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Event: Day Conference: Spirituality, Politics, Democratics and the Local:
Divining a New Civics for Our Times.

Venue: Sanctuary, Augustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL.
Date: Saturday 16 November 2019.
Time: Registration: 9.30am-10am. Day Conference: 10am-4.35pm.

Event Description: Material interests drive much of our contemporary politics - especially the interests of individuals tending to their private domains. Spiritual influences seem to hardly register; larger constructs beyond the individual – the public domain, the common weal, the shared locality, the wider community, the consensual place – struggle for an equal, balancing, recognition. Perhaps they need the power of an alternate matching framing – possibly a democratics, on a par with politics, underpinned by the spirit of a new civics.

Might we usefully divine a new civics for our times? Does politically inspired action need to be leavened by spiritually-based contemplation? What might this entail? A new localism, new civic infrastructure, a local governance revolution, a democratics fired by civic entrepreneurs? Participation on an unprecedented scale?

The envisaged context is today’s Scotland, at the level of ‘the local’ and its localities, across the spectrum – urban, rural, towns, villages, highland, lowland, island, suburb. Today’s ‘local’ is probably different from yesterday’s ‘local’: more than parochial, less than regional; more than simply functional, embracing something novel; more than a single community, more a community of communities.  

These contributions might include reflections and commentary on:

remedying the local democratic deficit in Scotland
rebalancing national politics and local democratics
advancing the ‘democracy matters’ agenda (local governance review)
contemplating a new civics - a neo-civics – for the emerging future
the interdependence of national independence and local devolution
and/or other nominated perspectives, stimulated by the combination of themes.

 

EICSP Day Conference: Saturday, 16 November 2019

Spirituality, Politics, Democratics and the Local:
Divining a New Civics for Our Times.

Venue: Sanctuary, Augustine United Church,
41 George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, EH1 1EL.

Registration: 9.30am-10am. Day Conference: 10am-4.35pm.

Organised by Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace, EICSP,
Scottish Charity, SC038996, www.eicsp.org

Conference: 9.30am-4.35pm:
9.30am-10am: Arrival and Registration

10am-10.20am: Welcome, Introductions, and Invitation: Ian Wight.

Our conference explores the nexus of spirituality, politics, democratics and ‘the local’, wondering how might we usefully divine a new civics for our times. In particular, does politically inspired action need to be leavened by spiritually-based contemplation? What might this entail? A new localism… new civic infrastructure… a local governance revolution… a democratics fired by civic entrepreneurs… participation on an unprecedented scale?

The envisaged context is today’s Scotland, at the level of ‘the local’ and its localities, across the spectrum – urban, rural, towns, villages, highland, lowland, island, suburb. Today’s ‘local’ is probably different from yesterday’s ‘local’: more than parochial, less than regional; more than simply functional, embracing something novel; more than a single community, more a community of communities.  

What might we divine together around, for example: remedying the local democratic deficit in Scotland; rebalancing national politics and local democratics; advancing the ‘democracy matters’ agenda (local governance review); contemplating a new civics (channelling Patrick Geddes) a neo-civics for the emerging future; or the interdependence of national independence and local devolution?

10.20am-10.40am: Plenary address: Andy Myles.

The Scottish Civic Experience - a participative democracy.
 
A brief description of how Scotland relied on civic organisations to run the nation's affairs during the 300 years of the Union, and how we re-established our own Parliament. A consideration of the Scottish policy community - including faith groups, trade unions, NGOs & cultural life, media & civil conversation, political parties & civil servants, and local government.
 
Bio: Andy Myles has (amongst other things): Studied Scots and international law and politics at Dundee University; 9 years as a mental health services manager in NHS Scotland; 5 years as CEO of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, including being the chief day-today-negotiator in the Scottish Constitutional Convention; 8 years as head of advocacy and media with RSPB Scotland; 2 years as a Special Adviser to the Scottish Government; and 7 years as advocacy manager with Scottish Environment LINK, the umbrella body for the Scottish environmental and conservation organisations.

