Yesterday I went to a ThinkIn organised by Tortoise.

Tortoise is an alternative take on how you might want to consume your news. It is a mix of daily snippets, long reads and subjects you have to break off from the daily grind to read.

I picked up a membership through an offer on Twitter, after seeing a number of familiar names had moved across to write for them.

I get access to the ThinkIn sessions they run as part of my membership. It’s easier to say what they are not, than to describe it in a few words on a blog. They are not Q&As, roundtables, panel discussions or fireside chats. A projector screen was set up in the Leeds Library where this ThinkIn was held. However, the point of it was simply to introduce the theme and share the branding rather than run though any slides.

To start, we were asked to go around the room and explain why we were there. Unfortunately I was the first to go. Unfortunately in the sense that I hadn’t had the chance to gauge the mood of the room at that point. So my introduction – long distance commuter tired of reading how the north is a thing; whole – was immediately challenged by the next two people to introduce themselves.

Such are the perils of going first.

Once we had all had a turn – nine of us in a semi-circle – the chair/facilitator of the discussion, brought us back to the key themes. Which it seems were buses, a reclassification of HS2 (it’s about size not speed) and the Northern Powerhouse. A collection of negative hashtags we see every day.

My spin on the Northern Powerhouse, is that it feels Manchester led and driven. It should stop folk moving south, and will entice others to work in Manchester from our side of the Pennines. I am not sure that view was altered.

Though I did leave with a better understanding of why supporting HS2 makes sense from a capacity and easing the load on the current infrastructure. Maybe it’s a bit like ‘global warming’. Emphasis on the wrong word. In this case speed, which skews the view too negatively.

The real message to take from the session is that we in the North shouldn’t have to compromise. That it shouldn’t be a this or that view on HS2 or Northern Powerhouse Rail (Hull to Liverpool). We should get both. We might need to finally get round to supporting/agreeing a devolution position in West Yorkshire for that to happen.

I hope to go back to a session again. By that, I mean I hope Tortoise comes back to Leeds, soon. Hopefully the next one will attract a wider demographic intent on making a positive change, not just describing their commuting hell.

And hopefully someone else will get to go first.

Chris Written by:

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