January 19, 2021
The resounding message to come from the Democracy Matters conversations (remember them?) that involved approximately 4000 citizens, was that there continues to be a real appetite amongst communities to have more control over local affairs. Scottish Government and COSLA have both made commitments to respond accordingly. When, where and how that happens remains to be seen. In the meantime, other means exist that communities can utilise to give voice to their concerns. One of which, particularly for rural and island communities, is the biennial Scottish Rural Parliament which convenes in March. Registration has just opened.
We all have a personal story to tell about the events of 2020, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the UK’s uncertain progression towards Brexit.
Wherever you are, as you are, we invite you to bring your story to the 2021 Virtual Scottish Rural Parliament and shape the future of rural and island Scotland. Over five days in March 2021, we will look at some of the things that deeply affect our lives, from local democracy to digital communications and climate change. We will explore what needs to be done so that our communities are thriving, and our natural environment is safeguarded.
Our voice and vision will form the basis of an updated Manifesto for Rural and Island Scotland. This event is FREE and online. Everyone is welcome. If your family members, pets or livestock choose to join you on-screen, it will add to the richness of the experience for all of us!
About the Scottish Rural Parliament
A member of the European-wide network of Rural Parliaments, the Scottish Rural Parliament takes place every two years, each time hosted by a different rural community – Oban in 2014, Brechin in 2016 and Stranraer in 2018. Secretariat and coordination is provided by Scottish Rural Action with the programme and event shaped by a wide range of rural and island organisations. In 2021, the Scottish Rural Action is partnering with the Scottish Islands Federation and Scottish Rural Network in the Secretariat role.
Responding to the pandemic reality, the 2021 Virtual SRP (2021vSRP) will take place online on a platform which is easy to access if you have a mobile phone, tablet or laptop and an internet connection.
Unlike traditional conferences, the 2021vSRP is a grassroots democratic assembly, bringing together people who live and work in rural and island Scotland with decision makers and influencers. Priorities for rural development are identified and captured in a Manifesto for Rural and Island Scotland. The process of listening to each other, learning from each other and visioning our future together keeps us alive to the power of collective activism and action.
The 2021vSRP Programme
The 2021vSRP will take place online over five days in March 2021. Each day includes interactive sessions on different topics, enabling participants to explore current thinking and to identify actions that will make a positive difference to our future lives and livelihoods. The closing session on day 5 invites a panel of decision makers to reflect and respond to the recommendations emerging from the 2021vSRP explorations.
2021vSRP sessions use a mix of presentations and interactive elements, including breakout rooms, café style conversations, polls and collaborative whiteboard space, to ensure participants have multiple options to listen and contribute in their own time and at their own pace.
A networking facility, connecting you to other participants, and a virtual exhibition space, showcasing organisations, causes and culture will be available throughout.