Friday Sep 01, 2023
Friday Sep 01, 2023
Friday Sep 01, 2023
Kaska Hempel, our Story Weaver, interviews Tom Nockolds, who is one of the people behind the community-driven retrofit project, Loco Home Retrofit, based in Glasgow.
This episode complements video recordings of presentations from the "SCCAN Member Networking and Skillshare Meet up: Talking about Retrofitting", which took place on 25 August 2023. You can find them on SCCAN YouTube channel.
Interview and audio production: Kaska Hempel.
SCCAN YouTube channel with the recording from the members skillshare on community-led retrofitting, 25th August 2023: https://www.youtube.com/@scottishcommunitiesclimate6914/videos
Loco Home Retrofit https://locohome.coop/
SEDA Retrofit conference, 15-16 September 2023 https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/seda-conference-2023-progressing-retrofit-comfort-health-affordability-tickets-692329465067
[00:00:00] Kaska Hempel: Hello, it's Kaska, one of your Story Weavers. Last Friday I attended one of SCCAN's Member Skillshares. Focused on a truly wicked problem of retrofitting our very energy inefficient Scottish homes.
[00:00:16] Kaska Hempel: Our housing stock seems to be one of the worst in Europe for energy efficiency, which makes it unhealthy, uncomfortable, and expensive to heat. Yet there's not been nearly enough progress made on this so far by our governments.
[00:00:32] Kaska Hempel: Very frustrating indeed. So, I was impressed how a couple of Scottish grassroots organisations are taking matters in their own hands. By treating this as a community problem or rather a community driven solution, and this way
[00:00:48] Kaska Hempel: Moving things ahead locally.
[00:00:50] Kaska Hempel: This inspired me to interview one of the presenters, Tom Nockolds, who's behind one of the community driven projects, Loco Home Retrofit in Glasgow. For more details on the retrofit projects themselves, you can watch recordings of the Skillshare on SCCAN's YouTube channel as soon as they're processed. And as usual, we put all the other relevant links in the episode notes for you.
[00:01:15] Kaska Hempel: And if you'd like to delve into the nitty gritty of holistic approach to retrofitting, have a look at the Scottish Ecological Design Association Conference on the subject, which is taking place in Glasgow and on Zoom on the 15th and 16th of September.
[00:01:32] Kaska Hempel: But for now, let's go back to our Everyday Changemakers story and find out what makes Tom tick.
[00:01:41] Tom Nockolds: I'm Tom Nockolds. I live in Glasgow and I'm the co-founder and co-executive Officer of Loco Home Retrofit. Loco Home Retrofit is a cooperative, as well as a community interest company whose mission is to decarbonise homes in Glasgow. And we're very focused on privately owned households. We operate in the space of retrofit, which is a bit of a technical jargonistic term. Simply means refitting, energy efficiency, and low carbon heating into existing buildings. And our mission is to make better retrofit more accessible for more people in Glasgow.
[00:02:29] Kaska Hempel: Great. That sounds amazing. why Loco?
[00:02:33] Tom Nockolds: We struggled with a name for a little while. I was saying to Chris, co-founder, I was saying to Chris, you know, let's not give ourselves a boring name like Glasgow, Retrofit Co-op.
[00:02:47] Tom Nockolds: And he was really on board with that idea. And we eventually settled on Loco because it's a bit of a play on low carbon 'cause we are a climate change action organisation, but it's also about local community. And thirdly, and very much last and least, we did acknowledge that Loco does have a meaning in some other languages. And we wanted to acknowledge that what we were doing was a little bit crazy, you know?
[00:03:18] Kaska Hempel: Because
[00:03:18] Kaska Hempel: Loco is Spanish for a bit mad, isn't it?
[00:03:22] Tom Nockolds: It might be a mild way of putting it, so I'm a bit hesitant to focus too much on the Loco with that definition. Mostly it's a play on low carbon, local community.
[00:03:33] Kaska Hempel: Yeah, it reminds me of Locomotive.
[00:03:35] Kaska Hempel: So it's like putting something in motion as well.
[00:03:37] Tom Nockolds: That's right. Exactly. We're all about getting people moving on their retrofit journey.
[00:03:42] Tom Nockolds: We also grappled whether or not we would lean into the jargonistic term retrofit or try and avoid it. And obviously we decided to lean into it. So it is a bit of a challenge to get out there and start talking to people about retrofit, and we need to approach that carefully, but it's in our name, and that for us is a bit of an icebreaker.
[00:04:03] Kaska Hempel: Great way to start a conversation.
[00:04:06] Kaska Hempel: Tell me maybe about a favourite place where you live, or part of the project that you are involved with. That's your favourite part.
[00:04:15] Tom Nockolds: So I've been living in Glasgow for three years. You hear from my voice that I'm Australian. And I've only been living in Scotland for four years. I live in the south side of Glasgow. I live in a suburb called Strathbungo, which is actually a very small suburb. Many people have heard of it. It's got a very high profile. But it's very small and the way that I like to describe it is that particularly my part of Strathbungo, 'cause I live in a tenement building, is sandwiched between two of the largest tenement areas in Glasgow, Pollokshields and Govan Hill. And I live on a road that is one of the main thoroughfares between these two neighbourhoods.
[00:04:59] Tom Nockolds: And I myself live in a tenement area. It's a very diverse, vibrant neighbourhood. Probably the most ethnically diverse neighbourhood in Scotland. There's a huge amount going on. So when I walk out my door, there's a lot on offer. A lot of really interesting shops, lots of cool bars and cafes and things like that. But just a lot of people who bring a lot of different things to the local area. And in particular, I live very close to Queens Park, and Queens Park is one of the best parks in Glasgow in my opinion.
[00:05:38] Tom Nockolds: It's not just a Victorian era park, we're sort of parading formal gardens, but it's got a wooded area and you can just lose yourself and escape the really urban environment that exists when there's tenements. And the thing that I relearn every time I go into Queens Park is that you've got to never forget to regularly go in and be amongst the trees 'cause they have this incredible ability to de-stress you. And then, you know, later that day or the next day, I've completely forgotten.
[00:06:10] Kaska Hempel: Yes, regular detox, so important. It's so fortunate that you've got that on your doorstep.
[00:06:14] Tom Nockolds: Yeah. But a really built up urban environment with a lot of vibrancy, and very close to this amazing outdoor area of Queens Park with views over the city trees and yeah, just beautiful, beautiful location.
[00:06:31] Kaska Hempel: That sounds pretty amazing. Now, if you could briefly tell us about why you got involved in community action or climate action in this project that you set up here.
[00:06:44] Tom Nockolds: Well, for me it's always been there, this sort of voice inside of me about making a positive contribution and in particular an environmental bent. I grew up in a suburb of Sydney in Australia, suburb I grew up in, Balmain was traditionally a very working class suburb and was one of the places where the Australian Labor Party emerged. So really, I grew up immersed in an environment where labour struggles and class struggles were a feature.
My parents were very aware of this, even if they weren't themselves from that background. My dad was an academic, for example. But I didn't move into that space. I got on with life and struggling as a young adult to find my way. But it was when I was in my late thirties. I found myself working for multinational law firm in the Sydney office. Law firms are interesting. They occupy the top floors of the nicest buildings. It's a really nice working environment, and you get to work with some really amazing, intelligent people.
[00:08:00] Tom Nockolds: But it became increasingly apparent to me that I was working for the bad guys. This particular event took place where a memo went round to all staff and it said something like, you've heard about fracking and coal, steam gas extraction from the media, come along and find out what it's all about. And it was sent to all staff. There were separate mailing lists for just the legal staff. 'cause I wasn't a lawyer, I was just helping with IT and sustainability projects. So it seemed like, it was a genuine, let's explore this issue.
But when I went along, to my horror, it was actually a session for lawyers on how they could successfully navigate their client's coal and steam gas exploration license through the regulatory regime to maximize chance of success. And that for me was the big moment where it was brought up right up into my face. You're doing the right work for the wrong organisation. And I was in a fairly comfortable position at the time. I'd never been a wealthy person, but my wife had just finished a year of study and we knew that we could survive on one income and she'd got her job back. And I quit my job. Gave them the minimum amount of notice and walked out the door, and I didn't have anywhere I was going to.
[00:09:24] Tom Nockolds: I just threw myself headlong into volunteering. Lots of volunteering in my local community and for initiatives across the city. And very quickly I realised that the thing for me was community energy. And within less than a year, I was part of the team at a small workers co-op, co-founded by two amazing women. And that organisation is called Community Power Agency. And to date, they remain Australia's only dedicated support organisation, helping communities develop energy projects. I did a lot of volunteering, for one group in particular, Pingala. And, we put solar panels on the roof of craft breweries across the city, among other things. And that was lots of fun. And, yeah, I basically consider that ever since 2013, my career has been working in the field of community energy. It's just that in 2020 thereabouts, I shifted my focus from installing new energy generation to decarbonising projects. So my work with Loco Home Retrofit is still community energy, but it's about decarbonising. And reducing energy consumption.
[00:10:39] Kaska Hempel: The flip side of our energy problem, isn't it? Thank you for sharing that.That's pretty drastic journey, but, it feels like you're in a much better space right now.
[00:10:44] Tom Nockolds: I mean, it was the best decision I've ever made in my life, career wise. And I rapidly found myself working with the most amazing people, doing the most rewarding work. Feeling like I was making a big contribution, never earning less money. It's been wonderful.
[00:11:11] Kaska Hempel: Brilliant. Hey, sales pitch for community work. Great. Now you've already defined retrofit for us when you're introducing your project. But what does it mean to you?
[00:11:23] Kaska Hempel: Yeah, I think for me, the main thing that I think about and feel when I hear the word retrofit, it's about making our existing buildings fit for the future. We're gonna need to make our homes a lot more resilient because of increasingly you know, violent weather. And before that, we need to make sure that they're first of all well maintained, but also in the future we're gonna need to make sure that our houses are not causing damage to the environment, such as contributing to climate change through carbon emissions, and healthy spaces for the occupants. So when I hear the word retrofit, I think of homes that are fit for the future, that are well maintained and resilient, that are healthy, comfortable and zero carbon.
[00:12:27] Kaska Hempel: What advice would you give to people who want to learn more about retrofit and how communities can get involved in this?
[00:12:36] Tom Nockolds: First of all, one thing that I don't think I've explained is that we are a particular type of retrofit organisation. We're a local community intermediary. And let me just sort of unpack that a little bit.
[00:12:47] Tom Nockolds: We firmly believe that because retrofit of homes is going to be difficult for any given homeowner, disruptive and expensive, that it's vital that people are hearing from people in their own community about what the benefits of retrofit will be, how to go about it. It's also relevant that buildings are subtly different in different areas.
So in Scotland, for example, in Glasgow, we've got traditional buildings built out of sandstone using particular techniques. Whereas in Aberdeen, they've got traditional buildings built out of granite using specific techniques. So that local context really does matter. And we also know that from looking at previous programmes such as the Green Deal, the Ill-Fated Westminster programme. Top down, centralised government approaches to energy efficiency and environmental behaviour change generally don't work.
[00:13:59] Tom Nockolds: I mean, they're necessary. They're a necessary ingredient and piece in the puzzle, but they don't actually work in terms of delivering the outcomes, achieving their goals, and recognising the needs of local people, motivating the local people to take action. So that's a local and community piece. And intermediary refers to the fact that there's simultaneously a lack of demand, a lack of households who are wanting to retrofit their homes. And there's also a lack of supply. There's lack of installers, tradespeople that have that specific knowledge about taking a whole house approach to go much deeper and get a home onto zero carbon heating. And so we think the best type of organisation to bridge the gap between homeowners and the supply chain is a locally based organisation who's rooted in the community.
[00:14:57] Tom Nockolds: So your question was, what advice would we have to someone starting out on this journey? First piece of advice is understand that need to find a way of embedding yourself in the community. I'm kind of thinking you are from the local community, and that gives you the greatest strength to be able to connect with all of the diverse aspects of what makes up that local community. And you need to do that in order to be successful. You don't necessarily need to have the technical skills, 'cause those technical skills are transferable. But it's the more difficult work is building the community connections between yourself and your organisation and all the different groups and all the individual householders. That's actually the difficult work. That'd be very difficult for an external organisation to get into focus on the community organising aspect without being blind to the technical skills that you need that you can potentially bring in from elsewhere.
[00:15:59] Kaska Hempel: Where in the world are you happiest?
[00:16:04] Tom Nockolds: it's funny, there's two places where that's the case. The one which is most obvious to me, is I grew up in a house which had a fairly open door policy, and we weren't a big family by any stretch. My parents were effectively migrants to Sydney and I'm the youngest of three, but nothing makes me happier than being in my home that's full of people, family and friends.
[00:16:36] Tom Nockolds: We had the great privilege of hosting Christmas a couple of years ago in our house, and the place was insanely full of people. It was stressful and noisy and hectic, but it confirmed something I really definitely already knew is that I'm happiest when my house is full of people. The second place I'm happiest is when I'm out in nature and in particular amongst trees.
[00:16:58] Kaska Hempel: For this last question, I ask everybody this, is for you to imagine the place you live in now, 10 years from now, and imagine that we have all done everything possible to limit the effects of climate change and make it a fairer and better place to be.
[00:17:17] Kaska Hempel: Here in Scotland, and you look around you 10 years from now,
[00:17:22] Kaska Hempel: share one impression or memory from that future with us.
[00:17:27] Tom Nockolds: The first thing is that the neighbourhood is a lot greener than it currently is. There's a lot more trees right in the heart of the urban environment, and that's because space has been made for them. The second thing is that it's a lot quieter. That's because trees have a dampening effect on sound.
