So me and Alex (welcome back from maternity leave Alex!) have been talking about the need to begin mapping all that’s going on in our world, project-wise.


The map needs to include

  • the Hartshill Project (hopefully with a very large supermarket chain, a whole bunch of community groups and some like-minded people),
  • the A2E Project (involving a fab org called Green Door, a load of entertainment venues and some like-minded people),
  • the Hardship Commission (OMG – peer-2-peer research into hardship and poverty that will provide the foundational research we so desperately need to properly understand our biggest problem ‘inside-out’ (that’s the West I’m referring to, not just Stoke & Staffs (Jeez!) ),
  • the ‘Place of Social Enterprise’ Project (VAST, UnLtd, PM Training, the Social Value Chair at the Chamber and a bunch of other like-minds) and the Media Hub in Newcastle (the Van Buren Family, HitMix Radio, Babababoon, Cultural Squatters “TV” and a ‘live-lounge’)
  • The Cultural Squatters Project – an amazing place in an amazing community run by an amazing woman that’s the living embodiment of the #BeKind philosophy – that on May Day will celebrate its first anniversary (how cool is that for an opening date? xxx)
  • The CTRLshift 2019 Summit being held at Potbank, Spode in a few weeks time (about 30 really fabulous (and national) change-making orgs working together with a bunch of locally-grounded change-making orgs from North Staffs)
  • The Equality Alliance for Stoke and North Staffs (a bunch of locally-based third sector organisations and like-minded people working together to end poverty)


So Alex, there’s the beginning of the map.


Now what Steve (Terry) and I have been talking about ever since we went to the Stoke and Staffs Local Enterprise Partnership Annual Convention a month or two ago, is how the heck we align with the objectives of the Local Enterprise Partnership. How do we articulate all of the above – which is essentially a whole stack of non-profit type projects and activities – in a way that makes sense, coherently, to a for-profit audience?


It’s not that blooming easy, I can tell you.


What we have on the one hand, is a bunch of what might appear to be ‘sandal wearing socialists’, and on the other hand a bunch of what might appear to be ‘bloodletting capitalists’’.


Those involved are neither.

They’re straight up the middle.


As straight as can be.


All we’re after is investment into the things that we care about most.


People, family, communities and kindness.


What drives us to work together across all these different projects, is the need to make the case for more investment into the great work that we do, which largely gets ignored by the markets.


So changing that perception is really the key, which means doubling down on our investment case-making.


Which is why it helps to know that our audience is the LEP. Now we might get nowhere in the end with them, but that’s not the point. And that’s certainly not enough reason not to have a go. So having a go we are.


They told us at the conference that the monies that we used to push Europe’s way before Brexit, are going to be channelled down to the grass roots via what’s called the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. I think that’s what it’s called.


And apparently it will be quite a lot of cash. We’re talking £millions.


Now what determines how much cash each region gets, is that region’s ability to demonstrate how it’s ‘local industrial strategy’ is a) grounded in the reality of the place and evidenced as such (i.e. prove you’ve consulted) and b) how it accords with the government’s Industrial Strategy which is aimed at solving the UK’s productivity problem.


Or something like that. You can read around the subject if you want but please, don’t expect academic type notes from moi, i’m not that person! All’s I know is that we have to compete to get the money. And I like competitions because they make me perform. And i love performances that generate teamwork.


Apparently what the government is lseeking – apart from increased productivity of course – is ‘inclusive growth’. You see, there is this problem of division. Some are rich, most aren’t. And this is turning into a bit of a political problem for the Uk as of course we can see with Brexit and with the election of Trump, and of course with the Jilet Jaunes or whatever they’re called.


So finding a way to generate inclusive growth and increase productivity would be a bit of a coup I guess. My sense is that local governments all over the west, are working on the same problem.


I don’t think business is, because i don’t think business really understands the root cause of the problems we face (basically, there’s not enough money and there’s too much debt).


And of course, somewhere in between everything is the citizen consumer who sometimes is a citizen and sometimes a consumer.

But my sense is that consumers are beginning to vote with their wallets rather than at the ballot box.


Look at the recent ASOS results and you’ll see fast-fashion as a business model beginning to die. People are wising up to the environmental costs of a throwaway culture.


You’ve also seen Debenhams bite the dust.


I think the end (of consumerism) is nigh. And given that essentially our economy is built upon consumerism, then one could argue – especially as everyone seems so preoccupied with Brexit these days – that everyone’s taken their eye off the ball.


Either that, or they’ve run out of ideas.


Well, the good news is that we haven’t.


So welcome to the world of Stoke, Newcastle under Lyme and North Staffs, oh….also Staffs.


Or, as i call it, the Mega-City.


