Recently the Leapfrog team took a picturesque drive on a drizzly morning through the Loch Lomond national park to the beautiful Kyles of Bute to meet members of the local community led initiatives in Glendaruel Glen. We met at the community poly tunnel. — home to great home-grown herbs and vegetables, some very good coffee — to discuss salient issues and opportunities in engaging with local people about area development. In the hope that our discussions will eventually lead us to fresh approaches to engaging with the local community and some great new ideas for tools.
Welcomed and warmed with a hot drink, we began by talking about the current landscape for local community led projects and active initiatives in the area. We focussed on both the range of projects and approaches communities take in leading them In Glendaruel Glen alone, there are many initiatives at varying stages of maturity each progressing at a different pace. They range from seedlings through to well established projects, all with active community member involvement
Key issues emerging from the conversation with our new friends in the Glen included:
- The sheer volume and range of live projects is an important factor in their management as well as this inhibiting the opportunity for projects to engage, exchange and learn from each other’s successes and challenges.
- Maintaining good communication and representation for the initiatives. Likewise, having strategies to ensure people can access accurate information from the source rather than relying only on word of mouth that is often vulnerable to rumour and growing inaccuracies.
Great opportunities that they raised included:
- Connecting with young people in the glen
- Connecting together members of various committees and councils
- Debunking the myths about the community initiatives
Contrary to some of our own assumptions about Co-Design, project members shared knowledge about why it is not always necessary or desirable to engage with whole communities about local projects. Often, there is not enough time or resource to work at a community-wide scale. Instead, they prefer to take a strategic approach to which people they engage rather than attracting as many as possible.
We’re so grateful to the members of the local community led initiatives in Glendaruel Glen for taking the time to welcome us, give us a coffee and tell us about the initiatives in the area. It’s already giving us new perspectives on our understanding of Co-Design, and this has opened up the opportunity for us to work together to bolster the existing projects and contribute to sustaining the community in the future.