Land and Community
Introducing…Scotland’s First Community Land Week!
Celebrating community landownership …
So here we are on the threshold of Scotland’s first ever Community Land Week – a series of events to celebrate and promote community ownership of land and land assets (that’s buildings, to you and me). Fifteen community groups across Scotland are set to take part, with a wide range of activities planned. They aim to attract locals, other groups thinking of taking on projects – and more than a few random passers-by!
Cabinet Secretary for the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham will launch the Week, with a visit to the Isle of Ulva. Her ministerial colleagues will also visit various events. We’ve kept the Week quite small scale to start with – if it’s a success, look out for a bigger splash next year.
Not the only Week…
Here are some other public relations initiatives you may (or may not) have heard of this year: National Doughnut Week, National Bed Month, and Be Nice to Nettles Week. Outside of Community Land Week, though, my favourite is probably National Storytelling Week. Because like most folk, I like a good story, and the story of community ownership of land in Scotland is one with a few different sub-plots.
The main storyline is probably land reform – support for community ownership is key to changing the pattern of land ownership in Scotland – often said to be among the most concentrated in the world.
But communities own – or are in the middle of acquiring – a very wide range of different assets, including land/assets bought from the government, its agencies, or the council. So it’s also about increasing the control local communities have over what happens in their immediate area. With help from our Scottish Land Fund, and using legislation like the Community Right to Buy, communities can take control by taking ownership.
Connecting the human…
In our increasingly digitised, atomised, instagrammed and anxious age, bringing neighbours together for a spot of collective effort and volunteering surely has much to recommend it. I think of it as a kind of ‘international rescue’ for the human spirit. We don’t need to put communities on a pedestal but we do need to value the contribution they make. Healthy, connected, vibrant local communities are the living roots of civil society.
So here’s to the first Community Land Week, and all the lovely volunteers who will make it happen. Let’s hope it’s the start of of many.