The drink is on me

Let it pass. I’m here for a quiet drink and the big fella scares the crap out of me.

This true story by George Lamb was written in 2012 before reports that welfare cuts were fuelling hatred of disabled people. We republish now in tribute to a remarkable man, a friend and tireless community activist. We will miss George who died peacefully at home on 22 May, 2021. Donations, if desired, to St Columba’s Hospice. 

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Who holds the Scottish government to account?

In theory, elections are the voters’ chance to decide who runs the country.  But once the dust has settled who holds the government to account for the next four or five years?   No matter who represents Scotland in Westminster after 7 May, Tricia Marwick, presiding officer of the Scottish Parliament, makes  a strong case for reforming the way we do things in Holyrood. Continue reading “Who holds the Scottish government to account?”

Scotland’s ethical stimulus: John Byrne Award 2014

The play’s the thing. This year’s winner of the John Byrne Award, surely Scotland’s most imaginative and challenging competition, is Edinburgh sixth form student, Andrew MacDonald with his play The Treatment about an unethical pharmaceutical company producing a life-saving drug for the exclusive use of the rich. Continue reading “Scotland’s ethical stimulus: John Byrne Award 2014”

Into the unknown…again

Another step into the unknown, I’m on a train hurtling south from Edinburgh to London. Of all unlikely things I find myself an ambassador for Leith Open Space on my way to take part in an international conference of open spacers, more precisely the World Open Space on Open Space (WOSONOS) for participants of this defiantly participative process which – in theory anyway – gives the floor to the audience rather than the organisers. Round about York I’m casting my mind back to how it all began. Continue reading “Into the unknown…again”

Leith’s night out in Edinburgh

There was a lot of queueing at the BBC’s Leith Special Fringe Show – at times it felt like Ryan Air with smiles. Queuing to validate our free tickets we whiled away the time playing Spot the Leither. According to the programme notes Mark Steel would be playing to an audience of born and bred Leithers which amused the couple in front of us.  “Leith via Toronto,” and behind, “We’re from Luton.”

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Tramlines to the future?

The tram story continues to defy understanding. Leith Open Space is not attempting to repeat arguments for and against we simply thought we would collect some of the informative and constructive comments made on different city blogs. Not least because the question of repairing the damage to Leith remains unanswered.

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What’s in a word?

Ah, the complex power of words.  Yesterday we tweeted support for the Hope Not Hate campaign for responsible reporting (something we happen to feel strongly about).  In reply came an interesting response from Leith blogger and tweeter, yonmei, saying that the use of the word “shrill” in the campaign against The Star’s coverage of Muslim stories, was sexist.  The Star’s editor, Dawn Neesom, happens to be a woman.

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Poetic licence in the city chambers

Sometimes I know I am bigger inside than I am outside.

We need more poetry in politics.  For a few wonderful moments at the monthly full council meeting Ron Butlin lifted the tone inside Edidnburgh’s city chambers.  The Makar, or poet laureate, of Edinburgh opened the session with a poem in place of the usual prayer.   Continue reading “Poetic licence in the city chambers”

Meet Jo (or Joe) the active citizen

Racing for life: picture by Nick Gardner

What is an active citizen?  If I was being very flippant I would say it is the kind of person who comes out on a Saturday morning to talk about the big news stories of the day.  No, not just talk.  Active citizenship in the ACTive Inquiry sense means moving, listening, looking, feeling and doing.  At one point I found myself crouching on the floor connecting with the lives – and deaths – of people thousands of miles away.  Continue reading “Meet Jo (or Joe) the active citizen”

Hold the Fort: world premiere


At 9.30 am there is only one film showing at the Vue cinema in Ocean Terminal. Sunshine beams across Leith while people stream into the warm dark for the first screening. Parents, teachers, community leaders and local politicians have turned out in force to see an extraordinary celebration of local life. But the red carpet is reserved for the kids starring in Hold the Fort. Continue reading “Hold the Fort: world premiere”