Join us at our annual national gathering and networking event!

November 3rd and 4th in Glasgow – join us for both or either day.

Book your place here.

Day 1: Politics as Though People and Planet Matter: Harnessing democracy for our communities’ future

Could a world where communities can pass their own laws be coming closer? And what does that mean for Climate Active Communities? We know that most people tend to support social and environmental policies in principle, but not always the parties which push for them. We know that many people are put off getting more involved with politics because it seems unable to deal with bullying and corruption.

  • time: 10am-4.30pm
  • date: November 3rd
  • venue: Kinning Park Complex, 43 Cornwall St, Glasgow G41 1BA
  • cost: cost per day: £5: individuals, £15: organisations

Through talks and workshops we’ll look at where local democracy is in Scotland right now. We’ll hear more about exciting new opportunities for climate active communities to get more involved. We’ll hear about citizen’s juries for windfarms and ancient commons regimes being brought bang up to date. We’ll hear about alternative decision making models such as sociocracy. And we’ll consider the Scottish Government’s current Democracy Matters consultation –  to ask ‘can we do democracy differently to unleash community action and systems change?’

Day 2: Decision making and governance: building a healthy relationship to power

A training day with Claire Milne, Transition Network and Eva Schonveld, SCCAN

  • time: 10am-4.30pm
  • date: November 4th
  • venue: Kinning Park Complex, 43 Cornwall St, Glasgow G41 1BA
  • cost: cost per day: £5: individuals, £15: organisation

Healthy, fair decision-making requires a willingness to share power – and sharing power requires an awareness of our own relationship with power. In this workshop we’ll look at the cultural elements needed to support us all to come into healthier relationship with power and build a healthy culture around governance and decision making. We will explore how these cultural elements can be used in our local groups and projects and in our collaborations with local government, so as to make the decisions we need to protect the needs of people and the environment.

Book your place here.

Why care about local democracy?

Why should we care about local democracy?  And why should we bother to engage with the Scottish Government’s current ‘Democracy Matters’local governance review?  And what has this got to do with community climate action?

Most of us have become very disengaged from, and often cynical about, local politics and feel very little control over any of the decisions that can have major impacts on day-to-day life in our communities.

The mismatch in scale between the communities of place in which we live, and which we relate to, and the huge size of area covered by our so called ‘Local Authorities’, creates major challenges for all sides. A top-down mindset permeates our whole political culture, from Westminster downwards, such we constantly assume the need to ask for permission, and beg for resources, from a higher authority.  We take it for granted that ‘efficiency’ savings necessarily require standardisation and economies of scale that are unable to take advantage of local knowledge or allow for diverse local circumstances.

This lack of local control over local decisions and resources is a major barrier to the kind of community-led action that could build more resilient communities that actively engage with bringing our zero-carbon future into being.  Transformational change is urgently needed at all levels and communities of place have a particularly important role to play as, at their small scale, they have the potential to rapidly innovate, experiment with and refine solutions to meeting local needs. Such initiatives can then act as inspiration for other communities to quickly replicate or adapt for their own context -so enabling rapid and widespread transformation.

But the fact that there is currently such a lack of any truly local democratic structures in Scotland also gives us an opportunity to re-imagine how things might be. We have an opportunity to go beyond minor adjustments, to prototype new and truly innovative spaces for local dialogue and deliberation. Many community groups are already experimenting with more creative ways of convening, hosting and facilitating discussions to ensure that all voices are heard and conflicting points of view can be considered in a deliberative way that leads to better decision making. But they mostly lack the resources to convene truly inclusive local political spaces and to then implement and act on local decisions and plans.

Can we use the Democracy Matters consultation as an opportunity to reimagine how we do politics locally, to devise locally appropriate ways in which everybody’s voice can be heard, to learn and practice facilitating, hosting and convening skills to ensure that competing local interests and agendas are creatively considered? Could we promote a model of ‘facilitative leadership’in which the role of leader is to mediate and negotiate amongst competing interests and agendas in order to reach agreements and make things happen? Can we create a culture change in which central government is empowered by active and politicized communities and not the other way around? Can we propose how resources might ‘bubble up’ from local communities rather than trickling down from the centre? How can we just get on and start prototyping ways of doing local democracy differently?

Some of these issues are explored in further in this recent article in the Community Development Journal and they form the focus for SCCAN’s upcoming gathering ‘Politics As Though People And Planet Matter‘ in Glasgow on the 3rd and 4th of November. See you there.

Global Warming of 1.5 degC

The publication of the IPCC’s latest report highlights just how serious a challenge climate change presents and how urgently we must act to have a chance of keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degC. The decision of the Scottish Government to seek new advice on its climate change targets from the UK Committee on Climate Change is therefore to be welcomed.

The advice that we submitted to the Scottish Parliament’s Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee which is considering Scotland’s new Climate Change Bill is here: CCBill committee submission 0818. We argue that new targets must be set by climate science and climate justice, not what may seem more politically palatable or technically easier and also that communities of place have a particularly important role to play in bringing about the transformational changes required -but they need to be empowered and resourced to do so.

How communities might become empowered and resourced to shape this transformation ties in with the theme of our Annual Gathering on 3rd/4th November: Politics as Though People and Planet MatterHarnessing democracy for our communities’ future. Continue reading

Portobello Peoples’ Council Bans Fracking

Falkirk Community Council to Fine Ineos for Pollution
Linlithgow’s Community Housing Trust Builds First Eco Homes
Fort William Outlaws Single Use Plastics
Partick Trials Clean Air Zone
Boom Towns: Five New Scottish Towns to join Local Currency Exchange Scheme
Greenock’s Local Health Initiative Pilots 3-day Weekend
Aberdeen Phases in Local/Organic Food Policy Across City

These headlines are (clearly) made up – but could a world where communities can pass their own laws be coming closer? And what does that mean for Climate Active Communities? Come along to the Scottish Communities CAN gathering: ‘Politics as Though People and Planet Matter’ to find out more about what’s possible for community decision making, how to do it well and how it might help us achieve the sustainable, community led Scotland we want.