coach, community, development, Our Place, Support

Legacy

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 23 September 2021

What will people think of you when you’re gone? Okay, that’s maybe not a cheerful question to ask you so let me put it another way. What impact are you having on those around you right now? If asked, how would people describe you? Now I know the answer to the last one will probably be “it depends on who you’re asking”! But think generally. How would people describe you based on your contribution to your family, the community or even the wider society?

Regular readers of this blog will know I have often focussed on how people are getting involved in the community – or rather, how I can support them to do so. You will also know that I mention that not just for the fun of it, but because I genuinely want to support people to grow and in turn, for the community, and the activities within it, to grow. My personal mission statement has for some time been “developing projects that enable people and communities to be developed” and I have been personally blessed over the years to see so many people get involved and move into whatever a positive destination looks like for them.

So, back to the question I started with but in another different way – what will your legacy be? What impact are you having now, that will be remembered by others in years to come? What project are you involved with that is creating positive memories for others? In the video below, Simon Sinek talks about this and reminds us that often we won’t even know the impact we’re having on people in our lifetime. That leads me to another angle on this. If someone is having a positive impact on your life right now or has in the past and you’re still in touch, please go and tell them now! Don’t wait until you’re at their funeral to share your memories. Its so wonderful when people tell you how you’ve impacted their lives and will actually make you feel great too for doing so. We did an exercise in the THRIVE to Keep Well session this week where everyone got a Self Esteem Tree filled with comments that the other group members wrote about them. It was amazing to see the reactions from the members as they heard such lovely comments about themselves – some of which they may not have thought was true or certainly hadn’t heard said to them for a while. The power of that moment was immense so please, make any impact known to those who are helping you, or even just say something nice and encouraging to someone you come into contact with today.

But back to how we actually create a positive legacy. You can watch the video below but I’ll also pull out some key points as I see them. Sinek talks about how we play what he refers to as the “game of life” and what impact we will have depending on what rules we set to playing this game. He talks about our choice of having a finite or infinite mindset to life. Okay, fancy words here, but quite simply, finite means being pretty much closed off within your own world with your own needs in mind, whereas infinite means you have a wider outlook on things. He says, if we choose to have a finite mindset, our focus is “I’m going to be number one. I’m going to make every decision as to what will pay me more, what will get me more power and what will get me more influence.” If that is all we focus on, we can very easily end up lonely, stressed and having various health related issues. Our circle of friends is likely to be very very small.

I know I’ve made wrong decisions before about jobs, but I’ve also made some really good ones based on what impact the job can have and not at all on how much it pays me. What that is about is, to return to Sinek’s wording, playing the game of life with an infinite mindset. This means, he says, “we live our lives with the knowledge that we will die, and we want to leave this world, our families our friends, in better shape than when we found them.” This all might sound a bit morbid, but really, deep down, we want people to have good things to say about us when we’re gone. To enable that to happen, we need to start building the legacy right now.

Sinek goes on to say that “so many people think about their legacies at their end of their lives, when they face their own mortality – that’s the problem. Only when they face their mortality do they start thinking about legacy and giving it all away. … Why not live your entire life thinking about your legacy, meaning what impact will we have on the lives of others. No one wants to be remembered for the amount of money they made. No one wants on their tombstone the last balance on their bank account or the title on their business card. We want to be remembered for the impact we had on the lives of others.” (Have a watch of the short video below.)

So what can you be involved in that will help create that amazing legacy? You may already be doing it which is great – let me thank you right now for what you’re doing. But for those of you reading this who aren’t sure what legacy you’re creating or even how you can create something, then give me a shout. I would love to be able to coach you so that you find the answers to the questions you’re asking – and even to those questions you don’t know you need to be asking! Get in touch, and let’s create some amazing legacies for ourselves and for this community of ours.

Until next time.. ..

Dan Rous
Community Coach
07444 873151
communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill, training

Communities Matter

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 16 September 2021

In my blog last week, I invited you to join the Community Revolution. But what does this really mean? Can you, members of the community, actually make a difference? Quite simply – YES!! Let’s explore this a little further

What I love about working in Community Development is the ability to be alongside local people and help them to make a real difference on their streets. To help them gain new skills, try new things, meet people just down the street who they’d never met before, fix issues, start new projects and so much more.

