"Example is the school of mankind, and they will learn at no other."
In the next few weeks some important decisions will be taken. The UN is coming to the end of a process that will result in the General Assembly adopting a set of Sustainable Development Goals for the period 2015-2030. These were focus on eradication of poverty and are sure to commit the governments of the world to action on topics such as health, water and education – rightly so.
In the early 1990s Yugoslavia began to disintegrate, triggering a series of vicious wars as ethnic groups contested territories. I have been doing some work looking at current development in the countries of the Western Balkans. Although conditions have certainly improved over the past decade, and the World Bank now rates them as “upper middle income countries”, it is clear that long-lasting economic and environmental damage has occurred.
For over 30 years EU programmes have supported students so that they can spend some time studying at a university in a different member state. Now a new ERASMUS+ programme opens such mobility opportunities to many others. The kind of youth camps that IC has delivered over several years would seem to be eligible for support. The programme includes Norway.
Recently Professor Cliff Hague from Scotland went to a meeting of a project looking at small and medium-sized towns across Europe,where he spoke in a small town about branding the town. For ICN he reviews his visit and shares his thoughts with us.
Probably the outstanding example of small town regeneration in Scotland is West Kilbride. It is a coastal town about 45 kilometers from Glasgow. It has a population of just under 5,000 inhabitants. Although it has quite an affluent population, decline had set in by the mid-1990s, when about half of the retail properties on the town’s main street were empty and boarded up.
Local food networks are attracting increasing attention. This week I picked up Issue 1 of Nourish Scotland Magazine, which is produced by Scotland’s sustainable food network. Pete Richie, Director of Nourish Scotland, sums up the organisation’s basic vision. It is to “reimagine farming as a service: and a service which is increasingly co-produced by farmers and citizens.”
Small towns are home to many Scots; they are places that contribute significantly to Scotland’s economy, identity and national well-being. They are of cultural importance: their buildings, streets and parks tell Scotland’s story.
How do you evaluate a landscape? It is a question that lies at the heart of decision-making on controversial developments in the countryside, such as wind farms or new highways. Since the 1970s landscape evaluation has become a very technocratic process, much to the frustration of many non-professionals who may care deeply about a place but feel their views count for little.
Town centres are dying. The economic crisis has highlighted the malaise. There are empty shops, as people head to the edge of town supermarket. Internet shopping replaces the trip to the store downtown. Prominent buildings once used for public functions such as town halls, post offices or churches stand empty too, as services have been rationalised or public attitudes have changed.