Category: small news

meeting people. considering #people in #meetings

Over the last few days, Monday and Tuesday, I have been involved in two similar efforts be two different organisations. Both efforts tried get a similar outcome while using two different processes. The aim of this post is to try and consider both processes and critically engage with them. I am not trying to comment upon the content of both conversations as this is not public information, and it is not my place to reveal that content.

Effort 1 – Format
Effort 1 was on behalf of the Church of Scotland, the effort was to answer the challenge given by General Assembly 2016 to the Mission and Discipleship Council.
Instruct the Council to report to the General Assembly of 2017 its initial outline of a proposed theme(s) for the following five years from 2018 onwards to focus the worship, witness and work of the Church on every level throughout the Church of Scotland’s parishes, congregations and communities.
The process used was to widely invite representative stakeholders from the Church of Scotland to a one-day conference. This conference would enable conversation and an emerging set of themes to answer the challenge.  The conference was well attended (around 50 people) and seemed to have good participation.

The format used was a form of the World Café method. Having read about world cafe as a method within my academic research I was keen to see it in action. At a basic level it is a way to get allow large groups to divide into smaller groups and allow for the group to split up and form new groups regularly. Functionally a volunteer “Host” stays at each table in order to anchor the conversation at that table and allow others to join in and build upon the previous conversation strands.

Effort 1-Reflection
When I say a “form of “above, my brief reading of world cafe had informed me that the world cafe method works with tables of 4 people and 20-minute conversation sessions therefore it should be short and sharp chats. The format we used yesterday was tables of 6 with 50 minute sessions which surprised me as going about 5 people seems a non-negotiable for the world café people.

Our facilitators facilitated us. The facilitating seemed a bit awkward during the introducing to the world café and the presentation of the café etiquette, although I wonder if it was just me, it felt hesitant and unsure, rather than calm, confident and paced. During the introduction section there was a deliberate and conscious repetition of words like “purposeful” I wondered about why this was emphasised, I guessed it was an attempt to emphasise that we as participants had made a participation agreement with ourselves and everyone else in the process, but at the time I heard it as a warning rather than an encouragement to participate

In the conversation groups there were times when I felt they had got too large to keep focused. The questions in section two were too big. The conversation times were too long. In one group there was a couple of times where the conversation seemed to draw to a close naturally or conversely go too far down side alleys. When we came to the third session as a group we started by sitting in silence as trying to sum up the wide ranging conversations all six of us had been party too was overwhelming for all of us. This seemed to have a detaching effect. There was a dissonance between the conversations we had and the way we were attempting to summarise and reflect back.

I had to leave before the final session so I am conscious I have only a broken form of the model to reflect upon. I am not sure it worked well to achieve the aims of the day. I think it did allow for lots of different conversations to happen and I am positive about that although I wonder where these conversations go after the day. I am also hopeful for the results which will come from the day. I left with a feeling of dissonance, of being unsatisfied.

Effort 1 -future development
The facilitators will write up a report which will go the Mission and Discipleship Council. The Mission and Discipleship Council will then report back to General Assembly 2017 on these themes.
This is a reasonably clean method of getting a result with participation and consultation with stakeholders in a defined timescale.

Effort 2 -format
Effort 2 was in response to an open request from the primary school my children go to. The school sent a letter inviting parents to a consultation upon a set of values for the school. The session was attended by 4 parents who all contributed.

The format was in 2 stages the head teacher introducing the context from a policy and educational background which was motivating this development and the second section was the parents discussing and working on a vision statement for the school and motto, aims and objectives which would support this vision and an initial list of supporting values. This section was unstructured. (I am unsure if a larger attendance would have been handled in a different way.)

Effort 2 -reflection
The slideshow introduction was helpful in clarifying what was wanted as an outcome.

There was a lack of guidance as to how to go about the task of writing vision statement for a school. This was the first consultation in the process and as such we (the parents) didn’t have a guiding foundation to work from. That stumped us for a few minutes, the head teacher waiting with us in the struggling to work out a way forward without imposing or suggesting a method. for a process which was absent. as soon as the group took control to get the job done it was done quickly with agreement and contributions from all. (thankfully amongst us was a parent who had a background in facilitating meetings within large multinational companies. Our wee group flew with skilful facilitation, producing a solid set of answers for the Head teacher to work with.
It was notable that half the group had a professional background in business where achieving tasks within timescales is a key skill. This maybe a key skill but I am not sure we got to actually converse about the issues before getting to the task. I felt that was an absence from this effort.

