A #bekind Catalyst for the New Economy

There is no need to explain why the economy is broken. The negative impact is all around us, so let’s not go there. Instead, let’s go to a place where everyone is valued for their kindness — for what they can do for their community; where businesses support volunteers by recognising and rewarding contribution and in return the community supports those businesses because they support us. Just like it used to be.

Beginning with Burslem Market Hall, step by step we will evidence how a new economic model can use “kindness” as a form of social capital to fund our regeneration activities. A revamped Market Hall will be based on the Altrincham food hall model but the twist is that our street food vendors are refugees from Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka….all around the world. Local apprentices will be trained to undertake the refurbishment works, and to serve starry-eyed visitors in the splendid new dining hall.

A buzzing Burslem Market Hall will show the world what “good” really looks like. It will catalyse a new mindset and a completely fresh approach to economic regeneration. An economy based on giving not taking, on kindness not capitalism. Where a digital community currency called ‘C-Shares’ pays the wages of students, trainees and apprentices and is accepted by local merchants, traders and vendors as an electronic means of payment because the markets are crying out for alternative currencies (c.f. Bitcoin, Ethereum).

Note: we don’t need to get drawn into academic arguments about how kindness it’s defined. Think of kindness like cheese. Cheese is made in different forms and varieties all around the world, and so is kindness. It’s just that our version can be ‘weighed and measured’ — and just like cheese, it can be made by ordinary people and sold by ordinary people.

So each street-food trader is furnished with an electronic point of sale that can accept payment in C-Shares, or in real money. This is just a mobile phone app, but it serves as the till. Each till is connected to a centralised computer system that manages payments, sales, marketing, etc. The system keeps everyone informed as to what’s hot and what’s not. Real time info. Dynamic, decision-support information.

The performance and management of Burslem as a #bekind visitor experience is our goal. We aim to unlock the imagination of our youngsters. Their job is to create more reasons to come to Burslem & more reasons to stay, and to deliver a #bekind experience with complementary shops and destination dining. We will focus on kindness-based learning & education; the night time economy e.g. art gallery, film screenings & live shows at the Queens; Christmas markets, local markets, a creative industries and impact innovation hub at the Wedgwood — Burslem the Mother Town will do everyone proud. And at the end of the day, we will have a regeneration model that we can licence to other towns as a payments, membership and rewards platform for social and economic regeneration.

The team comprises Our Burslem as the client; Counter Community as the developer; MCAU as the architect and master planner and Markets Asset Management as the food hall operator. Mike Riddell, 9th April 2021.

I’m a regeneration practitioner working in Stoke and North Staffs. People, place, tech — it’s all in the mix!