Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs, examines Lily Cole’s gift culture project impossible.com which launched its ‘giving trees’ at the Science Museum in September
Visitors to the Science Museum’s adults only Lates event left a total of 1500 wishes in a little copse of ‘giving trees’ established in the museum’s Wellcome wing by the model, actor, activist and entrepreneur Lily Cole.
The wishes were left during the September, October and November Lates, which were visited by as many as 15,000 visitors. Each person who took part was invited to upload their wishes to Lily Cole’s ‘gift culture’ social network, impossible.com.
The impossible.com website, which is currently still in beta, is a tool to facilitate a gift culture in which people can exchange their skills, knowledge or possessions for free.
Through the website people have been giving screen printing lessons, knitting lessons, business advice and even an astronaut who asked for help to send a little girl with an illness to Japan.
The site, impossible.com, available online and as an app available from the Apple App Store was conceived by the 25 year old Lily with a friend during the depths of the financial crisis in 2008. The impossible tree initiative was launched to an audience in the museum’s IMAX theatre at the September Lates evening.
In the Science Museum, Lily expressed her belief in the universal kindness between strangers that can be harnessed by impossible.com to challenge our bartering economy through a currency of “thank-yous” instead of money.
Lily said: “Hosting our wishing trees at the Science Museum for the last three months – alongside a talk on the science of cooperation – was such a (scientifically) magical beginning for impossible. A huge thank you to everyone at the Science Museum who helped organise it, and to everyone who came and left a wish.”
The museum answered one of Lily’s wishes too, and provided gifts – micro-copters – for her to deliver to children in the Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
“Thanks also for the toys and helicopters which we delivered to Manchester Children’s Hospital in answer to someone’s wish. It gave me great joy to deliver them” she added.
impossible.com was developed with advice from Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia and Nobel Peace Prize recipient and economics professor Muhammad Yunus. On the advice of Yunus, impossible.com will run as a for-profit social business, with profits being re-invested into the company or in other social enterprises.
The impossible.com app is available on https://itunes.apple.com/app/*impossible*/id638819253?ls=1&mt=8