I felt like this had something substantial and that we got something achieved as we walked out the door

Effort 2 -future development

The group asked the head teacher to take forward the future development in a specific way. The head teacher accepted that, and outlined a larger process that would now take place including, a full consultation with all other stakeholders of the school, including a wider internet survey open to all parents, as such the process has a long way to run.  In some ways that is frustrating as our effort maybe amended beyond recognition when actually it is ready to go tomorrow should it be wished. as the facilitator at effort on emphasised “Hold your ideas lightly during this process.”

It has been an interesting two days and the contrast between the methods significant.  One is big and varied and felt too long, the other is small, focused and fast. I really enjoyed the space of effort 1’s big conversations are fabulous, and effort 2’s tightly packed let’s get this done now attitude.

For the positives effort 1 left me with a dissonance between conversation and outputs while effort 2’s brevity and ability to reach a quick conclusion may turn out to be pyrrhic in the long term.

The highly guided form of world café method seemed to not give the outputs the focus it needed while the method of an absence of guidance seems dangerous while the outcome is possibly as important and long lasting as a school vision statement could be. As methods for working with groups to achieve specific outcomes I am not sure I would want to use either of them again in the forms they were presented over the past two days.

I wonder how I will feel about both efforts in May 2017 as the results from both are made public and put into action.

Footballer gets sent off for passing wind during game. a google translate story.

So the BBC Website has the following story.Screen Shot 2016-06-23 at 09.09.52

“A Swedish footballer was sent off for passing wind during a match – with the referee dismissing him for “deliberate provocation” and “unsportsmanlike behaviour”. (Sport Bladet)

I clicked the link to Sport Bladet – it is a newspaper in Swedish. I so not speak the Swedish so I looked at the picture and decided the referee was correct to send off this player.


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I then copied the text of the article into google translate. An internet tool well known for its hermeneutic skills. What proceeded from Google was I believe a word for word translation of the article. (note to self, Swedish newspapers may not prove a long term reading source.)

Adam Lindin Ljungkvist offered lead after smoking.

It ended with a red card.
– I was bad in the stomach and in the last minute I put a fart. Then the judge came and gave me a yellow card, then a red, said left-back.
The strange expulsion occurred in Division 7 match between Järna SK’s reserve team and Pershagen SK, which Länstidningen Södertälje was the first to draw attention.
In the final stage was Pershagen SK’s Adam Lindin Ljungkvist, 25, sent off after receiving receiving his second yellow card. Adam Lindin Ljungkvist, playing left back, saw the red card due to a fart.
“It was heard properly”
– It was a strange penalty, I can hardly believe it myself. I was bad in the stomach and in the last minute I put a fart. Then the judge came and gave me a yellow card, then a red card. It was my second warning and I had no track of my first at all. I had no memory at all. Then I was a little angry at the judge, I could not quite believe what had happened. All around stood asgarvade says Lindin Ljungkvist.
– That I can suspect is that he thinks I did it against an opponent. But to provoke anyone with a fart is not particularly smart or normal. No, but I added just a fart and I got the red card. The judge said it was unsportsmanlike behavior.
It must have been a fabulous …?
– Haha. Yes, it must have been. I saw that they had asked one of Järnas law and he said it was heard properly. Sometimes one can not see whether there is the small or large. It is believed that the little comes out, but it still allows.
You broke up with the judge afterwards?
– No. I asked him in a bad way, but there was no bad words. I was annoyed, while I could not believe I was sent off.
Was it a fisförnämt verdict?
– I think it was a crappy judgment. Now I just laugh about it. There is no one else who has heard of this before, I’ve never heard of anyone who has been sent off to be farting.
“Said something about that I was a spray launcher”
No, exactly. But what is the spontaneous gut feeling in the situation?
– My spontaneous feeling: “huh, are you kidding me?”. Then I questioned him before I went away.
You cleared the air?
– He said something about me being a spray-makers. There was no such thing. It was not that I stood there for several minutes. I said he was a “buffoon” and then I went to plan …
… It was just to let it go.
– Exactly. Yes, it was the last thing that happened. It was in 93 minutes.
Have you got any shit for this?
– For fart? No, haha. People have laughed at that. Nothing negative. I do not care that much either. It’s natural to add a fart and then.
How do you see the rest of the season for myself – it’s just that the gas on?
– Yes, ha ha. Just to drive on. We lost 2-5. But it will probably be better the rest of the season.
You are a player with a lot of speed and excitement …?
– Yes it’s me.
But you have to hold tight back …
– Yes. And thunder down the cross in from, haha.
Pershagen SK lost the match by 2-5.

