“Is it too dorky to say, “[being a cooperative] is so much easier than it seems?” We’re constantly telling people that.” Worker-owner Elisabeth Barton insists on the cooperative model for her guiding agency, Echo Adventures. “Because I’m just one of many making decisions, the decisions are more well rounded, they’re more thought out, and they benefit every stakeholder!”
Echo Adventures, one of our newest members, is a collective of guides who provide “socially and environmentally sustainable adventures and all inclusive vacation packages in Yosemite National Park.” We’re thrilled to welcome them as new members to USFWC!
Echo Adventures began when a few guides in Yosemite decided there must be a better way to do business as they stayed up late talking around a campfire. The small group of guides committed to a way of living and working which would allow them to both live well and do the work they so loved. Barton explains, “we’ve always been taught that this is the price we pay to live this dream…not having a family or a home and we were like, no…that can’t be right. I mean there’s a lot of risk in this industry but there’s also a lot of profit, we couldn’t understand why everybody couldn’t win.” In addition to creating a model of guiding based in guide ownership not exploitation, Echo Adventures is committed to community service and environmental concerns in their work.
To their knowledge, Echo Adventures is the only guiding agency which operates as a cooperative; they’re working their dreams of living and guiding well into reality. Barton describes, “To me, [“Co-op”] means ‘opportunity’; to do things that have never been done and to hear voices that have never been heard; it’s an opportunity..’Coop’ and ‘opportunity’ are literally synonyms for each other.”
Barton insists, “Cooperatives make it possible for average people to have abnormally large dreams! We’re at dinner parties like, ‘No, you could do this!’”