Campaign Diary – Week #5

  • Best bit: Helping to launch the national campaign
  • Worst bit: Seeing Hawick and Jedburgh getting flooded *again*
  • Folk of note: Isla Aitken, fabulous North Berwick campaigner, Green and co-founder of Sustaining North Berwick
  • Miles travelled: 259
  • Things I learned: People are amazingly generous! We smashed our South of Scotland fundraising target by over £300 with a week to go. Want to help us get to £2000? Chuck in what you can here. Thanks!
Launching our 2016 campaign with a brilliant team of candidates in Oran Mor
Launching our 2016 campaign with a brilliant team of candidates in Oran Mor in Glasgow’s West End

This week was a combination of campaign, community and climate change with the launch of our national campaign, pondering the community buy out in Moffat and taking part in a community meeting on climate resilience in North Berwick. I managed a bit of downtime as well, catching up with three of my best mates. I’ve even got to spend some time with my partner at a history and culture talk in Edinburgh. Here are the best bits…

Ayrshire Greens getting students registered to vote
Ayrshire Greens getting students registered to vote

On Thursday and Friday the campaign team braved the blustery weather and got the vote out, speaking to students and young people in Ayrshire and Dumfries. Given the news that 800,000 people who’d previously been registered to vote have fallen off the register, it’s crucial that we make sure folk are able to participate in the election in May.

Our voter registration cards
Our voter registration cards

 

Jen and Yvonne, the campaign support officers for the region, even made up some great wee cards to hand out.

After a much needed catch up with my girls on Saturday, I went along to a great event on Sunday with Sustaining North Berwick. The community group welcomed Philip Revell from Sustaining Dunbar to lead a workshop on climate resilience. After the great event in Hawick where the local community discussed how they could become a more resilient community, tackle climate change and fight flooding, it was really heartening to hear folk in North Berwick being so positive about what change they could achieve together.

Discussing how North Berwick can become more resilient
Discussing how North Berwick can become more resilient

The meeting kicked off with a great film put together by Adaptation Scotland, a fairly new body set up by the Scottish Government and Sniffer. It showed how communities across Scotland are increasingly facing challenges to their long term future because of changing weather patterns combined with poor infrastructure and a lack of power over the land around them. One example was a community in Argyll who’s water supply is pumped across from Bute and is dependent on electricity. So when bad weather causes power cuts, they’re without water too. It’s a scenario which will become ever more common as our weather gets more severe.

The meeting then turned to what the community in North Berwick felt the effects of extreme weather and climate change might be on the town and the local community. The storms of 2010 and 2013 that destroyed most if not all the boats in the harbour and the flooding of the homes along the sea front were the two examples that came to most folk’s minds. Ronnie, who was sat on the same table as me, told me that people had described waves of water moving in and out of their front rooms as the storms had hit.

Isla Aitken, local campaigner, Green and Sustaining North Berwick officianado
Isla Aitken, local campaigner, Green and Sustaining North Berwick officianado

After thinking about everything that could go wrong, everyone felt pretty down. But we soon picked up after a cuppa when minds turned to what we, the local community could do, and what real community resilience might look like. A bit of humour – “we’ll still be able to cook brussel sprouts in rapeseed oil and wash it down with whisky” – helped make it all feel less hopeless too. I left feeling really inspired, especially after seeing folk signing up to kick start projects that might actually get the town to that end point. Well done Isla and co for putting it together!

Me with Yvonne (l) and Jen (r) at the launch of the national campaign. So lucky to have them supporting me!
Me with Yvonne (l) and Jen (r) at the launch of the national campaign. So lucky to have them supporting me!

Monday brought an entirely different kind of inspiration. We launched the Scottish Green Party’s national campaign in the stunningly beautiful Oran Mor in Glasgow. I was asked to speak first – a fairly daunting task – and to introduce Patrick Harvie who spoke about our big campaign messages.  The whole campaign centres around the idea that a better Scotland needs a bolder Holyrood and to get that bolder Holyrood, we need more strong Green voices elected. It’s the idea that whilst we share many goals with other parties, no one in the Parliament today is being as bold as us when it comes to issues like fracking, land reform and rent controls.

Days like Sunday and Monday are always a huge boost for me. Refocusing on what matters to local communities across the region and the role that we can play in the Scottish Parliament.

Next week I’m off to Peebles, an event about flooding and an East Lothian Greens event in North Berwick amongst many other things. Until next time…

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