Not all hubs need a physical space; many form around a dynamic charismatic individual who creates a unique community that becomes like an orchestra, making a greater impact collectively than any individual player could achieve alone (5min read).

The Haphazard road trip has already discovered and written blogs on some dynamic individuals who have set up a business that later becomes a hub in their local area. Richard Garrett in the town of Leiston, Trevor in Assington village, Roger de Haan (charitable foundation) in Folkestone – blog pending, and Gillian Harwood with her numerous small business hubs.

Strong businesses embedded into the community where they are situated are vital, although these are only one type of hub. Another type is one that creates a community within communities. London City Voices and Goldsmiths Alchemy Generation are two examples to be touched on here, demonstrating the importance of dynamic individuals creating non-physical hubs.

London City Voices

London City Voices (LCV) is much more than a non-professional choir for London’s stressed out workforce, it’s a community of friends.

Founder, Richard Swan has been bringing communities and musicians together throughout his adult life. Richard hit on the idea of a choir for workers in central London to assist them in unwinding at the end of a stressful day and turned it into a successful business. LCV has grown from one small group in 2010, to over several hundred participants across four central London areas.

“London City Voices is so much more than your average London choir… We are a community, a group of friends, an increasingly-large group of drinking buddies… and we are also a dynamic non-religious, non-audition community London choir.”

The video shows the choir in full voice, with hundreds of delayed harried commuters joining in at London Bridge Railway station*, briefly forgetting the inconvenience of their disrupted journey. This video provides a kind of metaphor on how contagious a good idea can become, quickly spreading beyond the immediate group or community.

Goldsmiths Alchemy Generation

I attended the final show of Mikey Kirkpatrick’s Alchemy Generation at The Albany theatre in Deptford. The majority of Alchemy participants are troubled and were sent to the project either because of issues at school or home, often both.

What was striking, and became the inspiration for this post, was a young participant’s speech on behalf of the group at the end of the concert.   There was an outpouring of unreserved thanks and love toward Mikey for what he had managed to achieve with the group. A deeply moving experience for the audience to observer, it became abundantly clear that this cohort of individuals’ have bonded in an exceptionally positive manner. Throughout the concert and at the end, one was fully supportive of another, encouraging those who became overcome with nerves to push on. An energy pervaded the room, and demonstrated how, when relationships are able to form naturally, the whole becomes much larger than the parts.

Mikey has said on a number of occasions, ‘I don’t do anything, I just let them get on with it and assist when required’.


As I write up the first phase of this project, a clear pattern is emerging. Places that have a distinct offering, which make them stand out, also appear to have a charismatic leader and/or investor. Groups or communities who form bonds and supportive network appear to congregate around dynamic, enthusiastic, open personalities who encourage rather than teach.

Where the impresario will develop a programme to bring an orchestra to an audience, the orchestra conductor’s role is to direct the emotion and ensure the players are in time. It is neither the impresario’s role to tell the conductor how to conduct nor the conductor’s job to teach the musicians to play. It is when there is mutual respect that there is real alchemy, and is as crucial in creating a dynamic hub as in creating a dynamic concert.

John M

Please feel free to comment below, negative or positive, and join the discussion.

Header Image, Alchemy Project at The Albany | John McKiernan

*LCV at London Bridge was part of one of my Platform-7 intervention LB Live Station. ** Mikey Kirkpatrick initially created an earlier version of the Alchemy Project at another of my Platform-7 interventions, The Waste Agency


Haphazard Business is a self funded project. If you would like to contribute please click below. Thanks John M


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