10.40am-10.55am: Discussion.

10.55am-11.15am: Plenary address: David Francis.

Community Empowerment and Local Cultural Development.
 
A consideration of how community cultural development is enriched by exploration of the folk voice within the cultural memory, and how engagement with the traditional arts can contribute to citizen agency, a fundamental pre-condition of community empowerment.
 
Bio: David Francis is a songwriter, musician, and occasional storyteller, rooted in Scottish traditional music and dance. He is Director of TRACS, Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
 

11.15am-11.30am: Discussion.

11.30am-11.50am: Tea/coffee break.

11.50am-12.10: Plenary address: Brian Logan.

Democracy Matters: the future of community decision-making in Scotland.

The Scottish Government’s Local Governance Review seeks to devolve more power to more local levels. In the 20th anniversary of Scotland’s parliament, this is an exciting opportunity to promote the biggest shift of power since devolution. Scottish Ministers want a vibrant, equal democracy where people understand their rights - and actively participate in civic society.  The review is taking a whole system approach which means looking across Scotland’s public services, and ensuring that measures to empower people and places in different spheres of governance are cohesive and mutually supportive.
 
Bio: Brian Logan is a policy manager working in the Local Government and Communities Directorate with a key role in the local governance review. Having worked in a number of policy areas over the past decade Brian has been part of: the emergency response to outbreaks of exotic animal disease; work to develop innovative approaches to finance the building of affordable housing; and, most recently, creating the right conditions for the delivery of public service reform in Scotland.

12.10am-12.25pm: Discussion.

12.25pm-12.45pm: Plenary address: Marion Ralls.

Participative Democracy and The Will of the People.

A consideration of various forms and structures of civic participation within a democracy, and how these may, or may not, express the values and contribute to solutions of the issues of our times. Some challenging questions will be posed.

Bio: Marion Ralls’ career, begun in the mists and midst of the 20th century, included a theology degree and several years of Religious Education in schools and university extension lecturing. Then library management, where Marion, rather accidentally, pioneered library automation, but in doing so acquired wide experience of the value and necessity of human co-operation, and a deep respect for Scotland’s co-operative ability. Marion was active during the 1990s as National Secretary of the Campaign for a Scottish Parliament, which was another experience of hard-working and successful co-operation between some very different groups and people.  As a founder member of the original Scottish Civic Assembly, which grew into the late, lamented Scottish Civic Forum, Marion started thinking about citizens’ participation before we even got our parliament, and is still interested and challenged by its problems and possibilities - and is ever more convinced of the importance of the Arts (music, dance, drama, etc) in our national, local and personal life.

12.45pm-1pm: Discussion.

1pm-2.15pm: Lunch.

2.15pm-2.35pm: Plenary address: Mike Danson.

Revisiting funding local government and local services:
Building an inclusive, sustainable Scotland from the bottom up.

The presentation will introduce the need for the reform of local government finance and powers. We will argue for the empowerment of local communities and workforces, building a foundational economy and making the funding of local government services fairer by replacing the Council Tax with a Progressive Property Tax, a land value tax, and for a new move to re-municipalization of buses, housing, renewable energy, and other essential services.
 
Bio: Professor Mike Danson is an economist who has many and varied research interests including employability and volunteering, early-onset dementia and the workplace, regional economic development, basic income, and community ownership and management of land and other resources. Since 1997, he has authored over 250 research papers many published in international scientific journals and books. His research work is frequently presented at international conferences. Mike chairs Citizen’s Basic Income Network Scotland and the Reid Foundation. He is a member of the Scottish Government’s Just Transition Commission and the Legal Aid Payments Review Advisory Group. Current research includes collaborative projects on the economic impacts of Gaelic and Faroese; microbreweries; assessment of the social and economic development of community buy-out areas; and different aspects of sustainable economic development across peripheral, marginal and island regions in northern Europe.

2.35pm-2.50pm: Discussion.