[00:17:49] Tom Nockolds: But also because one of the main ways that space has been found for them is by replacing many journeys that are made by car with quieter, lower carbon, more sustainable forms of active travel. There's a lot more people walking and riding bicycles around. There's probably a lot more of those electric scooters too.
[00:18:10] Tom Nockolds: But the point is it's a lot quieter. And then the third thing is, I wouldn't say there's more people on the street, but there's more vibrancy around that. There's more people speaking to each other, saying hello to each other. So I consider that one of the main reasons why I'm doing the work is to build community. I'm not saying community doesn't exist in any given place. It does. I'm just saying I think our communities need to have stronger links, stronger connections. People need to know each other. That's one of the most important aspects of resilience as we step into a really uncertain future. So that's my vision. People know each other, well connected. It's quieter and it's definitely a lot greener.
[00:18:50] Kaska Hempel: Is there anything else you would like to share with the listeners that we haven't covered?
[00:18:55] Tom Nockolds: I think it's essential that we reduce carbon coming from our homes and I'm definitely very sceptical about any message around decarbonisation that it's all about individual choice. It's not all about individual choice. This has got to be about systemic change and about individual choice. One of the most important things we can do as individuals, whether we're renters or homeowners, is to be aware of just how much carbon is coming from heating our homes, homes in this cold climate of Scotland, and to demand that something be done about that.
Now, if you're a renter, the best thing you can do is to join a tenants union and speak to your landlord about them making your home more energy efficient and moving towards zero carbon heating. If you're a homeowner, the best thing you can do is to get yourself onto a having a whole house plan for retrofit. And that's the sort of thing our organisation can deliver. Now, if you're not in Glasgow, it's really worth considering whether or not you and some other local people should be establishing a local retrofit intermediary. Ideally structured as a co-op so that you can ensure that it's democratic, locally owned and the benefits are staying local so that you can start moving all of the homes in your area forwards on a journey towards zero carbon, getting those homes fit for the future.
[00:20:19] Kaska Hempel: Yes lets do it. Thank you so much.
[00:20:26] Tom Nockolds: Thanks Kaska for having me and yeah, it's been a real pleasure to chat.
Monday Aug 14, 2023
Monday Aug 14, 2023
Monday Aug 14, 2023
Listen to an inspiring example of work by a tranditional storyteller in residence, helping community of Fittie in Aberdeen come together and face the past, present and future of the place where they live and love. Story was developed and perfomed by Cara Silversmith, with an introduction from our Story Weaver Lesley Anne.
Cara Silversmith's website: https://www.carasilversmith.com/
Cara's reflection on developing this story on her own podcast, "What of the Ground we’re standing on”: https://whatoftheground.podbean.com/e/commissioned-stories-honouring-truth-and-telling-stories-with-love/
1000 Better Stories Member of the Month: Fittie Community Development Trust https://sccan.scot/blog/member-of-the-month-the-fittie-community-development-trust/
Safe Harbour, Open Sea project https://www.openroadltd.com/projects/culture-collective/
Friday Jul 21, 2023
Friday Jul 21, 2023
Friday Jul 21, 2023
Today Roz Littwin reads "Long Live Lenny", her short story creatively exploring the good work of the Edinburgh Remakery.
Roz’s story was originally published on the 1000 Better Stories blog and funded by one of our storytelling mini-grants. The grants fund contributions to 1000 Better Stories Blog and Podcast. They are open for applications now with a deadline at the end of July and another one at the end of October. Get in touch on email@example.com to find out more.
Roz Littwin - text, recording and narration
Kaska Hempel - production
Edinburgh Remakery https://www.edinburghremakery.org.uk/
1000 Better Stories blog https://sccan.scot/1000-better-stories/1000-better-stories-blog/
Storytelling mini-grants https://sccan.scot/1000-better-stories/
Monday Jul 03, 2023
Monday Jul 03, 2023
Monday Jul 03, 2023
Our Everyday Changemaker today is Ruth McLaren, Arran EcoSavvy's project and communications development officer.
Credits: Interview, recording and edit by Madeleine Scobie, Sound production by Kaska Hempel
Arran Eco Savvy website: https://arranecosavvy.org.uk/
Green Islands Net Zero project: https://arranecosavvy.org.uk/green-islands-plans/
Zero Waste Cafe: https://vimeo.com/796376962/ce499f02e2
Active Travel Hub: https://vimeo.com/799647519/663c6e3da1
Community Shop: https://vimeo.com/826523465/3f3863284a?share=copy
[00:00:00] Madeleine: Hello, I'm Madeleine Scobie and I'm SCCAN's media intern. I interviewed Ruth McLaren, who is the Project and Communications Development Officer at Arran Eco Savvy. Since 2014, Arran Eco Savvy has been working towards making Arran a greener and more sustainable island. Some other recent projects include the Green Islands Net Zero,
[00:00:24] Madeleine: the Active Travel Hub, Community Shop, and Zero Waste Cafe. I asked her to describe her favourite place to visit in Arran.
[00:00:34] Ruth: Ooh, that's a bit of a tricky question actually, because there's so many amazing places.
[00:00:39] Ruth: I'd have to say my favourite place is Glen Sannox in the north of the island.
[00:00:43] Ruth: And it's just this absolutely beautiful, kind of dramatic glen. Not too far from where I stay. And it's kind of really peaceful.
[00:00:51] Ruth: You often, you'll go from the beach, which will maybe have lots of people on it, and if you go up into the glen, it's kind of empty and don't see as many folk around, but you'll see, you know, deer. And I've seen a golden eagle in there once.
[00:01:04] Ruth: and it's just really just absolutely beautiful.
[00:01:07] Madeleine: So how did you get involved in Community Action? What's your climate journey?
[00:01:12] Ruth: I've always been very kind of interested and aware of climate change ever since I was at school, really. And it's just always been something that I've been very passionate about, but also very worried about.
[00:01:23] Ruth: And my career. I used to work, I've worked in the government, I've worked in the private sector, but I've also worked for several charities.
[00:01:31] Ruth: But I really wanted to get involved in climate action. And when I moved to Arran, I found out about Arran Eco Savvy, which is a local organisation. At the time, they were looking for a Shop Manager for their charity shop pre loved goods shop.
[00:01:45] Ruth: I applied for that job. I didn't get it, but then I subsequently applied for another job that they had advertised. And I've worked for Eco Savvy for almost five years now,
[00:01:54] Ruth: working across several different projects.
[00:01:56] Ruth: So yeah, I feel really lucky to have been involved to such a degree within the community and within such an impactful organisation within a community that is interested in climate change matters.
[00:02:07] Madeleine: So what's the biggest challenge that your community group or you had to overcome in taking action, and what do you think you learned from it?
[00:02:16] Ruth: I would say that the biggest challenge, just in general with both the community and the issue of climate change in general.
[00:02:25] Ruth: It's just such an overwhelming topic. It's something that affects all parts of life. You know, it's not just about, you know, the environment and you can be an environmental activist. It also connects with people's lives in terms of
[00:02:38] Ruth: the economy and their finances. You know, social issues and social justice. You know, lots of local issues, land use. You know, it really is, it really does connect with so many other issues that it's not just about, you know, climate change or the environment.
[00:02:54] Ruth: And I think that that's really the crux of the issue with the kind of slowness of change. In that, on these higher levels is that it's just people become so overwhelmed with talking about it. And it can be quite a negative thing also, you know, it's quite scary.
[00:03:07] Ruth: And that's not always easy conversations to have with folk.
[00:03:10] Ruth: And it's also not an easy thing for people to kinda think about.
[00:03:13] Ruth: And that's why at Eco Savvy, I think we kind of try to focus a lot of the time on the small things that people can do.
[00:03:20] Ruth: But also acknowledging that it's not just about individual change, it's about the wider community level changes, but also government levels and just acknowledging that it's something that intersects in all parts of everybody's life.
[00:03:32] Madeleine: What's something that you're most proud of?
[00:03:35] Ruth: I'm really proud of the work that the organisation does in terms of just seeing the everyday impacts that it has.
[00:03:42] Ruth: So for example, we were at an event at the high school in Arran a few weekends ago. And
[00:03:48] Ruth: we had our e-bike trials going on so people could come along and try an e-bike which are always super popular.
[00:03:53] Ruth: But we also had some kiddies bikes that have been donated. So, somebody wasn't using these bikes anymore, just handed them into us. And the mechanics had done them up and made sure they were roadworthy.
[00:04:04] Ruth: And then this wee girl came along and she couldn't ride a bike, but she really wanted to be able to ride a bike.
[00:04:09] Ruth: So our e-bike guy just spent 10 minutes with her and showed her how to ride a bike and then she could ride a bike. She was allowed to just take that bike home. So, you know, things like that on a community level that can have such a big impact for those individuals. And then a long lasting, you know, who knows what she might do, you know, once she's learned to ride a bike, that could make such a big change for her.
[00:04:30] Ruth: So these kinds of things, and it's the same with the food work that we do and the little pop-up cafes that we have. And within the shop, whenever you go in the shop, there's people coming in for a chat. People coming in to try eco products, to donate stuff because they don't wanna see these things wasted.
[00:04:44] Ruth: So really, yeah, I think the thing I'm proudest about the most is really kind of integrating into the community and the work that's been done there.
[00:04:50] Madeleine: Who or what inspires you?
[00:04:53] Ruth: So I think climate activists really, really inspire me. Nobody wants to be doing that stuff. You know, nobody wants to be taping themselves to bridges and gluing themselves to roads and things like that. Particularly the youth activists really, really inspire me because I just feel like, why should they have to think about these things?
[00:05:13] Ruth: It's so unfair, you know? It makes me quite bitter that they're having to think about these things, and not just think about these things but having to spend their time, you know, acting on these issues that shouldn't be a problem for them.
[00:05:25] Ruth: But having said that, it's so inspiring that they care so much and that they're really the ones leading the charge to kind of address the climate emergency. And yeah, I find that super inspiring.
[00:05:38] Madeleine: What do you think is the most powerful thing that the Arran community can do right now to help create a better and fairer future for all?
[00:05:47] Ruth: I would say coming together, the Arran community does generally come together really well, but coming together and just kind of doing more of what they're doing already, you know, and acknowledging that small actions can have a big, big impact. So, you know,
[00:06:02] Ruth: there's the stuff that we're doing with Eco Savvy with active travel and sustainable food, but it's kind of, people can do whatever they're good at. So if you're good at gardening, go along to your community garden and volunteer there.
[00:06:16] Ruth: You know, if you're passionate about the sea, there's an amazing marine conservation organisation here, so you can get involved with beach cleans or volunteer at the Visitor Centre at Coast.
[00:06:26] Ruth: You know, there's really so much on Arran that folk can do, and I think that people on Arran have a really special relationship with the place and the land and the landscape,
[00:06:37] Ruth: being an island that we are. Because we have all these issues with the ferries and things like that. But also it is a very amazing geographical place to be because you're on an island.
[00:06:47] Ruth: And when the weather's bad, you feel the weather and you feel the impact of the seasons. And you notice your environment a lot more than you perhaps might if you were living in the city. And I think that people in Arran are very aware of that and really passionate about preserving that and taking care of the environment and taking care of Arran and all these things. And I think that's really powerful.
[00:07:07] Madeleine: When I say Green Islands Net Zero. What's the first thing that pops into your mind?
[00:07:13] Ruth: Well, we have a Green Islands Net Zero project.
[00:07:16] Ruth: It has lots of levels to it. So on the biggest level, it aims to map
[00:07:20] Ruth: emissions of Arran to get an understanding of where our emissions can be improved.
[00:07:26] Ruth: And then on a
[00:07:27] Ruth: smaller level than that, it's also about making people's homes more efficient so that they are warmer and their bills are less. Especially during this cost of living crisis, I think everybody's certainly feeling the pain and the pressure of increased energy bills. So, I get that net zero can be a bit of a jargon term for folk and can be a bit off-putting.
[00:07:49] Ruth: But really on a basic level, it's about reducing waste and trying to make things more efficient so that yes, it's good for the environment, but it's also good for your pocket and that you save money in the process.
[00:08:03] Madeleine: What do you think is the most useful resource in terms of community climate action that you would point people to?
[00:08:10] Ruth: I'm gonna kinda cheat and say two. I think the best resource that you can have is having conversations with folk and learning about what's happening, having conversations about your opinions and what people that your friends and family have heard and their thoughts. But also I'm a massive fan of the internet and doing your own research, being on social media, just kind of being aware of what's happening around the climate change movement.
[00:08:39] Ruth: Because, you know, the mainstream media does report on it, but I think that there's a lot to be learned from smaller news outlets and blog posts and community organisations that are on the ground who are trying to deal with the climate emergency.
[00:08:54] Ruth: Who might have a lot more kind of progressive opinions and ideas and also have had experience and successes that are relevant to you wherever you are.
[00:09:05] Madeleine: What is your most treasured possession?
[00:09:07] Ruth: Well, I wouldn't really say it's a possession? but my most treasured
[00:09:11] Ruth: things would be my memories. So I would say all my life, basically, I've taken lots of photos ever since I was very young. So I would say all my photos that were physical photos that I have in photo albums. But then also now, the ones that I have that are digital pictures. I must have tens of thousands of them stored. So yeah, they would definitely be my most treasured possession.
[00:09:33] Madeleine: So if you could imagine Arran 10 or 30 years from now and imagine that we've all done everything possible to limit the effects of climate change and now Arran is a fairer and better place to be. Could you close your eyes and share one memory from that future with us?