This mega-city has a bit of an identity problem. It was 6 (or is that 7 – is Castle in or out….? xxx) towns but now it’s one. City. Apparently.


I can feel for the place. It’s very much like Wigan that i happen to know quite well. Both are legends of Northern Soul (the Torch in S-o-T, and the Casino in Wigan) so the people are basically northern grafters without meaningful work to do and as a consequence skint and in poverty.


And also as a consequence, just waiting to be ‘reactivated’.


But how?


Incentives, of course.


Now, this is where the business part of me kicks in.


Most incentive schemes are expensive to run. Take Nectar, Air Miles or Club Card – they cost a fortune because typically the rewards are an expensive raw material that the scheme operator has to acquire. No rewards = no incentive.


And also, most reward schemes only focus on consumers, not on producers. Club card points for example, only ‘thank’ customers for shopping at Tesco. They don’t thank its suppliers for becoming more sustainable.

So most reward schemes aren’t holistic either. Some try to be, and Tesco is one of them. You earn your loyalty points by shopping at Tesco, and you can spend them (I think…) at Pizza Express or Alton Towers, etc etc.


Now this kind of scheme where the same points can be spent in a variety of shops is known as a coalition loyalty scheme.


For the consumer in me, it means I don’t have to faff around with too many loyalty cards. The more brands that will accept Clubcard points, the better it is for me. Obviously.


But for the citizen in me, I have to pick up the tab for the pollution that results from all this consumerism. It’s endless.  


The other thing about Club Card and discounts and loyalty reward schemes is this. You’re always doing a trade. You’re always trading your own personal information with Tesco for a deal that suits the both of you. Always. If you didn’t get that deal (which for you as a consumer is rewards that are personalised, timely and relevant) then you wouldn’t shop at Tesco, would you?


Hence why Tesco are such a powerful retailing organisation.


What makes them tick is big data. Your big data. Without your big data, they wouldn’t exist.


So here’s the gig. We need to own our own big data.


Ok, that might sound like too much of a leap of faith, but bear with me whilst i tell you what is on the wall of my friend’s office who works at a large local authority.


It’s this massive diagram that talks about ‘whole system’ approaches.


It has, at the heart of it ‘the customer’. (Don’t start me!).


Surrounding the customer, are all the services that a troubled family type person might need to use – police, fire, adult social, childrens, health etc etc.


These silos are the enemy. Whole system the solution. A world where data can flow seamlessly between each silo because this whole system has persuaded the customer that it’s worth it.


Except it can’t.

It can’t because there is absolutely no cash going into the design or the construction of such a system. None. It’s all going on stuff that stops councils getting sued – mandatory services i guess you might call it.


So there’s no cash for the system to be built, and no cash for the rewards that will power it.


And also, it’s not even a whole system.


It’s not a whole system because people are roughly 50% citizens and 50% consumers.


So where does the business community fit into the whole system diagram?


From the users perspective, of course they’re going to expect rewards from brands.


Why the heck not?

I know i would. Otherwise it’ll be another one of those crappy council type ideas that never get off the ground.


To be fair, my mates at the council know all this it’s just that i think you need to understand the context for what I think the solution looks like that helps us get an audience with the LEP.


So – the whole system in our minds eye needs to treat people in the round. It needs to understand what they need and how those needs can be met.

And many people need to feel valued.


So any system must be asset-based. My friends, not just at the council, but in the third sector too, are all big Cormac believers. Cormac Russell being the kind of Asset Based Community Development, or ABCD. I first heard him speak in Wigan, many moons ago. He’s a gentle man, with fabulous powers of storytelling. Being Irish helps. “In a real community, there’s no such thing as disability. Loneliness is the only disability”.


Amen brother.

My sisters in Stoke know this as well, so as long as our system is whole enough not just to enquire as to what people’s’ needs are but also what they can contribute as well – what they can offer the system, what they can give back in return – then fab.


So giving back to the system is valued by them as much as by us.


They feel valued. That’s the idea. We all NEED to feel valued. We all WANT to feel valued, but sadly not everyone is valued, or feels valued.


And that’s a big problem. For the markets, not for us, but the markets.


The markets are valuing the wrong thing.


And this is their problem. Their valuing the crud that we really don’t need.


So this is what I’d argue is market failure.


The markets aren’t catering for the shift that’s happening in terms of the things that we-the-people value. It’s constantly getting caught out. What we value is on the move.


Look at the death of Debs. Look at the results of ASOS. Mindless consumerism is on its way out, and what’s going to replace it….Mindful consumerism.


Produced locally with love and care and all in a good cause.