1000 – a reflection.


I have been blogging for 1000 posts, I have sent 8457 tweets, add this to my recent birthday, and I have been alive for 14247 days on this earth, so probably a time for reflection.

I have learned a lot, but no where near enough. I am pretty sure i am good at somethings, and terrible at others but I probably know enough about stuff to have muddle on through.

I feel old. I know I am not old But I am probably in the 2nd half of my life. But not really taking care of myself in the first half or putting my body at risk is taking its toll. (Eating too much is one example of this. Time to do the hard thing and change that and some other things).

I don’t communicate enough. I know sometimes I struggle to communicate, and to say stuff. I want to change that, and going back to academic studies has helped me to one be more confident when I speak. (Yes I know a low bar) but also to feel like I have something to contribute and say which is worth while.

I like who I am and who I have become. I don’t think I have always been right or done the right thing, but I am here, and i think here is a pretty good place. I think there are some things I need to do differently, but I like that.

I like that.

Categories: small news

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Hi, My Name is scott. Today I want to talk about…

Last night, I was getting ready for bed when I had something approximating an epiphany. It was a thought that popped into my head and made sense of something I had been thinking about

“what does the Scottish Government policy document say about this?”

I admit that not often have the words epiphany, Scottish Government and Policy document met in a sentence but there you go. I cannot control my epiphanies.

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This thought was important as I am taking part in a couple of small gatherings over the next few weeks. On Wednesday and Thursday I am at the inaugural IASYM Celtic Colloquium gathering in Belfast. This is a gathering of churchy youth work type people to discuss practice etc. The aim is to gather those who are about masters level or thinking doing a masters and have a mix of full papers, outline papers, and subject explorations for those thinking of starting something. I am first on the programme. That is right “headlining” the first morning. Looking the world of socio-economics, Christin Faith Based youth work (anything to push up the word count(!)) and Play. It has been interesting how much this new study has come out of my masters study when I have started preparing for this thing. Anyway two days in Belfast, it should be fun.

Secondly on saturday the 12th of September I am doing something on at the Youth Work Summit Nano Scotland. Which is a snappy title kinda. I will be talking about volunteering and my own experience trying to put into conversation how my thoughts and feeling about volunteering changed from being a volunteer – to being a part time worker – to being a full time worker – to being a part time worker – to being a volunteer again. I have hit upon some great stats on church volunteering.
“In England and Wales, 31% of the population contribute 87% of the total hours volunteered, and a more concentrated 7.6% of the population provide 49% of hours volunteered (Mohan, 2011). This “civic core” is a generally middle-aged, well-educated, religious, owner- occupying section of the British middle class, who dominate civic participation.”
Jings 50% of all volunteering in England and Wales is done by 8% of the population. Thats bonkers.
I also am planning to introduce the world premier of “the curve of awesomeness and goodness” which is a lovely thing to see and work with. Anyway tickets still available from he website above if you do christian based youth work type stuff and fancy being at what looks like it could be a fun day.

N.B. No word on which headlining slot I will be getting. I am hoping for the prestigious post lunch slot (Snoozetime) or the equally prestigious pre lunch time (hurryuplunchissoontime) but don’t think i have the weight to carry off either of those slots so who knows.


I don’t understand wheels #needhelp #brokenwheels #bicycle



I have been cycling recently. It was hard to fit in during the school holidays but I have been back to it over the previous few days, setting my fastest time ever for the Lanark route, (fastest measured in minutes per km). It has been good to get out and I have been concerted in my plan to ride every weekday. I want to cycle as I enjoy it not particularly on the hills, but hey i over took another cyclist while going uphill for the first time on Monday. Also socially several people I know cycle as a past time. My neighbour David can do one of the 22km routes I do around 14 minutes faster than I can flat-out out, my friend Rich is also around that time frame from the times I see on social media. If I want to ride with these guys then I need to speed up and train more. (also the benefits of losing weight are not lost on me…)

The problem

This morning I dressed, got the children ready for school and went to do some basic maintenance on my bicycle chain (cleaning with the new chain cleaner I got last night), to my horror three of the spokes in the rear wheel had snapped, must have happened on the ride yesterday. I am not risking riding in the rain with a compromised back tyre.

