on Behalf of The #bekind Collective and CryptoBates Group

Adam Rizvi, CrpytoBates Group (left) and Mike Riddell, The #bekind Collective at CoinFest UK in Manchester

Adam Rizvi is the founder of CryptoBates Group that organises the annual Coinfest UK crypto and NFT conference. Earlier today, with friends and family, we signed the following statement of intent:

A new partnership. A relationship as old as time.

What value do you put on kindness? A simple and single act of kindness is after all the world’s oldest currency. A value exchange that is easy to underestimate and undervalue. Until now.

Manchester-based Cryptobates Group are joining the Stoke-based #bekind Collective to strengthen their crypto and NFT capability. The #bekind goal is a community cryptocurrency and ‘network’ of organisations and individuals that share their resources, skills and money to help local communities survive and thrive.

The network is open to organisations from the public, private and social sectors, and is owned and controlled by all the organisations instead of just one.

Successive efforts to strengthen community infrastructure have failed to bridge the gaps between sectors meaning the ‘community’, in its truest sense of the word, remains fragmented, missionless, and powerless to truly help itself. The ‘Collective’ could be THE answer.

The newly strengthened #bekind Collective will immediately begin working on an NFT and cryptoart project that seeks to promote a model of DIY community-led regeneration.

The aim is to develop a new funding model that breathes new life into old economies. In these left-behind places all problems related to poor health, wealth or happiness tend to originate from one of two sides of the same coin:

Not enough money // Too much debt

By co-developing our own means of payment, our own measure of success and our own store of value, we can secure financial independence and participatory decision-making. This only becomes possible when the legal entity that controls its own money and payments network is independently and democratically governed. Reduction in the costs of living and doing business is our primary goal, as we work to eliminate waste in all its forms.

Burslem, where the work is being pioneered and showcased is of huge cultural significance. It was once the jewel of 7 towns that make up Stoke and North Staffordshire, and became known as the “Mother town”, the birthplace of both the ceramics industry and Josiah Wedgwood, the great potter and innovator who triggered the Industrial Revolution in the Potteries.

As a result of Burslem’s role at the heart of industry in the Potteries, the town is blessed with a rich heritage. However, there is a real threat that this heritage will be lost entirely if the present day malaise and neglect is not ended.

Burslem is full of empty, blank shops. Crumbling buildings. Few jobs. The town looks to be unloved. The people are sad.

But the people have a plan, and part of that plan is to celebrate and breathe new life into the town’s outstanding legacy: a drive to restore the once resplendent architecture and repurpose the under-utilised and abandoned spaces within the town. The key principles will be creativity, kindness, and a focus on greening the town. A new local food chain will be established, which will also encourage veganism.

Through their actions, the people will build on the historical narrative and persona of the great Josiah Wedgwood, and will show the world what good looks like and champion the array of small spin-off industries that will flourish in adverse conditions trickling out from the “written-off” Potteries. Burslem and its people are a phoenix, ready for rebirth. After years of neglect, there is a willingness to support this rebirth.

The #bekind Collective operates in accordance with co-operative principles, and Burslem is the Flashpoint for what will become a ‘new co-operative movement’. This is a collaborative response, led by passionate individuals fired up for change.

However we are under no illusions. There is much work to do.

Surviving the challenges by trial and error for many years is evidence of our staying power: we don’t get discouraged and we don’t give in. These challenges neither hurt us nor daunt us, and nor do they dent our enthusiasm. From them we learn what works and what doesn’t, and this helps us to grow.

But we are here for another reason. Because the timing is right to pay tribute to the likes of Adam and his CryptoBates Group who took an investment chance on us three years ago, at a time when no one else was prepared to. Adam has helped us to overcome the challenges we have faced so far, and has presented us with a unique opportunity to shape the future of money so that it works for the benefit of those that co-operate — for those that give, rather than those that take.

By encouraging a generation of young people who are not in education, in training or in employment, to help to shape the future of money, we can equip them with the skills they need to make the world a better place for themselves, and for those less fortunate.

***

So today is the day that these two organisations — and the growing communities of ordinary people they represent — have come together here in Manchester to declare that a new co-operative movement is underway.

As the original birthplace of the co-operative movement, how fitting is it that Greater Manchester is today entering into a new pioneering partnership with Stoke-on-Trent — a city which also has a rich history when it comes to the co-operative movement — to launch a new co-operative movement, #bekind.

Two great cities, in common cause, for the common good.

By recognising and valuing voluntary action and by incentivising a wider participation in civic service, the #bekind Collective and CryptoBates Group are confident that a new co-operative economy will quickly emerge to make us healthier, wealthier and happier.

It’s time for the New Co-operative Movement to show its face. It’s time to #bekind.

I’m very grateful to the many people who contributed towards the above statement of intent.

— Mike

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