In the past two weeks at Dungarees we have learnt a great deal more about the beauty of having people around us; people who can help us grow, and in turn helping the community around us.

London, although one of the most vibrant, exciting and innovative cities in the world, can be a very isolating, consuming and overwhelming place. With such eclectic opportunities, diverse communities, and wide-ranging ideas, London can have a negative effect; dumbing the senses and creating a sense of confusion and overload.

We have always been very conscious of the effects this can have on the individual, but it has been brought to our attention in the past weeks how this then can have an effect on the community as a whole. For Dungarees, clubbing together with wide eyes and concerned ears, and championing non-judgmental idea sharing has always been our aim as a business and social space.

From day one, and the first time we set up our coffee space on Deptford Market in South East London, it has been our aim to encourage, with our space as well as our service, a blank canvas, for which people can use to air their ideas, discuss their ambitions and move forward with their aspirations. We are ‘Dungarees for the Optimistic and the Curious’ for that very reason. As a side note, being a mobile coffee business that is hired for events, this catch phrase and approach has been the topic of discussion (and confusion) but our values have always fed through our business and will come into full glory this year with the opening of our first permanent space – we’re really excited! Space, therefore, is the catalyst for our values to fully stretch their legs, which we will discuss in more detail in a couple of weeks time.

Back in 1727 Benjamin Franklin formed a small group or club for mutual benefit and improvement. He called this group the Junto, deriving from the Spanish word junta which meaning ‘a meeting’. This was a group of acquaintances that would meet up every Friday evening to discuss the member’s points of query regarding politics, morals and natural philosophy. On top of this, once every three months one member would produce and read an essay on their chosen subject. For us here the aspects that were above all of the positive attributes that came from this club were it’s total regard for discovery, without 'fondness for dispute or desire of victory’ i.e. with a non-judgmental and empathetic approach. Therefore this group encouraged the freedom to discuss firstly, what the group deemed important and interesting with consideration for the wider community, and secondly what the individual considered noteworthy in their lives.

As a result of this very disciplined group of like-minded and driven people, and the subsequent forming of other very similar groups, many advantages emerged that would aid and encourage individual and civic improvement. The advantages included, the improvement of many more young citizens by the use of similar frameworks as the Junto, better acquaintance with the general sentiments of the community, the promotion of particular interests in business, and the increase of collective influence in public affairs. 

The Junto is an excellent example of the huge benefits of collaboration and idea and knowledge sharing - the powers of achieving change both individually and socially. 

At Dungarees, we encourage this approach, and as I mentioned earlier, in a huge and overwhelming city like London, especially in this age of increased opportunities and unbalanced expectations to succeed, people do not always come together to share there skills, knowledge and their worries in a framework that has a broad and flexible scope. A lot of the time people decide to stand alone and keep their ideas and opinions to themselves, especially when people are working for themselves.

Dungarees aspire to become a modern day Junto with our business model – for our growth as well as the growth of other members and the wider community. To be a collective for forward thinking, idea sharing, learning and support in our community, professionally and morally. It takes a lot of hard work to create and maintain such a strong movement for individual and civic improvement. We aim to mix the old with the new. From Franklins model we can take the structure, discipline and the starting points. In 1728 Franklin presented a series of questions that Junto members were to ask themselves in preparing for each meeting.

At Dungarees, we add our own values into this scheme, and of course, the relevance of the present day, with issues, demands and expectations that we are faced with today. The key for us is to start small and build.

What do you think of the questions that Franklin encouraged the club members to ask themselves, and what questions and topics of query do you think are important today in your lives?