Whenever I try to describe what I do for a living to someone from a different walk of life to me, I rarely get the sense that I’ve succeeded (just ask my mother). For the sake of expediency, there’s a tendency in all fields of endeavour to lapse into a shorthand, filled with jargonese and acronyms, which to the outsider must appear almost designed to exclude them. And that presents a real challenge for those trying to encourage a widespread, grassroots response to the climate emergency. With the world’s leaders descending on Glasgow in less than 100 days for COP26 (nice little acronym), both the climate science and the geo-politics that surround this global crisis are extraordinarily difficult to follow. But notwithstanding all that complexity, the full force of climate change is now in plain sight – both here and across the world – and so no one should feel excluded from playing their part. A wide-ranging coalition from across civil society has pulled together a simple platform, Climate Scotland, that offers everyone, both those who understand the science and those who don’t, the chance to tell our politicians why they must act. It will take less than a minute to add your name.
In the most recent briefing…
Notwithstanding the fact that Glasgow’s weather in mid-November is unlikely to be conducive to outdoors demonstrations, thousands from all over the UK, Europe and the global south will be converging on Glasgow for what is being described as the most significant set of climate negotiations ever held. Anyone who has attended a previous COP will tell you that these are intense affairs, and while most people never get near the actual negotiations, there is always a huge programme of climate related debate, discussion and protest activity. And there are many ways to get involved, even without coming to Glasgow.
It is unusual to find a community without some kind of repository for local history and heritage. In many cases, where the celebration of a community’s heritage is well established, a small museum may exist but almost always some local history group will exist as a point of reference for those with an interest in the past. Perhaps because the maritime heritage of the River Clyde runs through so many different communities, the incredible story of shipbuilding and marine engineering on the Clyde has yet to be brought together in one place. That omission is about to be corrected.
One of the most common refrains to be heard as people reflect on their experiences of the past year is how they have become reacquainted with their local parks and outdoor spaces and how reconnecting with nature has impacted positively on their physical and mental health. Alongside this and in part spurred on by it, there has been an unprecedented increase in local food growing and requests for support in how to care for and cultivate biodiversity within local areas. In response, a new online grassroots network has emerged, organically of course, to offer assistance.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s hard not to conclude that the potential of onshore renewable energy to transform our communities has been largely wasted. That missed potential is all the more galling when one sees how the relatively few communities who persevered (and no doubt bear the scars) are now reaping the financial rewards – all of which are being reinvested locally for the common good. Imagine if every wind farm in the country had been required to have an element of community ownership? It would have been as transformative as it has been for this community in the Western Isles.
By a considerable margin,Scotland has the worst record for drug overdose deaths in Europe. Why is this happening? Karyn McLuskey, CEO at Community Justice Scotland is very clear that no one makes a conscious choice to end their lives this way. She describes addiction as an illness and makes a compelling case for transforming our approach to this illness. She draws a comparison with the treatment pathways that have been developed for those with a diagnosis of cancer. Acutely aware of the differences, both in perception and reality, between cancer and drug addiction, she nonetheless raises an important question.
Since devolution, land reform has been a constant feature of Scottish Government’s legislative programme – in many respects that’s no surprise given the scale of the challenge. While the country’s private landowners might be hoping that this onslaught on their previous ‘freedoms’ will soon be over, all the signs are that it’s really only just beginning. How our land is owned and managed is now viewed by Scottish Government as a critical aspect of delivering a better future for everyone. And as Jim Hunter writes, that better future and how it is achieved is often shaped by the past.
The vision of a circular economy in which linear supply chains are transformed into recurring loops of reuse, repair and recovery, where resources are retained until every last drop of value has been extracted and where waste ceases to exist because it is only a resource waiting for a new purpose to be found, is still some way off finding its true expression. But as with so many big ideas, it will only be achieved by a bottom-up adoption of the core principles. Elizabeth Carr writing in Shareable highlights five strategies to achieve circular development at the local level.
If the ‘20 minute neighbourhood’ is to become more than just a beguiling but elusive concept, there’s going to have to be some serious thought applied to what these ‘new neighbourhoods’ should consist of. The architects of these new social constructs could do worse than to start by giving consideration to which of our local institutions are most valued. A remarkable 97% of the population, when asked, said that they felt they were treated with kindness when they entered their local library. That feels like a good starting point.
Comrie Development Trust, set up in 2006, is a charitable organisation owned and managed by local people living within the boundary of Comrie and District area – Strathearn. The aim of the Development Trust is to promote the sustainable development of the village for the benefit of local people, groups and businesses. In September 2007, the CDT purchased Cultybraggan – a Prisoner of War & Army Training Camp – encompassing 90 acres of land from the Ministry of Defence, for the benefit of the community. In addition to the buyout, the Trust has also advanced a range of projects include…Find out more