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Brief belated reflections on 2017 and looking forward to a 2018 in Scotland

I’ve been quiet on the work that’s been happing with Exploring Participation recently; this is because mostly there hasn’t been much happening. I took an interim management job at Oxford SU, which has been great, lots of opportunities for students to participate and get involved, its also helped pay my bills, but with a lengthy commute, it hasn’t given me much spare time, headspace or time in Scotland.

I’m finishing this role this week and have been thinking about what comes next. I’ve been on several courses/had interesting conversations with people that have helped to shape my thinking. I’ll write all of them up separately as I think they deserve some space on their own. There was a great course on complexity, exploring how do we understand the world through a complex system approach rather than believing everything is simple and linear. There was a thought-provoking course on Sociocracy which is a model of decision making that should mean everyone can participate, I’m not convinced about the whole model, but there’s definitely some interesting aspects to it that look useful. I’ve also come back to Joanna Macy’s work on the work that reconnects which resonates a lot.

I want to spend some time back in Scotland. I want to reconnect and ground myself in a local community again. I’m about to open a Girlguiding group for 14–18-year-old girls in Govanhill, I’ve joined the board of a local social enterprise, I’m working with some others on developing an exciting social enterprise looking at providing emergency accommodation for refugees and asylum seekers. (Please fill in our survey) We’re also going to regroup on our co-housing projects and hopefully, start to move that forward a bit.

As part of grounding myself back in Scotland, and exploring more of the country than just Glasgow, I’m planning a big cycling trip. I’ve been talking lots about taking a big cycle trip for a while and was meant to be cycling through the Outer Hebrides at the beginning of September but got the job at Oxford SU and missed out on the time slot. I also pledged the crowdfunder for the Adventure Syndicate books which I didn’t manage to follow through on last year and am determined to do this year.

So I could make this trip in a whole number of ways, my parents have a great campervan which I’ve enjoyed lots of trips around Scotland in. However I think that you understand places differently if you travel through them slowly, it forces you to confront the physicality of the world. Linked to this I haven’t spent much time in rural Scotland/islands and feels like an excellent way to do it.

This trip is the biggest physical challenge that I’ve ever done, I’ve set the daily mileage low, so I think it is doable, am equally scared and excited about the scale of the challenge. This is the kind of trip that will force reflection. I don’t naturally reflect on things so this trip will be an excellent opportunity to push me to reflect on the communities, the physical geography, the history of the places that I’m visiting and hopefully provide some space to think about my next steps in Scotland.

I’ll also be looking for some more paid work too. I’d like to do more interim management work, change management, strategic planning and facilitation if you have anything coming up, please let me know.

I know that there are lots of connections I’ve not been in touch with much while I’ve been away, I’ll be following up when I’m back in Glasgow, but please get in touch if you fancy a coffee and talking about social justice, participation and tangible actions.