2.50pm-3.10pm: Plenary address: Willie Sullivan.

What structure?  

What are the future shapes and processes of our public institutions that might cause less harm and generate more good? Can we build them from the local up?  What are the ideas and values that could help to make, and grow, these new or reformed institutions?  
 
Bio: Willie Sullivan is the Senior UK Director of the Electoral Reform Society and Co-Convenor of Common Weal. Founding member of Common Weal and Compass. He is an activist and campaigner, interested in ideas of the good life and the good society - and in particular the action of power and relationships, and oppression and nurturing, as factors in how we organise our institutions. Willie has thought and written about: democracy as the mechanism to address inequalities of power; the institutions of the state including Elections, Civil Society, Local Government, Social Security and Taxation; and how social and political change comes about.  

3.10pm-3.25pm: Discussion.


3.25pm-3.45pm: Plenary address: Gerry Hassan

The Future is being made now: Understanding Power, Elites and Voice.

The shape of Scotland and the UK is being made in the here and now – by the politics of 3Brexit and Scottish independence, a decade of Tory austerity, and SNP managerialism, as well as economic, social and cultural trends. What these show is the inadequacy of mainstream politics as well as the shortcomings in much radical politics. This requires that we think critically about what we mean and want from democracy, look at the limited nature of political democracy in present-day Scotland, assess its inadequacies, and identify ways in which we can enhance transformative and lasting change which addresses the power inequalities and democratic deficit which characterizes contemporary Scotland.

BIO: Dr. Gerry Hassan is a Research Fellow in contemporary Scottish history at the University of Dundee. He has worked with a variety of UK, Scottish, and international think-tanks and NGOs, and has a commitment to community activism and practice, including long-term with a range of local groups and organizations. He is the author and editor of 28 books on Scottish and British politics, social change, and thinking about and shaping the future. His latest books include: Scotland the Brave? Twenty Years of Change and the Politics of the Future (Luath Press), The Story of the Scottish Parliament: The First Two Decades Explained (Edinburgh University Press) and The People’s Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party (Biteback Publishing).

3.45pm-4pm: Discussion.

4pm-4.20pm: Plenary address: Ian Wight.

Divining a New Civics for Our Times.

Material interests appear to drive much of our contemporary politics - especially the interests of individuals tending to their private domains. Spiritual influences seem to hardly register; larger constructs beyond the individual – the public domain, the common weal, the shared locality, the wider community, the consensual place – seem to struggle for an equal, balancing, recognition. It will be suggested that perhaps they need the power of an alternate matching framing – possibly a democratics, on a par with politics, underpinned by the spirit of a new civics.  

How might we usefully divine a new civics for our times? Does politically inspired action need to be leavened by spiritually-based contemplation? What might this entail? A new localism, new civic infrastructure, a local governance revolution, a democratics fired by civic entrepreneurs? Participation on an unprecedented scale?

The envisaged context is today’s Scotland, at the level of ‘the local’ and its localities, across the spectrum – urban, rural, towns, villages, highland, lowland, island, suburb. Today’s ‘local’ is probably different from yesterday’s ‘local’: more than parochial, less than regional; more than simply functional, embracing something novel; more than a single community, more a community of communities.  

Bio: Ian Wight PhD FCIP GTB is a former Canadian professional planner and educator of planning professionals. He retired from the University of Manitoba in 2014 but is now happily re-firing in his native land, pursuing a range of inquiries – in this case around the prospects for a neo-civics in today’s Scotland. Influenced by integral framings, other relevant current inquiries include: place, placemaking and placemakers; the possibility in conviviality; and the contemporary relevance of the ideas of Patrick Geddes.



4.20pm-4.35pm: Discussion and Closure.

 

Spirituality, Politics, Democratics and the Local

NB: There will be no refund if you cancel your booking.

Cost: £10/£8 (Concessions)/£3 (Students). For a Registration Form:
Contact: Neill Walker, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 0131 331 4469.