The help

The wheels are the standard wheels on the bike when i bought it 3 years ago.
The bike is the standard bike I bought off the shelf 3 years ago.
I was thinking of upgrading some components from solid to decent.

So what wheels should I buy?
not a large budget but enough to cover new wheels and a set of winter road tyres (around £200 hopefully).
Why are some wheel sets different sizes? – what is the advantage? (currently both of mine are the same size)
What is a decent winter road tyre for Scotland?

I am a graduate. #graduate


So today I graduated. This is the third time it has been considered academically that I have done enough to be returned to society as someone who can do something vaguely useful. (Does that make it a habit yet?) I didn’t go to the ceremony, took the car to the garage instead. 

Many congratulations to those who also graduated today. I hope all your wildest dreams come true. 

Stop South Lanarkshire changes to free bus transport to school. #localpolitics

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 22.12.49

In these heightened times of political attention. That major parties are falling over themselves to tell how they will circle the tricky square of reducing the deficit while promising not to raise taxes, it is a magic act worthy of Penn and Teller. This ability not to raise taxes and keep providing services is a dream for every administration everywhere euphemistically wrapped up it terms like efficiency savings. The problem with this is that after 5 years of efficiency savings the gains do not match up to the amounts needed to balance the books. In Scotland the SNP administration managed to negotiate such magic with the local authorities, Local authorities agree to provide the same service, for a budget set by the SNP on the condition of no council tax rises to fund this.

The problem with magic is once you know how its done, it looses it lustre. the mystery disappears and you can see whats happening behind the smoke and mirrors. Currently my local authority is considering how to balance its budget. so it has made a couple of changes, it has changed the provision of registration services for the area, concentrating the provision within the Hamilton area of Scotland, (too much local protest). It has removed free milk from primary school children replacing this with cold water. The current proposal is to remove existing free bus transport from young people who live within more than 2 miles but less than 3 miles from the school they attend. The council have the right to do this, as the legislation from the Scottish Government specifies a legal obligation to provide transport for young people 3 miles or more from the local secondary school.

Yet I disagree with this decision. The area I live in is predominantly rural, with 70 per cent of people living in 20 per cent of the land. I am within the change zone, meaning my soon to be young people would be required to walk to school should the change go ahead. For part of their proposed walk to school the young people would have to walk alongside the A70, a major trunk road for South Lanarkshire and the main route from Ayr to Edinburgh. The part of the A70 the children would walk alongside would not have a pavement, the side of the road with a verge means crossing at a major junction which has no crossing helps such as traffic lights or a crossing of any kind.

To me I think making cuts like this and the free milk in school is asking for trouble. The council I think is hamstring by the basic agreement with the Scottish Government and have no way out (And political party which came into power would be foolish to do away with this arrangement). The local council look like the bad guy stealing the Milk while the government who sets the budget amount for each area, can blame them for the cuts.

It strikes me we need to better hold our elected officials to account. The guy who ran the BBC programme Newsnight in an interview recently said what we want to hear from our elected officials is along the lines of “here is our plan, now let me tell you the 4 worse options which when faced with made this the least worst option.” I have no doubt that if this cut is avoided a cut will fall somewhere else and will seriously affect another persons quality of life, but in the absence of a larger conversation, the absence of actually asking the electorate how they would engage with this budget and service requirements. The only way to engage is to object.

So I signed to object and would encourage you to as well. You can to here

That’s Me, the guy with a pure heart and gunpowder in his moustache.

xtenson-alwyn-jacket-funktionsparka-navy-blau-6a0.jpg.pagespeed.ic.skS6DOBdw0Last winter I bought a winter jacket out of TK Maxx. The joy of shopping at TK Maxx is you never know exactly what you’re going to find. It was a nice jacket from a company I had never heard of … Tenson.

The other day I conducted a quick web search and hit upon their website. Tenson are a Norwegian brand who sponsor the Norwegian ski team. Nice. In the about us section I found this gem of a quote envisioning the type of man the company founder, Paul, hoped would wear the jacket.

