Each month we will be profiling one of our board members or staff to help you get to know them.
What is your role with SRA?
I’ve been researching the Local Democracy Bill which the Scottish Government has committed to delivering in 2019. Myself and Emma Cooper, the Chief Executive, met with the Scottish Government’s Local Governance Review Team in February. The Team is guiding the process of review and discussion across Scotland that will take place this year, with the national ‘conversation’ launched in late May. They have invited organisations such as SRA to ensure that rural communities’ voices are heard in what will hopefully be many local discussion events taking place this year. I have been invited to join other SRA activists in a Local Democracy Short Term Working Group to look at how SRA will best respond to this opportunity for rural engagement in shaping the future of local democracy in Scotland. We met earlier for the first time this week and you can expect to hear from ourselves as we share our ideas and plans with you all soon!
How did you get involved with SRA?
I have enrolled in an MsC in Sustainable Rural Development starting this September and have been looking to build experience in this area. Thankfully the timing was good as I saw SRA’s call out for volunteers just as I began my search for work in the sector.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I live in Edinburgh with my wife Claire and our two goldfish. I had spent the past ten years working for organisations which work to end violence against women, with the past 7 years spent building the White Ribbon Scotland Campaign to involve men in tackling violence against women and gender inequality. Prior to starting work with WRSC I had been volunteering with the Scottish Green Party MSP office and TransForm Scotland on sustainability issues and, whilst it was a great opportunity to start up the WRSC as its first staff member, I had always been keen on building a career within environmental and sustainability policy.
What’s the best and worst thing about where you live?
Best thing: I live in central Edinburgh so there is a lot going on almost literally on my doorstep – it’s easy to make it along to social events, gigs and events in the Edinburgh Festival for example. Worst thing is that I don’t enjoy the tranquillity or more serene quality of life that you can enjoy in a rural area! I have family and friends based in the Borders, the Highlands and other more rural areas and I really enjoy the regular opportunities to spend time outside the city.
What do you do in your spare time?
I have always loved watching live music and over the last couple of years I’ve worked on my guitar playing and performing. I’ve recently fulfilled a lifelong ambition of starting a band, although after only two rehearsals it’s early days yet! Other than that I’m often found wasting time on IT projects, playing darts badly for a local team and am a long, long-suffering Aberdeen FC fan.
What rural issues are you passionate about?
‘Natural’ capital is the most important resource we have, especially given the global financial crisis and world’s natural resources eroding at a rate of knots. It is vital that the environment is not disturbed whilst people throughout rural communities are not denied the opportunities afforded by living in a city – hence my interest in studying Sustainable Rural Development. My main interest is in harnessing the true potential of renewable energy for the benefit of all, which if to be achieved must be driven by those who understand rural issues.
Where did you last go on holiday?
I went to Australia in April for a couple of weeks, primarily to attend a good friend’s wedding. The scale of the place is incredible and yet you can travel from the city to the countryside in less than an hour! At my friend’s place, an hour North of Melbourne and half an hour from the Macedon Ranges, I felt right at home.
What are some small things that make your day better?
Exercise, listening to music, travelling. Sometimes you can be lucky and combine all three activities!
What would you say to someone interested in volunteering with SRA?
This is a challenging and emerging area of work which works to overcome geographical inequalities. Scotland is a country with huge potential however too much is focused on urban areas, in the central belt especially. Solve those two problems and you have a society which benefits everyone, and we need your help to do so!