Connecting Places: Global Exchange and Value Creation

Wes Hinckes
8 min readApr 14, 2021

*This is a very loose set of thoughts.

Platforms and ecosystems allow you to connect to together society, the economy and organisations in ways that would otherwise be unexpected.

Socially Enterprising does this by connecting an ecosystem around the multiple meanings of the term ‘socially enterprising’ i.e. being social, creative and resourceful as a society and working together for the common good.

Socially (the localised aspect of the Socially Enterprising platform), does this through the idea of ‘socially’ i.e. ‘to do together’ or for ‘a social purpose’ as a way of bringing communities together, developing their potential and achieving social and environmental benefits.

These are needs which aren’t being adequately fulfilled today.

As a conceptual proposition they are best understood as networks of networks which distinguishes them from other approaches. They all operate as part of a single socially oriented ecosystem (Socially Enterprising).

It can take a bit of a leap to grasp the idea but once you have it becomes quite natural. It’s a really great way of connecting, separating and conceptualising ecosystems, networks and usage and purpose. This is partly why I’ve been trying to explain and expand in my writings on Medium. To help me concretise some of the ideas and build up some language and materials around it, to record some of the thoughts I’ve had over the years (and continue to consider) and to push at the space while I’m at it.

There was always the idea of multiple platforms working together.

These would fulfil different needs with some logical separation but would also integrate into a larger whole and connected strategy. The logo design was influenced by this, it gives scope for an entire family of platforms.

I’ve introduced one possibility in my thinking already and it’s worth mentioning that these possibilities are anywhere even closely scoped or fully thought out.

They are very much back of the napkin stuff.

But they are always connected back to the concept of ‘socially enterprising’. There is always a social (I consider environmental inseparable from ‘social’) purpose in the idea. They are always integrated with the Socially Enterprising platform even if they would exist and operate separately.

Think of the main ‘Socially Enterprising’ platform as offering a potential ‘universal login’ and core mass reach and connectivity for this kind of collaborative and networked way of working for social benefit.

In this post is another possibility.

Connecting Great Ideas and Organisations into Wider Supportive Ecosystems

There are a lot of really great ideas and ways of doing things which gain a following but are never quite able to gain enough traction to fully realise their potential.

This can be because there is; an existing status quo that are reluctant to change or adapt, a number of leading organisations who block the path or dominate the space and thinking, or that there is an accepted belief or established practice which corrals decisions and behaviour.

It can also be due to new ideas and organisations being highly siloed.

This can be by practice, or industry, or knowledge or method. The point being that good ideas happen all the time but opportunity comes mainly through exposure and connectivity.

There is already a lot of knowledge and understanding of these problems and much is being done by governments to try to improve things.

Purposefully bringing innovators together with established organisations is one way of doing this.

Innovators have the space to think differently and to come at problems from unique perspectives whereas established organisations have the resources, capacity and potential to scale.

Each side of this relationship can meet the other’s needs.

Connecting organisations together around a specific purpose can also break through the silos and release the potential that can otherwise get trapped.

This is more open and less prescriptive.

Ecosystems can provide the base reach, diversity and connectivity which allows for other innovation initiatives and programmes to be formed.

Platforms allow you to bring together the elements contained within ecosystems into entirely new and dedicated solutions.

Cultural Exchange

I’ve had an interest in cultural exchange for a while.

I was a trustee of an educational charity which specialised in ‘global learning’ and there was a strong multi-cultural ethos in their work and thinking.

Cultural Exchange is synonymous in many people’s minds with the French (German etc) School Exchange programmes which provided an opportunity for schoolchildren and teachers to experience life though a reciprocal exchange relationship with a nation in Europe.

For many years there was an organisation called UKOWLA (United Kingdom One World Linking Association) which helped to support the formation of such links around the world *.

*It’s actually a far more complex and nuanced set of skills, knowledge and expertise than you might initially think. Every link to every nation comes with its own unique set of complications and having the ability to tap into specialist knowledge counts for a lot.

From what I recall UKOWLA had a wide range of expertise that covered all forms and levels of education and also various types of linking and partnerships. It’s very possible that they supported some of the many church links in existence around the world or at least counted the religious linking organisations as members in the UKOWLA umbrella network.

UKOWLA are no longer operating which is a shame as it can be extremely difficult to rebuild that kind of capacity once it’s gone. It was very much people who cared and believed who kept it together.

School Exchanges are less simple than they were and loaded with questions around privilege and access. From what I understand, they happen far less than they once did.

If you are interested in learning more then please take a look at ‘Connecting Classrooms’ which helps facilitate school links and brings global learning into schools around the world.

