Thu 15 Mar 2018 12:02PM

The "Preston Model"

G Graham Public Seen by 117

In the UK a fair bit of coverage has been given recently to the work done in Preston on relocalizing the economy. I'm interested in opinions and ideas about how to extend and deepen the so-called "Preston Model" towards a more explicit Commons-oriented approach.


mike_hales Thu 15 Mar 2018 2:19PM

This is interesting @graham2, yes, more of this please. At present, is there much explicit 'commons' thinking in the Preston approach? Or is it basically about local cashflow and local private (small?) business? Does it highlight social enterprise? Workers' coops? Genuinely asking . . . I would be glad to see more analysis posted on 'Prestonism'.

Are you involved in Preston? AN Other locality? Might you want to hook up with @asimong here in creating a UK-focused P2P/Commons network?


Graham Thu 15 Mar 2018 6:32PM

Thanks Mike. Certainly growing the cooperative economy is a part of the Preston approach, and I know Gareth Nash who is part of the Cooperative and Mutual Solutions (CMS) team that is based in Preston, and is driving a lot of that activity. I'm not directly involved in what's happening in Preston, yet. I am working to develop a similar programme in Kirklees, on the other side of the Pennines.


Liam Murphy Thu 15 Mar 2018 2:18PM

HI Graham - I'm currently involved in setting up 3 focus groups as research towards a 'proof of concept' project for commons collecting societies and mutually owned intellectual property asset banks: (CultureBanks on here - https://www.loomio.org/invitations/475e91ab6cdd40734c7f - all welcome!). I've made enquiries in the Labour Party about the Preston Model, though it is difficult to work with them due to politics!! I do think mimicking the practice of working with 'anchor orgs' to source locally is a start, but for most commons-oriented approaches you have to begin with ownership (at least in terms of what i'm doing). Preston seems to be about procurement mainly. I want to introduce 'commons transition' to local LEP's Cultural Boards, Museums and Libraries as well as P2P and to link them into a commons of peer production ('co-production' in their lexicon). In order to speak with these orgs on a 'strategic' level, they insist on seeing, ironically, what 'we' are doing 'centrally'. Of course, that is not the gospel in commoning, so there's an impasse. My solutions so far are:
1. To concentrate on IP ownership, since it is one of the few areas where people actually begin with ownership
2. To approach institutions on specific matters which may be proving intractable but which commoning might offer a potential solution to.
3. To join in here and be involved in setting up some kind of move towards 'commons transition UK', Commons Transition Circles etc.
4. By getting anchor orgs to frame some of their research and events under a commons transition banner: This seems to be working to some extent... I have been asked to draft an agenda for a proposed symposium around: "IP and a host of Brexit related trade and competition questions (which) might be related in terms of localism and commons based organisation with diverse contributors from Arts, Tech, Law, Economics etc. "
5. Once a degree of awareness has been raised, to request or develop 'position statements' on the agendas of the above groups, local authorities etc. and then to offer to conduct asset maps and audits to evaluate future possibilities. Social Accounting, Participatory Budgeting etc, as Michel is speaking about now in Belfast, would be the next steps.

Happy to be corrected/advised on all counts!

Any bulleted suggestions for items 4 and 5 would be greatly appreciated...

Hope that's of some use,


Michel Bauwens Thu 15 Mar 2018 2:19PM

I believe that Pat Conaty may know a bit more about this, so I put him in cc,

Michel , https://wiki.p2pfoundation.net/Preston_Model


Greg Cassel Thu 15 Mar 2018 2:38PM

@asimong perhaps you're somewhat familiar with this? (apologies if it doesn't seem very relevant)


Simon Grant Thu 15 Mar 2018 3:36PM

Thanks for the mentions -- I do not have any deep knowledge of the Preston model, beyond what anyone can easily read, despite living 15 minutes train journey away. But if there is anyone else in NW England who would like to collaborate on the job of interpreting the Preston further -- beyond the work of @michelbauwens1 already cited above -- then I'm game. If it were worthwhile, it would be easy enough for me to visit and see.

The Aditya Chakrabortty article cited by @graham2 says a lot more than I was aware of. It would be interesting to investigate more deeply the statement "It even creates worker-owned co-operatives."


Michel Bauwens Thu 15 Mar 2018 6:51PM

Hi Michel and Stacco

The Preston model is seeking to doing something like the Evergreen Co-ops in Cleveland.

Here is a good article by Aditya Chakrabortty in the Guardian on the Preston model. He is a great journalist now running an ongoing series on alternative business pathways.


