The way things are just now, I seriously wonder whether anyone really understands the economy. To my shame (I studied it at Uni) I don’t, but one theory I’ve always liked is the one that Schumacher describes in his book Small is Beautiful – Economics As If People Mattered. Distinctly counterculture when published almost 50 years ago, in the face of today’s rampant globalisation, it could hardly be more prescient. While it’s unlikely that Schumacher’s ideas will shape the Scottish Government’s much trailed policy of building community wealth, some of us recently met the Minister responsible, Tom Arthur MSP, to dig below the surface rhetoric and check whether his take on community wealth chimes with ours. While some common ground exists, it’s not yet clear how ambitious or radical the Minister wants to be. Last week, I visited a development trust in rural South Lanarkshire. This small community of 320 households is about to purchase a 24 acre farm. While confident enough about their projected cashflows, their very obvious enthusiasm for this venture comes from their plan to generate social, cultural and environmental returns for their community and beyond. Community wealth building as if people mattered. Now that’s beautiful.
In the most recent briefing…
Some years ago, I met a remarkable social entrepreneur from Oregon, USA who took the view that there was no waste product on the planet that he couldn’t repurpose in some way and find a market for. Terry McDonald would treat it as a personal affront if he couldn’t extract further value from an apparently useless item otherwise heading to landfill. He didn’t name it as such, but the many social enterprises he established were a forerunner of the circular economy. Circular Communities Scotland ask you to support their call for a truly ambitious Circular Economy Bill for Scotland.
It’s sometimes difficult to shift perceptions. The phrase ‘community landowner’ has long been associated in most people’s minds with the highlands and islands of Scotland. But times are changing as a new report from Community Land Scotland demonstrates. Nothing travels faster than good news and especially when it’s on your doorstep and so it’s no surprise to learn that so many South of Scotland communities are fast acquiring the taste for ownership. And with the news that Community Land Week is back (Oct 8th – 16th) we can expect many more to follow.
With the holiday season in full flood and the prospect of flying increasingly fraught with cancellations and long queues, the staycation could be here to stay. Tourism has always been hugely important to the Scottish economy – estimated to generate £6bn – and many communities have begun to develop services and facilities in an attempt to capture some of that tourist cash for the common good. Recently some folk from different parts of the country have started to join the dots of the community tourism picture, recently launching a new national network – SCOTO. The potential of community tourism is massive.
The Common Good Funds held by local councils on our behalf are the oldest form of what today would be more commonly referred to as community assets. Although the 2015 Community Empowerment Act requires all local authorities to publish a separate register of what common good assets they hold, it appears that not all do and indeed their methods of valuation and recording of disposals also seem to vary widely. The investigative news source, The Ferret, has been digging into the facts and figures and appears to have unearthed some worrying inconsistencies across the board.
In a non-binding poll, 93% of residents from the Yorkshire holiday town of Whitby voted in favour of the Council intervening in the housing market by restricting the sale of new build houses to full time residents. This follows similar citizen-led ballots in Cornwall and Wales and suggests that communities are fast losing patience with the constant wringing of hands but lack of any concerted action by political leaders to correct the dysfunctional housing market. Arran Development Trust are now calling for a levy on all second homes to generate the funds to build more affordable homes for locals.
Not so long ago, few people had ever heard of a men’s shed let alone been in one. Fast forward a few years, and the combination of a small amount of Scottish Government seed funding and a truly grassroots vision for a national movement of men’s sheds, has resulted in a fast growing, community led public health phenomenon. Hopefully the Scottish Government will eventually recognise the need to invest in the work that supports the ongoing development of this movement but for now it continues to rely mainly on do-it-yourself, peer to peer learning.
The Glenkens Community & Arts Trust (GCAT) was formed in 2001 as a direct result of the foot and mouth outbreak which severely knocked the area. The main aim of the trust has been to transform the derelict Victorian Kells Primary School into a centre for community, cultural and business activities. Within three months the local community had contributed enough funds to purchase the building and The CatStrand was on its way. Six years, and a £1 million fundraising campaign later, the building opened in September 2007. Named The CatStrand after the small stream which used to run underneath the…Find out more