The Echo beta launch is approaching fast! We’re working through final iterations of our logo and site design, and the back end is coming together. In the month of March we’re going to be doing some serious story collecting, both through a few more scheduled interviews with Lake Claire icons and through some community outreach so that we start off with a nice balance of produced stories and community-generated ones.

Once we finalize our logo design, we’re planning to work a friend of ours who owns a contracting and design shop to see our signs come to life.

Last week we took a fantastic trip to Athens, Georgia where we gave a talk about Echo to a graduate class in the College of Environmental Design at UGA called “Ideas of Community and Place” (sounds like a fascinating class, doesn’t it?). We had an incredibly inspiring discussion with Professor Lara Mathes and her students about storytelling, building & nurturing communities both online and in real life, new trends in data visualization, and the design of urban spaces.

Here’s the best part: the final project for the class will be to work with us to install Echo Athens!

Each of the students will produce a short piece about the design of a type of public space (e.g., a cul-de-sac or a plaza) and tag a spot in Athens with that story. It is our hope that the stories generated by the community will then either speak to or perhaps contradict the intent of the design. Most of us probably aren’t aware on a daily basis that the physical design of a space very much shapes the way we interact with that space and with one another in it. We think the Echo Athens series will surface this dimension of everyday lives in a really beautiful and thoughtful way, and we couldn’t be more excited.

In addition, part of our plan for Echo has always been to produce a “kit” of sorts that we can hand off to another community so that the people who love that place the most can stand up the system easily and make it their own. Echo Athens will be a first opportunity for us to test out this idea, and we expect to learn a lot from it.