local community

Green Infrastructure

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Home to over half of the planet’s population, urban areas are responsible for a significant proportion of global greenhouse gas emissions.

What is green infrastructure and why is it important?

Green infrastructure is defined as a “planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services”. This term incorporates a huge variety of different ecosystems from parks, playing fields and woodlands to community gardens, green roofs and street planters. These spaces facilitate physical activity, relaxation and can be a refuge from the noisy city. Green spaces help to foster biodiversity and provide safe routes for people walking and cycling through the city thus contributing positively to population health. In fact, estimates show that physical inactivity, linked to poor walkability and lack of access to recreational areas, accounts for 3.3% of global deaths.

There is robust evidence to support the claim that green space has a positive impact on people’s wellbeing with features such as parks, rivers and trees creating more liveable and pleasing urban environments. Research has shown that having access to green space can reduce health inequalities, improve well-being and aid in the treatment of mental illness.

Importantly, green spaces also help to regulate the impacts of harmful emissions in the city. Trees absorb carbon dioxide and help to filter out harmful pollution while urban waterways such as lakes, rivers or even fountains moderate temperature and together with vegetation, play a vital role in cooling cities. In some areas, it has been estimated that evapotranspiration (the process of converting water in leaves to water vapor which is then transpired through the trees) can reduce peak summer temperatures by 5°C. Additionally, green spaces provide areas where runoff interception can occur, thus reducing the likelihood of flooding, an issue particularly pertinent to Scotland where winter rainfall is expected to increase between 10-35% in some areas.

Supporting the development of green infrastructure is becoming an even more prominent part of urban policymaking across the world. From street planters to citizen gardening, the following section describes a couple of examples  in which local authorities in Scotland are helping to create healthier, greener cities. Read the rest of this entry »

Local learning

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Good news for those communities with a hankering to visit another community where something of particular interest to them is happening, the Community Learning Exchange is once again open for business. These small awards that pay for travel and subsistence and a host fee, have proved very popular and effective – low on cost, high on impact. What is certainly true is that there is very little that is truly new under the sun and there’s no point in reinventing the wheel. There’s also much to be gained from learning from your peers.

By SCA

The Community Learning Exchange is a fantastic opportunity for communities to learn through the exchange of ideas and the sharing of common solutions.  When community groups make visits to other communities, the most valuable part is often meeting new people with similar interests and gaining new insights and perspectives on shared challenges.  Visiting groups come away armed with new ideas and approaches, and host organisations have the opportunity to explain their project to a new and interested audience, often seeing their own projects afresh through new eyes.

What will the exchange fund?

The Exchange will fund up to 100% of the costs of a visit by members of one community to another community project up to a limit of £750, including a host fee.  In exceptional circumstances (where travel distances are greater or certain aspects of the visit are particularly expensive) this limit can be increased.  Similarly, visits out with Scotland, but within the UK, will be considered where a similar project does not exist in Scotland.

The Exchange will also fund follow up support between organisations.  This might be as a result of a learning visit when it is recognised that more specific and on-going help, support, or advice is required. This can be through face-to-face meetings, by phone, e-mail, or skype. Funding for this kind of additional support will need to be negotiated separately.

How to apply

The Exchange operates primarily through the networks that comprise the Scottish Community Alliance.  The exception to this rule are Scotland’s community councils. Since the demise of the Association of Scottish Community Councils, there has been no umbrella body for community councils.

Applications to the Exchange are processed through one or other of the networks’ designated members of staff. The exception to this rule are community councils who should apply directly to the Exchange Coordinators.  Applications can be made at any time for visits throughout 2019 and up until March 2020. Funding is limited, and once it has been committed no further applications will be accepted.

For guidance about the Community Learning Exchange click here and an application form click here.

Please remember, applications must be endorsed by a network that is a member of SCA unless your organisation is a community council.

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

Bottled gold – the unexpected side effects of recycling in Germany

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A German recycling scheme is proving to be a source of relief for those on low-incomes, but is it also having an impact on recycling levels as a whole?

For pensioners and the unemployed in Berlin, summer marks a particularly welcome time of the year for making a spot of extra cash. As Berliners head to the park to enjoy sunshine, barbecues and a casual drink with friends and family, the hunt for empty leftover bottles begins.

Introduced in 2003 by the then Social Democrat/Green coalition government, the ‘bottle recycling deposit return scheme’, known as the Deutsche Pfandsystem (or ‘Pfand’ for short) in Germany, requires large drink retailers to charge an additional €0.08 to €0.25 for every drink purchased at a store depending on the material of the bottle. The consumer can then redeem that money by bringing their emptied bottles back to the shop and recycling them instead of simply throwing them away.