But how do you package that up and take it to market in a way that the LEP understands and that the government of the day can get behind and invest in because it’s the greatest resource that the world has ever seen….


And what’s that resource, i hear you ask….


Brain power.


There you have it.


Here in the Mega City, we’re putting our heads together to form a massive bloody brain. It’s only small right now, but it’s beginning to grow. It’s beginning to exercise itself on a load of projects based in the Mega City, that are beginning to develop in a culture of cooperative goodwill.


It’s like the Mega City is a petri dish, and the conditions for growth are just about perfect. The right temperature, the right humidity, the right time and the right place (with the right soil, which is clay, of course).


And in that petri dish is a culture that’s beginning to thrive.


It’s a culture that’s essentially founded on the notion of #Bekind. This is Narina’s legacy. If you haven’t heard of her yet, well, keep your eyes peeled.


So remind yourself – we have a place, we have a brain and we have a culture (that is collective). Now what else do we need.


Well we need to get paid. So we need a business plan and revenue model. Something that can package what we produce and take it to market to be traded.


And traded for what?

Traded for whatever else is not properly valued. Obviously.


Let’s face it right. We’re not trying to take on or change the current economy. There’s just no point. It’s completely status quo’d. So what’s the point? Inertia is a massive force and to be honest, we’re from the oriental school of martial arts so we prefer judo to a stand up fist-fight. We prefer to use our opponent’s force against themselves.


Yeah, we loved Bruce Lee!


No, what we’re aiming to create in an alternative economy that supports and complements the existing economy on its way to retirement. (Since Nixon took the US dollar off the gold standard in ‘71, it’s been in the autumn of its life).


So let’s just build our own little parallel economy right next to the existing one.


This parallel economy, rather interestingly, isn’t founded on financial capital though. Finance is part and parcel of the real economy. That we’re not a part of.


So we have to rely on our own means to build this new parallel economy. And since we’re getting by with a little help from our friends, i think we can venture to say that our form of capital could be described as community capital or social capital (my pal Jake loves the phrase ‘from Brexit Capital to Social Capital’ !)


Which hasn’t really been defined or measured.


Which of course is THE opportunity for our region and those of us working together to show others – the rest of the world – what good really looks like.


Good to us looks like working together for mutual commercial interest. Where we all get paid roughly the same for saving stuff that would otherwise be wasted.


That includes – of course – people’s time and talents. Lots of people could choose to waste their time and their talents by sitting on their arses feeling sorry for themselves (because they’re not properly valued?) or they could choose NOT to waste this time by giving it to a community group or good cause instead.


AND, most importantly, this stuff that would ‘otherwise be wasted’ also includes food that is perfectly edible and which might go to landfill (Or to a food bank to perpetuate dependency) and / or empty seats on the bus. Or at the theatre, or at the footy game or at the gym.


You get the gist.


It isn’t just people that are the resource being wasted. It’s the unsold ticket and the empty seat at the hairdressers.


If the business community sees people as feckless and wanton, and stupid and lazy – because they ‘choose’ to waste their time and their talents – then the business community should be judged for being feckless and wanton, and stupid and lazy for ‘choosing’ to waste those unsold tickets and empty seats.


Why can’t all that stuff that’s being wasted – all that resource – be put into the kitty and used to reward a new kind of behaviour that’s based on kindness?


This is where I’m going to spell out why i think our economy is on the verge of something really quite special.


And when I say our economy, i mean the economy of Stoke and Staffs – the Mega City’s economy, of course!

By valuing – or revaluing – resources that would otherwise be wasted, we can create a parallel economy that can take that waste and turn it into a reward for contribution to community.


Think about it. You give your time, instead of wasting it, to a community group that on behalf of the community gives you a token that thanks you for your contribution.


You take that token and spend it on a seat at Port Vale (19,000 capacity, average number of unsold seats = 14,000) that costs the business nothing, cos the seat hasn’t sold.


So the Vale are now able to promote themselves – as they should – as the world’s most sustainable football team: “we promote people who help themselves”.


Ok it’s just a token. But it’s a token of information. And not just a token of any kind of information but a token of ‘good information’. Good in the sense that it has been generated for helping to prevent a resource – your own time and talents – from being wasted.


Now, at a strategic economic development level – such a system could be quite handy for taking stuff that is going to waste, and turning it into something that’s valued. Being valued must make it valuable, surely?


Now if ordinary people can produce the thing of value out of stuff they’ve got lying around at home and which is cost-free to use (their time and their talents of course) and it’s of value because a market has developed to clear that value, then we might be able to think about saying that we know-how to develop the market for inclusive growth.


