An activist is born…

I used to wonder about the people who wrote into the local newspapers, week after week, about one community issue or another. I used to think : why do they care so much? Or sometimes : what are they smoking?!

It’s easy to apportion questionable motives to people who act differently from yourself. It takes zero effort to simply assume that they might be serving their own interests, or even that they just like the sound of their own voices. I was guilty of thinking that.

But this week, I had occasion to introduce myself to a group of new people who I’ll be working with for the next year or so. And when I came to the bit where I was asked to describe my interests and pastimes, I found myself saying that I was a community activist. The words didn’t sound quite right coming out of my mouth, and I sat for a while afterwards pondering whether I’d just told a huge whopper. I was slightly embarrassed to think of myself in these terms, being as I am, just a novice blogger and completely lacking in any hard-earned credentials.

But then I went to a meeting of the Save Posties Park campaign the other evening, and I met people from all walks of life; men and women of all ages and all with different levels of experience in community activism. I realised that activists are just people who care enough to do something; people who want things to be better. They are inquisitive and not gullible, so they are often found asking questions and challenging the voice of ‘authority’. They aren’t small-minded. They are collectivist and community spirited.

There was no posturing or ego-stroking at the campaign meeting, and everyone’s voice was heard. There was no eye-rolling or passive aggression. There were no cliques. Everyone was engaged and motivated, and the meeting was genuinely democratic. I couldn’t help thinking that it was the polar opposite to another meeting I went to on this subject – the Education Services committee meeting on 11th September. You can read my thoughts on that meeting here.

I left the Save Posties Park campaign meeting feeling very differently about the people who give their time and effort to a cause simply because they care about their community. I felt proud to be part of that group. And so it is that, before you all, I openly proclaim myself to be ‘one of those’ people; you know, the ones you roll your eyes at and say, what are they smoking? Well, I’ve just penned my third letter to the local newspaper in as many months, so there’s no denying it.

So, if you sit reading this blog and think, I care about this issue and would like to make a contribution, then please do so.  Be an activist! There are many different ways in which to take action…

  • If you’re happy to make a public statement, then you can write to one of the local newspapers, the Reporter or the Lennox Herald and go on the record.
  • If you’d rather lobby the decision-makers on a one-to-one basis, then you can attend your local Councillors’ surgeries and speak to them about your concerns.  21 of the 22 Councillors hold regular surgeries and you can find the details of these here (click on a picture and you’ll find surgery dates, times and venues). Please note that Michelle McGinty doesn’t hold any surgeries, and if you want to see her, you have to arrange an appointment by phone (office : 01389 737749, mobile : 07538 842622) or email (michelle.mcginty@west-dunbarton.gov.uk). Although this requires a bit more effort than with all the other Councillors, I would point out that Mrs. McGinty is the Convener of the Education Services Committee, and therefore quite an important player in this campaign.
  • You can join the Save Posties Park facebook page and show your support by sharing the link with all your friends.
  • You can sign the online petition, and leave a comment that reflects your views. The petition can be found by clicking here. There’s a tab along the top marked ‘sign’, and clicking that will take you to a page which records your name, email address and comment. There is no need to make any financial contribution and you can choose to be anonymous, if you prefer.
  • You can go along to campaign meetings or photoshoots and rub shoulders with the other campaigners. They don’t bite and there are no funny handshakes or passwords. Everyone is welcome These events are advertised publicly, usually in the local newspapers, but always on the Facebook page.

But, above all, the most important thing that you can do at this stage to support the Save Posties Park campaign is to phone or write to West Dunbartonshire Council before 13th November 2013 and tell them that you don’t want the new OLSP built on Posties Park.

These are the ways you can get in touch :

  • by using the Council’s Contact Centre (tel: 01389 738282 or email :  contactcentre@west-dunbarton.gov.uk)
  • by writing to the Executive Director of Educational Services at West Dunbartonshire Council HQ, Garshake Road, Dumbarton G82 3PU or
  • by e-mailing education.centralregistry@west-dunbarton.gov.uk

There are thousands of people who support this cause, and we know that because there are around 1700 signatures on the petitions. Supporting this cause doesn’t make you a “hoary story-teller” or a “minority interest group” member as claimed by anonymous Lennox Herald correspondent, Perry Flanagan. It doesn’t make you anti-children or anti-progress as some of the OLSP teachers might claim. Supporting the Save Posties Park cause shows that you are smart, savvy and that you care about your town and its people.

Don’t think for a minute that your voice can’t make a difference.  When it’s added to hundreds of others, your voice is strong and powerful, and can effect change. Please step up and be counted on this matter.  It’s your park too.  Let’s work together to help save it.

Posties from above 2

– MAx

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4 thoughts on “An activist is born…

  1. Great blog Max.

    I wonder when Ms McGinty’s surgeries will ‘restart’. I note the irony of the fact that she is on the board of West Dunbartonshire Environment Trust. Don’t think I’d want to trust her with ‘my environment’.

    • Yes, I did have a bit of an eyebrow raise when I saw that particular board appointment. Credentials for that? I’m guessing “6 weans and a gub” again…

  2. All 22 councillors…LOBBIED! Jeez that was a long afternoon!! Keep sharing this marvellous and stupendous post folks. Its got everything you need, all under the wan roof. Here’s a thought Max, you could share your blog around the world if we start a chain mail thingy, whereby if its not shared within 10 seconds folk will have piles before the days oot. Just a thought 😉

    • Suppurating piles, at the very least…

      Check you out with your activism! I’m humbled at your awesomeness, and will get on top of my lobbying tomorrow when I’m not doing all the other cack that takes over the weekend. I’ve written a letter to the Lennox in response to the ‘anon’ correspondent. The letters page will soon be taking over half the paper if this keeps up. Take note, cooncilors!

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