Community Land Scotland has received a major award from The National Lottery Heritage Fund to share the history of community ownership in Scotland – and to look ahead to what can be achieved in the next 100 years.
The first completion of a community buyout happened in 1923 when the first estate – in Stornoway – passed into community ownership. But it wasn’t until the mid 1990s, and the first “community buyouts” of Eigg, Knoydart and Abriachan that the revolution which has transformed land ownership really began. Since then, local people have led a community ownership movement that’s informed and reshaped Government policy, and empowered tens of thousands of people in communities across Scotland.
The roots of revolution were not in the corridors of government, but in croft house kitchens and community halls. Not led by land developers or lawyers, but by school cooks and posties, by creel fisherman, nurses, students, and gardeners. Modest, ordinary people who achieved extraordinary things by challenging the status quo and changing the structure of how land could be owned.
Community ownership meant land was no longer only owned privately, or by public and charitable bodies. Instead, it was owned by community organisations with boards made up of local people managing the land for those living on or around it. Their work transformed their communities’ future and contributed to a new Scottish Land Reform movement.. Communities from across the world visit Scotland to learn from our unique model, but there is no simple resource or archive where they can access information.
Community ownership today is the result of protracted effort and struggle at community level. Many key actors in this process are now increasingly elderly. Several have already died. Recollections of what was accomplished, particularly over the last 30 years, are fading. This makes it essential to take steps to capture memories, written, visual, and tangible heritage, to give people now and in the future some insight how men and (significantly) women who typically had no previous involvement in public life, managed to transform their immediate localities by bringing them under community ownership. The way they changed how land and how it’s owned are thought about and regulated in Scotland.
100 Years of Community Ownership
100 Years of Community Ownership will share the story and impact of community ownership on rural and urban Scotland.
100 Years of Community Ownership is a nationwide programme of oral history and community archive training that enables those delivering community ownership to create a new website that shares their story alongside the legacy of Scotland’s community owners, individually and collectively.
The oral history and archive work will inspire a Scotland-wide touring exhibition. It will provide the focus and theme of Community Land Week in 2023, a conference and events – all of which will include a “pop up” version of the exhibition.