So, welcome to the Knowledge Economy of Stoke and Staffs. Ok, it’s not fully formed yet, but it’s on it’s way. Go back to the top and what you’ll see is that we are working on identifying in precise detail, what our hardship and poverty is – how it feels and what caused it.


Armed with that information, we can do something about it.


To fix it though, we all must work together.


And working together really is the innovation. Sounds easy eh?


Lots of folks talk about the talk but no-one walks the walk, like we do.


And if they do…well nice to meet you! We’ll join you for that walk.


The knowledge economy has been around since the stone age. Teaching others to rub sticks together to make fire was no doubt a trade worth making. Over time, the world has changed and many different types of economic structures have enjoyed their golden era. We’re in the middle of the next big change, and the age of information has made this possible.


Not all that information is good though. A lot of it is crap. And that’s the problem with business. It very often doesn’t know its right from its wrong. It’s sells us stuff we don’t need. Stuff that isn’t good for us. Crap that pollutes our rivers our minds and our bodies.


So ‘good information’ is where it’s at. We believe.


The explosion of technology has changed everything. It makes sharing information quicker and easier. It makes it easier to share crap information faster.


It certainly doesn’t make information knowledge. Information is information and knowledge is knowledge.


So it’s really important that when we’re packing up our information – so that it can be shared faster – that it’s provenance is assured.


We have to know that the information we’re receiving is from a trusted source.


And what better source can you trust than someone-like-you?


Yes dear friends, an information system that we can trust.




Ok, that’s not quite enough to get the LEP on board, so allow me to continue…


With our information system and way of ensuring that the information (tokens) that are produced is valuable to us and individuals and to us as a community (i.e. it’s subjectively and objectively valued, and valuable) then it can become ‘knowledge’ (that’s worth having!).


Good information becomes knowledge. Shit information becomes pollution.


New Economy. Old Economy.


Trouble is, the old economy (the current economy) is keen to ensure that this shit information is shared as widely as possible and so the Silicon Valley imperative has been to invest in ‘knowledge-sharing technology’.


Except that it’s not knowledge that it shares, it’s pollution.


It’s not surprise is it therefore, that the most recent business to float in the US is a digitally-enabled-information-based tech startup called Lyft.


It’s also no surprise to know that 7 of the 10 world’s largest businesses weren’t around 25 years ago and are all in the platform business of information (Alphabet, Apple, Tencent, Alibaba Microsoft etc).


It’s just that they happen to be in the business of producing poor information.


Oh dear oh my.


Is this our opportunity to raise the standards on what good information looks like and how it’s packaged as a branded experience to rival Apple.


So let’s agree that tech has become so much more powerful in recent years.


It means that tech is able to do more and more, but it also means that it’s making everything a bit more complicated. For technology to keep advancing, the pool of knowledge needs to keep growing.


Money itself is a technology and needs to advance – hence why we’re working on tokens. The pool of knowledge about what money is – where it comes from, how we make it, for what purpose, how we maintain its value and create demand for it and so on and so forth – needs to keep growing.


Hence why we see ourselves as a network. A network for neural nodes in the world of community that are working together to fix hardship and poverty.


(If we can fix hardship and poverty within our own area, say within the next 5 years, then we’ll have developed the know-how to fix big problems by recognising that the only way to do that is to work on these big mega problems together….and if we can fix our economy within 5 years we can fix climate change within 10. Which is precisely why the CTRL shift crew are coming to town).


In our technology obsessed world we need an information system we can rely on. We need to develop our regional ecosystem skills and talents to become the world’s authority on what good information looks like. How it’s made. How it’s regulated. How it’s issued. By whom and for what purpose.


Knowledge and education now matter, more than ever.

Which is why we need a parallel system that serves as an alternative to the status quo.


Home-schooling is only the first step. We need to educate each other on what good looks like. Just as well we’re developing a P2P currency to make that more possible.


The engine that drives this new and regional knowledge economy of ours will be education. You put resources in – your time and your talents – and you get knowledge out – half price or less tickets to the game.


But if our business community is to succeed, if our economy is to succeed in a way that is inclusive and sustainable, education can’t be restricted to schools and universities.


Creating a more resourceful, more resilient, more fair and more sustainable economy requires all of us to educate each other on how to work together to fix these mega problems that can’t be solved by one organisation going it alone.


This isn’t the old economy now, is it?


Every area of life is an opportunity for intellectual growth. None more so than the world of work that sees work as something you get paid for.


So old fashioned. I work in community and so do a lot of people I know.


We don’t get paid for it. Does that make it ‘not work’?


Nah, that makes it work that I’m not getting paid for and when added together with all the other voluntary contributions that are made by the millions of other ‘unpaid workers’ sorry….VOLUNTEERS….when this is aggregated….what you’d discover is that the blooming old economy would collapse if we weren’t there supporting it.


