A view on Fishing,Community and Life on the NW coast of Scotland

On thursday I headed off to Sal Mor Ostaig to the fourth part of our Social Enterprise course. This is turning into an inspiring little journey where you pick up methods and meet people who seem to be improving ways of looking at how you deals with issues and processes in our own communities and organisations. This part of the course was about delegation and negotiation and almost without realising it I have changed my way of dealing with what seems insurmountable problems. It is now coming up to a year since we started to negotiate the Heads of Terms of the hydro lease and we have learned so much about how the legal process works, mainly slowly and expensively, and that is usually paid for by those who can afford it least. The course however suggests that you look to what you have gained and not what you think is a poor deal, also I am proud of the fact that I have shaken hands with those I have fundamentally different views and have managed to depersonalise the whole process. Also the fact that you try to keep a long-term focus while you are bogged down on what you think are trivial or poor counter arguments is very important and will see us through in the long run. The course is run in such a way that you take different methods and aspects and turn them to individual circumstances in your own communities. There are many examples of really good Boards who are all active and have their own individual expertise. The speaker we heard this time was from Oban and was a director of the Atlantis Leisure Centre and while realising that this is a perfect model it is something to aspire to. There is a lot of personal reassessment going on amongst the participants and everyone is saying they are far more reflective in their dealings back home. While we have a limited capacity here in Applecross just due to our numbers I think there is a huge amount of untapped and underused energy here and there may be some little appearances from the Social Enterprise course at our Board meetings in the near future. I think one of the things we fall down on here is that not enough of us go out to see what is happening in other communities. Looking at other people’s success stories are inspiring and you head home with lots of ‘new’ ideas.

On the way home I went north through Broadford and armed with binoculars I did a recce on the Applecross hills, basically making sure that we could see Tor Mor, the proposed site of the broadband reception and there are several possible host buildings at the north end of Broadford. Talking to people on the course there is laughter when you tell people who our broadband speed is .39 of a meg. This is another aspect of the course that has come through in that while you get bogged down in negotiations you do not lose focus on other important issues. Probably the hydro scheme may be the single most important event in our recent history possibly pulling the population and school roll decline round but we still have to try to make living here easier by increasing or at least retaining services taken for granted in most other parts of the country.

Back home felling good but not that well physically and scrambled a shift at the Inn without anyone but the Boss knowing I was not up for it. Staff is falling like ninepins at the moment and there are troops arriving from Australia to fill the ever-increasing gaps. It always good to see some staff offering to fill in just through a sense of loyalty to the Inn. Some guys offer hours way beyond their alloted shifts just because they know how stretched things are. Saturday was another 300 meal day but not for me. Used it as a recovery day with just a short quieter day at the Inn. This was followed by a couple of Manchester United fans from Australia accompanying me down to watch the final game of the season at Mark’s. Only in Applecross. Unfortunately for all concerned it did not go well and I think am becoming a bit of a jinx in Mark’s eyes. Five minutes to go I said it should be all over only for Manchester City to score twice in injury time. Never mind Ross County are in the Premier League next year, surely more important.

Meanwhile we are watching with interest and not a little apprehension at what is happening to the European economies and how all this will affect our prawn markets.

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