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Greener Kirkcaldy Welcome Area mural

Exploring stories of community ownership through interviews and artwork. Part of the Urban Journeys project with Community Land Scotland.

Artists: Hazel Terry & Catherine Lindow

We interviewed over forty people connected with Greener Kirkcaldy. We wanted to find out how the building and its functions affected the work of staff, volunteers and the public. About how they perceived community ownership and how the day-to-day work of the organization dovetailed with its vision. So we went along to the Pantry and Ravenscraig Walled Garden to visit people at work, and enjoyed some great chats. That gave us a good sense of some of the work in action before the lockdown started in December. After that, of course, all of our conversations had to take place over Zoom. We found everyone was very willing to talk about their experiences, and everyone had a lot to say! It was going to be hard to choose which quotes to use in the mural... We tried to note down what our interviewees said word-for-word. It was important to us that the real voices of people would be part of the final piece.

The initial idea was to make a picture which looked something between a tree and a map, with interconnected routes and arteries. But as we interviewed, the things people said really took a hold on our imaginations and we started to feel that the real force that drives Greener Kirkcaldy is the people. So we used the head outlines as a framing device. There are six, and each has a different theme. The building, the volunteers, knowledge exchange, community ownership, stewardship and community. You can see that the routes and arteries are still there in the design – in our minds, it hasn’t changed that much; it’s still a map with routes and roots. It’s a way of showing the connections between people and their community, between people and the natural world, between people and their built environment. And of course about the connections people have made with Greener Kirkcaldy as an organization, and the building giving a home to all of that. We loved the idea from one of our interviewees, a staff member, who said ‘If we can’t grow a living wall, we’ll paint a living wall!’ We hope that the voices in the mural show the living voices we found at Greener Kirkcaldy, in and around this building that the community is so proud to own. We had so many great quotes we couldn't use them all!

Greener Kirkcaldy is a community-led charity and development trust working locally to combat the climate emergency, tackle fuel poverty and food insecurity, and bring people together for a more sustainable Kirkcaldy. We deliver a range of projects, events and skills training to meet the needs and goals of local people – working towards a future where everyone can live better and tread more lightly on our planet. Working in Kirkcaldy since 2009, we purchased our community building with funding from the Scottish Land Fund in 2017 and refurbished it with the help of a grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Community Assets programme. We opened the building, which houses our new Lang Spoon Community Kitchens, as well as our office and an events space, to the public in April 2019. This mural celebrates the community ownership of our building and tells the story of how our community has led our work over the last 10 years. Suzy Goodsir, Chief Executive of Greener Kirkcaldy, says of the buy-out: “We had always thought of community land ownership as something that happened in other places, the islands or highland estates. When one of our volunteer board members first suggested that WE could buy land it felt radical, daunting and exciting. That was in 2013…we took ownership of our town centre property in February 2017. It has been a rollercoaster ride of learning, partnership development and the gradual realisation that we could actually do this.” Link to web: https://www.greenerkirkcaldy.org.uk/

Community Land Scotland is the representative body for Scotland’s community landowners. Our vision is for the community ownership of land and buildings to be a significant driver of sustainable development across the whole of Scotland – rural and urban. We work to: be a collective voice for community owners; encourage more community ownership of land and buildings; facilitate mutual support and knowledge exchange between community landowners; and to collaborate with other organisations to ensure community landowners get the support they need. Through the Urban Journeys in Community Landownership project we wanted to dig down into the individual stories of ownership of the participating urban landowners for themselves and also for their communities and for others who are curious to learn more about the impact community ownership can have for our local places. We felt artists were best placed to lead on this process of reflection and community engagement. As a kind of ‘outsider voice’ they were able to bring a different lens to this. The arts also played an important role in communicating the emerging messages. Artists worked closely with three community owners to creatively tell and share their community ownership stories to inspire and be a resource for other groups and communities in exploring the possibilities of ownership for themselves. https://www.communitylandscotland.org.uk/ Community Land Scotland worked closely with the Stove Network on designing and managing the Urban Journeys commissions.

Hazel and Catherine hard at work!