Taking part in It's Your Neighbourhood
A blog post by David Carruthers
- Volunteering with KSB and loving every minute
- We are all accountable for our actions
- Hillhead students talk keeping Kelvingrove Park beautiful
- Making it easy to choose a reusable cup for takeaway drinks
- Get to know...John MacLennan
- Get to know...Sandy Scott
- How Eco-Schools benefits pupils, teachers and communities
- Community gardening for climate, nature and heritage in Cumbernauld
- Tackling the litter emergency to protect our wild isles
- Scotland isn't looking so beautiful. We can change that.
- Get to know... Green Flag Award Judges
- Collaboration and innovation to tackle marine litter
- An introduction to Kinnesswood in Bloom...
- The litter emergency
- Our charity faces the environmental challenges ahead with optimism
- Wrapping up 2022
- Biodiversity - Reflections on COP15
- Small steps to protect biodiversity
- Why Mountains Matter
- It’s not just bees and butterflies on your flowers
- Wet Wipes - What's the Issue?
- Young Reporters on the Route: The Launch of Running Out of Time
- Getting to know... Tom Brock OBE
- Getting to know...Kyle Usher
- A busy day for Upstream Battle education
- Planning a Wedding with the Planet in Mind
- 'Disposable' vapes and the damage they cause
- Climate Emergency Training provides positive opportunities for young people
- Making climate action possible for everyone
- Reasons to be positive
- Shotts is ACTing NOW on climate change
- Hope is a Garden
- Do we need the word 'pests' anymore?
- Beautiful Scotland judging - the truth
- Supporting Scotland to be the very greenest destination it can be
- Arbroath - working together, inspiring local climate action and improving lives
- Reflections of a beach manager
- I do like to be beside the seaside
- Climate Action Schools - helping young people take action
- Inspiring and empowering young people
- Climate Ready Classrooms at George Heriot's
- Data drives decisions
- Litter, fines and doing time
- Why our Web Developer Cameron loves being part of Team KSB
- It's only one
- Why join the family of It’s Your Neighbourhood?
- YoungScot Legacy Event
- Why it is the sea and SDG 14 for me
- Litter picking - a surprisingly fun group activity
- Climate Action Skills and positive action for all
- Seeing community groups thrive with Beautiful Scotland and It's Your Neighbourhood
- (What to do on) a dreich morning on the Firth of Clyde
- West Lothian Litter Pickers – How I got involved
- Scotland’s Climate Festival – Seed funding for community action
- Climate Ready Classrooms at St. Paul’s RC High School
- Scottish Book Trust representative joins Pocket Garden judging panel
- Have #YourSayOnLitter - we plan to...
- Everyone has something to say about litter – time to make it count
- Who ya gonna call?
- Why I pick up other people's garbage.
- Getting to Know...Colin
- Creative Careers: Spotlight on Heritage #NoWrongPath
- Celebrating Scotland’s best managed green and blue spaces
- Taking small steps towards a more sustainable future
- Caring for our planet
- Football’s Power to Combat Climate Change
- Our work on the COP26 Youth Climate Programme
- What’s litter got to do with climate change?
- Scotland’s Climate Festival kicks off in Falkirk
- Responsible Tourism – an opportunity not to be missed
- Climate Change Vlog by Dalry Primary School
- Failing our future?
- Our Week of Climate Action
- #ScotClimateWeek - our impacts and actions
- Protecting the sand and sea
- Another fine mess – part one
- Designing a lower carbon Scotland
- Getting to know... Lisa Snedden
- Combating climate change with information, education and training
- Litter picking 500 miles was always Gonna Be easy
- 7K for 7 Flags Challenge
- Littering less at St Joseph's Primary School in Glasgow
- Smashing litter picking targets during an unexpected stay in Scotland
- Keeping our communities beautiful
- Celebrating our brilliant volunteers
- Designing a pocket garden
- Getting to know... Nicola Smith
- East Haven Together
- It’s time to litter-ly turn anger into action
- Working in partnership to give communities a helping hand to clean up Scotland
- Why Beautiful Scotland is important to Lauder in Bloom
- We can all be climate ready
- Climate Ready Classrooms at Speyside High School
- Bags of opportunity for good
- Getting to know... Eve Keepax
- Lucky to live here
- A year of opportunity ahead
As we open registration for our Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood programmes for 2021, we asked one of our inspiring It’s Your Neighbourhood groups to share its story and explain why taking part means so much to the community.