Feeling a little bit hard-done to, or by?

Well, join the club. It won’t be that long before you or your kids will need to turn to scrounging.


Don’t bother going to the state. Nah – that’s the old economy right there. If you haven’t had to scrounge, then you really are a part of the status quo and you might as well prep yourself for a transformation.

There’s probably more of us now that are scrounging than those of us that are not.


I’d say. If you ask around and get behind the ‘fur coat and no knickers’ you’ll find people that are broke.


Or in debt.


Or both.




Our economy is grinding to a halt. We’re awaiting the next big collapse in the stock market. And we haven’t recovered from the old one yet.


Yes, it’s over. This capitalistic way of life.


It’s time to offer an alternative mechanism for journeying to horizons new.


One that is powered not by financial capital, but by community and social capital. Or natural capital.


Or just plain old ‘goodwill’.


This means that learning and development is now centre-stage. Just fab when one of the ‘elders’ we work with is a boss of one of the region’s biggest social enterprises and he’s a flipping guru in what training is and how it’s developed / delivered.


Did i mention we have the world’s greatest team?


For the world’s greatest show?


Of course, in the old economy, the first thing to go is the training and development bit.


Ah well. The death of business as usual.


In our world, in our new knowledge economy world (we hope the LEP are reading this) we put learning and development at the top of our to-do list. Beginning with soft skills. And if you don’t believe that we’re serious, you’d better make your way to the Cultural Squatters in Castle where Narina has just announced her 10th person to find a job. Wow – i’m not kidding – that’s like 1 in 4 of her vols that go on to get ‘proper’ jobs. Amazing place, amazing person.


SO, for our economy to thrive, in this day and age, all organisations that wish to survive, need to acquire as much knowledge as they possibly can.


Luckily, we are developing a network to make that a bit easier.


By joining our parallel economy, they can keep a foot in both camps – the old economy and the new.


We can help them make that transitional journey from an old world built on misinformation and financial capital to a new world built on good information and social capital.


It’s what consumers are after y’know!


And citizens!


There’s no doubt in my mind that the people I work with are the brightest minds going. They know hardship and poverty inside out. They have lived experience of it, or they’ve chosen to make it their life’s work to tackle it. These are people who care a lot. All that’s happening now is that we’re taking that raw material – that good information – and transforming it into an asset that can be invested in by business.

That’s what a currency looks like. Sorry, that’s what a currency for good looks.


Currencies are great. They represent the health and wellbeing of your economy.


You can trade with it. It’s a package of information. A unit of account. A store of value, and best of all, a means of payment.


So if you’re broke or in debt or both, fear not, here’s a currency you can earn into existence as long as you play by the rules. If you need to know what the rules are (because you don’t know them) – go see Narina.


We have attracted the best talent to our network. That network is just continuing to expand. The people in it are…well….amazing. I’d say about two thirds female and one third male. Sound about right to you.

We don’t give a sh*t about gender though – we don’t give a sh*t about politics.


We give a sh*t about fixing hardship and poverty, and once we’ve done that our bionic limbs and minds (that we’ll have developed together) will want to fix something else. Like global warming.


Do you want to work for an investment banker in London and pollute the world with your CDOs, WTOs, USDs, IMFs and EUs and struggle to bring up a family because you can’t afford a kiddy’s bedroom or there’s too much sh*t in the air…or do you want to be a part of a mission to show the world what good really looks like from a land that is green and pleasant and where the people are nice and not ignorant, greedy dickheads.


If you needed any more evidence of the fact that this sort of mission attracts the best and the brightest minds going, then do introduce yourself to Ms Narina Stead – the boss at the squat.



Not just her though. Monica. Brian. Sonya. Steve. Patsy. Nic. Alex. Nickala. I could go on, and on, and on.


The talent is awesome, and because of that, our network is becoming gravitational.


Hence this blog eh Alex? That need to map. And Steve – that need to frame what we are doing in a coherent way that we hope at sometime soon finds its way to someone within the LEP who has enough nous and balls to do something for them and their region that will develop a legacy that the world will rejoice – The New Jerusalem maybe…?

Nah, the Mega-Fucking City sounds better. Or the MFC for short.


Our job as a region, dear LEP leaders, is to attract the brightest minds. Is it not? Please don’t think that business as usual is the answer either. Please…


It’s also important, isn’t it, to make sure that we prevent knowledge from leaving! I’m not just talking about Keele or Staffs uni grads that get a degree and then leave. I’m talking about knowledge about how to be more resourceful, how to cope when times is tough. How to care. How to share. How to #BeKind.


