#PBScot16 Edinburgh 20Oct16: International Connections; What Works Scotland; regaining trust; transparency

Link to Storify of

Tweets from the “first major participatory budgeting (PB) conference of its kind in Scotland” at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, Pollock Halls, Edinburgh. Highlights for me were presentations from Pauline Véron, Deputy Mayor of Paris, and Young Movers for Change, Glasgow.


AWOL from Scotland

Mental Health Cop

It seems that it’s been the week for Scottish mental health patients to journey to England, in a variety of legal situations that have subsequently confused the life out of police and mental health professionals alike. So we had the incident the other day about a Compulsory Treatement Order patient who turned up in the Midlands and today I’ve had a call about a Short-Term Detention patient who turned up on the south coast. The first confused the life out of the local police; the second confused the life out of the A&E department. These things being as they are: I’m expecting the third incident any time now to complete the set and I’ll just bet it has a twist or angle that I’m not about to cover here!

OK … two incidents is not that many, but it’s not the first time I’ve had a batch of ‘Scottish AWOL’…

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FREE Self-Care Workshops for Women of Colour

Race Reflections

Blackness Centred Self-care Workshops for Women of Colour

Race reflections, in partnership with the Women’s Campaign Office of the National Union of Students (NUS) is launching its first ever community self-care workshops on:

Monday 31st October 2016 at the TindleManor, London.


Much in the current socio-economic climate requires constant digestion and processing. From the spike in hate crimes following ‘Brexit’, to the images of distressed or dead Black and Brown bodies recurrently displayed on our social media pages or ‘timelines’.

This, in addition to having to navigate everyday instances of injustice, micro-aggressions and/or structural violence can have a deep impact on our wellbeing and our sense of safety. The self-care workshops have been designed to promote safeness, connectedness and grounding in the context of our lived experiences as marginalised women.

These workshops will offer an opportunity to examine our condition, social realities and histories and their impact on our…

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Loneliness: the secret circle of hell

Gordon Darroch's Unreal Domain

7428137392_2f7c91274c_b Picture: The lonely runner, by Nick Kenrick on Flickr

“We cannot cope alone,” wrote George Monbiot in his essay on the age of loneliness, published in The Guardian two years ago. Human beings are social animals: we crave the support, approval and love of like-minded individuals. But society in the last 50 years has become steadily more atomised, with a relentless focus on individual success. The Olympics have been reduced to the singularity of winning – silver medallists cry tears of rage and act as if a close relative has died, just because one person out of thousands performed slightly better than them at an arbitrary task. We commiserate with losers rather than celebrate their contribution to the spectacle. There is no solidarity with, or appreciation for, a worthy adversary. And so it is in society: performance is paramount, failure is shameful and social status depends on meeting somebody else’s…

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Coyne of the Realm on the Daily Show and teaching scientific writing

Quick Thoughts

During the recent Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, I was fortunate to get a ticket to a filming of the Daily Show. I came away with some great insights for teaching my scientific writing course.

14232402_10211124730580979_880852685714409702_nThe Daily Show audience was lead into the auditorium at Annenberg Center hours before the show would begin. Eventually a staffer came out and announced that we were going to be the laugh track for the show. We would be expected to show great enthusiasm on cue. She engaged the audience with a calculated abrasiveness. For instance, she said that some members of the audience might have small gifts for the host Trevor Noah. The staff would later collect them. But if anybody tried to give Trevor a sketch that they had drawn, the staff would ridicule it in the back room without passing it on to him.

Being part of a laugh track is…

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