Spring 2008 Newsletter

Welcome to the SUP spring newsletter – we are into April with the usual seasonal mix of lambs, daffodils and snow, but spring is certainly in the air!   In this edition we aim to bring you news of some of the happenings in the Southern Uplands.   If you have news, views or events that you would like us to add to the website or to the e-newsletter please get in touch.

Southern Uplands Partnership project report
At present we have a full project load, though a number of our activities are coming to the end of their lifespan.   The long awaited confirmation of the Scottish Rural Development Programme and the next phase of Leader mean that we can take forward new ideas to the planning stage and these will be featured in future editions of the newsletter.  To check on progress with current project click here.

To read the recent announcement about Leader funding in South Lanarkshire click here.

Biosphere report on YouTube
You TubeIt’s a first! SUP will have footage on YouTube. We were lucky that a record of the learning journey to the Cevenne Biosphere in France was made by Derek Hextall at Kirkconnel Parish Heritage Society.   By putting the footage on YouTube anyone with broadband should be able to access the film quite easily.   Derek is just completing the editing process, but the link will be added to the Home page of the SUP site as soon as we have it.   Meantime South and East Ayrshire Councils and Dumfries & Galloway Council have put up funding for an economic appraisal of the Biosphere, so things are moving forward.   The report on the community consultation work undertaken by SUP last year is also on our web site, visit the publications page to view this.

All matters ‘eco’ are in the news and there is lots going on in the Southern Uplands.   SUP is talking with landowners about possible sites for our proposed Eco Office, we look forward to all the work that went into the prospectus and design study becoming a functioning resource!    Meantime Biggar aims to be more self sufficient as the twin threats of Climate Change and increasing oil prices approach.   To find out about progress in Biggar click on www.carbon-neutral-biggar.com    Biggar is also getting involved in the ‘transition’ movement.   A Transition town is a community working together to look at Peak Oil and Climate Change.   The idea is becoming more widely known, as Radio 4 listeners will know it even features in as An Archers storyline!  To find out more visit www.transitiontowns.org

Green HideawayEco Hideaway

If you are thinking more along the lines of an eco holiday, a new venture near Kirkcudbright might suit. A newly built eco, oak framed timber pole holiday house is available to let.   Holidays here are aimed at natural, peaceful living, eco-friendly, enjoying nature in the gardens as much as possible. The place is described as ‘a little alternative, but very comfortable’.  Hosts Martin Gould and Sharon O’Rourke explain that the building and contents have been designed to minimise carbon emissions and to be as natural a build as possible. All timber in the building and decks comes from local and/or sustainable sources. The living roof is clad in green sedum to lessen environmental impact on the landscape. The thick insulation is natural Thermafleece, sheep’s wool. Interior paints and varnish are safe and natural green products. The windows have heat reflective glass.   To reduce energy use, all light bulbs are low energy and electrical appliances have been kept to a minimum. Water is heated using a solar panel and a bio-mass wood pellet stove is the main source of heat. Separate bins are provided to recycle paper, glass and cans and there is a compost heap for organic matter.   All local crafts people, tradesmen and materials were used in the build. To find out more visit www.gallowaystonecraft.co.uk/waterhouse

Free carbon footprinting for D&G businesses 
Owners of small and medium-sized businesses in Dumfries & Galloway interested in reducing their energy bills, improving efficiency, accessing the latest technology or just finding out about their carbon foorpint can now sign up for the Carbon Opportunites Project run by the Crichton Carbon Centre in Dumfries.   The Crichton team can produce a free comprehensive carbon audit, but act now as availability is limited. For full information visit www.carboncentre.org or call Jess Cameron/Laura Packham on 01387 702041.

