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Community Land Scotland

The Urban Gathering 2023

23 February 2023

On February 22 2023, we hosted the Urban Gathering. Sixteen community groups from towns and cities across Scotland, as well as other third sector organisations, joined us in Stirling. The theme of the day was communities sharing their stories. Linsay Chalmers, Development Manager, opened the day speaking about the first urban community buyout in Stornoway, and the subsequent hundred years of community ownership in Scotland.

Meg Taintor, Development Officer, introduced speakers from three community groups to share their experience of how they tell their story to their communities and further afield.

The GalGael Trust

GalGael are a working community who stand for compassion, health and justice. They work together on demanding common tasks that demonstrate ways of living with more humanity in our times.

David Lees, Operation support at GalGael, opened by talking about the importance of storytelling.

David said that ‘a story is not just one thing’ and that sharing stories ‘allows people to realise that they matter’. GalGael doesn’t just share their own story, they share the stories of individuals that come to GalGael – highlighting how community members have been important to the development of GalGael over it’s 26 year history.

In 2021, GalGael set up their own newspaper called the Govan Free Press. This has allowed them to take control of the narrative and represent themselves the way that want to be seen.

GalGael excel at sharing stories in person, with events designed to bring the community together and think about how we move forward in a just and sustainable way.

We are creating conditions for reimagining a country, creating a just Scotland.

North Edinburgh Arts

North Edinburgh Arts is a purpose-built creative and community venue in Muirhouse. It has served the whole of North Edinburgh for 20 years.

Kate Wimpress, Director at North Edinburgh Arts, highlighted the importance of community ownership to NEA by saying “We were on a shoogly peg with a short term lease.”. Ownership of their building allowed them to grow and develop their big ideas, all the while keeping the community at the fore front of the project.

Unsurprisingly for an arts venue, NEA has chosen creative ways to tell their story. As Kate said “As artists, we like to share our story through pictures”. A good example of this is the video that they created to fundraise for the renovation of this wonderful community space. You can watch it here.

We had two things we keep in mind - one, you are custodians of this amazing asset and two, you have to be relevant to your neighbours.

Broomhill Community Hub

Volunteers with the Broomhill Community Hub have been working over the last year to ask what the community would like to happen with the now closed Jordanhill Bowling Club.

Hector Rufrancos, Steering Committee Leader, shared the story of their successful community engagement campaign for their proposed buyout of the local bowling club to maintain an important community asset. 

Hector focused on the main point of their campaign that others would be able to replicate. Make it easy for people to learn more, share their ideas and show their support, everything else follows!

The campaign flooded the area with a simple message, in bright green: What would you do with the bowling green? They received more than 300 responses in 3 months.

The reason they were so successful is that they carefully thought about their audience. Hector said, “We took a dual approach. We had a paper survey and researched where they would be most relevant. We used QR codes so people could choose to answer online from the paper surveys, as well as access to the surveys through a simple website.”

The response from the community was clear, they wanted a community hub and green space. The group are now in the process of setting up formal governance and have submitted a Stage 1 application to the Scottish Land Fund.

We are going to work through radical transparency and talk to the community until they get bored of us.

Sharing your story with Data

Carey and Heather, who form the Community Ownership Hub (a project of Community Land Scotland), provided a short training session on monitoring and evaluation. Attendees got the opportunity to discuss the goals of their project and the best way to collect data to support the work that is being carried out.

The session focused on good monitoring practices such as setting clear and achievable outcomes and appropriate indicators. The resources from this session and the presentation are available below.

You can see the results of the interactive part of our session here. We were using Mentimeter – Interactive presentation software as a fun way and easy way to collect data during the session. 

Creative Stirling Site Visit

After lunch, participants visited Creative Stirling ‘Made in Stirling’ shop and Gallery. Creative Stirling is a SCIO working with the community to deliver arts and cultural activity programmes. Over the past four years, operations have grown substantially and include delivering the first phase of the Stirling Place Partnership in 2018. They are also developing projects to support increased grass roots activities through collaboration with artists and community leaders as well as establishing a multi-purpose arts and cultural venue in Stirling City Centre.

Joe Hall, Director of Creative Stirling, expanded on the monitoring session from the morning looking at creative methods of data collection. In their gallery space, they provided pens for visitors to write on blocks and share their experience of the exhibition. These are photographed and stored to evidence the impact of the work. The focus of this particular exhibition was looking at young people and LGBTQIA+ experiences and voices in their community.

Joe gave participants a tour of the building and explained the story of Creative Stirling so far. She recognised the importance of community voice in the work that they do. They are punching well above their weight in community activities – running workshops, warm spaces and creative programmes for all.


David Lees, The Galgael Trust
Kate Wimpress, North Edinburgh Arts
Hector Rufrancos, Broomhill Community Hub