community engagement

Community Heritage

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Twelve discussion days are being held around Scotland in 2019 for people who are involved with heritage in their communities in any way. You might be a volunteer, someone managing a heritage site, or perhaps running a business – or just interested and actively involved.

Scottish Community Alliance will be talking about a potential new national network for community heritage. How might it work, and how might it meet your needs and wants?

What you tell them will directly influence what happens in the future, so come and join in the conversation.

The workshops are free to attend, and there will be plenty of tea and biscuits – but please bring your own lunch! Not providing lunch has enabled SCA to reach more communities.

All events start at 10.30am and finish at 4pm *except for Leverburgh which is an hour later to fit ferry times.

The research workshop tour is organised by the University of St Andrews together with the National Library of Scotland and Ergadia Museums and Heritage, and working closing with the grass-roots led Scottish Community Heritage Alliance.

The project is funded by the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Click here for tickets to all future events.

Strathpeffer Community Centre, Strathpeffer – 31st May

Timespan, Helmsdale – 4th June

Garioch Heritage Centre, inverurie – 7th June

Blairgowrie Town Hall, Blairgowrie – 8th June

Voe Hall, Shetland – 29th June

Kyle Village Hall, Kyle of Lochalsh – 18th September

Nevis Centre, Fort William – 19th September

Kilmartin Church, Kilmartin – 20th September

Eyemouth Hippodrome, Eyemouth – 11th October

Leverburgh Hall, Isle of Harris – 25th October * starts 11.30am, ends 5pm

 

Bettridge Survey

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As most of you will know, the Bettridge Centre is an important local community-owned and managed facility which offers a wide selection of activities for the whole ​community and for visitors.   Some public consultation has already taken place and the centre has commissioned Community Enterprise to build on that positive momentum with more detailed local research.  The core aim is to find out what is needed in the community and use that to set out a plan to upgrade the building to meet the needs of Newtonhill and the surrounding area.

Want to make your voice heard, take part in the survey, link below;

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Bettridge

Participative Democracy in Practise

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Democracy is always in the making: a never-ending project that requires constant rethinking and development.

Reclaiming and recasting politics and democracy is a core challenge for participatory democrats. The key argument is that citizen participation can reinvigorate democratic life by infusing diversity, experience and knowledge into official decision making. The question is what kind of participation?

In representative democracy, citizens are usually given a thin role in public life, and participation often means casting a ballot every few years, and being occasionally invited to consultations. It seems unsurprising that most citizens don’t grab such opportunities with both hands. Lack of public interest can then be used as an excuse for not supporting citizens to become more involved in governing themselves.
But there are alternative understandings of democracy where participation means direct influence for citizens on the decisions that affect their lives and livelihoods. Why citizen participation? Because our current political systems too often struggle to cope with the pressing issues of our time. We need more problem-solving capacity, better policy and decision making, and new ways of governing. In other words, representative democracy needs a substantial upgrade.
Although there seems to be broad support for democratic principles amongst citizens, there can be mistrust in how current institutions work. Representative democracy can suffer from low turnouts, political disaffection, public cynicism and loss of legitimacy. The answer to the problems of democracy must surely be more democracy, a more meaningful and engaged kind – a participatory democracy, perhaps.
Well-known forms of participation, including volunteering, voting, organising, campaigning and so on, coexist now alongside those that eschew traditional models of organisational affiliation. For instance, many engage passionately on single issues that matter to them, others are political in how they spend their money and time, yet others work to develop new forms of economic life through cooperatives or social enterprises. All forms of participation can contribute to develop a vibrant democracy.

One form of participation being used in Aberdeenshire is participatory budgeting(PB). Following on from PB exercises throughout Aberdeenshire in 2017 and 2018, Peterhead Decides is currently asking the people of Peterhead if they have an idea that would help improve the local environment in Peterhead?

Join us at K and M Communities next week to read more about what Peterhead have been up to!

 

A Modern Day History Lesson?

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The word ‘idiot’ derives from the ancient Greek for a private citizen who professes no interest in being involved in politics. In the birthplace of democracy, it was simply an article of faith that every citizen would become actively engaged in the political decisions of their towns, cities and nation state. Democracy, as the ancient Greeks conceived it, was a civic duty and any citizen could be called upon to serve.  No hustings, no elections, and no political parties. Just the random selection of individual citizens who would willingly step forward when their names were drawn by lot.  Known as sortition, this form of democracy would be anathema to our modern-day career politicians.  Yet it is a particular form of sortition – the citizens’ assembly – to which many countries around the world are now turning to help resolve some of their most intractable problems. And as we settle down to watch the next instalment of modern-day British democracy of Brexit, many now argue that a randomly selected assembly of citizens, expertly guided and supported, might just offer a sensible way forward. We’d surely be idiots not to try.