Our friends at the Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC) have put together a great piece that explains Community Development in 60 seconds. You can see it here.

They explain that “Community development is a process where people come together to take action on what’s important to them.” Read that statement again and notice the key emphasis. People – you – come together. People – you – take action.

As community, we cannot rely on external bodies to do everything for us. This is not the place to argue whether they should be or not – we all have our views and probably agree on a lot but we don’t have time to banter that topic right now. It is worth noting however that those of you living in Tamfourhill (Ward 7 – Falkirk South) have the opportunity right now to challenge those wanting to be elected to serve in the bi-election next month. Ask them how they will help the community actually develop and how they will work alongside you. (All of you will get that opportunity next May when all council seats are up for grabs).

Aside of that, if you see an issue and instantly think that someone else will sort it, have you ever wondered if you might be the “someone else”? Could you be the person that steps up and makes a difference? SCDC suggest (and I agree) that there are 4 principles that are the foundation of Community Development:

  • Self-determination – people and communities have the right to make their own choices and decisions.
  • Empowerment – people should be able to control and use their own assets and means to influence.
  • Collective action – coming together in groups or organisations strengthens peoples’ voices.
  • Working and learning together – collaboration and sharing experiences is vital to good community activity.

What this means is that even if you’re the one who steps up first, there will be others who will join you. They might take a little while to come, but they will come. Together, you make your own choices, take control, form a collective voice, share resources and learn from each other. The second point is especially important. Empowerment has become a buzz word lately and there is a lot of talk about empowering communities and individuals. Unfortunately, the meaning gets lost when those deemed to be in positions of power simply give their permission for locals to do things. That is not empowerment – that is passing the buck. People need to feel that they are empowered with choice, opportunity and real genuine power. To be able to take control of who they are and what happens around them. There are various ways to do that so let’s have a chat.

SCDC continue that Community Development “recognises that some people, some groups and some communities are excluded and oppressed by the way society and structures are organised.” I don’t think we’d disagree with that statement. But rather than wallow in self pity and throw out another social media rant that the keyboard warriors will jump on, together you can turn the tide and create a more positive future.

So what is it that you want, either for yourself or your community? Do you want to learn? Do you want to tidy the place up? Do you want to do something active? Do you want a new group to start? Let’s be honest – the list is probably endless for all those questions (and more) together. But we have to start somewhere. One of our tasks here at OPCT is to support you to move forwards but also to manage expectations. We cannot fix everything and certainly not quickly. But together, we can do a whole lot more.

Let’s stop just talking about community matters and remember that communities matter. Let’s change the emphasis – together.

Until next time….

Dan Rous
Community Coach
07444 873151
communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

Image source: Scottish Community Development Centre website

community, development, resilience, Support

Need some inspiration?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 9 September 2021

On Tuesday of this week, I was privileged to be part of the facilitation team for a Scottish focussed UK Jamboree for Asset Based Community Development, or ABCD as it’s easier to call it! I’ve spoken about this method of community work in a previous blog, and this online Jamboree was a chance to celebrate all that is good about communities.

The first UK gathering happened around 6 months ago and an outcome from that was to have regionally run gatherings, showcasing all that was great and good in different areas to a wider audience. A Scottish team was quickly established and together we set about to plan an event that would be the first one in the baton passing format. So I joined a team that included Community Development workers from the Strathcarron Hospice Compassionate Communities team, a Community Coordinator from Corra Foundation based in the West of Scotland, and the founder of Village in the City in Edinburgh. We quickly assembled a plan with some speakers, 2 of whom would do 20 minutes and 4 would do 5 minutes. This meant we could squeeze as much great stuff into the half day session as possible.

Just short of 100 people gathered for the event from around the whole UK and beyond – including from Bulgaria, Poland, Portugal and South Africa! All of them gathered for a good time of celebration but I don’t think any of us were prepared for just how inspired and enthused we were going to be. So here’s some highlights from each of the speakers that I picked up and hopefully they’ll inspire and enthuse you as well.

