Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Charitable status

Moffat Book Events' charitable status has edged closer - we are now looking at the final draft of our application. The association’s objects are:to promote the advancement of the Arts, Heritage, Culture and Science of Moffat and District. I have been in touch with both Nikolai Tolstoy and Alistair Moffat, both scheduled to appear at our October 15 event, suggesting they share a platform to discuss the evidence for placing the events of the Arthurian cycle in the south of Scotland as both argue in, respectively, The Quest for Merlin (Tolstoy) and Arthur (Moffat). In another part of the wood, on Monday (July 4) the architect of the Eden Project, Michael Pawlyn, came up to meet a group of us concerned with the fortunes of the Upper Clyde valley and to prepare a bid for Community Benefit funds to make an imaginative hub for outdoor and indoor activities, to attract visitors and enhance everyone's lives. Rural transport and employment prospects are on everyone's minds, and the Clyde windfarm represents an opportunity to address that. Over a sandwich lunch, Michael gave a short PowerPoint presentation showing how architecture can take brilliant problem-solving ideas from nature, giving as an example a building in the desert on the edge of the sea in North Africa, which makes fresh water from the design on the roof (evaporating the salt away) to water plants within, and is turning the land around it greener in the process. He also showed how benign closed-loop systems can work. Examples he gave were: first a project in Yorkshire in which unwanted cardboard packaging is collected from restaurants, turns it into bedding for equestrian businesses, the waste enriched with manure is then composted to produce worms for feeding to a sturgeon farm which in turn yields caviar to sell back to the restaurants. This particular project employs the disadvantaged: the disabled, former drug users and others who might otherwise be a cost to society. Another example was a restaurant in Amsterdam where food served in the restaurant is grown in a greenhouse along the side, and waste from food is used to feed fish which are also in turn on the menu. After lunch, we set out to explore the area - it was blazing hot and the whole landscape shimmered under the blue sky. One of our number is an expert campaigner hoping to re-open the train service to some of the many little railway stations such as at Elvanfoot, Crawford and Abington along the Clyde, so we went to look at the sites where the stations used to be. In Abington there is a beautiful 50-acre site belonging to Scottish Centres, which used to be a holiday camp for children from the cities, and is now disused - potentially the site for a new 'hub' from which people could set out to explore the area along heritage trails, whether on foot, by bike, with llamas, or on horseback. We will soon have miles of new hill tracks provided by the nearby Clyde windfarm and archaeologist Tam Ward from Biggar Museums Trust, who over the past 10 years as a volunteer has more or less single-handedly unearthed the astonishingly rich historical remains peppering the land, has 15 heritage trails already in mind which will lead to a concentrated richness of relics. Electric vehicle recharging points will be provided in the confident expectation that visitors will want to be in the forefront of the green, low-carbon economy. Watch this space.


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