By nurturing a knowledge sharing culture we first need to define and agree on the standards of knowledge we want the world to see.


This is where the universities and colleges can help. Nic and Penny from Staffs are just amazing. What a start. What a team. Just the beginning.


Define what good knowledge looks like is one thing, measuring it another.


Why is measuring it important? 1) what gets measured gets done (and we are performance-related). 2) the markets need it to measure ROI. 3) people need to see progress / success, happening. 4) the world is ruled by bean counters (the dick-heads don’t know what a good bean looks like though). 5) how will we know whether or not we’re getting from A to B if can’t measure the distance. 6) systems need numbers – deal with it (i prefer binary).


By making sure that everyone is included in this performance (to show the world what good looks like) we can learn from each other. So the peer research that Voices of Stoke have commissioned for the Hardship Commision (Staffs Uni) is so critical. We need to learn what poverty looks like and is, and how it feels and how it is caused. We need to know it inside and out. Unless we do that, we’ll never be able to fix it and if we can’t fix it, what have we got to sell or export?


So learning from each other becomes the order of the day. By learning from each other, we can all be confident that we’re all equipped with the know-how we need to become more resourceful, more kind, more resilient and more goddam powerful.


Social learning is at the core of the knowledge sharing culture we’re creating in our little petri dish that is the MFC!


It’s also the core of our new and parallel knowledge economy too.


Being parallel means a) we’re not challenging the existing orthodoxy, just supporting it and b) we’re offering an alternative which for a lot of folks will hopefully be regarded as a timely intervention.


The rate of our progress is for sure, beginning to accelerate and so our attention is beginning to turn to learning how to react faster to changes in the market. We’re getting quite good at this now, simply because we’ve needed to. We’ve a good eye for an opportunity to help fix people’s problems, and the truth of it is, whether or not you’re an individual or an organisation, you’re bound to have problems. (Mainly ‘first-world’ problems, but problems all the same).


Problem-solving is what we’re about. By working together.


Everyone in our network – our gang – is valued for sharing their unique knowledge. As a matter of fact, the more knowledge that is shared, the more secure it is. Or as Ian Brown might say…’keep what you’ve got by giving it all away’….


Creating a knowledge sharing culture used to be a real challenge. In my old business-as-usual business (Modus Properties, thanks for asking – we won awards before the ‘take-down’ in ‘08!)


Now though, with technology and networks we can unlock and tokenise the stored value of our our social / community / natural capital and repackage it for market as as intellectual capital that fixes problems.


Want some of that? No probs. Just Join.


Finally, a message to our LEP:


We now live in a world where the most successful businesses prioritise intellectual capital over financial capital. Creating a collaborative culture in which knowledge can be shared quickly and easily is the secret to success.


The industrial revolution ran on coal. The planned economy ran on money. Equally, the knowledge economy is fueled by the brains of your learners. Now that knowledge is the new currency of success, if you want to stay ahead of the curve…





R6475B-PM-0072 A1 Countercoin Community Club Limited (1)

Recently, we at CounterCoin commissioned a report from our friends over at Keele University to understand the environmental impact of underused seats in different kinds of venues. We wanted to understand how the spare capacity of sports and entertainment venues translates into wasted energy, and what this means for the environment. It was our view that CounterCoin can help fill those empty seats, and we hoped to understand the environmental benefits of doing so. We are pleased to announce that the report has been completed, and is available for download in the link above.
We believe CounterCoin stands to benefit the local community by addressing a whole range of social issues. But what this report does is help us understand the environmental benefits that CounterCoin can offer. While it is an initial bit of research and there is further work necessary, we are confident that it begins to show how making it easier for people to fill venues to capacity has clear environmental benefits. We would like to thank Keele University and Stopford for their work in conducting this research.
Looking ahead, we will use this report to support our work advocating for change and, more practically, will host some commentary blogs on the report in the near term. We also hope to support further research into the social and environmental impacts that CounterCoin can play a part in addressing, and welcome partners in this. We’re making change happen already, and the more people riding this wave of change with us, the better!

Soon we no longer be dependent upon centralised organisations to define value within society.

This is because the maintenance of the databases where value is recorded is shifting to information networks and it’s increasingly becoming possible for anyone or any group of people to set up one of these networks.

It means that groups like CounterCoin can define what we value instead of value being defined for us.

Who gets to define value is of critical importance.

Previously only large centralised institutions got to define objective units of value.

The largest of those institutions – the nation state – got to define widely accepted currencies..

But those tokens were only ever relevant to a centralised entity that defined what that centralised entity values.

For example, the Tesco Clubcard point is a form of token.

The Renminbi is a form of token.

A share in Alphabet is a form of token.