Cormac Russell, Nurture Development
Cormac is the go to guy for all things ABCD and pulled the first UK Jamboree together. He kicked things off with a few words of welcome. He spoke about the power of people and reminded us that it’s all about the process, not just the product. This all relates wonderfully to how you just engage with and work alongside people towards a goal, but how because of the strengths and ideas people bring, the end goal may be different to what was first thought out. The journey to get there strengthens the community to sustain whatever the outcome was. He also encouraged us to stay “in trouble” and quoted from the Leonard Cohen song, Anthem: “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget the perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” (I’ll put the full song video at the end of the blog). As always, simply brilliant from Cormac.

Fiona McKenzie, CentreStage
This is an arts project in Kilmarnock but really is so much more than that. Fiona spoke of creating a Welcoming Happy Place where people write their own stories. They even received some funding from a regular funder to “do something” and the outcomes were worked out later. The aim being that the Centre users had the say in what developed. The key quote here being that “choice brings empowerment”. How often have I mentioned about stopping doing stuff to people but just work alongside them and let them lead the way? This project is a shining example of that.

Tamsin Ferrier, Denny Poppies
Tamsin is a resident in Denny who, during Lockdown, had the idea of creating a Remembrance Day project that was similar to something achieved in her original home town. She admitted she has lots of ideas but struggles to keep quiet! (we know a few people like that too!) The amazing thing about this project was the ripple effect created by such a simple idea to make poppies to decorate the town. Tamsin spoke of how the project overcame negativity (you know the type – don’t do that because it’ll get wrecked), by simply focusing on the positives. Oh yeah, and not one poppy got wrecked. The takeaway message was this: “By everyone doing a little bit, we can make a huge, huge difference to where we live”. Brilliant.

Frances Park, Carbrain & Hillcrest Community Council
We heard about how real support for people in this area of Cumbernauld grew out of a frustration that every other support process was a referral system. Frances told us how they needed to support each other – they needed a voice – so they just started a swap shop. And from what started out as covid support, they now have a funded Development Worker and a Community Hub!

Lynne Boslem, Tamfourhill Community Hub
We heard of the journey from a group of 8 parents wanting a club for their children, to the amazing community resource that exists now and is still growing. Lynne spoke of the desire to truly meet the needs of the community but also about the challenges to learn things really quickly especially when it comes to asset transfer. Many were impressed with the Play Park, so an influx of visitors is to be expected! Although with many asking if adults can use the zip wire, they may have to supervise things closely!!

Leah Davcheva, Dragalevtsi, Sofia, Bulgaria
Reflecting the true European nature of Scotland, this project was highlighted as it is an outpost of the Edinburgh based “Village in the City” project. Leah spoke of “sparkling moments” from their project called The Triangle, where a community garden project has created so many opportunities for the people in the area. One resident said that they “spoke with people I had previously seen only behind car windows”. Leah added that the very fact that we know each others names is, I think, an achievement.

Sam Green / Mia McGregor, Creative Stirling / The Cube Project
Mia told us how her creative arts project was born out of frustration. She was fed up with always having to tick boxes, so decided to turn a box into something positive. From the grand total of £400 that she scraped together, 3 years later over 23,000 have engaged with the project and have had creativity sparked within them. She added that the cube works better if there’s no specific question and people can just take part and connect. Sam added that when we get to know each other, we treat each other better. Enough said!

Astoundingly, while the speakers were just selected because they were great, a couple of clear themes were picked up by people in the zoom chat and on twitter. Firstly that you only need a tiny spark of inspiration to make a huge difference. Secondly, getting to know people for who they are can really change a community. In fact one quote on the chat was “the more people in a community know each other by their first name, the safer that community is”. And that’s how simple developing a community can be – bring people together, help them to get to know each other properly and talk about their strengths. It’s about genuine relationships and connection.

