Yesterday I got to meet and hang out with the lovely young lady behind @exploringedinburgh, Shawna Law. Shawna has a mind-boggling 57k followers. I thought I hadn’t heard of her but it turns out I nearly bought her book as a Christmas present for my niece.
Shawna had been commissioned by Material who in turn were commissioned by the Scottish Land Commission to raise awareness around the importance of land and its effect on everyday life. Intriguing approach by the Scottish Land Commission to use social influencers, well intriguing to me who rarely uses Instagram but I’m open to it.
Originally she was coming to see Bellfield and hear about Action Porty but soon enough the Porty Central story came out too and the visit was arranged to encompass the two venues.
In fact we had a good wander round the streets of Porty, chatting and taking in the sites and stories. Morag and I took her for tea and cake in ‘Cake and Candy’ after the tour of the venues so a full Porty experience was had!
The story of the two buildings does overlap and interlink with regard to community empowerment and building capacity, so hopefully some of that will come through in the Instagram posts.
The real irony? I didn’t take a single photo when I was with her. Not one. I was too busy chatting away.
Rest of Porty Central business today was about our new ‘corporate’ emails that have been set up by Geoff (I’ve not tried them out yet) and feedback from SCVO on our constitution document.
Yesterday wasn’t a focused Porty Central day. The chat on our internal comms was about visuals and branding and using the huge spaces on either side of the front of the Town Hall to announce our presence. Not an area we know much about yet but well, watch those spaces.
My only Porty Central activity was watching a webinar hosted by the David Hume Institute called ‘A Scotland of Better Places’ by academic Duncan Maclennan and with John Swinney too. The paper can be found here .
Team member Jayne had shared it a while back and I’d noted it in my diary. We’d been holding the date of 1st June at one stage for a public meeting. That meeting has been delayed (waiting till we have spoken to the council) but will still happen, but when that cancelled, I was freed up to attend the talk.
The talk was encouraging. Was thoughtful and sounded quite radical to my ears and fed into what we’ve been trying to do. Resonate Together and Corra Foundation people seemed inspiring talking of ‘citizen centred organisation’ and ‘agenda free space’ – where public spaces don’t always have to be about fixing what is wrong, noting people are prepared to put in huge effort to support their area.
Talk seemed to be of a shift in focus from government thinking about what it delivers to people to how does what is delivered transform the lives of people – wrap public services around people rather than people having to fit into services provided. This was alongside recognition that budget cuts at local level have decimated ability to deliver locally. There was a fair focus on not for profits delivering locally and the role of anchor organisations was discussed.
John Swinney closed on how when Scottish Land Fund buys buildings it creates community capacity. He talked of when you see capacity and aspiration together, it is phenomenal. Is that maybe what we have?
It was the first time some of us had met in real life and we discovered some of us were taller than we had imagined. It was really lovely to meet in real life and the exercise we got down to – lining up post-its of the jobs to be done and putting them in work streams – would have been nigh on impossible on Zoom. Who could have taken three hours on Zoom anyway?!?
One of our group had developed the metaphor we’ve been kicking around, that we have reached basecamp at Everest; a feat in itself but actually just the start, into a written document. We have our next destination, Camp I (defined trial event) right through to attaining the summit of a full, sustainable building delivering local needs. Even reaching Camp III; building ready and open for business – will be an amazing achievement and might take a few attempts.
Lots of jobs identified and divided up. Not all needed for a trial event to run but all needed. The group worked well together and it was a really enjoyable afternoon. Getting SCIO set up is important next task as well as getting architects report back, even just an interim one.
Have discovered Peter Watton, our main council contact, is off this week. We should hear from the Lottery if we get our ‘Awards for All’ in early June. We discovered Town Centre Fund is no longer available which is a blow but we’ll up our Regeneration fund application for 17 June and reopen conversation with Scottish Land Fund too, who have asked for a date to talk.
There is much more going on but that is my capture for today.