But all of these units of value are defined, created and managed by the centralised entities according to their interests and needs.

What is changing now is that a group like CounterCoin can define any form of value through the creation of a digital token in a database.

Our tokens don’t have to have value to any other centralised entity because they simply represent the inherent value with the CounterCoin network.

CounterCoin tokens are generic units of value that we use to quantify the time spent by volunteers making a contribution to community or, which is of benefit to society.

Our tokens give value representation to what was previously excluded from being defined as economic activity.

The potential of this is that we may for the first time start to move towards an economic system that is based upon full cost accounting.

In recent years with the environmental sustainability crisis unfolding the idea of a full cost accounting economy is being presented as a solution.

But to date the complexity of realising that has been overwhelming and the tools for implementing it remain limited.

Rapid advances in big data, complex analytics and alternative currencies are starting to provide the technical infrastructure for an economy that may in fact incorporate all relevant information and value sources, thus bringing more areas of social capital and natural capital into token market exchanges

Tokenisation is the process of converting some asset into a token unit that is recorded on a blockchain or database.

Anything of economic value can be tokenised and thus brought into the token economy.

With advances in information technology we are approaching a time when quantifying and assigning value units to more and more aspects of our world’s and our social interactions.

Token networks will be used to support these new forms of economies whether we’re talking about the emerging natural capital economy or social capital.

It will be a number of years before we are able to do this on a large scale but it is coming and the implications are enormous especially in post-industrial economies like Stoke on Trent, Newcastle under Lyme, Salford and Wigan where there is a real need for sustainable and inclusive economic renewal. 

The point is, tokens aren’t simply extensions of existing financial and monetary systems but are something truly different.

They allow us to define, quantify and exchange new sets of values that emerge in the post-industrial economy.

In so doing they allow us to expand market systems to coordinate more and more spheres of human activity in an independently owned and controlled centralised system of peer to peer exchanges within digital token markets.


This is more of a diary than a blog. So beware!

Today, I’m writing up my ideas for a multiplayer video game to eliminate waste. Our CounterCoin project is going extremely well with my friends down in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme, and it’s time to think about our next big push.

Mission – find new ways to inspire people of all ages to participate in the quest to eliminate waste, and encourage the community to support them.

CounterCoin the game will be earned for participating in activities that eliminate waste – 5 per hour.

CounterCoin will be used to measure our progress and enable players to purchase the rewards that the business community makes available. Community and voluntary groups will organise all the activities, and validate player participation.

The game starts with four missions.

Mission #1. Create your digital identity and CounterCoin wallet. You’re an agent of change in this adventure and the point of Mission #1 is simply to join the quest to eliminate waste.

Mission #2. Recruit your allies. You will have an inner circle of friends who can help make your work more fun. Get them organised. Pick the people you want to count on most, and invite them to participate in an activity – or create your own and get it validated by your community group. Ask each one to play a specific part: Batman needs a Robin while Bond needs an M a Q and a Moneypenny.  Give each a specific mission, related to his or her character. Use your imagination and feel free to ask for anything you need! You mustn’t be shy about asking for help. Reaching out and really asking for what you need will make a huge difference. It will give people who want to help you, but don’t know how, something specific and actionable to do.

Mission #3. Map the wasters. To win this battle you need to know who and what a waster looks like. Waste is an enemy that can be hard to spot. So pay attention all day to any ‘organised’ activity that wastes your time, drains energy or saps your enthusiasm, and map the organisation. (Think pointless tasks doled about by the job centre!) Also keep an eye out for other forms of waste, and map those too. It doesn’t have to be an activity that wastes your time…waste can be as simple as an empty seat on the bus. Map the route, service, time and operator. Quiet times at the gym? Vacant shops in the town – map them. Save the map before publishing.

Mission #4. Eliminate waste. Call out the wasters. Provide evidence of the waste – photos or videos of empty cinemas or buses are powerful weapons of propaganda. The bosses in charge are the zombie wasters. They need help to see the waste that we see but be warned, they might be in complete denial and lacking in any form of objective reality. Which most likely means you will be ignored. You therefore need to get creative – to work with your allies to send a powerful message – using whatever medium you have at your disposal so that ignoring becomes tougher than listening. Remember that this is a numbers game so the stronger your numbers the stronger the message.  And also don’t underestimate the power of creative messaging. Become an artist, a poet, a singer, a coder – play to your strengths to eliminate waste. You’ll know you’ve won when the waster lets you pay with CounterCoin.

But they’ll have won too! They will now be a more sustainable business on the back of all your hard work! Congratulations – you are an inspiration!

So there you have it. I’ve committed the very first draft of my multiplayer video game to writing for future reference and I now need to go walk my dog, Inca!