[00:09:52] Ruth: The dream for Arran would be the community all living peacefully and happily together. But having much better local processes. So you know, we're able to grow our own food here. We're able to produce all the food that we need, or the majority of the food that we need here. Amazing transport systems where you don't need to have a car. Better off-road systems where the possibility of cycle lanes to link up villages. Just being much more resilient as well. And being able to function much more as a community with all the resources that we need as much as possible on our island.
[00:10:32] Ruth: I think that would be pretty ideal. And preserving the natural beauty of the island and keeping the air clean and the beaches litter free and plastic free.
[00:10:42] Ruth: All these fantastic things that we will have in 10 years time.
[00:10:47] Madeleine: Thank you for speaking to me about Arran Eco Savvy and also your own climate journey.
[00:10:51] Ruth: Thank you for having me.
[00:10:53] Madeleine: Check out Arran Eco Savvy's website to learn more about their different projects and the great work they're doing to create a planet friendly future for their island home. They've just published some short videos about their Zero Waste Cafe, Active Travel Hub and Community Shop, which are worth a look. The links for these are in the show notes.
[00:11:14] Madeleine: This is a little teaser for the upcoming Arran audio tour that we are hoping to put together as part of Everyday Changemakers. We will be recording some more interviews with other people from Arran Eco Savvy soon, so watch this space for more.
Friday Jun 16, 2023
Friday Jun 16, 2023
Friday Jun 16, 2023
In the first episode of our Everyday Changemakers shorts series we meet Carolyn Powell from Huntly Development Trust who's working on community-led town centre regeneration.
Credits: Produced by Kaska Hempel
Trust Website: https://www.huntlydt.org/
Number 30/Town Centre development: https://www.huntlydt.org/what-we-do/town-centre
Carolyn’s bio https://www.huntlydt.org/about-us/people
New Economics Foundation https://neweconomics.org/
Climate Action Towns (Architecture and Design Scotland): https://www.ads.org.uk/resource/climate-action-towns
Climate Action Towns film: https://youtu.be/ZMj9PMrUwjs
[00:00:27] Kaska Hempel: Welcome to our Everyday Changemakers series. Wee blethers with everyday people taking climate action in their communities.
[00:00:38] Kaska Hempel: Hello, it's Kaska, one of your Story Weavers. Today's guest is Carolyn Powell from the Huntley Development Trust. She's been involved in a redevelopment of an iconic listed building in Huntley's main square. The Number 30, as it's affectionately known, is being transformed into a multipurpose community space with green credentials.
[00:01:01] Kaska Hempel: This project is a cornerstone of the trust's investment into community driven regeneration of the town centre. I caught up with Carolyn at Stirling at the May gathering for the Climate Action Towns project supported by Architecture And Design Scotland. She was one of the presenters in an aspirational showcase of towns taking a place-based approach to issues facing communities locally, including the climate emergency.
[00:01:30] Kaska Hempel: I started by asking her to describe the building she's been working on.
[00:01:37] Carolyn Powell: The building is in the middle of the town square, and what's wonderful about it is it's slightly magical. It has a tower at one end, and albeit that tower is not hollow, there's something about it that's reminiscent of a castle.
[00:01:54] Carolyn Powell: And you can imagine children making up stories about it, and it's on the corner overlooking, you know, right overlooking the square. So, as you come into the town, that's what you see. So, it makes the setting for something that magical that's going to happen. And hopefully with its renovation, something magical will happen.
[00:02:17] Carolyn Powell: I'm Carolyn Powell. I work for Huntley Development Trust and I'm Town Centre Development Manager. I work in Huntley, but I live on the coast just 20 miles away, half an hour from Huntley.
[00:02:28] Kaska Hempel: How did you get involved in Community Action? What's your journey?
[00:02:32] Carolyn Powell: I come from a semi-commercial background, but around about 2006 I began working for the New Economics Foundation and the interest that I'd had in regeneration was fuelled and I started working on different projects for them. One in particular was really a ground up approach to entrepreneurship. So, people in places actually turning their interests and their passions into work, into a job, and supporting them to do that.
[00:03:04] Carolyn Powell: So that's really where the drive comes from and the understanding that in any community there are people who can change not only their own future, but the collective future as well. And that is primarily driven by the desire and the passion to do something.
[00:03:20] Kaska Hempel: When I say place-based approach. What's your first reaction to it?
[00:03:26] Carolyn Powell: People. It's all about people. It must be.
[00:03:31] Kaska Hempel: And if you were to explain that concept to somebody that doesn't know anything about it, how would you explain it?
[00:03:37] Carolyn Powell: So, we have had periods in our history where we've designed around transport and roads and how things might look rather than people. People came second, they were put into that picture.
[00:03:51] Carolyn Powell: People are the picture, how they use the space. I mean, you wouldn't want a designer coming in to design your kitchen to come up with something that you, in practical terms, just simply couldn't use. And that's been what's happened in the past in some cases. So, places have not been fit for the purpose and the needs of the people that actually want and need them, whereas that's now being reversed.
[00:04:17] Carolyn Powell: So, we look at people first and we also look at what might happen. How might we want to do this? How would we want in the future, things to be different? You know, we might think that, okay, so we change this to make it more useful to people, to be more purposeful, but then we also build into that how we would like to build green space in the future.
[00:04:43] Carolyn Powell: We might not be able to do that right now, but if we change the traffic flow, if we have more people using sustainable transport rather than individual transport, we might then be able to create more green spaces. So, we need to think ahead with those things as well.
[00:04:58] Kaska Hempel: What was the biggest challenge that your community group or your project had to overcome, and what lessons you've learned from that that you can share with people?
[00:05:08] Carolyn Powell: Probably the communication of it because there are so many strands to it. There's no single sound bite that will, you know, answer the question as to how it's been designed, how it can be used in the future. And the way that so far, and this will continue because it's obviously it's not quite finished, to get around that has been actually bringing people into it.
[00:05:32] Carolyn Powell: Even during the building process so they can start to see. Well, it's taking so long because the thing is falling down, and they could see that for themselves. And then later on they can see the spaces, oh gosh, you know, we can use that space and that space and oh, there's a staircase there, and oh, there's a lift over there, you know, and suddenly it's a real thing.
[00:05:51] Carolyn Powell: But communication's quite a tricky one because small pieces of information invite criticism and yet you can have too much information where it's changing, so it's very hard to keep that momentum going with it.
[00:06:06] Kaska Hempel: Who or what inspires you?
[00:06:10] Carolyn Powell: Actually, this is going to maybe sound a little strange. Change inspires me.
[00:06:16] Carolyn Powell: Everything is in a constant state of change and change is a good thing because you can't renew without change. Without change, things die. And that kind of resistance to it is, you know, it's so complex. But we need to embrace change. Now that's assuming all change is good, but of course, some change isn't necessarily.
[00:06:43] Carolyn Powell: But change inspires me because it can make things happen. It can stir things up, it can, you know, it can activate and inspire and really trigger something.
[00:06:56] Kaska Hempel: What is your most cherished possession?
[00:06:59] Carolyn Powell: His name's Angus. He has four legs and a tail. And in order to come here today for the very first time last night, he went to kennels and tomorrow morning I pick him up.
[00:07:10] Carolyn Powell: So yes, he is without doubt my most treasured possession. I shouldn't say a dog's a possession. If it was an actual physical thing, I dunno what it would be. But certainly there's a couple of things, handmade items from, you know, children's collection I probably would grab. It's just a demonstration of where they were at at that point and how you felt at that point.
[00:07:33] Carolyn Powell: And sometimes physical items encapsulate that. It's about like any memory that's connected with something tangible. It just evokes the memories of that period of time.
[00:07:45] Kaska Hempel: If you could imagine Huntley or the project or descend of town in 10 years time or 30 years time. And if you could just close your eyes. You can spend a second thinking about that, and I'll ask you for one single memory from the future that you could share with us about this place.
[00:08:04] Carolyn Powell: So, I live half an hour away, so I've just gone there. And the first thing that I'm struck by is the number of people that are actually walking through the middle of town.
[00:08:18] Carolyn Powell: That's because they can, because the traffic's now been diverted and it suddenly looks green, so it doesn't look all grey because the building's obviously there, greyish in colour. But it looks quite green because there are these trees in the centre and there's places to sit and people are chatting and there's tables and chairs outside Number 30, and there's tables and chairs outside the bookshop and people are sitting and they're chatting.
[00:08:43] Carolyn Powell: Older people are chatting to young people. The youngsters are coming through from school, but instead of heading straight down to get, you know, different types of hot food. They're stopping to say hello to people in the town, not just in their groups, and they're going into different places and they look cheerful.
[00:09:03] Carolyn Powell: And there's a feeling of excitement. It sounds chattery busy. But not bus driving through the middle busy. So, it's quite a different feel. There are some rather lovely smells because there's the smell coming from the lovely Bank Restaurant, which now exists. And there's different smells coming out of Number 30.
[00:09:27] Carolyn Powell: And in the corner, there's somebody baking bread somewhere. And there's notices about things that are happening, that people are being invited to. So, yeah, I don't need to shut my eyes for that one. That's real.
[00:09:38] Kaska Hempel: Is there anything else that you'd like to share with 1000 Better Stories podcast listeners?
[00:09:44] Carolyn Powell: It's not an easy thing. And people can give up because it is tough and, you know, make no bones about it. But I think the most important thing is don't lose sight of these dreams. And, you know, if there was a criticism of the way we've all been in the past, it's not that we've been over ambitious and failed, we haven't been ambitious enough.
[00:10:07] Carolyn Powell: Be really, really, really ambitious. What have you got to lose? Just do it.
[00:10:16] Kaska Hempel: Check out an excellent blog on Huntley Development Trust's website for more stories about Number 30 and other wonderful work they're doing to make their town better for everyone. And if you are interested in finding out more about the nine towns involved in Climate Action Towns Project, I highly recommend the short film by Bircan Birol, which is available on ADS YouTube channel. I've put the links in the show notes for you.
[00:10:42] Kaska Hempel: As you might have noticed, Everyday Changemakers is a new format we've introduced for 1000 Better Stories podcast to help us showcase more of the amazing work done by communities across Scotland and show that everyone can make a difference. Let us know if you'd like to share a story of a changemaker in your own community, and we'll arrange for an interview with one of our field reporters, or maybe you would like to interview someone yourself.
[00:11:08] Kaska Hempel: We are planning training in audio recording and editing soon. If you're interested, get in touch with me on stories at SCCAN dot Scot. Until next time, keep making a difference out there.
Monday May 29, 2023
Monday May 29, 2023
Monday May 29, 2023
We share an episode from Collaborative Mobility UK podcast channel. CoMoUK is the national charity dedicated to the social, economic and environmental benefits of shared transport. Among many other things they provide excellent support and resources for community groups wanting to set up shared car or bike clubs.
The story explores some of the opportunities and challenges faced by community car clubs, and features three guests speaking about their experiences running a car club and navigating challenges including insurance, pricing, and sustainability:
- Malcolm McFarlane from Kinross-shire Movegreener in Kinross, Scotland
- Mike Callaghan from Local Energy Action Plan (LEAP) in Lochwinnoch, Scotland
- Andrew Capel from Llani Car Club in Llanidloes, Wales
For more stories from CoMoUK, see their Shared Transport Podcast on podbean: https://comouk.podbean.com/. You can also find it on all main podcasting apps.
Credits: Produced by Paul Bristow for CoMoUK
CoMoUK website: https://www.como.org.uk/
CoMoUK Shared Transport Podcast: https://comouk.podbean.com/
1000 Better Stories episode: An honest look at one community’s car and bike clubs about the Porty Community Energy project https://www.podbean.com/eas/pb-bz9wn-1387976
Local Energy Action Plan (LEAP): https://www.myleapproject.org/
Llani Car Club: https://www.llanicarclub.co.uk/
Porty Community Energy: https://portycommunityenergy.wordpress.com/
Friday Apr 28, 2023
Friday Apr 28, 2023
Friday Apr 28, 2023
What can we learn from the multigenerational wisdom of Gaelic tradition bearers about reconnecting our communities to places where we live, to our past and to our future in the changing climate?
To explore these questions, Our Story Weaver, Lesley Anne, talked to Gaelic Officer for CHARTS, Àdhamh Ó Broin, about his journey into Gaelic tradition-bearing and activism, the role of land-based ritual in modern world and seven-generation thinking.
The interview was inspired by the Spring equinox event, “Dùthchas Beò revitalising reciprocity with the Gaelic landscape”. This took place at ancient sacred sites of Kilmartin and Knapdale in Argyle and was a collaboration between Àdhamh and SCCAN’s network coordinator for Argyle and Bute, Marie Stonehouse.
Dùthchas Beò event https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/556630325287
Gaelic pronunciation https://learngaelic.net/dictionary/index.jsp
“The Good Ancestor – How to think long term in short-term world” by Roman Krznaric https://www.romankrznaric.com/good-ancestor
“Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/18693771
[00:00:36] Kaska Hempel: Hello, it's Kaska, one of your Story Weavers. I'd like to take you to one of my favourite places in Scotland, Kill Martin Glen in Argyll. Imagine it's an early spring afternoon and you're standing at the wide bottom of a shallow glen surrounded by gentle hills. Dotted with trees on the verge of bursting into leaf.
[00:01:01] Kaska Hempel: Birds fleet around in their branches and chatter with the spring excitement. You listen for the trademark territorial cuckoo calls, but they've not made it back from Africa yet. They'll be along in May, together with the blue bells. The sound of cars passing through the village breaks through the nature's spring soundscape, but it comes back even stronger after every wave of traffic.
[00:01:26] Kaska Hempel: You look down the wide grassy glen and the skies moving medley of blue and the gray cloud. The sun hits your face with a fleeting kiss as the shapes shift above your head. In front of you is a circle of standing stones manmade, but they've somehow become part of the landscape covered in colourful mosaic of lichens.