There are many challenges within this way of thinking to those that think they hold the power and are perhaps perceived to be the ones who can make a difference. Nothing can happen without people so why don’t we turn things around and come together properly as local people and show them how it’s done. You have the real power. At the risk of repeating myself yet again, let’s stop looking for the negative and focus on the positive by creating even more new positives. (And for the record, all 20 trees are still growing nicely in the ground where the Tidy Clean Green volunteers planted them almost a month ago).

The tide is turning for the better but there is still so much to do – still more of you to meet – still more names we all need to get to know. Those who are getting involved already need some wing men/women. Who’s up for it? Come and join the growing Camelon and Tamfourhill community revolution.

Until next time, as promised, I’ll leave you with that Leonard Cohen song I mentioned above.

Dan Rous
Community Coach
07444 873151
communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

camelon, community, gardening, growing, Our Place, Support, tamfourhill

Community Growing Update

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 13 May 2021

For this week’s blog, I’d like to take the opportunity to bring you an update on our Community Growing group with some of the activity that has been happening, and what’s ahead – including (as you would expect) how you can get involved.

Community Tool Sheds
Earlier this year, we were successful in securing funding from the Community Climate Action Fund to purchase and equip 2 community tool sheds. We have now put one of these into place at Tamfourhill Community Hub, and the other will be going into a location in the Camelon area shortly. A couple of volunteers helped build the first shed – complete with around 200 tiny screws and washers, and although there’s a bit of internal work to do and a few tools on back order, this is now operational. Here’s some pictures of the shed and if you need access for anything, please get in touch for the padlock code. Also, if anyone has some chipboard or equivalent that would cover the floor area (900mm x 2100mm), I would love to hear from you. Contact details are below.

Tamfourhill Community Hub
Some growing activity has begun in raised beds outside Tamfourhill Community Hub, and they’ve also got a potting shed and greenhouse in place now. Donations of veg plants have been received and planted, plus various plans are being made. There are a few volunteers involved already but there is always room for more. They are having a growing session for adults on Wednesday 19 May from 10am to 12pm. They have various thoughts and will be looking at many different options. Obviously restrictions apply, so if you would like to go along then please email Thillcentre@live.co.uk

Forth Valley Sensory Centre Kitchen Garden
One of the Community Growing Group volunteers – Nicholla – has been putting in a power of work sorting out the various raised beds in the Kitchen Garden at this fantastic local resource. She has worked with groups from Windsor Park and Carmuirs Primary and they, together with the team at the Sensory Centre, are immensely grateful for the support from Nicholla and the wider OPCT team. This is the beginning of a fantastic partnership.  We’ve been able to supply compost, plus thanks to the generous help of the a local Garden Centre (who have waived any publicity), we also supplied some seed potatoes.  We look forward to tasting the fruits of their labours in the Centre’s café in due course!

Brown Street Park
Following suggestions from some residents, we conducted a consultation of 175 properties in the area surrounding Brown Street Park to see what the feelings where about developing this long abandoned space into a community growing space. We’ve had some really positive feedback (87% of responses) but also a few negative comments, so we will be making further investigations about what could be done here. To help with this, on Friday 21 May there will be a bit of activity in the Park. We will be hosting the first of 4 “Veg Your Ledge” workshops with Forth Environment Link at 11am – spaces are limited so get in quick! While that’s happening, there will be a litter pick to tidy up the park and myself and my colleague John Hosie (Community Safety) will be on hand to chat to people about their concerns and suggestions for the park and the surrounding area, plus we’ll have some specific information and resources for dog owners. All being well, our Community Police officers will be with us as well. Come along – we might even have biscuits!

Veg Your Ledge Workshops
As mentioned in the previous section, we’re hosting some Veg Your Ledge workshops with Forth Environment Link. Spaces are filling up but there’s still some available, so head to the booking page to get yourself checked in.

Joining the Group
If you’d like to get involved with Community Growing in Camelon and Tamfourhill, why not join our group. We plan to make this a formal group very soon so will need to form a small management committee that will then be able to go after funding for growing projects. However, don’t let that put you off joining as I’ll be providing full support and if all you want to do is grow stuff, then that is absolutely fine! If you’re interested, please complete this survey to log your details onto the group system and I’ll be in touch.