Paul described his intended ’Nature Man’ like this: ”Tenson-Man – skis, hunts and fishes, wanders in the forest with his pipe in his mouth. Smells good, little kid, a little tuna fish, a little gunpowder. Can’t live without his jacket. Sleeps in it if he can. One of those half-tall things with a thousand pockets to keep stuff in. That’s what Tenson-Man likes, the guy with a pure heart and gunpowder in his moustache. The kind of guy every girl wants to roll meatballs and fold the bedclothes for.”

Currently I am considering using this as the personal statement on my CV as it so perfectly nails the type of person and lifestyle I currently abide in. If the next time you see myself Adorned in this jacket and do not automatically want to roll meatballs or fold bedclothes, I will consider it a failing on your behalf.

A New Langauge for Moral Failures in relation to marrage

rory-and-wendy-alecSo in christian TV news, one of the founders of the God channel has stepped down from the channel, after having a moral failure in relation to his marrage. This is sad for everyone involved in this marriage, and partly because they are famous in a manner, privacy is not available to them.

The languages of the statement is puzzling though. I am a bit obsessed by the language of “moral failure”. At best it is ambiguously accurate, at worst it is confusing. Pete Ward in his book “growing up evangelical” argues that evangelical christianity is too reflective in its being of teenage work. As such the evangelical church has a teenage outlook on things. I wonder if the whole of the Church generally suffers from this attitude when it comes to sex and sexual activity? Let me be clear, going down the route of Mark Driscol (joking about oral sex during morning services) is not a model I think should be generally adopted. Or even adopted ever, I dont think that does anyone any favours.

So in order to rescue sex for the church I am suggesting we spend sometime thinking of a new language to describe things. I am not seeking to describe different sex acts rather wondering about a new lanuague to discribe sex well.

A New Langauge for Moral Failures in relation to marrage

Knew – And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, (genesis 4v1 KJV)
– I am stepping down due to Knowing another woman.
Went In Unto – And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. (‭Genesis‬ ‭30‬:‭4-5‬ KJV)
– I am stepping down due to having went in unto another woman.
Uncovered his feet – Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do. (ruth 3v3)
– I am stepping down due to uncovering the feet of another woman.

Coitus – Dr Sheldon Cooper
– I am stepping down due to coitus with another woman
Sexual Relations – Bill Clinton famously didnt have this with Miss Lewinsky.
– I am stepping down due to having sexual relations with another woman.

or we could all grow up and just call it sex?

My #secret is out, I am a ballet dancing, high heel wearing, 40-50 year old woman.

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My brother recently become British champion of Decathlon form men aged 40-45. Well done. I have been trying to match my brother, by getting fitter. I doubt I will be running 100m in under 12.54 seconds anytime soon. Before the summer I was running around 9k, slowly but running, and my times for a 22k road cycle route near my house were edging down towards the hour mark.

In July at Solas Festival I hurt my right foot. The week afterwards the foot was sore to walk on. Over the summer the pain has gone mostly, but if I try to cycle or even worse run it gets very sore. For the day or two afterwards I am in pain when I walk. I went to the doctors, described my symptoms. He knew exactly what it was; Mortons Neuroma.

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So the nerve between the bones of the foot is annoyed when I exercise. I can honestly say my body doesn’t like when I exercise. aAccording to this website. (because everything on the internet is true),

It is a condition that affects one of the common plantar digital nerves that run between the long bones (metatarsals) in the foot. It most commonly affects the nerve between the third and fourth metatarsal bones, causing pain and numbness in the third and fourth toes.

That sounds like what I experience. So far so accurate. It’s under the section of who typically gets Mortons Neuroma that the website adopts a revelationary role.

About three people out of four who have Morton’s neuroma are women. It commonly affects people between the ages of 40 and 50 but can occur at any age.

Poorly fitting or constricting shoes can contribute to Morton’s neuroma.It is more common in women who habitually wear high-heeled shoes or in men who are required to wear tight (constrictive) footwear. It may also be more common in ballet dancers.

So at last I can confess.
I am a 40-50 year old woman, who habitually wears high-heeled shoes (today is a lovely set from Chloe), while doing my ballet dancing. That is certainly something I thought I lacked the repertoire to achieve, but you know its certainly a look that I can carry off, at least 3 times out of 4 i can.

Anyway, I am due to see the specialist soon to see what I can do about it, if you see me wearing special shoes soon you know whats happened right?