Blog post by David Carruthers, Gairloch Sitooterie – Wildlife Observation Garden, Highland
I am just a humble shopkeeper (and yes, very proud of it!) in the most beautiful village of Gairloch in Wester Ross.
Well, it was beautiful until rampant, invasive gorse 8 to 10 feet high, overwhelmed the verges alongside the Pier Road area, even preventing wheelchair access down the roadside pavement. Pressure on the local council in 2014 resulted in the gorse being hacked down to a waist-high level. Wow! We had our magnificent panoramic views of the loch restored but HORROR - the mess left behind was devastating! Rubbish, litter, and other pollution were revealed left behind in the gorse.
As a shopkeeper, I am in the most privileged position to hear the community's ideas, hopes and aspirations. I am a good listener and have to be! Every local who came into the shop complained bitterly about the scene of devastation left behind. The crunch came when one local said "this is supposed to be the leisure end of the village and there is not one seat to be had the whole length of Pier Road!"
I decided to take action and started a wee collection box to raise sufficient money to clear a small area amidst the gorse for a bench. Three months later a digger moved in to create a 3-square metre area for a bench. Intense community interest immediately followed and two benches, a huge planted tub, and several smaller planters were immediately donated the same day, creating an instant pop-up garden!
Everyone said, "where is the next one going to be?" And so this simple development has since grown arms and legs over the years with the community totally embracing it. From its humble beginnings, the support for the Sitooterie has transformed a gorse strewn wasteland into a 206 metre long stunning garden.
It has been a long uphill battle to raise funds for the further development of the garden and, in the early days, there was a sense of isolation raising the question "are we doing the right thing?"
Then three years ago we discovered and became involved with the It's Your Neighbourhood scheme. We quickly realised that we were not alone in our struggle to transform a wasteland into a community asset. There were lots of other groups working so hard to improve their environment in so many ways!
But we didn't know quite what to expect from our first assessment in 2018. I confess to making the mistake of not involving other members of the group who were very busy people, but the visit was a great success. The Sitooterie was deemed "an impossible garden" on the grounds that it does not have a scrap of shelter and that the sea laps (and sometimes rages) at its very edge! But as the garden looked just great, we were encouraged to carry on exactly as we had been doing and we were awarded with a "Thriving" assessment.
What a difference that certificate made! It helped us focus on our achievements and made us realise we could do even better! It instilled further community pride in the garden and gave a real sense of achievement in that our efforts had been recognised.
We were much more organised for the assessment in 2019. About a dozen members of the group met the assessor and accompanied her on a tour of the garden. The group's enthusiasm and pride in the project shone through. A local woman on her daily dog walk stopped and told the assessor "This garden has transformed my life". We were again told that "this garden shouldn't be here" but it was declared "stunning" and an "Outstanding" award followed.
So how did we fare in 2020? Well it started with disaster. In January Storm Brendan, with its huge tidal surge, savaged part of the garden. Benches, picnic tables and planters were swept away by the waves. All were fortunately rescued by a local man who donned his wetsuit, swam out with a rope and then pulled each item back to shore. In the next two days hundreds of pounds were donated to repair the damage, which happily was relatively superficial once all the mess was cleared away.
One idea for a planting day went spectacularly wrong. Instead of the usual group session, it was decided to organise an hourly shift rota. But at the end of each shift no-one wanted to stop! Happily the long drawn-out shape of the garden maintained social distancing.
2021 is going to be exciting! The recently constructed final extension of the garden will be planted up in the Spring. Plans are in hand to stabilise the vulnerable section of the garden against winter storms and which will also improve disabled access. Finally, we have at last managed to get water under the road which will provide five separate hose points along the length of the garden - bliss!
What has been so important to the Sitooterie has been Keep Scotland Beautiful's It's Your Neighbourhood scheme - it has inspired us and actively encouraged us to drive forward our community plans.
The Sitooterie has no committee, no office bearers and has never even had a meeting! But the dedication and efforts of all our volunteers and those who have planned the resulting "stunning" garden have been just amazing, in fact "Outstanding"!
If your group would like to receive free support, resources and recognition for its ‘greening’ work, visit our Beautiful Scotland and It’s Your Neighbourhood pages to sign up now!