Transform Evia—Designing A Next-Stage Destination Marketing Organisation for North Evia


I’m Marcus and in late 2016 I relocated with my young family to the Aegean island region of North Evia in Central Greece to lead on the development of Transform Evia, Origin Club and Nature Play startups.

Our mission is to quite literally Transform Evia into a leading European destination for regenerative culture design and applied social and solidarity economics.

This article is your invitation to collaborate on the relaunch of Transform Evia following one full year of observation. This is an unique opportunity to jump into a project with massive and transformative purpose that is already significantly bedded in on-the-ground on North Evia, and is now ready to be communicated to a wider audience. We’re looking to convene distributed and local team members who will make 3–12 month commitments to this startup venture from September 2017 in order to develop key partnerships and revenue streams.

If you think that could be you, please add your comments / suggestions / feedback to this Google Doc — a copy / paste of this Medium article — and let’s get co-creative… :)

What’s the story?

Let’s think outside of the box and frame a bold new agenda:
How do we reverse accelerating trends towards unsustainable urbanisation?
How do we take back control of our agricultural sector, our economic and political systems, and our health and well-being in a world-out-of-balance?
How do we create 21st century lifestyles where work is balanced with immersion in wild, organic places and authentic shared experience?

Transform Evia is a Destination Marketing Organisation (DMO) for North Evia — in part inspired by Wonderful Copenhagen. Our mission is to transform this Greek island region into a leading European exemplar for applied social and solidarity economics and regenerative culture design. It might sound far fetched, but we genuinely believe this underdeveloped rural backwater can become a global hub for cross-disciplinary Self-Directed Education. So how do we take all this potential and package it up as a Minimum Viable Product? This — in a nutshell — is the design challenge which has inspired 9 months of meandering on-the-ground R&D, our story so far, if you like.

Behind the scenes, Transform Evia has been incubated by One Planet Productions, a multi-stakeholder Co-operative Society registered in the United Kingdom. It is, we believe, the “next-stage” organisational design of this DMO which gives us our all-important cooperative advantage in an already saturated tourism sector. In this context, our DMO will focus on three key activities. We seek to facilitate the co-production of 1) start up ventures + platforms, 2) social media content and 3) diverse event productions including training programmes and volunteer schemes — and in doing so frame the region of North Evia as a distributed educational campus for agile learning facilitation. Transform Evia’s modus operandi will be to choose access over ownership by developing lasting and committed relationships with existing event spaces and productive infrastructures within the region. More specifically, we will:

  • Design cross-disciplinary, place-based innovation and education programmes like World Games,
  • Curate flagship summits and micro-festival productions like the IO Retreat and ENA Festival.
  • Deliver bespoke communications strategies for North Evia’s established event spaces, specifically targeting a network of known SSE clients across Europe.
  • Promote flagship development schemes on sites like the Farakla estate.
  • Manage facilities and properties for absentee landlords and / or oversees social investors.

Working in this way, Transform Evia can attract leading edge project partners to the region in order to support a collective vision for North Evia’s regenerative development, as well as improving the region’s visibility and accessibility more generally, without the risk of significant investment in physical infrastructure.

Why Evia?

“We believe that our target municipality has the potential to become a platform for change and innovation within Greece and wider Europe.
Evia is a place of immense natural beauty; a fertile and biodiverse paradise of mountains, beaches and forests. It is only a two hour drive from Athens and its international airport. Given it’s location and warm Mediterranean climate, it is surprisingly under-developed and sparsely populated.”

What is our purpose?

In the longer term, Transform Evia will seek to engage participants in a collective visioning process that will identify North Evia’s unique place DNA, and subsequently develop technologies, strategies and trainings which refine and amplify this identity through value-aligned, place-based innovations. Once built and tested, we will seek to white label these technologies, strategies and trainings and diffuse them to peer producers of similar initiatives all over Europe and indeed the world.

Key outcomes of our activity in 2018 will be:

  • To identify and promote a unique place DNA for North Evia.
  • To incubate initiatives which integrate regenerative culture design and applied social economics on North Evia, primarily through the coordination of existing local peer producers and leading edge global practitioners.
  • To develop One Planet Productions’ role as facilitators of a distributed educational campus: a multi-site, cross-disciplinary research and development programme featuring startup accelerators, co-learning labs, volunteer schemes and modular trainings.
  • To establish a key partnership with Evia Non-profit Association (ENA), a local solidarity network in the making.
  • To establish a key partnership with Oi Polloi and Origin Club, Archetype and Demos World Games.
  • To establish partnerships with European and global researchers and practitioners, including higher educational institutions, social enterprises, NGO’s, Corporate Social Responsibility schemes and European EVS and Erasmus+ schemes.

How will it work?

The basic design of how this highly innovative DMO is outlined here.

