Pay it forward with GangplankSaturday, January 12, 2013 by: Connie Carello
Have you ever heard of Gangplank?
Well, motivated entrepreneur Gerry Kirk, a self-employed consultant dedicated to helping organizations improve staff relations, is bringing the innovative idea to the community of Sault Ste. Marie.
Gangplank is a concept that originated in Phoenix, Arizona.
The originators were two men, unhappy with the economic downfall and looking for an opportunity to help themselves as well as other businesses return back to a position of financial stability.
The intention was to build stronger business-to-business relations within the same office space.
The idea can be further explained on the website where it states: “Gangplank Sault Ste. Marie seeks to unite the creative class by providing space and resources for innovative ideas to flourish. We are a collaborative workspace, without physical or financial barriers preventing participation. Our expectations are simple - share your ideas and knowledge with others.”
According to Kirk, the initiative would serve to be an effective means for businesses to collaborate and support one another to achieve endless possibilities.
"Everyone has so much knowledge and talent to bring to the table. With Gangplank, people are able to maximize their sharing and can build a support system with a series of diverse businesses. It really is like an off-line version of social networking."
So far, Kirk has hosted 30 events over the course of the last year to build upon the idea and receive local support from various community organizations.
"We officially started in May and have hosted various meetings and events at the Sault Community Career Centre and now meet regularly at the Main Branch Library. We are planning for Gangplank to be a long-term goal and soon hope to have a physical space designed to maximize the sharing of, not only ideas between various business owners, but everything, including office furniture," Kirk said.
The space would allow for the opportunity to form business partners and market to potential clients within the very same building, all at no cost.
The only requirement for participating businesses is to join the Gangplank Academy, a routine task that would require participants to give back by offering their time through organized workshops or community-based charity events.
"The intention is to transform the community for the better," Kirk said. "In the end, that really is worth more than paying a monthly bill for lights in your own office space."
This “pay it forward” mentality served to spur one of Kirk's own personal goals, which is to achieve 41 good deeds before his 41st birthday on January 18.
His most rewarding deed so far has been helping his neighbour shovel her driveway with his children on a day that turned out to be her birthday.
"For me, the goal has been something that has made me more aware of the people around me and their needs. Through these acts, the people, who I don't even know, have been changing me. So I appreciate the change it is having in me, for my wife and kids."
Kirk's larger aspiration to inspire "accelerated results with greater joy" can be recognized with the launch of Gangplank early this coming February.
For now, all Kirk can say is: "Stay tuned."