A small cluster of stone balls once sat on a mountain top in the Cairngorms. One day each year people living on either side of the plateau would meet for a form of highland games. Tests of strength carried out, acquaintances reconvened, the inhabitants of the remote communities departed to meet again on an agreed date the following year. In living memory the stones could still be seen on the high top.
Go back two centuries and communities across the Cairngorms were in fact well connected with each other. Cattle would be driven through the passes, tinkers would travel around sharing news, and everything from illicit whisky to the deceased would be carried along well known routes through the hills. Far from being isolated, people across the Cairngorms were very well connected.
Since those days, depopulation of the remote glens and centralised administration has changed the economic, social and cultural focus of these communities. People in upper Deeside relate to more to Aberdeen than their counterparts in Speyside, who look towards Inverness. The people of Glenlivet look to Elgin, the Angus Glens to Dundee, Glen Garry to Perth and so on. Yet solutions to the challenges faced by communities across the Cairngorms are more likely to be found ‘over the hill’ then in the cities at the end of their straths and glens.
As part of a LEADER funded programme, Social Enterprise Academy is providing a series of fully funded learning opportunities to bring together community leaders from across the Cairngorms National Park. We’re not suggesting approaches can be directly copied, but the peer learning needed to enable new social enterprises to evolve will best happen when we bring together communities sharing similar geographies, and histories.
Growing Capacity in Social Enterprise in the Park is a two year project to develop social enterprise skills and solutions across the Cairngorms National Park.
To find out more contact Learning Co-ordinator Rachel Farmer on 07584 176595 or firstname.lastname@example.org .