All of this is a key part of the new Community Safety Strategy that John has pulled together with your input, and forms an important part of the #tidycleangreen campaign as well. We have big ideas for what could happen including some more links with other local organisations, and would love as many people to be involved in this as possible – at whatever level you wish to be. Who knows – Camelon and Tamfourhill in Bloom could be a thing again!

Until next time…

Dan Rous,
Community Coach,
communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk
07444 873151

camelon, coach, community, Our Place, tamfourhill

What is your motivation?

Community Coach Blog, Dan Rous, 6 May 2021

Earlier this week, I saw this tweet from a force for good in Community Development – Cormac Russell, MD of Nuture Development:

Truth is, *the needed* need *the needy* more than *the needy* need *the needed*

Cormac Russell

Take a moment to read that again, just to really take in what he is saying here. He also went on to say that “Society perpetuates the opposite story; because there’s an entire segment of the economy tied up in commodifying human needs”.

Okay, let’s break this down a bit. What this basically boils down to is looking at why people help others or provide services to meet local needs. There are those who believe the help has to come from ‘outside’ the community whether that is from the local authority or some other support agency. There is a real danger here that a support system solely running on this basis can lead to (and arguably has already) the long term damage of individuals and communities, who lose the belief that they can make a difference themselves. They become so reliant on external help that they cannot see any other options. So often they become seen as those who just look for the next handout and sadly, there are those who will turn on them for being like that. However, if it’s all you’ve known then it’s difficult to break free from that without someone genuinely walking with you to help you.

On the other side of things, those providing the support from external organisations believe they are genuinely making a difference by providing what is usually just short term sticking plaster support, and also get some kind of goodwill power trip from doing so. Okay, I’m generalising a bit here and there are some amazing people who genuinely do make a difference within these external groups. They are appreciated but are often in the minority as the others just do what they’re told to do, clock off at the end of the day and switch off.

Essentially, we’re talking here about the difference between sympathy (I’m sorry you’re in this position but here’s some help) and empathy (I know what you’re going through – I’ve been there – I understand – what do you need – how can I walk with you).

If we’ve learned nothing else over the last 12 months of living through Covid-19, so often the help we need is right under our noses and exists in amazing levels within our own community. We have seen fantastic support services grow up within communities that are led by people in our communities based on the real local need. Okay, some have jumped on the bandwagon for different reasons but the ones that have really stood the test of time are the ones who truly understand the needs of the people around them and truly engage with and involve those people. They will meet the immediate need but then look to really understand where each person is at and what they really need to move forwards.

This also comes back to something I bang on about a lot – stop doing stuff to people and start working with them. The word ‘alongsider’ has come to the fore so much lately. This is about really listening to local people and working with them to achieve whatever needs achieving. I’ve even heard Council staff saying they’ve had to learn how to listen to local people over the last year. That may sound like a sad statement to hear and in a way it is, as it took a worldwide pandemic to make them do this. But I’m going to take the positive from it and hope that we will begin to see a real change in how support and community benefit is enacted. Here at OPCT we will continue to work to ensure that any transfer of activities or even transfer of power is meaningful for you the local people and not just something that seems to be the right thing to do but is essentially a way of saving budgets elsewhere.

So, back to where I started with this blog: what is your motivation for doing what you do? What is your driving force? Are you in a position right now that you’re happy with? Are you doing what you really enjoy? What, if anything, needs to change for you? What support do you need? Our impaCT 1 to 1 Coaching Programme can help you to truly understand yourself and your motivation. It will help you to take time to look at where you’re at, what obstacles might be in your way, and how you can move forward in a supported way. If this would be of help to you, check out the information on our coaching page then give me a shout. I’d love to walk with you in this and before you ask, I can genuinely say that I’m doing this because I have seen the benefits of it and have always wanted to help people reach the potential that is within them. I don’t have to do this – I want to.