[00:01:50] Kaska Hempel: The more than 350 similar ancient monuments within a six mile radius of this village, with 150 of them prehistoric standing witness to more than 5,000 years of human history of this place. Your bare feet sink into cold, wet grass, and it feels like this place along with all the generations who'd passed through it is embracing you like a long lost friend.
[00:02:18] Kaska Hempel: This is how I imagined the setting of Dùthchas Beò, a Spring Equinox event, which took place at ancient sacred sites of Kilmartin and Knapdale. It explored a revitalizing reciprocity with a Gaelic landscape. It was a collaboration between the Gaelic Officer Àdhamh Ó Broin from Argyll and Isles Culture, Heritage and Arts organisation, and SCCAN's Network Coordinator for Argyll and Bute, Marie Stonehouse.
[00:02:46] Kaska Hempel: So what can we learn from the multi-generational wisdom of Gaelic tradition bearers about reconnecting our communities to places where we live, to our past and to our future in this changing climate? To answer these questions, our Story Weaver Lesley Anne talked to Àdhamh about his journey into Gaelic tradition bearing and activism, the role of land-based ritual in modern world and seven generation thinking.
[00:03:14] Kaska Hempel: But before we go any further, I would like to profusely apologize for my Gaelic pronunciation in this introduction. I'm a complete novice at this. Now, to start us off, Àdhamh introduces two concepts at the core of Gaelic identity and culture.
[00:03:32] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Dùthchas, which is the name of the event. Dùthchas Beò. Dùthchas, coming from the concept of dùth, which is an old word for people, and dùthaich, which is country. Land that is inhabited by people and therefore dùthchas is that inimitable connection with the place where your people have sprung. Now, for me though, this is quite difficult to articulate fully. Because I don't have a great sense of dùthchas with the place that my people came from because they're all gone.
[00:04:07] Àdhamh Ó Broin: They're all either cleared or forced to leave through economic circumstance. And I've been getting back up to my mother's area in, in Latheron Parish, in Caithness and getting my bare seat in the ground and trying to encourage the dùthchas to return to me there. And I've been doing the same in Ireland as well. But Argyll, the area that I grew up in, in the area that I'm probably most well known for being a tradition bear in, I don't have any ancestor connection to, so I've been adopted by the land there.
[00:04:36] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I feel very, very welcome there and I feel respected and appreciated by the land, by some people in the area. But for people who perhaps let's just see, you know, your from the Isle of Barra. And you know, you can trace back several generations on all sides. And so you and your people have always been from Barra. Then that sense of dùthchas is incredibly strong because you not only still inhabit the land of your ancestors, but you can trace the movements of your ancestors, you know, right across the landscape.
[00:05:05] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So that's the dùthchas thing. It's ancestral relationship with land and feeling of connection with it. So if dùthchas is the land and your relationship with it and your right to remain on that land and being in relationship with that land, then dualchas is the manner in which you described that relationship. So dualchas is you know, your stories, your songs, your Proverbs, your local history, all that side of things.
[00:05:27] Àdhamh Ó Broin: But it's specifically that which is inherited from generations before you. You know, so dùthchas is the land and your relationship to that and dualchais is the stories of the consistent relationship with that land as told by your ancestors. So they're utterly crucial to the, well, my name's if I was to introduce myself in sort of Ancestral styles you might put it in Is mise Àdhamh, mac Sheumais bhig, 'ic Sheumais mhóir, 'ic Diarmuid, 'ic Sheumais, 'ic Mhurchaidh, 'ic Sheumais.
[00:05:58] Àdhamh Ó Broin: That's referencing seven generations of my father's line and all the way back to Wicklow in Ireland. And so I suppose that if you're referencing seven generations back and honouring your ancestors, that far back then you're kinda making a commitment to be a good seventh generation. If we're lucky enough to get to that stage with the state things are in, but you know, so, that's who I am in the Gaelic sense in terms of professional end of things.
[00:06:28] Àdhamh Ó Broin: My work goes from very organic tradition bearing, picking up things that are about to get lost and keeping them and hopefully passing them on. So that's culture, songs, stories, Proverbs, anecdotes, words, idioms. It goes from that right across to consulting on films. At the moment, is mise Oifigear Cultair Ghàidhlig, i'm Gaelic Culture officer at CHARTS Argyll and the Isles, so we're a member led arts organisation and in that I have remit for Gaelic culture.
[00:07:07] Lesley Anne Rose: I mean, that sounds like one of the best jobs in the world, but you've also got the role of a tradition bearer. I'd love it if you could share a little bit more about what that role actually involves, and how, if anything, your journey to becoming a tradition bearer is in any way linked to your climate change journey.
[00:07:24] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Yeah. I'd always been environmentally focused since I was a child. You know, I think like anybody else with their head on straight, you know, they have spent a reasonable amount of time watching David Attenborough as a child, you know? So, you know, it came from that. And I remember there was a programme called Fragile Earth.
[00:07:41] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I used to watch that every time it was on, and I was sort of ethically vegetarian, you know, was brought up that way with my father, in fact. Growing up and I just always had one eye on that. Grew up in the country and just felt intrinsically connected to nature and it was bonkers that they were mistreating it. I mean, it just didn't make any sense whatsoever.
[00:07:59] Àdhamh Ó Broin: My father's people are all Irish, my mother's folk are predominantly from Highland Caithness, although I grew up in Argyll so a wee bit of a kind of Gaelic mix there. Highlanders and Irish folk are essentially one people, the Gaelic people, and folk from the Isle of Man as well. So it's really, it's an ethnicity, you know, and it happens to now be
[00:08:14] Àdhamh Ó Broin: quite divided by geopolitical boundaries, but the vast majority of people on the ground in the Highlands and Islands saw themselves as Gaels you know. But I never got that immediate everyday sense of who I was. I'm not a first language Gaelic speaker. As a child growing up in Cowal, I didn't have the language or culture passed down by my parents, but was very strongly encouraged by my only grandmother to pick the language of our people back up.
[00:08:44] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I came home to there after 10 years in Glasgow, and found that the language is on its very, very last legs, local dialect in central Argyll. And so I began to, as I said before, collect all these things that were getting lost and interviewing old people, some of whom couldn't speak the language fluently, but had loads of memories of it being spoken in words and praises and all sorts of things.
[00:09:11] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And then I brought up my children, with myself, my wife and three kids, all of them are fluent Gaelic speakers. And myself, my wife. Our three. Our first language speakers. I've never spoken any English in the house to them, so that means that the dialect of central Argyll is a living language once again, even though all the native speakers have unfortunately now passed away.
[00:09:33] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I suppose what happened was that. Because I had to struggle so hard to get the language back. I mean, not that it was difficult learning it, it felt like just placing bits of the jigsaw puzzle back into my brain, you know where they belong. Back into my soul. But you know, it's still challenging to do that with a young family and working and all the rest of it.
[00:09:51] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So as the years rolled on, that momentum of learning the language never left me. Once I had the language fluently, then I started going around the Highlands and, and recording, you know, tradition bearers and recording the dialects that were dying, you know, and many of my friends, my old friends and in different glens and islands and what have you have now passed on.
[00:10:16] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I'm very thankful to them for holding onto the language long enough for me to be able to learn it from them. But, I don't have that sense of intergenerational transmission. And so it's been a sense of rather than just what's normal and, you know, been happening for generations, it's been a sense of urgency and necessity that's caused me to tradition bear.
[00:10:35] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I saw a lot of things that were being lost, as I said, and I didn't see anybody else holding onto them, and I saw they were about to go, you know, and you're talking about spruilleachd, it's like, you know, almost like the crumbs that are left after you've touched yourself a slice of bread. You know, the breads actually long gone, but these crumbs are still there.
[00:10:54] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And if you pick them up, you can more or less sort of, you know, get a chewable bite out them, you know. And that's I suppose what tradition bearing is all about in a minoritized culture that is, you know, lost sort of 95% of its richness and speakership. So, tradition bearing for me is something that I've stumbled into backwards in an accidental fashion and now realize that I'm a tradition bearer and now realise that there aren't that many people like me, especially in the mainland, and it's almost like you're gathering up all the family photographs as you run outta the burning house, and then you're standing outside them all and suddenly you're the keeper of the photographs. But actually, you know, you hadn't even looked at them in 20 years, you know, and suddenly it's like, well, these are really important because everything else is gone.
[00:11:40] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Ultimately, if they're valuable things, somebody needs to pick them up and safeguard them.
[00:11:46] Lesley Anne Rose: That's lovely. There's so much sort of vivid imagery that you've shared with us. Thank you. That phrase you used about, I came to it backwards. I would just like to pick that a little bit more in relation to climate change.
[00:11:56] Lesley Anne Rose: Partly from interviewing someone up in Skye who is also a tradition bearer and they used the really beautiful metaphor or analogy that tradition bearing is the same as rowing a boat. Although you are, you are going forwards, but all the time you are looking backwards. And they were very keen to impress that tradition bearing isn't something that's about sort of stuck in the past about old sepia photos. It is very much a role that has a responsibility to look forwards as well. And just again, in terms of that sort of, onus around climate and looking after the land and tradition and people, how do you see that role of a tradition bearer in safeguarding the future, if you like, as well as the past?
[00:12:37] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Yeah, it's a great question. And I would agree strongly with the person that you'd spoken to there. I would just add that I'm not scared to look back to the past. I think in the modern world, people, they almost feel like they need to virtual signal about technology to say we are okay with technology.
[00:12:52] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Yes, we are grasping it all. Yes, we want it all, we're not against it. But you see, as anybody who's aware of environmental degradation, we know that technology in and of itself is not necessarily a good thing unless it is weighed up with the potential consequences and ramifications of its overuse.
[00:13:07] Àdhamh Ó Broin: We know that from the industrial revolution. You don't have to constantly convince people that Gails aren't old quarry people in sweaters, you know, stuck on crofts who never ever go anywhere else. We, you know, we know that's not true, but that comes from a long, long period of internalized colonialism. And you know, people were told it was holding back and told that, you know, if you were from the Highlands and Islands, you're just a daft Teuchter and all the rest of it.
[00:13:31] Àdhamh Ó Broin: You know, it's inbuilt in people so I understand it, but I think we need to get away from it. It's actually ok to value old things and it's okay to think for some people to feel much more comfortable with old things and older people and older traditions than they do with a lot of the traps in the modern world.
[00:13:49] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I'm certainly one of them, you know. So in terms of the environmental connection though, I don't believe climate change is happening or there's nasty things going on with the environment in the world. Because if anything that I've been told in a top down fashion by, you know, academic institutions or governments or organisations, I believe that there's something fundamentally wrong with the natural patterns in the world because our lore doesn't fit the weather anymore.
[00:14:19] Àdhamh Ó Broin: That's why I believe it. You look at phrases and things used to describe the weather that have been in place for decades, if not centuries, if not longer than that, and they don't fit anymore. There's one, for instance, you know,
[00:14:34] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I'm paraphrasing that, I can't remember the exact phrases, but if there's snow in the ditches in early February, then you know that the worst of the winter's actually over. But if it's really dry and warm and sunny at that point, then you know that you're gonna get a right, nasty, flurry of snow still.
[00:14:51] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And of course, every year you don't necessarily get that sort of thing. You don't get these signs, you don't get these things happening where you can just set your watch by it practically. And so that for me is where tradition bearing and keeping this language used, allows us to map out what's going on with the weather and what changes are happening because these phrases are a set of orienteering points that you can map the wheel of the year through.
[00:15:16] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And if things are out of place then you've got that ability to explain quite explicitly how by reference to these things that have been in place for centuries.
[00:15:25] Lesley Anne Rose: I mean I love that idea. That sort of local knowledge is just as important and should be taken just as seriously as any sort of top-down information and just how empowering that is and how respectful that is to both our ancestors, but also our own knowledge as well.
[00:15:40] Lesley Anne Rose: I'd just like to expand upon in what you've just explained. The first phrase that you said, which I made my ears prick up. Tradition bearers aren't afraid of the past. And certainly what I found with a lot of the climate change work that I've done within communities and on a wider scale as well, there's been a real push to heal the past. To tell untold stories of the past, if you like.
[00:16:03] Lesley Anne Rose: Before any planning for any more sustainable, just future. And I just wondered, is there a role there or do you see a role within the tradition bearers that is actually healing the past, respecting the past, telling the story of the past, understanding the past as a natural first step before we can even begin to think about a just transition or a more sustainable future?
[00:16:30] Àdhamh Ó Broin: In terms of the past and healing. Things that have happened. I mean, we carry it all in our dna. We carry it all in our bodies, you know, keeps the score. It's about your life experiences. And I can't remember the author there, but it's about how your body essentially is a carrier for all the trauma you experience through your life. Well, all the good things and the bad things. But we're also carriers of all that our ancestors have experienced because, well, where else can it go?
[00:16:56] Àdhamh Ó Broin: You know, depending on people's religious beliefs, maybe some of it does dissipate when the soul leaves the body. But who knows? Who knows? It's all speculation. But I don't think there's any doubt that ancestral trauma is a real thing, and I feel it implicitly whenever I go over to Ireland and I visit mass grave sites from the genocide there are otherwise known as the famine, you know, all the rest of it. I find myself having to go through very, very heavy leaving phases for all these things.
[00:17:26] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I've got one cousin still left in the place my mother's people belong to. Otherwise, I have to walk through the ruins of the houses of my people who are forced to leave as economic migrants. The idea is that you're having to walk through all these shadows of past brutalities and you're having to somehow through all that hurt and pain.
