Earth 2119. How would it look like? Who are you within that world? How do we get there, starting today?

Ton van 't Noordende
May 6 · 4 min read

Welcome to 2019.

We all feel it. We all know it. The old structure is still intact but hollow at its core. The balance is shifting.

As Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics, framed it quite eloquently: “we’ve entered the space between stories”.

The new stories have yet to be written.

We could talk about the stories that are dormant in our innermost thoughts all day.

Ownership to stewardship. From win-lose to win-win. Closed to open. From subjugation to care. Exclusivity to inclusivity. Control to self-sovereignty. From mindless consumption … to a set of design principles centered around ‘whole’ systems that resemble features observed in natural ecosystems.

We know we don’t have all the answers.

We can reframe principles that are foundational and non-discussable, principles that are value based.

Let’s start from the beginning. What if we would be able to connect people who are value aligned? If we could iron out the imperfections in the existing system? If we could create a blueprint that can be easily replicated?

Wouldn’t that be like heaven?

The space between stories.

September 26th, 2018. Angel Island.

Our goal was to create the ultimate safe haven for original thinkers, founders & investors and create the most inclusive, yet exclusive tech unconference on this planet. Uncompromised. Non-judgemental. Open. Meaningful.

Whilst the days were set in mystery, our crew tried to make sure that within the chaos, actual and intrinsically motivated connections were made.

We believe it takes an entire ecosystem to bring up the next Spotifys and Adyens of Europe. We believe that this is about radical inclusion. A new paradigm, a construct to replace the concept of the zero sum game. We can all be winners.

We promised to do better alongside 550 guests.

And here’s what we did.. We shared our story. No grand opening. No figure heads. Just a letter entailing our most personal thoughts:


Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for being here!
We started Angel Island from our despair
How to level the playing field and make things more fair?
Beyond our dreams, it has grown into so much more
However, we do feel the need to share:

# This is the end, we are tired

Of business that exploits people and destroys the planet for the sake of infinite money
Of confusing funding as the goal and celebrating big investments whilst ignoring real impact
Of the illusion of ownership, monopolies and patent trolls preventing the us from moving forward
Of bullshit partnerships, green washing, purpose marketing and growth at all cost
Of trading for short term profit instead of creating sustainable solutions
Of founders being pushed to the brink of financial, physical and mental destruction
Of those who abuse wealth, power, and privilege, accepting aggression as a means to success
Of the constant complaining & finger pointing as we silently avoid our own reflection in the mirror

# This is the end, we are ashamed

Of ego driven players, interested only in the spotlight
Of events that cost a fortune and exclude those who may need them most
Of experiences delivering what’s already on YouTube instead of bringing new value to our world
Of placing value on things we can buy, yet never the priceless work behind the scenes
Of “ecosystem builders burnout” being a thing, as they scrape by volunteering for us every day
Of the workaholic bro-culture telling us that we must lean-in harder to succeed
Of clickbait, dark patterns, and products designed to create addiction
Of deliberate misinformation and the wholesale plundering of our privacy
Of the fact that #metoo is prolific in our industry but #dobetter isn’t
Of mansplaining like we always know better, unsolicited dickpics and inappropriate conduct
Of the lack of inclusivity, both in the audience and on stage

# This is the end, for we can do better

We are breaking the vicious circle which perpetuates the same old thing
We can recognise that we are all human, not better not worse than any other
We can be more humble, knowing that sympathy and empathy are useless without compassion
We can be honest about how much money we really need and what are we spending it on
We can agree that we are always wrong, and tomorrow, maybe, just a little less wrong
We can focus on becoming the best version of ourselves and help others to do the same

# This is the end, we are drawing the line

We are tired and ashamed
Yet we are not perfect
We don’t have all the answers
But we believe
That sticking to our principles
With focus, discipline and creativity
We can do better
We commit to doing better
Starting right now
This is our protest
The line is being drawn
Please take this moment and let it soak in
You were invited here because we see what you can do
We believe that you will ‘get this’
We believe in you
We invite you to leave the old world behind
To join us on Angel Island, the very last time
For this is the end, we are killing our darling
Only from ashes can a brand new Phoenix start flying
We cannot burn the island
But this letter instead
We invite you to join us
In saying the words:
I am not perfect, I can do better
And I commit, starting right now
With love, hugs and hope.

The phoenix rises.

From the ashes of the letters we burned, comes the end of this story, and the beginning of a new chapter.

How would it look like?

What if…


What story will you write? Let us know here and maybe we’ll see you in September.

~From the people that brought you Angel Island.

PHX — Connect the Unconnected

Connecting the unconnected to write new stories for the future

Ton van 't Noordende

Written by

Deeptech investor @01ventures | Formerly @keadyn VC | ~ PHX (formerly known as Angel Island) | IIR @startupdelta

PHX — Connect the Unconnected

Connecting the unconnected to write new stories for the future

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