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!
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.
Hands up if you made a New Year resolution to get fitter, or meet new people in 2019?
Most of us reflect at this time of year and these are certainly achievable and popular resolutions. Walking with friends is an easy and accessible opportunity. Good news is that there is a growing network of walking groups for all abilities across Kincardine and Mearns.
The following are useful organisations and contacts;
1 Paths for All
Paths for All’s vision is for a happier, healthier Scotland where physical activity improves quality of life and wellbeing for all. Read the rest of this entry »
New Website to provide support to anyone affected by alcohol and drugs in Aberdeenshire www.aberdeenshirealcoholdrugs.support
Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) have a new website to help support anyone affected by alcohol and drugs in Aberdeenshire. The online resource www.aberdeenshirealcoholdrugs.support aims to provide information and signposting to a range of support services and organisations across Aberdeenshire and nationally.
The website was developed in response to feedback that there was a lack of information in an easily accessible format on what drug and alcohol support was available and how to access help when it was needed. The ADP have worked with service users, family members and people in recovery to make sure that the information on the website is useful, easy to understand and access.
The resource aims to help people using any drug including alcohol, whether worried about their own drug or alcohol use, a friend’s use or family member’s use. www.aberdeenshirealcoholdrugs.support provides a one-stop shop for information on support, treatment and recovery. Within each section, people can find out more about a particular area of support and advice and then clearly see which organisations provide this support and their contact details.
The Aberdeenshire Alcohol Drugs Support website will always have the most up to date information on the Substance Use Service Gateway in Aberdeenshire. . The Gateway is part of the NHS and Council Substance Use Service team and provides confidential, non-judgmental assistance towards the right treatment, support or information. The GET HELP button either the Alcohol or Drugs section of the website displays phone and email details as well as arrangements for drop in facilities around Aberdeenshire.
Professionals and agencies can help any of their clients to engage with the Alcohol or Drug Use Service by calling 01224 558844 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org (North Aberdeenshire) email@example.com (South and Central Aberdeenshire)
Sci-Gateway and Track Care can also still be used for referrals from NHS.
Print materials, posters and cards, promoting the website and access to the Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Service will be delivered to agencies soon. The ADP would be grateful if these could be displayed widely and offered to people who might need help with their alcohol or drug use in Aberdeenshire. To get a supply or resupply contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The ADP have identified a wide range of information that they think is useful to people and communities however they welcome approaches from services, groups, community members with information to add or changes to make. Please use the website to share your own news. Send news items and suggested changes to the adp email above.
From December-March, SEPA will be running a reactive communications campaign in response to flooding in Scotland (coastal, river, surface water and snowmelt). SEPA’s Flooding Communications team will monitor the daily Flood Guidance Statements issued by the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service (SFFS), and will seek to activate the campaign when flooding is likely or expected and potential impacts are significant or severe. Upon activating the campaign, key messages will be broadcast on radio and digital channels, and members of the public will be encouraged to visit the Floodline Scotland website where they can sign up to Floodline, SEPA’s public facing flood warning service, and find tips and advice on how to prepare for flooding.
Check your flood risk
– Are you at risk of coastal, river, surface water, snowmelt flooding?
– Does flooding impact you at home, at work, on the road?
Flooding is forecast in your area, plan ahead
– Visit the Floodline website for advice and to register for free flood messages.
– Do you have a plan or flood kit ready?
Floodline can give you advance warning when flooding is expected
– Register online at floodlinescotland.org.uk or by phone on 0345 988 1188.
– You can use your Floodline account to register more than one address, e.g. your property, work or regular travel routes.
How can you get involved?
The aim of the campaign is to provide individuals and communities with advance notice of flooding as well as access to the information they need to be prepared and take action. In order to reach as many members of the public at risk of flooding, we would appreciate your help.
On Twitter and Facebook channels Sepa will share graphics, advice on preparing for flooding, flood alert and flood warning messages. Please retweet or share content on your own social media channels and tag any interested parties who may benefit from this information. For more general awareness raising communications, please feel free to use some of the suggested social media messages below.
Suggested messages for sharing on social media
Dark nights and mornings make it harder to find your way in an emergency. Sign up to Floodline for flood alerts and warnings and keep a torch close by to your bed http://bit.ly/2jPtDrh.
Changed address or phone number? Don’t forget to update your Floodline account with your new
information. Phone Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or update online http://bit.ly/2jMv8qv.