Look back next week, to find out a bit more about the participative democracy happening in Aberdeenshire now.

Fancy a “sidewalk” talk?

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In the Autumn of 2014, two San Francisco therapists shared a vision: to help heal that which divides us through the fine art of skilled listening. They gathered 26 of their colleagues, practiced listening skills and came up with a curriculum and model for listening on the sidewalks together.

On May 7th 2015, for 2 hours in 12 locations throughout San Francisco, listeners set up chairs and signs, offering to listen to any passer-by who wanted to be seen and heard.  The result was amazing.  And soon after a group from Los Angeles asked if they could reproduce it.  There was never an intention for this thing to grow.  Every person met at Sidewalk Talk is just like you, someone who believes that human connection is the way to create healthy humans, healthy politics, and a healthy world.

Today Sidewalk Talk has 1700 volunteers world-wide. They have groups in 40 cities around the globe. They have grown but remain grassroots by design.  The focus is creating an active, engaged community of volunteers who commit to a regular listening practice and who connect with each other, not just the people they listen to.

Is this a way to gather not only people’s thoughts and opinions, but also raise the important of what the man on the “sidewalk” has to say? Would this work in our communities? Worth a thought!

Spare Chair Sunday

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Spare Chair Sunday first launched in 2015 as a partnership between national charity Contact the Elderly and Bisto. Expanding on the charity’s model of free monthly Sunday afternoon tea parties for small groups of older people aged over 75 who live alone, Spare Chair Sunday encouraged people to offer a ‘spare chair’ at their Sunday lunch tables to a Contact the Elderly older guest and their volunteer driver, to share a delicious warm lunch all together. The response to the award-winning campaign was amazing, with over 1,600 Spare Chair Sunday volunteers hosting Sunday lunches or becoming regular tea party volunteers in their local community.

Any host homes or venues must have a downstairs toilet and be easily accessible (generally we say no more than three steps where possible).

Any car used must be fully insured and drivers must hold a full driving licence, as well as supplying two references and completing a DBS check. This is for the safety and security of guests and host.

Interested?  Click on http://www.contact-the-elderly.org.uk/volunteer to apply to become a volunteer. Applications are dealt with as soon as possible, but please do be patient, all necessary checks must be made. In some cases, there will not be anyone near enough to you,  groups may already have as many volunteers as they require, or there may not be a group in your area. It may be the case that your application may enable work to be launched in the area for the first time, enabling more older people to benefit!

Fancy a Trip Underground?

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Some beautiful and unusual buildings and land are in community ownership.

A growing number of groups are getting together to rescue much-loved places from redevelopment or demolition – from castles and piers to public toilets.

Could your community take ownership of a local space? To inspire you, over the next few weeks we would like to share with you some of these. First up, The Burrow, Devon. 

The Burrow in Exbourne is a community-owned shop with a difference – it’s underground. Like something from The Hobbit, this little shop, café and post office is built underneath a field in the centre of the village, and is the UK’s only underground shop.

In December 2001 the village shop and post office in the parish of Exbourne with Jacobstowe in rural West Devon closed and was sold as a private dwelling. This meant that villagers would have to make a journey of at least 5 miles each way to reach the nearest town for shops and services.

Early in 2002 following a public meeting to discuss the closure of the community’s only store and post office, the Exbourne Community Initiative Committee was formed. The original mandate of the organisation was to try and re-establish a shop – a community-run shop – possibly with additional facilities alongside it. The great importance of such activities in safeguarding the quality of village life was keenly recognised and the initiative was supported by the vast majority of local residents.

The Association quickly established a temporary shop, cafe and post office in Exbourne’s Village Hall, opening 2 mornings a week and run (with the exception of the Post Office section) by volunteers.

The shop has grown and grown and with the support of local growers, plus a lot of hard work, they have managed to get together an exciting range of products, from fresh vegetables, canned food and even some hardware items. Each shop day freshly baked bread is locally sourced.

One of the most popular features of our current shop in the Village Hall is the café, where local residents and visitors can gather to swap stories and exchange gossip.
The success of the temporary shop/cafe allowed plans to move forward establishing The Burrow. The project raised over £185,000 allowing digging on the underground shop to begin. Upon successful completion the shop/cafe and post office moved underground. Formally opened in 2012, The Burrow continues to flourish and expand its role within the community.
Fancy a trip underground? Visit The burrow at https://theundergroundshop.weebly.com/