What's unique about Love Alloa?
Love Alloa does not have a constitution; it has DNA. If you want to get what makes us tick, read on.
What do you want to do?
I want to see the end of unemployment. I've spent a lot of time unemployed, not least because I couldn't find work when I finished my education, and unemployment is self-perpetuating. (You need experience to get work; you need work to get experience.) So I've learned a lot about what it really takes to beat unemployment at its toughest.
I also know that, to beat unemployment, you have to have a big plan. For one thing, you need a strong economy; moreover, you need an economy with many different kinds of work and many different ways of valuing people. Love Alloa is a first step: I plan to grow it into something that celebrates, markets and supports organisations in the Alloa area that are innovative, creative and that keep trying, whatever happens.
Why would you Love Alloa?
I think there are lots of reasons why someone might love Alloa; but mine revolve around the fact that I'm a Christian. I believe there's a God, that before anything else he is a father; that he became human; and that the experience moved him to compassion. Compassion, yes - condescension, no. The God I know has more faith in us than we do. And I believe God speaks to people, in real time, about real things. (Beats me why anyone would pray to a God who didn't speak.) There's more, obviously, but that's it in a nutshell.
"Christian? Doesn't that mean you're right-wing, homophobic and you think we're all sinners?"
Er - no, none of the above, actually; but that is a common stereotype, so I thought I should probably address it.
Love Alloa might be religiously-motivated, but it is not an act of religious worship. Get in touch, tell your own story, live what you believe; and if we both think we can do something constructive working together, I'd be delighted to do so.
Of course, faith is politically difficult in some circles. I could just have kept quiet about it. But why should I? It's what supplies my vision, direction and drive. It's what gives me the confidence and desire to earn my living elsewhere so that I can provide Love Alloa for free. So I may as well be honest; if you don't like why I do what I do, then you may not like working with me at all. Besides, if I were driven my some other belief - say, a passionate belief in the free market - nobody would mind my saying that, even if they didn't agree with me!
The usual suspects
I like the idea of giving people a chance to show their potential in areas they've never been allowed before. That's one effect of unemployment: an unemployed person is not being given a chance to shine. What's more, a young or long-term unemployed person may never have been given a chance to shine, and may never really get one.
That's one reason I like working with people who are doing something away from the mainstream. It's also why I like to build my own networks - hunting for people who have interesting ideas or a lot of potential, but whom few other people know about.
The thing is that, if you only ever work with the usual suspects, a favoured elite develops: the in-crowd who get all the work, all the business and all the interesting (paid) opportunities. That happens the world over, and it's a major reason why the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. To break that cycle needs someone who's willing to take risks, and make an effort at it.
"If you have to ask, you'll never know"
That's the answer Louis Armstrong is said to have given when asked "what is jazz, anyway?". There are some things you'll never understand properly unless you first experience them.
If I possibly can, I'll find a way for Love Alloa to do everything it needs to do without ever becoming imprisoned in a written definition. I believe you tell a tree by its fruit, not by its qualifications. Practical evidence is good, in other words. Many people who want to change the world make the mistake of forcing living, breathing goals into a set of rules. The problem is: as soon as you do that, the rules become more important than the goals.
Please don't get me wrong here: I'm no kind of anarchist. I just understand that written processes are not very good at forcing good things to happen. People who think no rule-book means no rules have never worked in a real team with real leadership.
How are you going to do this?
Short answer: I don't know exactly, but I have an idea that's worth trying. Get to know as much of the enterprising business community in the area as I can; help and support that community as much as I can; get to know the "unemployed community" as well as I can; then bridge the two communities.
I'm using a combination of the scientific method and the unscientific method. The scientific method is the ordered gathering and interpreting of real-world evidence. The unscientific method is never giving up whatever the evidence says. The scientific method taught Edison the basic physics he'd have to harness to make a lightbulb. The unscientific method (and around a thousand failed attempts) actually produced a lightbulb.
How long will Love Alloa be around?
Simple answer is: I'm not planning on moving away any time soon, but I don't know how long Love Alloa will last. I know this: fighting unemployment is my life, not my hobby. Whatever it takes...
I know something else: the day Love Alloa becomes a room full of people debating about what its purpose and vision should be, I'll know it's dead, and it'll be time to replace it with something else that works.
And that's us...
... for now, anyway. True to form, this page will be re-written pretty often!