[00:17:50] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Extract from the cold ashes of the hearths of your ancestors, the embers that are worth taking with you, and carry them carefully out of these ruins and find somewhere appropriate to start a new fire with them. And that's really hard. You know, nobody gives you a guide book for these things.
[00:18:07] Àdhamh Ó Broin: It's ancestral work. Well, it's both ancestral cultural imperative. And as when I'm communicating with a lot of my indigenous friends, you know, they'll talk about their elders. And I think, yeah, lucky sods, whatever, because they've still got elders. I mean, you think of the hellish grief that so many indigenous people have been through, and you think of that, and yet they still have so many people around the world.
[00:18:30] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So many indigenous people have still retained that intergenerational connection where their elders are still important to them. And in so many Western societies, they're just getting packed into old folks homes. And I mean, these are the gold of the human race. You know, the golden generation. You've got knowledge that is, it's irrevocable because it only comes from life experience.
[00:18:50] Àdhamh Ó Broin: My elders are people that i've bumped into, because I was looking for people like them and ended up forming really close friendships. And so when I talk about my elders, you know, I'll talk about. Somebody up in Melness in the far north of Sutherland, even though my people don't come from there.
[00:19:09] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I talk about a friend of mine who just passed away at the new year. There was a fisherman from Applecross. You know, I'll talk about, the fellow who was the last speaker of my dialect in mid Argyll, who passed away heading for three years ago now. And yet none of these people are blood related to me.
[00:19:27] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So you're having to sort of cradle these last embers and you're having to try and support people who are already old and knackered and used to their knowledge being sidelined. You're having to hold them and hold space for them to give them the chance, and breathe that last bit of life in so that they can bestow something to you as a legacy that you can pass on your children and start the intergenerational transmission again.
[00:19:54] Àdhamh Ó Broin: That's the one thing that's different for myself and other people who have lost the intergenerational structure to folk who have managed to maintain right relationship with their elders, is that there's no guidebook. And when you're seeking these things out and you're wondering how to take them into the future, there is no hard and fast rules and you're having to fly by the seat of your pants with nothing but your instinct and your intuition.
[00:20:18] Lesley Anne Rose: You've described that just so very beautifully, that connection that you have with land and how that influences your role. Within that, do you feel that a tradition bearer is very much a sort of role for rural setting? Can people live in that urban setting and have that same sense of tradition and tradition bearing?
[00:20:35] Lesley Anne Rose: As you can clearly, if you've got that much sort of wider daily, deeper connection to the natural landscape,
[00:20:41] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I think you can, and the manner in which they can is to lean perhaps slightly more than you might in a rural setting with a thinner population to lean on people more in an urban setting. When you think about, for instance, Glasgow, I went school in Glasgow and here I would say that tenement life was an incredible setting where traditions came and went.
[00:21:11] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Were upheld and let go of, you know, where there was a sense of etiquette. You know, even it was just about who was cleaning the landing, you know, and people looked after one another's kids and the kids all ran about the dunnys out the back and you know, there was a absolute sense of community.
[00:21:28] Àdhamh Ó Broin: There's a sense of everybody looking after one another. Yeah. Terrible problems with drink, domestic violence, unemployment, poverty. Absolutely. It was all there. But the fact of the matter is people dealt with it undoubtedly as a community, you know, working Glaswegian people undoubtedly had a sense of identity that was pretty unique and it's still there.
[00:21:48] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And that the lovely thing is that if you get out and about in Glasgow, you stand and talk to somebody at a bus stop or on a bus or in a pub, you'll still get that richness of expression and humor and story. An anecdote in history. And there's no doubt that in terms of richness of expression and sense of place, there are people in Glasgow that are just as capable of carrying that forward as there would be in a rural setting.
[00:22:15] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And, you know, a crofting community in Lewis or wherever, it's a different flavour, but it's the process of tradition bearing. The idea of holding onto things that are valuable and passing them forward intentionally. Because they helped to express a sense of place and a sense of history and a sense of what it means to be a person within that space.
[00:22:36] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And that's really what tradition bearing's all about. I'm trying to get back to this idea at the moment and, you know, the event with yourselves was part of that. I would love it if people could accept this idea that actually there's not a single person on planet Earth that isn't a tradition bearer because all of our history and all of the way that we as individuals have experienced things are all unique perspectives.
[00:23:00] Àdhamh Ó Broin: The difference between not being a tradition bearer and being a tradition bearer is activating the tradition bearing mechanism within you to appreciate and be aware in a daily sense that what you know and what you've experienced and the perspective you've built through that is actually, it's a form of tradition bearing, and you don't have to be a great talker, a great storyteller.
[00:23:28] Àdhamh Ó Broin: A great singer. You simply have to be willing to pass it on and pass it on in as digestible a format as possible. So tell people the fascinating things. Tell people the exciting things. Tell people the difficult things. Don't shy away. From, you know, the fact that there could be a big story under seemingly incidental details.
[00:23:50] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I've said in the urban sense, you lean on people because they're all around you, you know, and maintaining community and being able to actually struggle against malign influences, you know, such as climate change. It is about staying in communication with people. So you need to lean on people in an urban setting because it's too easy to just sit in your box and stare at screens, you know?
[00:24:11] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And before screens came into things, there was a verve and an intensity to urban life, which has since died off because people are stuck with the latest opiate of the masses, which is no longer religion. It's now social media. Now, rural communities would maybe say that they relied on each other more, but that's simply because of a different type of infrastructure.
[00:24:32] Àdhamh Ó Broin: There's a less recognisable infrastructure, and so people relied on one another in a practical sense, perhaps more, but there's no doubt that you're more socially isolated in a rural setting when houses are further apart. So you rely on the the land there, you have the opportunity to sit quietly and listen to the rhythms of the land.
[00:24:52] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So that could be the wind, that could be the larks singing above your head, you know, it could be bees flying past your ears, could be seagulls, could be whatever. And exposing yourself to these rhythms dictates the manner in which you tradition bear. So if you are somebody who has long held exposure to a rural setting and either generations of it or just something you've done yourself to try and return to that tradition, then you'll find your tradition in the manner which you do it.
[00:25:19] Àdhamh Ó Broin: If it's not set by ancestral accumulation of expression, then it's set by natural rhythms. Because technology does provide artificial rhythms. It provides hums and buzzes and things that are imperceptible, we don't even know are happening. And glares and things that interrupt the bio clock. Our sleeping patterns. So getting out and paying close attention to the rhythms of nature and allowing that to start to reprogram you again, learning your own ancestral language, whatever.
[00:25:49] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And if you're English, you already speak your ancestral language which is a fantastic advantage. Even looking into local dialect that's been lost, whatever, learning these things and exposing yourself to the natural rhythms. So traditional rhythms and natural rhythms. Then programs the manner in which you tradition bear.
[00:26:04] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So the urban thing is there's a more intense mix of people and it's possibly more immediately social and it's noisier and it's more active, and the rural ones quieter, but they're both still perfectly valid forms of tradition bearing. You just need to lay yourself open to it and believe that the things that you feel are beautiful and worthwhile and necessary to tell are gonna be equally so for others.
[00:26:27] Lesley Anne Rose: I mean, that's just a lovely lesson for anyone to take into life about our story being beautiful and to believe in it and to tell it. And I suppose on a wider level, and this isn't me, I hope, putting words into your mouth, what you seem to have articulated about tradition bearing is it's about holding, telling and holding that story of the community.
[00:26:46] Lesley Anne Rose: And honouring and respecting it and making sure everyone has voice within that, and whatever setting that is. The story is, I suppose, the glue that holds communities and people together. And we all know that strong, resilient communities are gonna be essential in terms of a changing climate and a just transition, which makes that role of that story holding, that tradition bearer, just even more important as we move into changing times.
[00:27:11] Lesley Anne Rose: I think what would be really nice now if you just give us some examples or just talk through actually some of the work that you've done. Now, you mentioned that you've collaborated with Marie Stonehouse, who's the SCCAN Regional Climate Action Network Coordinator for Argyll and Bute, and that you recently did a celebration of the Equinox.
[00:27:28] Lesley Anne Rose: I wondered if you could just talk us through that event, what you did, the thinking behind it.
[00:27:34] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Marie was great craic and we got on a call similar to this one and before we'd gone even 20 minutes I think we'd already come up with this idea. And i've been stepping into ceremony with different indigenous nations, you know, consistently over the last.
[00:27:56] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So six, seven years. And initially, of course, people would probably say, well, how could you possibly know how to hold ceremony with indigenous people on a land that's lost all that ceremony? That's been entirely Christianized. And since then, secularized. How would you know how to hold natural ceremony and well, I didn't have a clue what to do to bring people into ceremonies, the first clue.
[00:28:27] Àdhamh Ó Broin: But I knew that I had to bring my kids through some kind of coming of age because we've lost coming of age ceremonies. And it's strange though, that perhaps people are so questioning of the idea of ritual and ceremony when they're perfectly happy to get married. Perfectly happy to go through that whole rig ma role, which really speaking for many folk is completely bizarre and unnecessary.
[00:28:49] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I mean, I'm married myself, but you know, a lot of other people won't be, and when they find that it's perfectly adequate and they just love the person they're with, and that's great. Don't need to go through the rig ma role. But for some people the rig ma role is very Important. It's like, again to use this analogy, a set of orienteering posts. That you can work through so you can disengage your creative mind for a moment and just be brought through different stages in order for your brain and your soul and your heart to turn through the rotations of the wheel and move through the experience, without having to necessarily guide yourself through it.
[00:29:20] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And that's what ritual's all about. So let's take this concept back a few notches and let's think about, I think I was saying to the folk when we were out the other day for the event with Marie, Dùthchas Beò. I said to the folk at the beginning about this idea of ritual and it's like, well, let's say you haven't seen very elderly, very knowledgeable, very beautiful soul, a relative for 30, 40 years because you've been overseas working and you only just return.
[00:29:50] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And I said to them, well, you know what would you do? What was the first thing you would do? And they're like, well, we'd go and visit. Right. Okay. And what do you think you would do when you visited? Well, I'd definitely take something with me like, you know, a nice, you know, packet of shortbread or, you know, I'd bake some scones or something.
[00:30:07] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Right. Nice. I like your thinking there. Great. And then what would you do once you got there? Well, you know, we'd have the kettle on. Have a cup of tea, maybe have a wee dram. Right, exactly. And then what would you do? Oh, well, I think we would just, we'd just talk. We'd just chat. Right. Okay. So you've pretty much set out the steps that are necessary to get back into good right relationship with somebody.
[00:30:33] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So I said, well, why would it be any different with the land?
[00:30:39] Àdhamh Ó Broin: You know? And everyone's like, ah, the man's got a point. Now you think about it, right? You visit the land, you get back in familiarity and you say, look, I'm back. I know I've been away so long and I'm really sorry, but look. Quite frankly us is a species in the Western world. We've been away quite a long time.
[00:30:57] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So just letting you know I'm back. I wonder if I could come and visit you again sometime. And when you come and visit, well, you bring an offering, you know, and you make that offering to the land because the lands your host, you know the land's giving you beauty. It's giving you fresh water to drink sometimes.
[00:31:16] Àdhamh Ó Broin: It's giving you bird song. It's entertaining you. It feels beautiful, and you get fresh water to drink out of aruns and rivers and bogs, and it's giving you everything you could possibly need. You've got berries to pick and eat. It's feeding you. It's giving you a libation. And what, you show up and don't offer anything. I mean, what? What? It's just rude, but for me it's incredibly verging on pragmatic.
[00:31:37] Àdhamh Ó Broin: The idea of ritual and ceremony in the land. It's what I do. I return to the land and I make some small offerings, and I offer a wee dram and I have a wee dram myself and I have a conversation with the land. And I go to places where people have been having conversations for centuries. So I'm not the first one showing up here and going, oh, I'm, I'm gonna have some mad new age ritual happening. No, quite the opposite. I'm showing up in a place, say the place we went to for Dùthchas Beò. For the event. Where there's a frustration cross. So Christian Pilgrims have come off the road for hundreds of years and said their prayers and there's a well there.
[00:32:13] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And they've done their absolutions and then carried on along the way. The Christians, let's be honest, could be crafted back in those early days, they picked sites that were already in use and went, right, you know, we'll have it, you know, and we've continued to accept it would be Christianized. So before that place we went to. Kilmory Oib it's called. Ób Chille Mhoire. That place would've had a pagan past.
[00:32:35] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I say Pagan, that's what we call it now. It would've had a land-based religious practice. And so for hundreds, maybe even thousands of years, people have been coming and making offerings and doing their absolutions and saying their prayers at that point. So me going back there and doing that and making these offerings and spending that time and getting back into conversation with the land and reestablishing a working relationship and perhaps even after time, it becomes a friendship.
[00:33:00] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And I certainly found it out. When I went to these places to start with. I mean, I was just stotting about. Not really sure what to do because, you know, it takes time, it takes consistency and it's the same when you go into somebody's house and especially an old person, they kinda go, this person's all about.
[00:33:15] Àdhamh Ó Broin: The intentions are. I mean, the land's the same, the land does the same thing. And eventually you realize that you're incredibly comfortable there and you go through the same ritual every time, and you just feel held by the land. You feel supported in what you're doing and you can confess all your fears and doubts and it just hears you and it holds you.
[00:33:32] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Now, some people might do that, if they're a Christian, they might do it in a Christian way. They might make their players to Jesus, to God, that's absolutely grand. That works just fine as well. You know, if they're Muslim, they might decide to roll out their prayer mat and say their prayers in that spot.
[00:33:45] Àdhamh Ó Broin: You know, brillant. That doesn't make a blind bit of difference to me because ultimately it's, you know, it's about reestablishing regular, meaningful relationship with the land, whatever the flavour of that may be, and doing that with other indigenous people who still have that practice and have had that practice handed down to them.