We are launching our third report on Trade Union and Co-op solutions to precarious work next week. It is called Working Together. Shall we send you guys the press release and the report on Monday coming?



Graham Fri 16 Mar 2018 10:10AM

I think I've been invited by Pat to be involved in this Trade Union/Co-op project.


mike_hales Thu 15 Mar 2018 7:26PM

It would definitely be good to discover more about 'Cooperative and Mutual Solutions’ within the Preston approach. Please :)

Kirklees is next door to the patch where I originally came from: Calderdale. D’you have names of similar people in Calderdale? Is anyone here (in Loomio) in Calderdale?

For that matter: in Brighton! Where I live now.


Graham Fri 16 Mar 2018 10:12AM

For Cooperative and Mutual Solution: http://cms.coop
For Calderdale: https://calderbootstrap.org there's also a group on FB.


Mark Simmonds (Co-op Culture) Thu 10 May 2018 1:20PM

I'm from Calderdale @mikeh8 and involved in Calderdale Bootstrap.


Liam Murphy Thu 15 Mar 2018 7:59PM

I had a notion of comparing Preston, Folkestone and Frome - 3 different approaches...


Michel Bauwens Thu 15 Mar 2018 8:38PM

can you tell us more about Folkestone ?


Liam Murphy Fri 16 Mar 2018 12:24AM

Not by direct experience, but it rings bells with other east coast seaside towns I do know: This quote: "cultural branding used to conceal what is basically a speculative property development aimed at elite consumers.” from this article: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/aug/27/folkestone-gentrification-row-saga-tycoon-harbour-development sums it up well. My direct experience is of Great Yarmouth, but the link is the practice of using 'culture' as branding for attracting investment (in theory) which fails to 'stick' with local (common!) people. (The 'Teflon' economy). In Folkestone, the De Haan investment is on a par with the large sums of 'Cultural Heritage' Funds and 'needs based' funding in Yarmouth - also using 'culture' as a mask. One private, one lottery - same effects. Attract the rich London 'cultural tourists' who are also potential investors by creating the impression of an ever emerging, 'cool' scene is the scheme. It may be working in Folkestone... In Yarmouth, several millions have been raised on the basis of helping 'communities' who never see the money and who walk by 'cultural quarter' 'galleries', theatres, international circus festivals and now, arts council funded projects while making their livings travelling out of town to chicken factories or selling coffee for a pound in largely ethnically separated cafes. Folkestone, Yarmouth, Frome, Preston - just very different models which, if compared, might lead to some wisdom on how to actually invest in communities' working assets (the coffee shops) and not desires or needs ( the 'cultural quarter/the deprivation'). It was the comparison of different approaches I felt might shine some light.. As Simon says below, where we put our money is one of the last choices left open, but unfortunately, where we make it isn't! 'Cultural Commons' and real peer production in this environment is a direct threat to the cash cow/magic money tree. Getting local authorities or large NGO's with 'service level agreements' to facilitate in this sort of climate is - challenging! First duty unto themselves and their funders... 'Regeneration without gentrification' is the term used in Yarmouth - in fact, they are getting neither! (not speaking with great authority on Folkestone but very willing to take all flak for my criticisms of G. Yarmouth). Apologies for negative tone - there are frustrations...!


Robert Pekin Sun 13 May 2018 1:33AM

Hi Michel, your mentioning Folkstone brings to mind the work of Christopher Houghton Budd from the Associative Economics org. Christopher did have or still does have an 'mini money museum' in Folkestone. He practices in my view the most progressive form of economic thinking with a particular focus on youth. This link gives a summery of the other things he is working on at Folkstone. Not sure of that was what your after but I find his work very inspiring and practical albeit challenging. http://www.financefolkestone.com/mini-money-museum


Robert Pekin Sun 13 May 2018 1:41AM


Robert Pekin Sun 13 May 2018 1:54AM

Christopher is also heavily involved in L' Aubier which you may have come across. In my mind one of the best examples of community finance that I have observed. A P & L is sent to the 1,300 member 'custodians' / owners every week for total transparency along with many other very progressive principles of responsibility towards the 'unfolding' of the entrepreneurs doing the work of 'creating money'. https://www.aubier.ch/en/home.html


Simon Carter Thu 15 Mar 2018 9:16PM

People invest in their own portfolio for a personal return on investment. I think we will all do much better when we take our individual surplus & invest it predominantly in shared assets, i.e. commons infrastructure as stakeholders. Preston are doing this to a degree from the top down, i.e. state managed. We need many more mechanisms to facilitate it from the bottom up, but most of all this is a cultural shift. We can look inwards & take care of ourselves, or we can look outward, & take care of each other. If commons is a 'pooled resource', then we need to pool our own resources & 'buy back the commons;' from enclosure. At the end of the day, what we do with our own money is one of the few choices we have left. This is how cooperatives & commons come together. I thought the definition of commons was not state or markets managed, meaning Preston & other municipalities should focus on being a facilitator, I'm quite sure Mat Brown understands that. If I have read him correctly, I suspect he would be quite happy to make Preston Council obsolete.