The rationale behind the scheme is both to reduce waste and encourage recycling of single-use products, as well as to develop an environmental consciousness among the German population. In a world where more than 100 million plastic bottles are used everyday worldwide, and with only one out of five being recycled (the rest becoming litter buried underground or ending up in our ocean’s waters), mindfulness about current global consumption patterns is a vital step towards a sustainable future.

Thanks to Pfand, over 97 per cent of plastic and glass bottles are now recycled in Germany. At first sight, the scheme appears to be a resonating success. However, the motivation behind the bottle collection scheme has increasingly become driven by economic and social factors rather than genuine environmental concerns. As such, Pfand is bringing to light the challenges faced by the least privileged part of the German population every day.

When Pfand started operating in 2003, it was mainly homeless people, alcoholics and drug addicts that would rummage the bins in the search of this ‘bottled gold’. However, by 2005, unemployment rates had soared to 13 per cent and an estimated one out of every seven Berliners was said to be living on the verge of poverty. Since then, an increasing number of jobless people and pensioners have been spotted engaging in bottle-collecting activities in the hope of making ends meet. Sabine Werth, head of Berliner Tafel, a non-profit organisation that distributes food donations to local charities comments: ‘The number of unemployed collectors has probably doubled in the past few years. This is a symptom of an inadequate social system struggling to cope with a rising number of elderly people and unemployed.’ Recycling plastic bottles is being seen as a way to provide a cash boost to those with under-performing pensions.

Bottle recycling is being seen by Berlin’s unemployed as a cash resource (Image: Barbara Wheeler)Bottle recycling is being seen by Berlin’s unemployed as a cash resource (Image: Barbara Wheeler/Shutterstock)

However, fighting poverty does not seem to be the only reason bottle-collecting has become increasingly popular. ‘For the older generation it provides a sense of purpose,’ says Werth. ‘They see it as a reason to get out of the house and come into contact with people.’ Günther, a former mechanic who had to retire early due to illness, adds that this new-found activity helps him fight loneliness as people on the street often strike up conversation with each other. ‘I get to meet all sorts of people, which can be fun,’ he says. ‘I had a job in a museum for a while, but I nearly died of loneliness in that place.’

Many Berliners are supporting the practice. Residents and party-goers often leave empty bottles in lines along the pavements or in a pile next to bins, allowing collectors to seize the coveted goods without having to rummage through waste. Communication design student Jonas Kakoschke took things one step further. In July 2011 he set up the website Pfandgeben.de. Two types of people can sign up to this online platform: collectors and disposers. The site allows residents who have bottles they wish to dispose of to find details of local collectors in their area and to contact them to arrange for a pick-up. The initiative became so popular it ended up expanding to Cologne, Augsburg and Essen. However, Werth admits that this new system only targets those who already have certain means (such as a mobile phone), leaving the most marginalised and destitute once more on the sideline.

Bottles piled by rubbish binBottles piled by rubbish bin for collectors to easily gather (Image: Jacky D/Shutterstock)

This increase in collection numbers is turning bottle recycling into a competitive business. Nowadays, collectors are not only having to fight for resources among each other, but are also needing to stand up to government and industrial backlash. In Stuttgart, the city council introduced bins that keep waste underground, allegedly to increase storage capacity, but social workers have been accusing the authorities of implementing defensive architecture in order to to push certain parts of the population out of the city centre.

Another downside of the German bottle scheme according to environmental pressure groups is that it reduces the incentive to introduce genuinely green reusable drink containers to the market by framing the recycling of single-use bottles as a sustainable alternative. Finally, because discount giants such as Aldi or Lidl need to keep prices low to stay competitive, they have been reintroducing non recyclable bottles to their shelves in order to avoid charging their customers the extra green deposit. Consequently, it is estimated that the number of recyclable bottles on the German market has dropped from 80 per cent to 50 per cent since 2003.

 

Read the rest of this entry »

Are you planning to walk further in 2019….?

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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 »

Future of our High Streets

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Over the past two decades, Britain’s high streets have been in decline as consumer behaviour has changed and economic pressures are causing retailers to close their shops. 

The Centre for Future Studies Innovation Centre, at Kent University, sponsored by Anchor, argues that it is the older generations who will be an economic force to be reckoned with in shaping the reinvention of the high street.

It says that it is those retailers who are able to reinvent their businesses who will survive and prosper. The report estimates that over the next ten years almost two-thirds of all retail spending growth will come from those aged over 55. It says that they are going to drive retail with their considerable purchasing power, shopping behaviour and preferences as retailers respond positively to the demand for elderly friendly shopping environments. Read the rest of this entry »