[00:34:06] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Remarkable the amount of things that they recognize in my practice. Go, that's exactly what we do. How'd you know how to do that? And I go, I dunno, the land just kept me right. I dunno how to do that. No, I don't. I dunno. I couldn't even answer that. They, they're like, you're on the right path because that's how we do things and you know, we've got thousands of years tradition on our site, you know.
[00:34:28] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So stepping into ceremony and offering indigenous people when they visited, the chance to take their socks and shoes off and to get into relationship and to come and visit our great elder who is the land, you know, to come and visit mother earth. And so folk from the Maori nation, Mohawk from the, uh, Wet’suwet’en and Co-Salish and Tlingit and Gumbaynggirr people from Australia and Karajá people from the Amazon rainforest you know, Mapuche from Chile and people from the Andes and you know, and also Basque folk you know and Welsh folk, and Irish folk, you know.
[00:34:49] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So we've had all kinds of people that belong to indigenous nations and have an ongoing relationship with the land. Come to Argyll and get into a relationship with our land and leave their blessings and bring their energy. And every single time I've had someone visit, I've learned something. All of these indigenous people, which has then fed back into my practice.
[00:35:11] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Now remember my friend Clark Webb, a fantastic language revitaliser of Gumbaynggirr people in Australia. And he says to me, how do you introduce yourself to the land? And I was like, well, I sometimes take a little saliva and I rub it on a rock. If I come to a sacred place that has a longstanding, you know, standing stone, I find myself rubbing my saliva.
[00:35:27] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And he was like, ah. He said, because when our people come to the land, we take sweat off our brow and rub it on the land to introduce ourselves to land. So how did you know how to do that? I'm like, well, I don't know, maybe I saw something about you doing that or like your other indigenous peoples doing that.
[00:35:42] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I dunno where it came from, but it was intuitive and it stuck and then it turned out other people did similar things and then it got the stage where i was like, well this is all very well, you know, with having fantastic guests from all around the world. But ultimately if we're going to. We're gonna turn this situation around and get people paying attention to their environment and investing in the environment and thinking of it is something that is crucially important because otherwise they're held by nothing.
[00:36:10] Àdhamh Ó Broin: They exist in a vacuum, you know, then we need to start sharing this stuff. And so that's how we got to the point where when I started talking with Marie, then it seemed natural. You use the partnership between CHARTS and SCCAN. As the point to begin to share this with folk that belong to these islands and not just special guest appearances as it were. You know, so more like an open mic, rather a touring act.
[00:36:38] Lesley Anne Rose: That's lovely. I mean, what you've just explained really has made it very accessible for people who are confused. Don't know how to begin that to reconnect with our landscape, wherever that is, whether that's an urban park or the coast or a forest.
[00:36:55] Lesley Anne Rose: I would really love to return to what you mentioned at the start about seven generations and seven generation thinking. Which is a concept that really chimes with me because I live in a community that's seven generations old. So it's a really nice hook for the residents here to think about what we need to do now.
[00:37:13] Lesley Anne Rose: To be good ancestors and think in terms of the coming seven generations and what they'll need from us. So in terms of that sort of seven generation thinking, if you want to unpack that a bit more, but also this might be a bit of a cheesy question, but if you could go back seven generations, what would you thank your elders for?
[00:37:33] Lesley Anne Rose: And then I suppose equally because, you know, the kind of subject we're talking about is a changing climate. If you could imagine your children's, children's, children's seven generations coming back in time to you now, what do you think they would ask you for?
[00:37:48] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Yeah, quite challenging. I think they'll articulate this because I suppose if I had carried on, in the vein that was set for me, then I would've just carried on into more isolation and you know, more of a socially fragmented state. I have a half brother, but I'm an only child from my parents, and by the time it got to me, they were sort of an accidental couple. I'm an accidental baby, you know, my parents split up very quickly after that. So there's a lot of accidentality to my situation and my people being quite distinct.
[00:38:25] Àdhamh Ó Broin: You know, highland, lot of them, part of the free church, and then Irish Catholics, which is a classic Glasgow story in fact. But, everything had fragmented to the most incredible degree. The time it got to meet my Irish people. The Irishness had been completely jettisoned by the time it came to my father. Absolutely jettisoned.
[00:38:41] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Anything Irish had been thrown in the bin, you know, to save further generations from the trauma of, I mean, you know, 1920s Glasgow and the anti-Catholic, anti Irish racism is absolutely horrific. The Razor gangs flying about and all rest of it. So the time it came down to me, there really couldn't have been much more lost.
[00:39:02] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So when I look back through those seven generations, you know, if I go from myself, I go to my father who was a World War II vet, I go to his father who was a World War I vet, and my father had PTSD. My grandfather died of his wounds. He was machine gun gas kicked by a horse, my father's PTSD that affected his entire life.
[00:39:25] Àdhamh Ó Broin: He campaigned lifelong for nuclear disarmament. You know, he used to debate with Jimmy Reid down at the Clyde side. You know, my father is right in the thick of it all. Hung around with Roy McLellan, the publisher, and Alasdair Gray, you know, and Tom Lennon, all these people in Glasgow authors at the time. All the rest of it. And a lot of the Glasgow artists as well.
[00:39:42] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And that was because of the experiences in the war. And then his father, my father sat at his bedside, you know, he was 12 and so his father died of his first World War wounds, you know, and then his father died after a pulmonary embolism, after being assaulted in a police cell. He was a policeman.
[00:39:59] Àdhamh Ó Broin: An Irishman come over to Glasgow who was a police inspector ultimately, and then, you know, his father before that then is the genocide survivor, you know, survivor of the famine in Ireland. And when I'm looking back through all these, you know, the amount of trauma that's come down to me and I'm the first generation to turn back round and face it all.
[00:40:17] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So looking back to those seven generations thinking what would I thank them for, what would I ask them for, I would thank them for their forbearance. I would thank them for the fact that I've even had the chance to be here. It is absolute fluke that I'm here and that my ancestors are not lying, you know, skeletal in a mass grave in Ireland.
[00:40:39] Àdhamh Ó Broin: You know, it is absolute fluke that my grandfather was not shot or gassed to death in the first World War, that he survived long enough for him and my grandmother to have my father. It's incredible that my father's tank wasn't the one that was blown up on the first day of action, but it was his best friend's tank next to him that was blown up and that he made it through and got back here and happened to completely randomly bump into my mother.
[00:41:05] Àdhamh Ó Broin: You know, and then I look at my mother's side, and I think of her father, you know, walking miles to school on his bare feet in the Highlands. And then a generation back and terrible alcoholism and domestic abuse. I look through all these things and they're still unremarkable, my situation. I mean, it's just the same as anybody else's
[00:41:22] Àdhamh Ó Broin: when we look back and see all the trauma and all the horror and all the brutality, you know. And what I would just want to say to those generations, you know, back there, is just, as I said, thank you for your forbearance and thank you for whatever you've put into me that has ultimately got to the point where I'm now able to turn around and look at this and deal with it because I don't want my kids having to deal with it.
[00:41:44] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I mean, they will have to, because I didn't start doing it until they were already on the scene. I probably passed negative things to them as well. But you know, as a parent, you know, you're always just trying to filter. You can't block out all the bad stuff. You just try and sieve as much of the crap out as you can, you know, and only pass on the joy.
[00:42:02] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I mean, that doesn't work, but that's what you're trying to do. So seven generations back. I'm saying thank you. I would love to ask questions about the language, about the dialect, about words. That's the geeky bit coming through. Seven generations into the future. How do I think i'll stand up as a seventh generation ancestor, as somebody sort of what is great, great, great, great grandfather.
[00:42:25] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I simply just hope that i'll be remembered as the generation that turned around started sorting the trauma out. You know, I mean, I'm just a vessel. I have no interest in self-aggrandizement of any kind. I had a minor celebrity when I was working at Outlander. It just didn't suit me at all. I went out of my way to deconstruct that.
[00:42:44] Àdhamh Ó Broin: I just sort of took it to bits, and started ignoring all the opportunities to put myself in the limelight, and I just wanted to push the story in the limelight, when I pushed the lower into the limelight, the language, the culture. I wanted to be an advocate for my people, the Gaelic people. We are an ethnic group.
[00:42:58] Àdhamh Ó Broin: We've been absolutely marginalized and brutalized and thrown onto the front line of every flaming British conflict over the last 250 years. And I hope seven generations on, that the people are looking back on me as an ancestor will hopefully find something of value that I did to try and struggle against all this and try and turn it around and hopefully I wouldn't have been too esoteric in what I've left behind. They will make some sort of sense of it.
[00:43:25] Lesley Anne Rose: Thank you for sharing that. I mean, you shared quite a bit of personal trauma within your family and that's a precious thing to share, so thank you. It strikes me as well, you've mentioned there about that we're the generation that turns things around and of course we've all got a lot of intergenerational trauma.
[00:43:40] Lesley Anne Rose: But also the land itself, the earth itself has got a lot of trauma. So I think kind of our healing is inexplicably intertwined with the healing of the planet as well. And certainly, I mean, I won't even start talking about a wellbeing economy or an economy that puts wellbeing at its heart, but it's clear really that wellbeing for us and for the planet has to be at the heart of, you know, all of our decisions moving forward.
[00:44:04] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Yes. And it also has to not just become one or more commodity. You know, the language is commodified, wellbeings commodified. I mean, you know, we've got to actually value it for its own sake, you know, as for what it actually is and what it potentially provides.
[00:44:18] Lesley Anne Rose: Yeah. No, that's a valuable thing to add. Thank you. Is there anything else that we haven't covered that you would like to share or talk about?
[00:44:25] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Just the situation as a tradition bearer with language and culture is absolutely identical to the situation of, you know, an environmental protection worker, a campaigner, whatever.
[00:44:39] Àdhamh Ó Broin: You know, anyone listening who doesn't have much of a connection, but is very, very committed to looking after the land, looking after the sea, looking after the air.
[00:44:48] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Your work you're doing is actually literally identical. You honestly couldn't squeeze a horse hair in between it, it's absolutely identical. And you think, oh, maybe I'm working with more things that are bit more technical, more scientific or more, you know, maybe more sort of physical, practical, you know, ultimately these are all facets of the one thing.
[00:45:07] Àdhamh Ó Broin: There is a living earth, you know, there is a great father creative spirit and there's a receptive mother earth spirit. You know, in whatever faith you have there is probably something similar to that. Everything that exists naturally has come to exist naturally on earth has done so of its own volition.
[00:45:27] Àdhamh Ó Broin: The self-perpetuating, beautiful life force of this world fills up spaces without any rationale or preconception of what it does, but itself perpetuates. And humans, indigenous culture and language came to be in just that same manner. So when the people first came upon the earth, that we know regard as Gaelic, came upon it with a different language, the earth was mute.
[00:45:58] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Other than the sounds of the wind and the birds, the way the earth felt on the feet, the type of rocks that were there, you know, the kind of rain, be it heavy or misty. And through these experiences that the land there gave to the gail, the gail's language changed to reflect that set of experiences.
[00:46:21] Àdhamh Ó Broin: And so the land gifted language to the gail. And so in turn, the gail came to gift language back to the land by describing our experiences and naming the land. And so when you look at the place names, you can see how the land gave language to the gail and how the gail gifted it back to the land. And so the land, environmental protection, we are so dedicated to is a land that has been named and interacted with by indigenous peoples since the beginning of human history.
[00:46:54] Àdhamh Ó Broin: By protecting that land and not having it overrun by forestry or affluent running out the rivers or over fishing. Or you know, no apex predators to deal with deer issues, what all these things that people wanna try and fix, they are returning the natural rhythms in the natural state to the land, and they're therefore making it all the more appropriate ones, more to be described by the language that has been birthed by it.
[00:47:22] Àdhamh Ó Broin: So it's all part of the one living pastiche and we're all working on our little corner. Because sometimes people go, oh you're not really doing all that much with the environmental stuff. You don't do that much practical. I don't see you in marches, I don't see you hanging off boats. Ah. I'm taking care of my little corner of this struggle that most people don't realize is connected, but I hope I have illustrated how it is.
[00:47:45] Lesley Anne Rose: That's a really beautiful last image to take away. You're a natural storyteller. I can hear that. Absolute authentic resonance with people and place in your voice and in the language. It's just beautiful to listen to you. Thank you. I just want to say a huge thank you for your time today. We've touched on so much and I suppose a standout for me about trusting in the wisdom of our bodies and equally trusting in
[00:48:08] Lesley Anne Rose: the knowledge of our ancestors and also the knowledge within the earth itself. And it's as simple as just striking up a conversation and listening and speaking, and spending time with each other. But also the importance of tradition bearers in holding, healing, documenting, and then passing on the stories of communities and how that is the glue that holds communities together and builds community cohesion.
[00:48:34] Lesley Anne Rose: And that's a massive gift that we can leave for future generations. So yeah. Thank you for taking the time for speaking to us and you certainly are one of our brilliant 1000 better stories.
[00:48:46] Àdhamh Ó Broin: Oh yeah, you're most welcome. Ultimately, if in doubt, just get your socks and shoes off. You can't do the hard intensive work if you don't sit quietly and gather the energy and the land will help with that. Gu robh móran math agaibh. It's been a great pleasure. Cheers for now.
Wednesday Apr 05, 2023
Wednesday Apr 05, 2023
Wednesday Apr 05, 2023
In today’s episode we continue our story on ins and outs of creating a Community Climate Action Plan, based on Keep Scotland Beautiful’s work over the last couple of years.