GLADE: Connecting Classrooms through Global Learning 2018–2021

Exchanging Friendship and Culture

So there are school or educational exchanges and many churches also have links overseas.

Towns and places have the Town Twinning (or Sister City) programme, which was started after the Second World War to help foster peaceful relations between countries.

I live in Bridgwater which is twinned with La Ciotat (France) Homberg (Germany) Uherske Hradiste (Czech Republic) Marsa (Malta) and Priverno (Italy).

Bridgwater really keeps this institution alive whereas many links around the UK have faded into non-existence. Again, you need people who care and believe to keep everything thriving as well as the ability to dedicate funds and resources.

The local town council here understands that the links represent much more than their perceived value on paper and that the town, its people and its culture are far richer because of them.

But, like the other cultural exchanges I’ve mentioned so far. In a world which only sees value in economic things, that which binds us together is often the first to fall apart.

The twinning programme in the UK is not what it could be and it’s a shame that dedicated funds are not available or that more attention isn’t paid to the forms of social and cultural value which it generates.

Like many older institutions it can be overlooked by newer generations or receive less priority (if any) through local authority funds.

The truth of the matter may be that there is great unrealised potential and reward in all forms of cultural exchange if we decided to take a closer look with more open minds.

Other Types of Twinning

There are other types of twinning which deserve mention.

There is Fair Trade Twinning (and there was once Twin Trading).

There is Toilet Twinning and Bin Twinning.

There is Innovation Twinning.

There is Public Sector Twinning.

There is Twin Towns UK.

I’m sure there are many more examples all operating at different scales, levels and achieving different aims.

Local and Global

There are other types of cultural exchange which occur between places and which fits in with the ‘socially enterprising’ ethos.

Cosmo-localism (intellectual goods combined with local production)

Sustainable Cargo, Freight and Trade

Sustainable Travel and Tourism

Travel to Tomorrow: An Emerging Vision for the Tourism Industry

Breaking Out of Silos

Everything mentioned so far facilitates a connection and movement of various things or forms of value between two or more places.

Some of this is physical. Some of it can be digital or virtual. Some of it is cultural or social and some of it is intellectual, experiential or knowledge based.

It can also be economic.

But it is all ‘movement’, ‘flow’ or ‘exchange’ of some kind.

The problem that all of the above purposes or sectors experience (whether they realise it or not) is that they are all highly siloed.

All of them consider themselves separate from everything else. They put their heads down and get on with their own work and agenda. There will be practically zero communication and collaboration between any of them.

It’s simply not how they have ever had to think or operative.

It’s out of date.

This separateness means that they are not resilient. They are easily harmed or damaged.

They are not adaptable to change.

They cannot learn from each other or share common knowledge and expertise.

They act and understand their world ‘inwardly’ and fail to connect to opportunities ‘outside’ of themselves.

They are unable to connect in ways in which they may benefit each other.

An Ecosystem of Movement

But if we look deeper at the commonality that exists, that of ‘movement’, ‘exchange’ and ‘flow’ between places that connects them all together.

That all of them can be viewed as ‘socially enterprising’ in that they can be social, creative and resourceful.

Then we may find that an ecosystem could exist which would be able to support and connect them.

I’m not saying that a single platform can provide for all of their needs.

I am saying that a single ecosystem could provide the basis for a number of inter-connected and integrated platforms which could.

Natural ecosystems are diverse and inter-connected and it this which creates resilience and endless potential.

Building the New Economy and Infrastructure

Let me refer you again to the list I’m suggesting could form the basis for a socially oriented global/local ecosystem.

Town Twinning; Innovation Twinning; Fair Trade Twinning; Public Sector Twinning; Cultural Exchange; Sustainable Cargo, Freight and Trade; Cosmo-localism; Sustainable Travel and Tourism; Global Learning and Citizenship; Cultural Education.

All of these of mutually supportive. They just don’t know it.

A platform can allow the ‘understanding’ of this to come into being.

You move/exchange between them that which is socially beneficial. At the same time, you continuously specify the minimisation of any negative environmental effects so that you are always keeping a critical eye out for poor decisions and behaviour.

It is a system of moving things around the world sensibly…

The New Economy has reason to develop its own infrastructure, networks and ecosystems.

Not doing so means that it is constantly leaning on and supporting capitalist (old economy) organisations, practices, thinking and finance.

There is a need to create an alternative to the ‘too big to fail’ system which underlies world trade and the current economy.

Creating resilient and diverse ecosystems that are dedicated to a different way of doing things is a way of creating this alternative.



Wes Hinckes

Founder of Socially Enterprising / Commoner / Mostly Unemployed.