The Preston Model and other questions?

Preston, here in North West England, is having a bit of a moment. A moment about doing things for itself. Obvious things, in some ways, but a combination of obvious things that no one else is doing in quite the same ways. Economic things, social things, using your own resources and imagination kinds of things that are getting it a good deal of curious attention. So I’ve decided to come and have a look, and a listen.

Though Preston is fairly close to Liverpool it’s a London journalist, Aditya Chackrabortty, who’s brought what’s happening here to my attention in his new series about alternative approaches to the economics of running our places. And it’s Aditya who’ll be leading this night’s ‘Guardian Live’ discussion. First though, a look round. Continue reading “The Preston Model and other questions?”

What kind of society do you want to grow up in?

Explaining social housing and the economy to young people. Many comments on this now in. See the evolving discussion with young people here.

For a long time I’ve thought and no doubt even said that if you really know your stuff, whatever that ‘stuff’ might be, you should be able to explain it clearly to anyone. Just this year, for example, I’ve been driven to so much distraction by some verbose inhabitants of the ‘social investment sector’ (their description of themselves) that I’ve had to publicly berate them for telling a room of people who actually do things that we need to ‘learn their language’ if we want them to consider investing in us.

Photo by Jane MacNeil

I’m saying this because this very week some of my own ‘stuff’ has been put to the test when The Economist asked me if I’d have a go at answering some questions. They run something called The Burnet News Club that’s specifically about involving both primary and secondary school children in discussions about the economy.



So they sent me five questions young people had submitted, generally around the subject of social housing, and today they’ve published my answers. Continue reading “What kind of society do you want to grow up in?”

What was it you wanted to leave?

And, equal but opposite, what was it I wanted to stay in?DSC04096

A few days after my gentle poem, urging everyone to vote and suggesting staying in Europe might be the best option, our world here in Britain and Northern Ireland has changed. And I don’t want to add too many words to the mountain of them already written.

Except to say this. If you voted to leave you might be right. And if you voted to stay you might be right too. Continue reading “What was it you wanted to leave?”

One Beautiful Day: North Liverpool

One of a pair of blog posts about things I was involved in on Friday 8th April 2016. One beautiful day in North Liverpool.

Out to the North Docks early morning Friday, to the event I’ve been organising the past couple of weeks with the help of all my Beautiful Ideas friends who I’ve been telling you about for a while now.

This is the day our ideas go public and we’ve invited lots of politicians, business leaders, entrepreneurs, academics, general friends – oh and two football clubs – to come and discuss them with us and how we’ll be using them as part of creating a new and alternative economy in North Liverpool.


The invite to the day says this will be:

“One day with people who are doing social and economic change differently, to talk about how we could all do it even more differently and effectively in North Liverpool.

Taking place on Friday 8th April in a new maker space being opened up and renovated in Liverpool’s North Docks. So taking place inside a Beautiful Idea in the making.

This will not be a day of power points and presentations but of linked discussions and debate about ideas, needs, opportunities and possibilities here in North Liverpool, now and for the future.

How we are going about creating an economy for everyone who lives and works here not by simply waiting for investments from elsewhere, but by investing ourselves, our skills and our imaginations in the future of our place.

Makers, bakers, bikers, creators, engineers, gardeners, fixers, builders, artists, actors, organisers, thinkers, dreamers and doers. Working together on a new economy, here in our North Liverpool.”

Continue reading “One Beautiful Day: North Liverpool”

Investing in Granby 4 Streets

Today I want to introduce someone you haven’t met on here before. In fact I hadn’t met him myself before yesterday. He’s John Davey, the man who invested £500,000 in us at Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust, thereby more than helping to get us moving and bring the whole partnership of organisations together that’s now transforming the 4 Streets.16.02.29 - 1Here we are in Cairns Street yesterday. Back row, Erika Rushton of the CLT, Tracey Gore of Steve Biko Housing and Frank Hont – Lead Councillor for Housing at the City Council. Then front row, Ann O’Byrne – Deputy Mayor of Liverpool and next to Ann,  John Davey.

My day had begun as usual by walking into town to my morning's work.
My day had begun as usual by walking into town to my morning’s work.

Continue reading “Investing in Granby 4 Streets”