Kaska chats to the most recent participant in KSB’s community planning project, a community of Camelon and Tamfourhill, near Falkirk. We hear from John Hosie, Community Safety Engager who brought together the core planning group, and Falkirk High students, Olivia and Maya, with their teacher Lilly who took part in the planning sessions.
Their planning group was a partnership between Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill, Tamfourhill Community Hub, Tidy Clean and Green Group, Forth Valley Sensory Centre, Go Forth and Clyde and Falkirk High School.
We end the story with a few tips and KSB’s future plans from Heather.
Listen to the previous episode for PART 1 of the story with the overview from the KSB’s Heather Ashworth and a conversation with Kate and Christine from Sustainable Kirriemuir, about their experience as one of the communities involved in the project pilot.
Interview, recording and edit: Kaska Hempel
Keep Scotland Beautiful. Community Climate Action Plan project: https://www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/climate-change/climate-change/community-climate-action-plans/
Our Place Camelon and Tamfourhill https://opcamelontamfourhill.co.uk/
Camelon and Tamfourfill climate action plan https://opcamelontamfourhill.co.uk/community-climate-action-plan-camelon-and-tamfourhill/
The Place Standard Tool (with climate lens) https://www.ourplace.scot/About-Place-Standard
[00:00:35] Kaska Hempel: Hello, I'm Kaska Hempel, your Story Weaver for today. And in this episode, we continue with the story on community climate action plans based on the work done with communities by Keep Scotland Beautiful over the last couple of years. Listen to part one to hear the overview from the KSB's Heather Ashworth, and a conversation I had with Kate and Christine from Sustainable Kirriemuir about their experience as one of the communities involved in the project pilot.
[00:01:06] Kaska Hempel: Today, we hear from the community of Camelon and Tamfourhill, near Falkirk, who have just freshly emerged from their planning process. Last autumn, I was joined on Zoom by John Hosie, who brought together the planning group and Falkirk High students, Olivia and Maya and their teacher Lily, who took part in the planning sessions. To start, I ask them to paint us a picture of the area and their community.
[00:01:34] John Hosie: Tamfourhill is an interesting community. It's post-industrial central Scotland. Canal network goes through our area and the Falkirk wheel and the hinter land of that is forest and wooded. But on either side of it, there is areas, significant areas of multiple deprivation. I'm John Hosie, I'm the Community Safety Engager, and I'm employed by the Our Place Camelon And Tamfourhill Project, which is managed by the Tamfourhill Tenants Residence Organisation.
[00:02:09] John Hosie: One of the positive parts of the area is a very strong sense of identity. So somebody from Camelons a Mariner and a Mariner is because of the historic relationship of Camelon to the river and the water. And in more recent history that possibly would be the canal. So, it has a strong sense of place and a strong sense of who it is and what it was.
[00:02:35] John Hosie: The populations around about 7,000, and there's maybe about four distinct neighborhoods within that community making up Camelon and Tamfourhill. The area's quite fortunate in that, although it's urban and generally post-war council, housing stock, there's a lot of green species within the area. And there's the two major canals go through it and where they interchange at the Falkirk wheel.
[00:03:03] John Hosie: So there's significant areas of green open spaces and potentially leisure recreation and environmental potential at all of these locations.
[00:03:16] Olivia McDonald: Yeah. I quite like Dollar Calendar Park. I'm Olivia McDonald and I am a prefect here at Falkirk High School. I feel like Calendar Park is actually quite good because compared to some other places that I go, they're quite good with clearing up the area.
[00:03:32] Olivia McDonald: It's such a nice space for children and people to go on walks and just, you know, enjoy themselves.
[00:03:38] Maya Rankin: I really like the Falkirk wheel. I live quite close to the Falkirk wheel, so I'm about like a 10 minute walk away, so I quite like going there. My name's Maya Rankin. I'm a student here at Falkirk High School with Olivia and I'm 15 years old.
[00:03:52] Maya Rankin: They have bins everywhere. That's one thing I do realise. They've got bins everywhere, especially because the amount of people are tourists that come with picnics and stuff. But it's also like a really good educational area, I would say. It's got a lot of history to it. So it's a really good place for families to go and it's very inclusive.
[00:04:10] Maya Rankin: It's got stuff for everyone. It's got play parks, it's got the water, activities. It's got everything. I really like it there.
[00:04:16] John Hosie: I think that probably the greatest challenge of community needs it is fairly typical of Central Scotland post-industrial. And it faces, there's I think, three data zones within the top 5% in the social index of multiple deprivation.
[00:04:30] John Hosie: Poverty's a real issue. Fuel poverty, food poverty. And you know, that is fairly obvious or blatant in a sense. So these are the challenges the community faces. It's from my perspective, a really vibrant and good place to work. A welcoming community. And I live in a foreign country called Alloa and I was always made to feel absolutely welcome and part of the community since the day I first worked there.
[00:04:57] John Hosie: So that is a strength that has informal support networks. But a lot of work is still required around what I would call community development work. So there isn't a lot of people prepared to form themselves into structured committees or development trusts or vehicles for community action and community change.
[00:05:17] John Hosie: But there's a very positive informal network there. I think the climate crisis underpins a lot of these challenges, and they are exasperated by the existing economic and social challenges within the area.
[00:05:31] Kaska Hempel: How come you got involved in the development of a climate action planning? Where did that come out of?
[00:05:36] John Hosie: Two reasons.
[00:05:37] John Hosie: The community had identified environmental concerns as a priority for community safety. And acknowledgement that the climate emergency is a community safety concern. My argument post in 2020, May 2020 in full lockdown, tasked with having to consult and engage with the community around their priorities for community safety.
[00:06:01] John Hosie: The biggest issue that was identified of greatest concern to the community at that time, and by far the biggest concern by a long way was littering. Fly tipping. The state of open green spaces, the amount of detritus that was lying around the community. Although there were other concerns there related to drug use and addiction, and there were concerns around things that won't surprise you around antisocial behaviour.
[00:06:30] John Hosie: The environmental concerns outshone everything else. So a response was needed to that. A community-based response. And we did a number of things. We launched a campaign to keep Camelon and Tamfourhill tidy clean and green. We were able to mobilize some volunteers and we got about the whole process of tidying up, cleaning up, and greening our community.
[00:06:51] John Hosie: Young people in particular were getting involved in canal clear up work, clearing the water, clearing the tow path. There was a lot that was about community cohesion, but also reconnecting the community with the canal. So it was connected to the community's industrial past, but it had become an area that was more perceived to be a bit antisocial behaviour of risk taking and unsafe.
[00:07:16] John Hosie: So the clearing up of that canal reconnected the community with the canal. So there was that strand that was going on. The other issues, the whole cost of living crisis and energy crisis was impacting on a community that was already facing economic and social challenges. So one particular very strong strand was the Tamfourhill Community Hub who sat on the core group to develop this plan.
[00:07:46] John Hosie: They were going through asset transfer of their building from the council into community ownership. And the gas and electric bills are absolutely not sustainable. The bills are going through the roof. You know, we're looking at 30,000 pounds a year to heat and light a building. That's a salary of a worker.
[00:08:06] John Hosie: That's a lot of provision in terms of youth work or adult work or community development work. It's a massive amount of money to a small charity and you know, we can talk about community safety in any kind of context, but if you don't have a community hub for the community to come together, then it's going to be to the detriment of community safety and community cohesion.
[00:08:28] John Hosie: That building's existence has become existential. If we don't find ways of being more efficient with energy, if we don't find alternative energy sources. The building's future is very unclear. Other groups there were piecemeal and disjointed. We were involved with community growing activities and there was some litter picking going on and there was other pockets of activities.
[00:08:52] John Hosie: So bringing these priority issues together and bringing the different groups engaged with these activities together to form a coherent community climate action plan seemed a very logical thing to do, a necessary thing to do. So my role was really kind of as an enabler and facilitator of that initial core group and setting that agenda.
[00:09:12] Lilly: My name is Lilly and I'm a high school music teacher at Falkirk High School. But I'm also doing an acting PT job in wider community and parental engagement. So as part of that, I make quite a lot of contact with John and have kind of been involved in things like taking the pupils out on litter picks and canal clear ups with them.
[00:09:30] Lilly: And as part of that, it's kind of continued on into being part of the community climate action plan. And then I went to a group of pupils in our school. So we have what we call pupil junior management team, which Olivia and Maya are a part of, or were a part of, should I say. Last year. They're in S4 now. But last year I took groups of children with me along to meetings with John and the rest of the team, and Olivia and Maya were at quite a lot of those.
[00:09:53] Olivia McDonald: We started to go on litter picks with Changemakers, which is another team here that, you know, do a lot of things for the environment. And basically, seeing all rubbish everywhere. It sort of made me feel, you know, disappointed and realised how important it is.
[00:10:11] Lilly: As a school we're in the process of kind of working towards our green award.
[00:10:16] Lilly: And so Olivia was talking about the Changemakers group there, and that is, that's our kind of eco group in school. I think just taking the pupils out and actually seeing what damage littering particularly is doing to the community is just quite eye-opening and is an area as a school that we are really focusing on is our litter strategy.
[00:10:35] Lilly: Because we are aware that, you know, littering happens and it's not always just our school pupils. We do know that. But they, you know, they can be a focus sometimes, which is unfortunate. We've also, as a school, we've been trying to put together or we have put together to say...
[00:10:49] Olivia McDonald: The community charter.
[00:10:51] Lilly: Community charter, yeah. Do you want to maybe talk a bit about what that is, Olivia?
[00:10:54] Olivia McDonald: So it's our charter and it's basically about how we can help the environment and what the school could do and what the pupils could do when they're going out for lunch or just how they could be respectful towards local businesses and the environment.
[00:11:10] Olivia McDonald: And we went around during our litter picks actually. To ask some shop owners or local businesses around the area to put up the charter, the posters for it. And, you know, they were very open to doing it and it was good.
[00:11:26] Lilly: So I think our litter strategy at Falkirk High is a big focus this year.
[00:11:29] Lilly: And being part of the Community Climate Action plan is helping us to make an improvement in the community.
[00:11:35] John Hosie: I mean the core group that have taken the plan forward, it's absolutely essential that the young people were involved. And I can only thank the school so much for giving so much commitment to this
[00:11:46] John Hosie: And the school. It doesn't just serve Camelon and Tamfourhill. Falkirk High is what it says, it's Falkirk. But they are a really important part of our community. But the other groups that took part in the core group, the Forth Valley Sensory Centre. They too, by their name. They have a remit that covers more than just our local community.
[00:12:05] John Hosie: And they were another organisation that are an asset to our community, but haven't always been integrated with neighborhood-based work. And they came on board with us and that was really important as well. And working closely in partnership with our Tidy Clean And Green Community Group, which is a resident led group along with the two Tamfourhill organisations.
[00:12:25] John Hosie: So the bringing together of these groups was an important part of this process as well.
[00:12:31] Kaska Hempel: So what was the actual process and when did it happen, and what did it involve for you as a community?
[00:12:38] John Hosie: I can't remember when we actually sat down and started the process. It must have been around about May last year.
[00:12:46] John Hosie: So I put in an initial proposal to Keep Scotland Beautiful, to ask them for support, to facilitate the process. And that came about at a good time because there were some resources available through the Community Renewal fund and a consortium of organisations of which I was also involved in had some resources at the time.
[00:13:08] John Hosie: So that married up quite nicely. The proposal to do the plan and there being some resources to make it happen. So that's where Heather became involved.
[00:13:18] Lilly: One of the main starting points was thinking about what we already do. So, you know, we play a part as a school in the community, and it was kind of thinking about what do we actually do already to give back to the community.
[00:13:30] Lilly: You know, we do food bank donation appeal around about Christmas time. As I was speaking about, the Changemakers group that we already have. And then, you know, the other kinda of involvement with litter picks and things. And then coming along to those meetings was about talking to all the other groups, what they're doing and then seeing, you know, are there any links?
[00:13:49] Lilly: What are priorities as a whole group? What are your individual priorities? And it kinda came together through that way I would say.
[00:13:55] Kaska Hempel: So truly collaborative process. It's wonderful to see. How was it working with adults?
[00:14:00] Olivia McDonald: It's actually really good. They've been really helpful and very inspiring.
[00:14:05] Maya Rankin: They have more knowledge than we do. I'll say that. We're, you know, coming into this. I'm gonna be honest, we were a bit clueless about it. But having John and his team working with us, it's been a real game changer for us.
[00:14:16] Kaska Hempel: So I just wanted to ask you, how did it feel being involved in this as a young person?
[00:14:21] Kaska Hempel: Community action can be seen as sort of adults realm and tackling really big issues.
[00:14:26] Olivia McDonald: It felt well, very achieving. Like we've achieved a lot.
[00:14:32] Maya Rankin: And especially, you know, we've came up with new ideas that we had in the back of our heads and we thought would never be able to be, you know, kind of made by us, if you would. But the fact that we have makes us not only as in ourselves but as pupils and prefects and members of Falkirk High and members of our own community.
[00:14:51] Maya Rankin: It makes us feel very grateful that we're able to do this.
[00:14:53] Olivia McDonald: Very proud as well. I mean, it's all going towards, you know, well, our future, everybody's future.
[00:15:00] Kaska Hempel: How was it working with young people on this project?
[00:15:03] Lilly: I think it's great to have a kind of different outlook on things. There's lots of things that the pupils would say or suggest that I wouldn't have particularly thought of.
[00:15:13] Lilly: You know, all the pupils that we had along, they enjoy speaking about things and their confident skills were kind of growing as each meeting happened. So yeah, I found it great working with them.
[00:15:22] John Hosie: My background is youth work, so I didn't need any convincing that young people were the key to this in many ways, I don't want to sound over dramatic, but this is an existential issue.
