.

What I like about Jim and Anne-Marie is that they absolutely love what they do. “We are excited to be connected, really tapped in to positive change.” They acknowledge, no, I should say boast, that many of their topics, like natural childbirth, were ridiculed when they first appeared. But they don’t mind. They like to stay positive and “support the solution.” A perfect example is this month’s article on Heirloom Seeds written by Ira Wallace, the Virginia Master Gardener and co-manager of Southern Exposure Seed. You may also enjoy this month‘s “School Portrait: If School were an Eco-System.”

I hope you take the time to grab a copy and tell them what you think, as a valuable part of the community they serve. If you are interested in a copy or wish to advertise your business there, contact Anne-Marie at # 434 823-1385 or


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