Is your workplace in a flood risk area? Don’t get stranded, plan ahead. Check for alternative routes home and sign up to Floodline for free, advanced flood warning messages sent to your phone
Did you know only 15cm of water can knock you off your feet? During a flood, be sure you stay safe and stay away! Visit Floodline Scotland for more advice on how to protect yourself during a flood
Are you ready for Scotland’s winter? Be prepared for flooding and sign up to Floodline to receive free flood messages direct to your phone http://bit.ly/2jPtDrh.
Fife Council have come up with an innovative way to invest in their landscape, wildlife, culture and heritage, the Big Green Footprint scheme.
Interested, read on to find out more!
Visitors should be able to enjoy the landscape, wildlife, culture and heritage that Fife has to offer today, without compromising the ability for people to continue to enjoy all that Fife has to offer tomorrow and into the future. Each year Fife draws millions of visitors to the coast and countryside for adventure and quiet enjoyment. However with so many footsteps on paths and wheels on roads some impact on our natural environment is inevitable. It is all about finding a balance between encouraging recreation and tourism to support local livelihoods and protecting and conserving the environment.
The Big Green Footprint scheme is a way of offering visitors the opportunity to give a little something back to the places they love and providing a mechanism for collecting those small contributions which, collectively, add up to a significant amount of funding.
The Big Green Footprint scheme is not a one-size-fits-all type of scheme, but that is one of its great strengths. It is creative, flexible and multifaceted and works in many different ways across a wide range of businesses. Indeed any business which has guests or customers can operate ‘The Big Green Footprint Scheme’.
Businesses can gain Big Green Footprint accreditation in a number of ways, for example, Cafés and Restaurants can name an item on the menu the ‘Coastal Path Loaf or the East Lomond Slice’ and add a small fee to the item to contribute to the work of the Trust in your area, retailers – why not select an item of stock and advertise that part of the proceeds go towards the upkeep of the Coastal Path?
Want to know more, click on the link http://fifecoastandcountrysidetrust.co.uk/Support-Us/Big-Green-Footprint-Scheme_9.html
Tourism has long been a cornerstone of the Scottish economy – generating £6bn in the last year. This year’s good weather and low pound are projected to boost that even further. One of the fastest growing sectors in recent years across the industry worldwide has been adventure tourism, and with Scotland’s coastline, mountains and rivers it comes as no surprise that this growth is being mirrored here.
According to HIE’s Adventure Tourism in Scotland Research Report – there were at least 350 Adventure Tourism businesses operating in Scotland in 2015. More than a third of adventure tourism businesses were located in the Highland Council area, followed by 12% in Argyll and Bute and 8% in Perth and Kinross. 84% of businesses described themselves as activity and experience providers, with the remainder identifying as activity centres and attractions.
Cross sector collaboration initiatives can play an important role in developing the adventure tourism
market. Sectors such as retail and transport benefit from the tourism industry through improved infrastructure, increased footfall and repeat custom, while accommodation providers can work in tandem with adventure tourism organisations in the area to create a better-quality tourist offer to entice visitors to the area. Collaboration between social enterprise, private business and the public sector is key to increasing the quality of tourist offer available, however more could be done between social enterprise projects and with the wider tourism industry.
The Tourism Scotland 2020 strategy aims to grow Scotland’s visitor spend by £1bn in real terms, from
£4.5bn in 2011 to £5.5bn by 2020. To achieve this, the strategy has identified three key growth markets to make up the backbone of tourism revenue by 2020;
- Home turf:
£3,127m in 2011
Potential £3,586m–£4,238m in 2020
England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales.
- Near neighbours:
£731m in 2011
Potential £875m–£1,035m in 2020
Scandinavia, Germany, France, Spain, Ireland,
- Distant cousins:
£414m in 2011
Potential £505m–£598m in 2020
USA, Australia, Canada.
Adventure tourism is identified as an area which offers “significant potential for growth” within the strategy. Collaboration between local businesses in rural destinations is key to developing a tourism offer which can engineer economic growth – local assets such as hill walking and cycling can be integrated with culture, local history, food and drink to create immersive tourism packages which better reflect the local area.
Want to find out more, have a look at the Senscot briefing, makes interesting reading; https://senscot.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/Adventure-Tourism-Briefing.pdf