Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) is a relatively new social anxiety attributed to current obsessions with social media, but in truth it’s only the acronym that’s new. FOMO speaks to age-old human concerns and insecurities which afflict individuals and organisations alike. For good or ill, a pecking order exists in most walks of life and so, in the run up to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow later this year, we can expect a fair amount of jostling for position between the many ‘climate actors’ as thousands of camp followers from around the UK, Europe and from across the Global South come to town to press their claims on the negotiations. Whether COP will provide a breakthrough in the global response to this crisis is anyone’s guess. But COP also represents a chance to give some much needed impetus to that all important relationship between global thinking and local action. And while Scotland has a long tradition of community-led climate action, there are some serious concerns within the sector that Scottish Government has become less enthusiastic about its value – believing instead that change can be orchestrated from the centre. If that’s the case, we’ll all miss out.
In the most recent briefing…
When disaster strikes a community, it’s usually the innate levels of local resilience that determine how quickly that community recovers and moves on. Much has been made of the Australian community response to the fires with volunteer firefighters risking their lives to save their neighbours’ homes. The sheer scale of those fires and the remarkable disconnect between the country’s political leadership and its people may be responsible for some of the ideas now circulating – a desire not just to get rid of a few individuals at the top – but the whole system. Starting again from the bottom up.
Perhaps because 2020 is the Year of Coasts and Waters, the media seems full of stories of coastal communities fighting back against the appropriation of their coastal waters by the fish farm industry. Most recent of which was the tiny community of Flodigarry in the north east of Skye. In support of the formal objections from the entire community, further evidence was submitted from some unlikely sources – the local fairy population, mermen (who apparently can look like seals) and the local broobries, all of which could be endangered. Needless to say, planning wasn’t approved.
It’s hard to imagine how a minimal amount of commonsense would ever result in the same decision that East Renfrewshire Council has just come to about a patch of previously derelict land. Over a period of eight years the site in question had been transformed by local people into a community allotment site with 60 allotments, a sensory garden and a resource that pupils from the local secondary school with additional needs access on a regular basis. In their infinite wisdom, the Council has concluded that this land should become a car park for teachers.
It goes without saying that community ownership is not for the faint-hearted but when it comes to the local shop or pub – so often the hub of community life in remote rural parts of the country – there are some very specific aspects of the enterprise that require particular consideration. Not that it seems to be deterring a growing number of communities from moving forward with plans to take on this particular form of community enterprise. Next month, groups at various stages of planning, along with some who have already taken the plunge, will be gathering to share their experiences. Everyone welcome.
After 10 years and £100m invested in over 1000 communities in support of their efforts to reduce carbon emissions, the Climate Challenge Fund is at an end. A Review of CCF has been completed and digested by Scottish Government (although not shared) and we wait to see what comes next. Rumours of Regional Climate Hubs and Climate Action Towns abound but there has been next to no detail or discussion. Scottish Community Alliance wrote to Cabinet Secretary Roseanna Cunningham expressing some concern – if nothing else about the lack of engagement with the sector. Good piece in CommonSpace.
What we’ve been watching, somewhat slack-jawed, in America as the White House press office plays fast and loose with the truth seems to have arrived here. Unprecedented walkouts by the press corps from Downing Street briefings and the Government’s continued boycott of the BBC Today programme are worrying signs of a new, official disdain for the press and for any sense of public accountability. The whole concept of fake news, instilling doubt about what and who to trust completely erodes democracy. Finland, as you might expect, is tackling this threat to their democratic values head on.
If your preferred option is to have anything other than an online relationship with your personal or business finances, the news is unremittingly gloomy. With high street banks seemingly desperate to rid themselves of their high street reputation, with Post Office closures continuing apace ( particularly in rural West of Scotland) and with the reduction in free to use ATMs suggesting that simply accessing cash cost us more than £100m last year, hiding your cash under the mattress seems increasingly attractive. But hope springs eternal and a glimmer of hope has sprung – albeit high in the Yorkshire Dales.
There are two fundamentally opposing philosophies about scale – ‘bigger is better’ and ‘small is beautiful’. The former rests its case on theoretical economies of scale, greater efficiencies and best value. The latter on the intrinsic value of human-scale systems, empowering the individual and operating in a more ecologically sustainable way. While some argue that the two philosophies should be able to coexist, in practice they rarely do. David Bookbinder of GWSF is unequivocal that small is definitely beautiful in the social housing sector but concedes there should be room for all shapes and sizes.