Grassroots Govan

The word ‘community’ is everywhere ; but I never truly sensed the meaning of the word until now.

On Wednesday evening ( the day the Spending Review was announced ) Sarah and I attended an event in Govan;  a district  in the southwestern part of the  Glasgow – 2.5 miles west of Glasgow City Centre, on the south bank of the River Clyde.

The main speakers were Alastair McIntosh (author of ‘Soil and Soul’ and fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology) and Dr. Carol Craig (author of ‘the Tears that made the Clyde’, and Director of the Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing). The title of the event was ‘Celebrating the spirit in post-industrial communities’ and there was music and song from Tam McGarvey and Tartan Heather.

I sat next to Penny, a local metal smith as I listened to people of all ages and backgrounds discuss the rift between humans at a very deep level and the real root causes of social upheaval.  The event came about because the Centre of Human Ecology has moved from Strathclyde University to the Pearce Institute building ; academia has embedded itself into a hard pressed community.

The audience were advised to begin a dialogue about seeking the truth about where we are and how we can fix the ‘brokenness’ ; the speakers requested honest, heart felt conversation.

Tam McGarvey taught me about Lady Pearce; the first person to get women into Glasgow University. Tom is from a brilliant initiative known as the Galgale trust

“People come to us with terrible social problems so we can teach them – it ends up with them teaching us about resilience, resourcefulness and spirit”

“Let’s make our own version of big society. We need to take responsibility for ourselves. Take control of situation , respect each other – we can do all this by being creative”

‘Freedom’ was mentioned throughout this evening ( nothing to do with Mel Gibson ! ) Alistair probed the audience to think about what ‘freedom’ means today, what ‘freedom’ means to the people in the room living on benefits for £48 a week, where their window to nature is their TV.

The most ancient texts ever written about Scotland are about freedom and bravery of being a human being. So what is happening in Glasgow? Why does Glasgow have such a high rate of violence and a lower life expectancy than some third world countries?

Let’s stand together. Punch above our weight. Don’t just stand back and let stuff happen to you. We may not have money but we have got each other…

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