“Where did the patchwork idea come from? I’ve been having conversations about my understanding of economies as honeycombs or patchworks, things that are made up of lots of small parts. 

“The economy includes everything from big global firms, to small local and family businesses, including socially trading organisations and activists. But the latter – those that trade for a purpose rather than primarily for profit – need to regroup and reoccupy the economic space. 

“Because what if the next big thing is not a big thing at all, but it’s one thousand small things? What I want us to take away from this is we are one thousand small things, and we need the confidence to be an economic movement.

“Through this network we are coming together for the first time to put the pieces of the patchwork together. As a patchwork or honeycomb we have flexibility, resilience and stability. We can collectively reclaim our economy." [tweet this]

“I found out during Covid, because I had chance to do a little reading, that the idea of economic regeneration as we all understand – where the economy is divided into industry sectors – it can be traced back to something called corporatism or fascist corporatism and became a way of organising economic funding under Margaret Thatcher’s government. 

“It’s a particular kind of economics that doesn’t understand us, because we work cross-sector, cross-community, responding to a problem, or need, or opportunity in the spaces that fall between the existing economic pillars that are industrial sectors. So I challenge you all to start putting your practice back into theory. How do we become a national movement that says, actually, there is another way of running our economy?”

Erika Rushton co-founded the Beautiful Ideas Company in North Liverpool in 2014. By charging football fans £10 to park their cars on a derelict bit of land on match nights, the Beautiful Ideas Company raised £300,000, got the government to match it, and invested the money in 28 place-based ventures. Those ventures now have a collective turnover in excess of £3 million, employing 150 people in over 200,000 sq ft of formerly empty warehouse space.