[00:15:37] John Hosie: If the planet is to continue and we're to enjoy quality of life, then action is required. The time the full impact of this is realised, I probably won't be here, but the generation behind me will. So they need to be empowered to take control of this in as much way as they can without our guidance. And I think, you know, young people have demonstrated their willingness and ability to do that.
[00:16:05] John Hosie: So I don't think it's an option. I think it's necessary. I mean, I use the strap line often young people have the solution, not the problem. And we need to invest in that. And Maya and Olivia are excellent examples of that young people will really require and need their enthusiasm and insight. You've got to remember when you get to my age and people become quite cynical about things and things can't change and that still frustrates me because things can change. Things must change. And young people have the energy, enthusiasm, and just the ability to do that.
[00:16:42] Kaska Hempel: I was going to ask you about any community actions that you identified as something that might go ahead or is going ahead.
[00:16:52] Olivia McDonald: During meetings, we've talked about food education and how to cook well seasonally and how, you know, it's important for young people to learn more about how to, you know, make decent meals on a budget. Just really realistic things. But also how to do it with helping the environment, recycling, eating seasonally, and also eating maybe your own homegrown veg.
[00:17:19] Maya Rankin: One of our old captains for P G M T was really passionate about starting up a gardening club or something to do with gardening within our school community.
[00:17:28] Maya Rankin: Which we have done. We're currently growing potatoes, I think, and our garden out the back. But we've got some teachers also putting in extra time and work and helping out with that. And we've got loads of pupils who are very passionate about seeing what they eat. I'm sure we've used a few of the potatoes that are growing now in home ec.
[00:17:45] Maya Rankin: So it is a really good garden. Obviously we're not growing much right now because of the weather, but we're hoping to start growing a lot more come the season next year. And use a lot of it, not only in our home ec kitchens, but hopefully also in our canteen kitchens as well.
[00:18:00] John Hosie: The big priority at Tamfourhill is energy efficiency. We now have a more detailed plan of action to look at our energy efficiency audit of the Tamfourhill Community Hub. So that will partly be to look at alternative energy sources like solar heat pumps and so on. But it'll also look at how within the existing structures, as are things that we can do. Better insulation, windows, heating systems. Do we need the whole heating system on all of the time in all of the rooms?
[00:18:36] John Hosie: So we have a process now in place that will start with an energy efficiency audit of the building. From that, we will come up with proposals about what needs to happen to improve that situation, and I think that will probably involve some kind of grant submission to one of the funds. Scottish Government funds.
[00:18:57] John Hosie: It was maybe a medium term action. It's now a short term action. We need to see results and we'd hope to come back at this time next year and say we're in the process of installing heat pumps. We're in the process of putting solar panels on the roof. Going back to the community growing. We've got five new planters created beside the community hub in the woods to go with the existing four planters. Tidy Clean And Green have just taken on a piece of waste ground in the middle of Camelon and they've put planters and seating in there and some artwork.
[00:19:31] John Hosie: And we have things potentially happening up at Easter Carmuirs Public Park. So there's already been an increase in using green areas for growing projects. And there's another old disused park in Camelon that we're looking to develop as possible allotments.
[00:19:52] John Hosie: So I would hope to be, again, come back in the spring and say the tatties are in. We've got some fruit bushes in, we've got some fruit trees in. There's areas in our community that are perceived to be problematic in terms of antisocial behaviour. At least two of those locations are on our sights to be transformed into some kind of community spaces, and that would include seating planters, trees, fruit bushes, and possibly play facilities.
[00:20:26] John Hosie: I don't think the solution is to put barbed wire around these areas and have turrets with machine guns. I think the idea is much more practical and useful as to transform them into green assets and community facilities. That's maybe a longer term aspiration, but work has already started on that.
[00:20:48] John Hosie: We agreed that the core group who developed a plan would act as a steering group, and we had our first steering group meeting last week. So we will monitor the plan. So each meeting would start with an update, what's happened against the actions in the plan, and that would be shared by everybody who makes up the core group. But I think it would also be a forum for what needs to happen, who needs additional help? Is there funding required or are there resources that we could deploy? Or is it just a case of somebody spending some time to offer some support so they will act as a steering group to drive that plan forward.
[00:21:28] John Hosie: I think maybe it'll meet quarterly. It might be that subgroups could meet, you know, if it's just to look at a specific project. Two or three of the partners could get together rather than the full core group.
[00:21:39] John Hosie: It's an organic plan, and I think it's never a finished plan. There's got to be scope to bring more community groups on board. I think one of the challenges is to bring in the bigger players and the bigger stakeholders. Although the plan took cog niceness of this whilst it was being developed and an awareness that some things were the responsibility of government, both local and national.
[00:22:04] John Hosie: There's other agencies that need to come on board to help us make things happen. And that, I think falls on the local authority, Falkirk Council and Scottish Canals who are a massive player in this area. And I mean, our neighbourhood and the area of climate change, we need to mobilize them in a meaningful way and bring them into that plan so that they can enable things to happen in a way that the community on its own can't. And that is going to be a challenge.
[00:22:38] Kaska Hempel: Maya and Olivia, what would be your message to other young people about getting involved in community climate action?
[00:22:45] Maya Rankin: Just get involved with it. You know, some of the ideas that we've put forward we thought were absolutely crazy, you know, never gonna happen.
[00:22:54] Maya Rankin: And here we are. They have happened. Get involved.
[00:22:56] Olivia McDonald: Definitely. Yeah, just go for it. You know, put forward your ideas. One of our meetings that we went to, we suggested about a toy library, and now there is one for the community to use.
[00:23:09] Kaska Hempel: Find yourself somebody like John.
[00:23:11] Olivia and Maya: Yes, that's true. A good mentor.
[00:23:13] Kaska Hempel: John, when can you clone yourself? What would you say to other communities out there to encourage such planning? Any sort of key tips?
[00:23:23] John Hosie: I think it has to be made relevant. And I think it has become in the last six months, even more relevant. You might even go back to Covid. We did a survey before the Community Climate Action Plan started.
[00:23:38] John Hosie: One of the things that was concerning was that a lot of people didn't see it as a big issue. It didn't affect them, it wasn't relevant to them. It was what middle class hippies got involved in and how is it relevant to us? So I think that was a point of realization that actually this has an immense immediate impact, but people aren't aware of it.
[00:24:00] John Hosie: So we have to make this relevant. We need to make it connected to people's everyday experiences. So, you know, your increased insurance in your house, the increased bad weather and what's happening is a consequence to you and your personal economy. We need to make that connection.
[00:24:19] Kaska Hempel: And one last question. Why do you think communities will make the real difference in making sure that we act on climate change in time?
[00:24:27] Maya Rankin: The more communities that get involved with this journey, we think the more other communities will go, maybe we should do that in our area and maybe we should get involved in something similar to that to help our area as well.
[00:24:42] John Hosie: No, I think it's a belief in bottom up change will come from ordinary people in ordinary situations, but there's no getting away from the fact that others need to buy into this. Communities on their own will not find solutions. Communities are very resilient. They'll find ways of surviving and getting by and putting mitigations into place.
[00:25:05] John Hosie: But to move forward and thrive, there needs to be social structural changes, and we need support to do that. The big players need to come on board. There's a willingness in communities to take things forward. We need that support. We need partnerships, meaningful partnerships. You know, we need to all come to the table without agendas.
[00:25:26] John Hosie: The only agenda should be to work together to bring about lasting positive change.
[00:25:31] Kaska Hempel: So, thank you everybody for joining me for this conversation.
[00:25:34] Olivia and Maya: Yes, thank you for having us.
[00:25:37] Kaska Hempel: I can't help but imagine Camelon and Tamfourhill's green spaces and School gardens bursting into life this spring. And I hope the community centre's energy efficiency is getting sorted as well, along with the multitude of other projects they had in mind.
[00:25:53] Kaska Hempel: I wanted to finish with a couple of more questions for Heather about her tips for community groups, starting with her reflection on what makes for a successful community climate action planning exercise.
[00:26:05] Heather Ashworth: So I would say that our combination of online and in-person planning sessions has helped to make a successful planning exercise for different reasons.
[00:26:15] Heather Ashworth: I should mention that for Camelon and Tamfourhill, we were able to go and be with them in person to run their session. So that was really great. But the online sessions were really good too. Because, like I said, some of those sessions were all the communities were together in them and they said that they got so much out of being able to talk to each other.
[00:26:32] Heather Ashworth: And that was really great to see. I'd also say having an open invite to anyone in the community to join really helps because then everyone feels like they've got a voice. Having a couple of people in the community to lead the process is really important. It's really important to have somebody there who's happy to be taking charge at that point.
[00:26:50] Heather Ashworth: Having meetings with structure, feeding back what they've agreed and checking in with them to see how they're progressing and also what they might need help with. I would also say that we help support a process which groups may have otherwise struggled to resource by themselves in terms of knowing where to start. Gaining buy-in and having a tried and tested methodology as well, that kind of thing. I would say that sort of makes a successful planning exercise.
[00:27:15] Kaska Hempel: You mentioned tools and resources. Do you have any recommendations if a group wanted to do something for themselves? Is there some go-to resource they can just take off the shelf and go with it?
[00:27:31] Heather Ashworth: Then we would definitely recommend the Place Standard Tool as a good starting point. And that's openly available at our place dot Scot. And they've also recently released a new version with a climate lens. I think it would be really useful for communities. The Place Standard Tool is really great for gauging what people want in their communities and what they want to see improved and also what they already like about their communities. I think it's a really great process.
[00:27:53] Heather Ashworth: And I would also just recommend Adaptation Scotland's resources when you're looking at how to make your community more resilient to the impact of climate change. They've got some really great scenarios which suggest ideas that your community could take forward. So yeah, they've got some really interesting resources too. I would recommend those two.
[00:28:09] Kaska Hempel: So, what's next for KSB's work on this?
[00:28:13] Heather Ashworth: So I've already mentioned I think that we've received funding in April this year from the Scottish Government to continue to support our communities that we have already for another year. We have set up a peer-to-peer network for the communities that we work with for the Community Climate Action Plan programme, so then they can support each other and their plans.
[00:28:31] Heather Ashworth: We also set up Q&As with experts in the sector, again to support communities with their climate action. We recently had one on green participatory budgeting, and that was really interesting from personal standpoint, obviously what that was all about. As well as the communities were able to engage and ask questions and just find out a bit more about that process.
[00:28:50] Heather Ashworth: And we also organise one-to-ones with communities, so then they can discuss with us about how we can continue to support them and their ideas and their concerns as well. Just to sort of be there for them and to support them as much as we can.
[00:29:02] Heather Ashworth: Just working through this process the last couple of years, we've become more aware of the need and demand across Scotland's communities for structured support to help local people that understand the local impact and implications of climate change. And identify feasible, but also ambitious climate action they can take.
[00:29:18] Heather Ashworth: Many more communities have been approaching us to run this programme. As I said, we had loads of applications, but also throughout the last year or so, people reach out and ask us more about the process. So at Keep Scotland Beautiful, our aspiration is to continue supporting Scotland's communities to learn and understand their role in combating climate change and protecting the places that they care for.
[00:29:38] Heather Ashworth: So that's what we want to do.
Tuesday Mar 14, 2023
Tuesday Mar 14, 2023
Tuesday Mar 14, 2023
Community Climate Action Plans (CCAPs) - what are they, how does one go about making a good one and is it worth the hassle? To answer these questions over the next couple of episodes, we talk about Keep Scotland Beautiful’s work with communities to help them with such planning.
We get an overview of the project from the KSB’s Heather Ashworth, and follow with in-depth conversations with two, very different, communities involved in the scheme.
In today’s episode we chat to Kate Munro, Committee Chair, and Christine Kydd, Biodiversity Volunteer, from Sustainable Kirriemuir, one of the pilot communities in the KSB’s CCAP project. We close with a very wee tour of the Kirrie Community Garden from Fiona Cameron, Project Administrator and Emily Hutchison, Community Gardener.
And in a couple of weeks, in part 2, we follow up with a story from the most recent participant, community of Camelon and Tomfourhill, near Falkirk.
Production, interviews and edit: Kaska Hempel
Keep Scotland Beautiful. Community Climate Action Plan project: https://www.keepscotlandbeautiful.org/climate-change/climate-change/community-climate-action-plans/
Sustainable Kirriemuir Climate Action Plan: https://www.sustainablekirriemuir.co.uk/our-projects/future-kirrie/
Tuesday Feb 28, 2023
Tuesday Feb 28, 2023
Tuesday Feb 28, 2023
We cross over from our 1000 Better Stories Blog today as Joana Avi-Lorie interviews another one of our mini-grant recipients, Jo Gilbert. Jo is a spoken word artist and writer from Aberdeen, who writes in Doric and English. They talk about their journey into poetry, class, challenges in connecting to nature, and the importance of diversity of voices in conversations about climate action.
This is a companion interview to the “No Nature to Nature” poem which will be published in full Doric and English versions on our 1000 Better Stories blog in April.
Interview and recording: Joana Avi-Lorie
Sound edit: Kaska Hempel
Poem: “No Nature to Nature” by Jo Gilbert
Jo Gilbert https://www.scottishbooktrust.com/authors/jo-gilbert
Poetry at Parliament event https://www.creativecarbonscotland.com/poetry-in-parliament/
Jo’s poetic inspirations:
Loud Poets https://www.iamloud.co/about
Katie Ailes https://katieailes.com/
Jen Hadfield https://twitter.com/hadfield_jen
Katrina Naomi https://www.katrinanaomi.co.uk/
Alycia Pirmohamed https://alycia-pirmohamed.com/