  • Peer to peer social marketing will drive business development targeted towards geographical and sector-specific local ambassadors in the UK, Belgium and Germany; places where our networks — and therefore our access to known ethical consumers — are currently most developed.
  • One Planet Productions will facilitate co-production by identifying programme partners, co-creating unique content and matching this content to local delivery partners within the region.
  • One Planet Productions will act as a facilities / project / programme manager: we will secure access agreements with local venues, streamline communications and leverage co-working tools to enable more effective coordination of activity, as well as resolving specific legal and financial restrictions, like capital controls for example.
  • One Planet Productions may also support any fundraising requirements of our local partners through grant applications, Community Share Issue(s), crowdfunding campaigns and philanthropic donations. This fundraising activity will be supported by a key partnership with Oi Polloi, a charitable Community Benefit Society also registered in the United Kingdom.
  • All participants will pool ~ 10% of all revenue generated by Transform Evia’s activities. Once operating costs have been deducted, any surplus will be reinvested by and for local participants using digital and physical co-budgeting and collective decision-making processes.
  • Membership discounts and loyalty schemes will incentivise our community and crowd’s long term investment in lasting and committed relationships.

Is this a platform cooperative?

To develop a prototype digital platform for peer to peer destination marketing, in order to a) improve efficiency, democracy and transparency and b) help Transform Evia to open source all tech, strategies and trainings to replica DMO’s all over the world.

And how exactly will it work?

  • Owned by Oi Polloi…? An altruistic community benefit society.
  • Licensed for One Planet Productions…? A mutualistic co-operative society.
  • Based on the functionality of AirBNB, AirBNB Experiences.
  • Searchable by principles + ethos as well as price + location.
  • 5% of revenue is returned to the platform.
  • 10% of revenue is pooled for reinvestment in the local network. This fund is all about place-making and community wealth building, and will be co-budgeted by Transform Evia’s entire stakeholder community.
  • Designed to be suitable for booking individual stays, diverse experiences and group retreats — Book a venue. Book a caterer. Book a facilitator. Book an activity.

What are our key research questions?

  • How can agroecology enhance Evia’s food sovereignty?
  • How can we produce a surplus for community supported trade?
  • How can Evia be 100% powered by renewable sources by 2025?
  • What is the scale of this social investment opportunity?
  • How can Evia become a leading European destination for sustainable tourism?
  • How can we integrate circular economic principles within Evia’s regenerative development?
  • Which community architectures will most enhance Evia’s productive capacity?

Who will participate?

Event productions already scheduled for 2018 will include:

The Venues

We’re excited by the potential of collaborations with the following venues, a diverse mix of luxury villas, permaculture projects, sustainability schools and pop-up event spaces.

  • Villa Averoff + estate
  • Candili estate
  • Rovies Museum + Resort, Rovies (in development)
  • Stagones eco camp
  • Paliomilos as research farm (for volunteer schemes only)
  • Free and Real as event site
  • Farakla estate as development site (The Ark / The Sanctuary / Elysion Fields)

And other co-producers…



Services (in-house consultancy services offered by OPP to participating venues and co-producers):

  • Web design + development
  • Social media marketing
  • PR and promotion
  • Business model canvassing
  • Project management
  • Facilities management
  • Event production

Who is it for?

  • Ethical consumers of sustainable tourism in Europe, particularly young families.
  • Leading edge educational institutions and research partners with interest in regenerative culture design and applied social economics.
  • Specific focus on action learning initiatives which engage with key local stakeholders including ENA, Rovies Agricultural Cooperative, Mandouthi Agricultural Union etc.
  • Digital nomads and Village 3.0 pioneers.
  • Accelerators + decelerators, CSR content and facilitated off-siting for the social economy’s anchor institutions.
  • EVS / Erasmus+, IBS CAS projects, backpackers, work-aways and WWOOFers.

Why does this matter?

We have observed a convergence of crises in Greece, the EU and across the world. There is a clear and urgent need to “build a new model that makes the existing one obsolete.”

Commons Transition is a coherent conceptual framework for a new model that makes the existing one obsolete. What we need now is to build this model out in practice, not only in theory.

Therefore our solution is from within. That is to say, it is lawful, culturally acceptable and economically viable. Simply put, we intend to apply social and solidarity economics in a political and cultural context where a vivid, lived experience of crises converging is a daily reality. This convergence of crises is therefore conceptualised as our design challenge; an opportunity to respond by rapid prototyping simple and scalable solutions.

Let’s think outside of the box and frame a bold new agenda:

  • How to reverse trends towards rampant, unsustainable urbanisation which are accelerating?
  • How do we take back control of our food, housing and political systems?
  • How do we create 21st century lifestyles where work is balanced with immersion in wild, organic places and authentic shared experience?

How much will it cost?

Zero startup investment is required to begin hosting events and promoting this opportunity, besides a small pro bono commitment from our core team to upgrade website content and distribute social marketing materials.

Additionally, we estimate that we will need in the ballpark of £20,000 to develop a bespoke digital platform.

What do we need?

Your time. Your skills. Your enthusiasm. Please get in touch with if you’d like to learn more!

What can you offer?

Let’s get co-creative — you can begin by completing this simple Typeform, and then let’s jump on a call to dive into the details.

Got questions?

Email Marcus on

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