Who’s Permission Do We Need?

I was delighted to be invited to contribute to a UWS seminar this week, on participatory action research methods, to speak to PhD candidates from all over Scotland about the work of the Govan Graving Docks campaign and how it has been supported through Partnership with Fablevision, artist residencies, Creative Scotland, UWS and Liz Gardiner’s PhD research. Also how it has ultimately led to setting up the Govan Docks Regeneration Trust.

What I found from talking to some of the students (and of course a common theme outside of academia as well that we’ve found in wider discussions), is that people invariably face a negative reaction from officials if they are extensively involved in community activism or similar activity. Essentially anything that promotes positive change is seen as threatening by some officials and local councillors. It has even been suggested to us by certain councillors that we shouldn’t be allowed to discuss or raise awareness of issues and propose alternatives because they speak for “the people”.

The reality is that when we speak to “the people” for whom those councillors purport to speak, we find very different stories, ideas and aspirations.

It seems that this is going on across the country (people taking positive action are being asked who gave them permission) and we’d be very keen to hear from anyone with similar experiences.

 

Iain McGillivray
Executive Director, CDPI

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