The podcast 13 minutes to the Moon documents the dramatic descent of Apollo 11 to the Moon’s surface, with original recordings and interviews with astronauts and key figures from NASA’s Mission Control. It’s impossible not to be awed by the sheer scale of their achievement in terms of the science, engineering and ambition. On a par apparently, with the recent super-fast production and delivery of Covid vaccines. While the science may be incomprehensible to the average citizen, this achievement is being revered by people who are more than qualified to know. But astronaut Michael Collins said an interesting thing. He had feared the lunar landing would be construed as America asserting its national superiority over the rest of the world. Instead, and to his obvious pleasure, wherever he subsequently went, the only response he encountered was, ‘we did it!’. The world was celebrating as one. Apollo 11’s achievement was everyone’s achievement. The vaccine success feels different. Despite it being a global pandemic with the obvious corollary that ‘no country will be safe until all countries are safe’, the world’s poorest nations are being sidelined in the rush to corner the market for ourselves. A giant leap (backwards) for mankind.
In the most recent briefing…
In recent months, there have been concerns that Scotland’s Housing Regulator has been too quick off the mark to intervene in the affairs of housing associations – particularly for some reason, the smaller, community led providers. It would be wrong however to assume that the housing sector is alone in having a regulator prepared to intervene directly in the affairs of those it regulates. OSCR, the regulator of Scotland’s 24,000+ charities, has historically enjoyed a light touch relationship with its sector. The recent appointment of a permanent ‘judicial factor’ to run a Wick charity seems out of character.
Rural communities, particularly the most remote ones, face the perennial threat of depopulation and it is the young, mainly for reasons of employment and a lack of affordable housing, who feel most acutely the need to leave. But given half a chance, many would stay which perhaps explains why so many young people are taking the lead in developing projects which might just make that possible. On Raasay, the challenge of leading the development of two hydro schemes and a major community share offer has been handed to the island’s youth team.
The stories we are told as children help to shape how we see ourselves and the world we grow up in. Some of these stories may be in books but others will be the stories we listen to, which describe how others experience the world around them. And gradually we synthesise all these narratives until we have our own stories that we tell about ourselves. Stories and storytelling play such an important but often understated part in shaping our culture. An important project from SCCAN aims to help our sector tell its many stories.
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.
The ubiquity of the food bank in our communities and the teams of local volunteers on hand to distribute food parcels has been praised and condemned in equal measure. Praised because it is an indicator of the kindness and compassion that the pandemic has revealed across the country. Condemned because of the disgrace that the fifth largest economy in the world tolerates a level of poverty that prevents every citizen being confident that their human right to food will be met with dignity. Pete Ritchie of Nourish Scotland is unequivocal – the food bank era must end.
Just before Christmas, Scottish Government finally published the ‘update’ of its Climate Change Plan. This is important for a host of reasons – not least because it is the most accurate up to date measure of Scottish Government’s ambition to tackle the climate emergency at a time, with COP26 coming to Glasgow, when Scotland will be in the climate spotlight as never before. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland has drilled into the detail of the Plan and highlighted the areas of greatest weakness. There are some real strengths too.
It seems likely that one of the lasting legacies of Covid will be the transformation of some of our workplace practices. For all its obvious limitations, Zoom, along with all the other variants of online communication, has made meeting with colleagues so much more accessible than before. But if Zoom becomes even just a part of the post-Covid normal we’ll need to become more aware of aspects of this medium that are perhaps less obvious at first glance. Interesting research into the inherent gender biases prevalent on Zoom which could easily be applied across the board.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone who spends time online doesn’t rely on Wikipedia as the default source of information about anything. Twenty years old last Friday, Wikipedia is remarkable for many reasons not least that in this era of social media behemoths driven by algorithms which seem almost designed to encourage bad behaviour, it has remained open source, not for profit, advertisement free and run by hundreds of thousands of volunteer editors. It is the best of what the pioneers of the world wide web envisioned it might become. Happy birthday, Jimmy Swales and Larry Sanger.
A former regeneration area, with strong industrial links, Greater Maryhill has seen a renaissance in recent years. However the community still has a poor health record, and suffers from youth gang territorialism. A diverse community, with many cultures living alongside each other, Maryhill still has the spirit of “old” Glasgow and the friendly community feel within the City Centre. Community Central Hall was built in the early 1920’s and when the building came up for sale in the early 1970’s, an action group was formed to prevent the building being sold for private development. Over the past 35 years CCH…Find out more