Until next time……

Dan Rous communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk 07444 873151

camelon, coach, collaboration, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

Easy as ABCD

Last week, I was lucky to share a powerful couple of hours on zoom with over 120 other people across the UK who are working with their communities to bring positive change. It was called the Asset Based Community Development Jamboree – hence the ABCD heading to this blog. Don’t get put off with fancy words there – what this really means is strengthening communities with what exists already – i.e. the people. To put it another way, as it says in our mission statement, empowering local people & organisations to bring about positive, lasting change. What this boils down to is a community revolution! It’s the time for communities to build on their own skills and be the authors of their own futures.

I was incredibly fired up from the morning in this session, as I was joined by others who are banging the same drum as I have throughout my time in this role and for years before that: stop doing stuff to communities – work with them. I could write forever on this subject but to save boring you (who said “too late”?!), I will just put this over a series of blogs in the coming weeks and months as the mood takes me and as circumstances dictate.

The above image is the graphic notes from the morning, captured by Visual Practitioner Anna Geyer. She has really caught the mood and you can see for yourself that there is so much in there which is why I need a series to bring some of this to a local level. In her twitter summary, this quote really stood out for me:

In every meeting I’ve been in over the last 10 months – especially the current Community Conversations that the Council are leading – I have pressed the point that the whole community needs to be spoken to. Anything dressed up as a conversation cannot fall short and become a place simply for providing information. The people of Camelon and Tamfourhill have some powerful opinions that can really help shape the future of our community. It’s time these opinions were taken seriously and my pledge to you is that I will do what I can to make this happen. But you need to work with me on this.

Back to the ABCD session, below are just some of the comments shared by participants that I managed to capture and feel are relevant to us here. The first 5 quotes come from Fatima El Guenuni, a family therapist in the Grenfell area of London who had family members in the tower that burned down (thankfully they survived). Her talk certainly set the tone for the day:

  • Communities have never been hard to reach, but they have been easy to ignore.
  • Voice is important at the centre of communities but action is more important.
  • Work alongside people and be brave enough to make decisions that benefit the community and not the system.
  • It’s the system that marginalises communities, not communities that make themselves hard to reach.
  • We need to be willing to step outside roles & be there for communities with love and support – a hug of compassion and humanity.
  • Be the “human bridge” between people and the community and the system.
  • It is time to stop the politicisation of community development.
  • This citizen centred movement is gathering massive momentum. I hope councils learn, recognise it & work generously with communities to share power & space.
  • We are hearing of rooted acts of kindness, and the tremendous steely courage of communities, to flourish forward fairly, whatever the challenges may be.
  • Stories are so important and then stimulating them with the right questions.
  • Inequalities have driven the change. Our aim was to listen. Serve the people. Unlock skills and talents. Change power.
  • We need jargon free community development. It’s about people. Local people. Leading local change.

There are so many more that I’ll save for another blog. But can you pick up the themes here? Are you excited by it? Everyone was completely on board with this revolution. This last year has actually been a defining moment for communities across the land, as many have really stepped up to meet their own needs. The challenge now is to build on that, with appropriate support and empowerment, to make this change in power permanent.

I’ll finish this week where I started, with the letters ABCD, standing for Asset Based Community Development. For a bit of fun following a challenge by a Community Builder from the Denny area, I extended this for the whole alphabet, so our A to Z of Community Development is now: Asset Based Community Driven Efforts For Growing Hope, Increasing Joy, Keeping Lives Motivated, Nurturing Others, Persevering, Quickly Reaffirming, Strengthening Talents, Unleashing Volunteers With eXtra Youthful Zest.

So who’s up for joining in on this community revolution? Let’s hear your voices – your comments, concerns, suggestions, hopes, plans. What do you need to help take you forward? Is it other people? Money? Training? Property? Equipment? Other resources? Let us know and we can then work with you to try to make it happen.

Dan Rous, Community Coach, 07444 873151, communitycoach@tamfourhilltro.co.uk

camelon, coach, community, development, Our Place, resilience, Support, tamfourhill

What’s your story?

We all have a story to tell don’t we? The difference is what kind of story it is. Does it tell of a life where everything has gone fine for you with no issues? Does it tell of a battle against everything that life has thrown at you over the years? Or is it somewhere in the middle?

