The essence of democracy

The Opening Doors visit to the Scottish Parliament was a first for Subash Punn. Here he describes why it made a lasting impression.

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Subash Punn on the Scottish Parliament: “Never judge this building by the cover”.

My first and as yet only visit to the Scottish Parliament was full of profound surprises, the three-hour experience as monumental as the building itself. Continue reading “The essence of democracy”

Opening Doors to Scottish Parliament

Members of the Opening Doors shadow scheme met Malcolm Chisholm, Minister for Communities, for a glimpse behind the scenes at the Scottish Parliament on Friday (15 December).

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Pictured in the Garden Lobby, from the left: Subash Punn, Fay Young, Asha Pall, Malcolm Chisholm, Dougie Kerr and Celina Mbwiria (Nick Gardner is behind the camera).

Both sides learned something new. For Malcolm it was a chance to join the ‘shadows’ on an official guided tour round the building for the first time – as a Minister and the MSP for Edinburgh North and Leith he usually has a different view of the debating chamber and committee rooms. For the visiting party (which included Leith Open Space Group members Nick Gardner and Fay Young as well as Asha Pall, Celina Mbwiria, Subash Punn and Councillor Dougie Kerr) it was a chance to see those parts not usually covered by guided tours – the MSP’s offices and the restaurant.

But it was fitting that Malcolm’s tour began with a sculpture he had unveilled the night before to honour the contribution of Scottish women to democracy and human rights. Travelling the Distance, created by artist Shauna McMullan, records the thoughts of women in handwritten sentences which have been sculpted in porcelain. (It is worth remembering that five out of the six Opening Doors pioneers are women.)
Our thanks to Malcolm for giving us all such an informative and enjoyable visit – and a delicious lunch!

December Diary

Music, food and friendship are the main themes of our December events. But there is room for stimulating debate too in the Full Council Meeting on Thursday 21 December. Members of Opening Doors are welcome to join a group outing to hear the debate on the proposed tram route from Leith – and the case against replacing Trident.

Please contact Leith Open Space Group if you want to promote your own event. Email us at LeithOpenSpace@btconnect.com

Monday 11 December Winter Party
6.30 – 9.30 pm
Edinburgh Refugee Centre, St George’s West Church, Shandwick Place.

Everyone is welcome to join the annual party where there will be international food and music provided by African Scottish band Diwan, Brazilian group, Dias Quarter, Scottish folk singer Aaron Jones.

Thursday 14th December Polish Market
14:00 – 20:00
Castle Street

The market will feature a range of authentic Polish food, drink and live music. Organised in collaboration with the Scottish Polish Cultural Association.

Saturday 16 December

Friends of Dalmeny Street Park Winter Planting & Litter Pick
Meet in the Park at 9.30am.

Co-ordinator, Lise Bratton says the day starts with the litter-pick until about 11.00 and then everyone repairs to Out of the Blue’s Drill Hall for hot drinks, home-made cakes and cookies. The planting session will start at about 11.30am and is likely to finish around 1pm.
Equipment: all equipment will be provided but remember to dress for the weather!

Thursday December 21 Full Council Meeting

10 am City Chambers

This meeting could be worth finding a seat in the public gallery. Councillors debate the business case for the proposed tram route from Leith to the airport – and Council Leader, Ewan Aitken will raise the temperature further with his opposition to replacing Trident. Opening Doors members are invited to join a group visit to City Chambers.

A day in the life of a ‘shadow’: our first journal of the week

“For me …politics had always existed in some virtual world far away where politicians meted out decisions that affected people’s lives either positively or negatively.? Celina Mbwiria records her reactions to a first full council meeting.

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Thursday 26th October 2006
A lovely autumn morning. I woke with a purpose and a spring in my step. My colleague and I were to visit the City Chambers in Edinburgh, to observe for the very first time, the workings of a ‘full council meeting’. Continue reading “A day in the life of a ‘shadow’: our first journal of the week”

November diary

From drum workshops to English language classes, from complementary therapies to council meetings, or simply a chance to meet and talk over a cup of tea – here are just a few of the multicultural community activities happening in Edinburgh this month. Please let us know if you want to promote activities open to Leith communities – either here in Leith or elsewhere in the city.
First up: two events for members of Edinburgh’s Polish Community. Continue reading “November diary”

Out of the shadows

“Any positive contact people have with ethnic groups will help…”

Subash Punn, a community worker currently shadowing Mark Lazarowicz MP, was featured in a positive report in the Evening News about the Opening Doors shadow scheme. “Ethnic Minorities stepping out of the shadows in political link up? 19 October.

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Mark Lazarowicz MP with his two ‘shadows’ Subash Punn and Kasia Raszewska
at the launch of Opening Doors on 5 October

Continue reading “Out of the shadows”

Opening Doors

Welcome to a pioneering project which begins here in Leith but – with luck – will spread much further.

Leith Open Space Group is launching this new community website with news of the Opening Doors shadow scheme. Our aim is to encourage greater ethnic minority representation in both local and national government. But at the same time the scheme will also enable our politicians to gain new insight into the communities they represent.

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Welcoming pioneers at New Kirkgate Centre on 5 October

Continue reading “Opening Doors”

Making History in Leith

Who makes history? The answer according to Shawn Micallef is that we all do. And history can happen on a park bench, in a shop doorway or by a post box in Leith.

Shawn is creative director of [murmur] an innovative Canadian arts company who have come to Leith for their first project outside Canada and the US. With the help of funding by New Media Scotland, [murmur] will make local history come to life by recording the memories and stories of local people and communities living in Leith. But first [murmur] needs to hear from you.
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murmur at work in Toronto: www.livewithculture.ca

Continue reading “Making History in Leith”