Meantime, if you would like to calculate your own carbon footprint, visit

Do you make Scottish wooden kitchen utensils?
You may have read about Elizabeth Roberts spruce products in our pre-Christmas e-mailing, and be interested to know that Elizabeth is opening a spruce themed shop in Moffat in May!   Zacharry’s (www.zacharrys.co.uk) will sell Elizabeth’s food and drink, but she would also like to offer some Scottish wooden kitchen utensils.   Elizabeth says she is ‘open to all and any other suggestions appropriate to our main theme, which is ‘green’, eco, botanical, local etc’.   If you can help please contact Elizabeth direct at Zacharry¹s Ltd, Tel & Fax: 01864 505277.   Other members looking to source local suppliers via the SUP newsletter are welcome to get in touch with us.

Scottish Sustainable Development Forum Spring Plenary 
The Rural Economy and Tourism – Contributors to a sustainable Scotland’ proceedings and workshop outputs, including a prioritised list of actions resulting from the workshop discussions, are available from www.ssdforum.org.uk on the News/Events page.   SUPs Project Manger, Pip Tabor, who sits on the SSDF steering group says “this event attracted an excellent range of participants and some lively discussion took place. It has highlighted the need for future actions on a number of fronts”.

The Electoral Reform Society
The Electrol Reform Society is a non partisan organisation which has long campaigned for Single Transferable Vote (STV) for all UK elections. The STV system was used for the first time in any major, public UK election in the Scottish local government elections in May 2007. STV is a proportional system which allows voters to rank their candidates in order of preference.   If the first choice of candidate is already elected or eliminated through lack of support, your vote goes to your second choice and so on, meaning your vote is unlikely to be wasted. Over the coming months, the Electoral Reform Society Scotland will be testing the extent to which this is true. Community Engagement Officer, Kate Robinson, will be asking groups and activists across Scotland whether the changes at the council level have made any difference to the lives of ordinary people.   If you have views on this, the Society would like to hear from you. You can reach Kate on 0141 227 3973 or by email on kate.robinson@electoral-reform.org.uk

Conference – Communities in Transition, Sustainability and Structural change
New Lanark, 29 – 30 May, 2008.
This conference aims to address three main areas: People – the importance of roles and relationships between citizens, and public, private and voluntary sectors both within and between communities. Partnerships – optimising collaborations, networks and structures set up to address the challenges of change working across sectors and engaging widely. Projects – initiatives both large and small to mitigate socio-economic change as part of wider technical, environmental and policy programmes. For full information please contact Rick Wylie, Westlakes Research Institute. Tel. 01946 514000 E-mail reception@westlakes.ac.uk

Asset Mapping at the Edge
John GoldThe Communities on the Edge Project is currently undertaking ‘asset mapping exercises’ in the three communities of Douglas, Langholm and Yetholm.  Project Coordinator John Gold explains, ‘Asset mapping exercises are positive and enjoyable approaches to learning about your community. They help you think positively about the place in which you live and work, and challenge you to recognise how other people see and experience the same community.’   To find out more about this technique click here.

Communities on the Edge coordinator John Gold is now a regular Rural Gateway contributor, click here to read his latest piece.

Looking for a meeting venue?
If you are looking for a great central meeting space for your group in Edinburgh we would recommend The Melting Pot in Rose Street.   This facility is headed up by Clair Carpenter who worked on the original scoping exercise for the SUPs Eco Office project.    The location is very handy and you will be able to see how this exciting social enterprise is developing.   To find out more visit www.TheMeltingPotEdinburgh.org.uk

More locally, the new Catstrand Centre in New Galloway is keen to attract new organisations to use the recently opened conference facility (up to 80, theatre style) and meeting rooms.   For information visit www.catstrand.com

SUP Away Day 
SUP TeamThe SUP team are spread across the Southern Uplands and team get-togethers are few.   However, March saw everyone converge on Moffat for a day of project reviews, Leader updates and brainstorming.   As an opening ‘icebreaker’ Roger Hemming arranged for everyone to write down an interesting fact about themselves for the others to guess.

See if you can guess:
Who gave the kiss of life to a squirrel?
Who hand reared a cheetah?
Who went to Sir Simon Rattles 40th birthday party?
Who was Young Entrepreneur of the Year at School?
Who was silver British Champion in Taekwondo?

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