Wherever your story lands in that range, it is equally important because it’s about who you are, where you’ve been and hopefully what you’ve learned along the way. All of that can help you understand more about yourself and help you move forwards, but it’s also important to capture these stories as part of the ongoing history of our area. When people hear or read them, they may not be surprised at some parts but the joy is when you can surprise them with tales of positivity in spite of everything that has been thrown at you.

The image below was shared on twitter recently. It is an image of notes captured from a talk given at a conference a few years back by Cormac Russell, who is a leading force in the world of Community Development especially when it is focussed on building upon the assets (the people etc) within those communities. I am learning loads from his writings as he speaks so much sense about not over complicating our work with communities. (You can follow him on Twitter here). The key word in that last sentence – as I’ve emphasised from the start of my work here – is ‘with’. We at OPCT are not here to do things to you or without you as has happened in many cases in the past. We are here to work alongside you and with you and as part of that, we love hearing and learning from your stories. Have a look at the image and see what jumps out for you:

So what did you spot in there? Feel free to message me with any key points especially if you want more information or even to push a particular line for something we should be doing better. For me, the following stood out.

  • Studies or Stories. This was the headline from the talk and is worth highlighting and clarifying. In one sense, both are important. I’ve already said how much we love stories and there is so much to be learned from them. However, each story is one person’s viewpoint and it is highly likely that there will be another story that will give a completely different view of a similar situation. So with that in mind, studies also have an importance because that gives us an overview of all points of view in a coordinated way. This is why we have already carried out a few surveys – not just to gather more data for the sake of it, but to help us understand what people want, what can be done to move things forward and to use it to make changes and access funding. We are determined to not let any of the consultations sit idly on a shelf with no action. Neither are we going to use them simply to point out what is wrong in the area. All findings from the studies will be used to ensure the stories we tell in the future will be ones of action and positive steps forward. How great would it be for someone in years to come to tell a story of how they made a comment in a study that led to a positive change right here? That’s our wish so please stick with us when we do a survey and feel free to remind us that there needs to be action in the end.
  • Focus on what’s strong not on what’s wrong. This is so important. I’ve mentioned this in previous blogs and have been accused by some people of ignoring the problems around us by only looking at the good stuff. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes there are issues and yes they need sorting. No one is denying that. But we are not going to be weighed down by them or avoid any opportunity to grow because they exist. We solve them best by building up what is good – what is strong – what is positive – so that in part, we can tackle what is wrong head on because we have the chance to show people a better way.
  • No hierarchies but networks. This is about bringing everyone along on the journey (forgive my use of that word!). It’s not about building up committees but communities. Yes, there will be people that need to step up to lead and coordinate things, but the clue in the meaning of the word ‘lead’ is that they bring others along with them – networks of people with a good mix of skills relevant to each project or activity. This is not about raising up just a few people, but everyone who wants to come along for the ride. And within that, we will work with everyone at their individual level to help them gain the skills they need to strengthen their part in the network.
  • Power of communities to solve problems. You might have missed this one as it’s quite small on the image but I don’t think this represents the strength of the statement. Camelon and Tamfourhill is an amazing community made up of smaller communities that are full of people who have a passion to grow the community they live in. That combined positive passion is where the power comes from. And it’s a power that should never be underestimated by others as it is built on real experiences and real understanding of what makes this community really tick. And as I mentioned earlier on in this blog, that power can and will solve the problems that we face.

I could go on but I won’t bore you any further – for now! Just know that this is really important to me as your Community Coach – as a local resident – and even just as a fellow human being! I believe that everyone has the right to achieve their potential and want to do all I can to help in that goal.

We will no doubt return to this matter again but I want to just focus on the aspect of story telling as I finish off for this week. You have a unique opportunity to tell your story in a written format, and if you want, to have that shared as part of a book that will celebrate this area. That comes via our Creative Writing Introduction Course with the help of Kev McPhee, Susan Marshall and Camelon Arts. We’ve had a great response to this so far but there is still room for a few more to sign up. Join us and be part of something special. All information at www.opcamelontamfourhill.co.uk/creativewriting.

Until next week, keep making and sharing stories and building local power.