Sonya Farrell and I from BabaBoon Marketing had a very interesting day yesterday with a large charity and a significant local authority.

There is no doubt that these organisations are ready to make change happen.

What’s exciting about it is the process of co-creation.

They know that we need their help, and they need our help.

That’s why Sonya persuaded us to make CounterCoin’s strap-line “Help Me 2 Help You”.

Very fitting.

Thanks Sonya!

Let’s be honest, there’s very little disposable income in places like Stoke.

It’s the same the north over, more or less.

But a new mindset is emerging.

One that is more sharing and more caring.

As Narina and Fee might say, “more #BeKind”.

Turning that philosophy into a business model and technology platform, will be a good export for somewhere like Stoke.

Who’s ready to get behind a mindset that values acts of kindness?

We’ve nothing to lose by backing CounterCoin.

The currency of kindness.

One man’s story, as a working class male.

“It was what, a couple a three weeks after I went off on the sick; with what? Mental health, my head finally went. And my mate, the guy they’d moved across the production line to stand in for me while I was off had his pelvis crushed by one of the machines he was working on. Yeah, it could’ve quite easily been me, he was doing my job. He wasn’t the first and i doubt he’d have been the last; occupational hazard you might say.


I mean, in the time I was employed by them there were at least 2 fatalities. I was always aware it could be dangerous working on a factory floor. I never worked in an office or owt like that… I can’t imagine that level of comfort; doing one of them bullshit jobs where I’m pushing papers round, or juggling numbers on a spreadsheet to fill 40 hours of a week. You find yourself rattling with someone down the pub, and they’re moaning about being sat in some office all day, how it’s “hard work”, and after they’ve told you what he actually do, you’re like “and you get paid for that!”


I still remember, clear as a bell, standing in the smoking shelter one morning break, discussing the guy from one of the other departments who’d picked up the wrong airline by mistake and as a consequence had ended up with a frisbee sized piece of steel removing most of the top of his head; he’d been dead less than 2-3 hours and we all joked about it, why? Because we all knew it could’ve been any one of us, maybe not the same accident but the same result and if you couldn’t laugh at it, how the hell were you going to go back inside and step back on to that production line?!


I’ve been out of employment now for just over 10 years because of my mental health and the government’s just getting nastier and nastier; paying private companies bonuses to find the most tenuous excuse to steal money from the sick and disabled; now there’s a sweet job if you can get it.


I do voluntary work now though, I try to do at least 2 or 3 days a week, mostly on the local Scout camp, helping look after the place. It’s my way of giving something back, not just to the Scouts for all the years I was involved as a kid but back to society in general for helping support me through my problems; it’s not like this breakdown was ever part of some grand life plan.


But even then, for all I get out of it for my health, I’ll still find myself talking about it as a way of justifying what meagre benefits I get. Left feeling as though society doesn’t really have any time for me any more and if they could get away with giving me nowt just to reduce their tax bill they would. You know, it’d be cheaper for them if I was just dead.



I’m a straight, white male; I’m the majority apparently, the patriarchy, that one group that seems to have caused all the problems for all these centuries. Sometimes I feel as though I’m part of the only group that isn’t told that they’re some sort of oppressed minority. But I’m a working class lad from Stoke, I only got the vote 100 years ago to, though I don’t remember the media making much of a song and dance about that centenary!


I don’t even know if working class man has the faintest idea what he is any more, what he’s supposed to do. What is my purpose? As a working class male, what is my function? We don’t make anything any more. We don’t need to go down the pits any more, we don’t have steelworks to go to, all the potbanks have gone and we’re no longer even in a constant state of war; at least I’d be cannon-fodder then. We don’t need him any more, let him rot.


We watched as they ripped the industry out of the country, sent it abroad so they could make more money for themselves and then we all saw how little of a shit they gave about the rest of us.


But I keep doing my volunteering; it gets me out of the flat, helps to keep me at least halfway sane and gives me time in the outdoors doing a bit of graft. And it’s no less physical and in some ways no less dangerous at times then previous jobs. But this is real “work”, this is for the passion, this isn’t just “job”!


And as well as the bit of grounds-keeping I help with, I’m now, after a vast amount of support from the manager, a fully qualified instructor for the site. No employer would’ve ever shown the patience or offered the level of support I get from them.


There may not be money in volunteering for charities but the heart felt thank you’s, the looks of achievement and joy on the kids faces, you can’t buy that shit.


Work, it’s good for you; for your mind, for your body, for your heart, for your soul, it’s good for, work is.


Jobs? Jobs are rotten! Jobs’ll crush you!”

Thanks Aitch. You speak for many.

Mike Riddell, August 2018.