Bringing it back home
Crick took time out in the first quarter of 2016 to focus his skills on community improvement and development in his home town. The idea was - why not apply the skills and expertise that he is paid to exercise in communities across the globe to the problems facing his home community. Over this time he headed up development of a Town Action Plan and a draft Whole Town Master Plan - essential tools in trying to re-balance recent unsustainable development in the town, provide local employment, and raise earnings potential.
Scotland is re-working legislation to provide a more conducive environment for the exercise of greater community input into land use and economic development - particularly in rural areas - which is great. But converting aspiration and policy reform into genuine improvements in Community Empowerment is not easy, and there remains a huge democratic deficit when it comes to "local communities leading". Indeed a very familiar state of affairs when it comes to international development, but also all too common in coastal communities closer to home!
The focus of many assignments that Crick has undertaken across his career, whether in village communities on islands in the South Pacific or fishing communities around the coasts of Scotland and the British Isles, has been on sustainable development, enterprise formation, responsible resource management, and improving economic fortunes and quality of life. Much of this has been focused on the poorer and less well-off components of society, and in reducing evident income disparities whilst offering fair reward for innovation, risk-taking and entrepreneurship. Whilst he has been actively engaged with researching the social histories and supporting improved welfare in the various communities he has resided in, some six years ago he decided to take this a step further, becoming a member of the Royal Burgh of Peebles and District Community Council (Scottish equivalent to an English Parish Council) in his home town, Peebles, a relatively small rural settlement located on the great Tweed River amongst the rolling hills of the Scottish Borders. Up until April this year he has been vice-chair of the Community Council and convenor of its Planning Committee.
In parallel with this, for the last three years he has been prime mover behind the formation and activities of the Peebles Community Trust (PCT), which is focused on providing strategic direction and guidance to community efforts to play a greater role in the management and development of the town and its surrounds, as well as taking on and resourcing some of the bigger local development projects - bringing land and buildings under community ownership and management, and promoting self-help initiatives. As well as being a board member of the Trust he holds the voluntary position of PCT coordinator. Arising from the focused planning work undertaken at the start of 2016 the PCT is now seeking to acquire and develop, on behalf of the community, part of a former woollen mill located close to the centre of this small rural town. The ambition is to re-purpose some of the former weaving sheds as a local combined creative and enterprise hub, providing training, co-worker spaces and a networking and business incubator facility aimed at leveraging local employment and support for a combination of traditional industry and emerging digital media and technologies.