Graham Fri 16 Mar 2018 10:17AM

Local authority reshaped in the mould of the 'Partner State' as described by John Restakis.


Michel Bauwens Fri 16 Mar 2018 6:18AM

thanks, so it seems folkestone is in an entirely different , and neoliberal, category than frome and preston


Liam Murphy Fri 16 Mar 2018 7:22AM

Yes, arguably, but following a similar ‘regeneration’ timeline.

Best Wishes

Liam Murphy

“CultureBanking® is a Platform Cooperative for Cultural Commons Collecting and Community Rights Management. We aim to enable creative communities to be resilient, inclusive and self sustaining’

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Graham Fri 16 Mar 2018 10:18AM


Graham Fri 16 Mar 2018 10:34AM

IN Preston the Centre for Local Economic Strategies has been closely involved: https://cles.org.uk/the-preston-model/


Liam Murphy Fri 16 Mar 2018 10:57AM

and they're advising on this, which I've found difficult to 'penetrate' - if anyone has a contact? https://cles.org.uk/news/cles-to-advise-new-community-wealth-building-unit/


Simon Grant Fri 16 Mar 2018 12:13PM

I've added these last two links to the P2PF wiki page on the Preston Model


Graham Fri 16 Mar 2018 12:47PM

So my thinking is that if we can get local authorities to get their heads round Preston style procurement and community wealth building measures, we can then begin to move their thinking forward towards a more engaged Partner State approach.


Stacco Troncoso Wed 21 Mar 2018 3:28PM


Simon Grant Mon 26 Mar 2018 6:43AM

I've started a Commons Transition UK thread, hoping that some folks here in England (and interested others!) will join to discuss practical aspects of local / regional things like this. Please join! https://www.loomio.org/invitations/4e5a51c7ae14bd2f38da


Danyl Strype Sat 12 May 2018 6:11PM

Does anyone know if Preston is working off an existing pattern language like Rob Hopkins' Transition Handbook model, or perhaps some similar model derived from the UK 'social enterprise' movement, or whether they have created their own model from whole cloth, perhaps drawing loosely on some of these influences? I've seen and heard of many examples of similar re-localize initiatives. Sometimes they are a response to a genuine need for economic revitalization in a community, while other times they are driven more by fashion (remember those brief surges of interest in growing potted basil or making cupcakes?). I suspect the former is more sustainable, even if it does involve re-inventing the wheel instead of drawing on a pre-existing blueprint like Transition Towns.


mike_hales Sun 13 May 2018 9:56AM

AFAIK the Preston activity is directly derived from earlier US regeneration work (Cleveland?) by the Democracy Collaborative, who are very much into 'patterns' - although not in a form I find particularly helpful. They promote 'systems' thinking of a kind that seems to me a bit rigid and programmatic - and I've been 'a systems thinker' for many years. See Stacco's DC link above and the affiliated next system project, which basically seems to be the life-work of Gar Alperovitz. That said, more systems thinking is always a good thing, provided it's practically grounded.

Senior DC people have spoken at political gatherings in the UK around the Preston activity, and the Labour Party shadow-cabinet office now has people working on this, in liaison with DC, as a model for possible national application in the UK

My hunch is that @strypey is right to hold a concern over being grounded vs being programme-driven.. DC seems like quite a machine with quite a marketing drive. Perhaps a good machine! Does anyone here know them directly? Marjorie Kelly of extractive vs generative fame is part of DC: see here.


mike_hales Sun 13 May 2018 10:03AM

Does anyone know if there's a current 'complete' version of Rob Hopkins' Transition Towns pattern handbook? The only source I know is here and this is part of a 2010 conference agenda (keep looking, you'll find it buried among conference items!), labelled 'work in progress'.


Michel Bauwens Sun 13 May 2018 6:45PM

Perhaps Rob can help



mike_hales Sun 13 May 2018 6:49PM

:thinking: I think Rob's not here? Can anyone pass a query?


Michel Bauwens Sun 13 May 2018 6:55PM

thanks, we actually met some years ago, as I attended a huge Waldorf conference in Asia,