Now that the dust has settled on the 3D fund, it is worth looking back over the event.
Which was viewed overall as successful although the design of the process did attract criticism. UCT is keen to take all feedback on this event, positive and negative, so that we are able to learn from it and incorporate this learning into any future events of this kind.
On Saturday 24 March, Ullapool Village Hall was the venue for Lochbroom’s first Community Choices Decision Day. Initially developed in Brazil, participatory budgeting (PB) is recognised internationally as a way for local people to have a direct say in how, and where, public funds can be used to address local requirements. A participatory democracy is a healthy democracy, in which people have influence over what happens to them, their families and their communities. The hall was full, the vibe was as vibrant as a vibe can be, the people were buzzing, and the day was awesome.
The presentations got off to a great start with Ullapool Swim Club, who gave us a beautifully choreographed number worthy of Cecil B. DeMille. Following on from this spectacular opening we had human Christmas trees, a shower of flower petals, panto-style audience participation, a brilliantly surreal three-minute cake-themed play, a poetic plea, and many moving presentations where people spoke simply and from the heart.
Voters ranked each project from 1 – 5 and, with so many deserving causes seeking support, this was no easy task. The system is designed to be competitive which meant that there would inevitably be disappointment for some, but although not every project was awarded the funds they sought, there were no losers in this process. Hard cash may be a necessity, but money is not the only thing that makes this community go around.
The Lochbroom 3-D Fund Decision Day was a fantastic opportunity for every one of these voluntary projects to raise its profile. Everyone there learned more about what is going on in our community and, given the buzz of conversation during the interval, lots of connections were made and hopefully new ways found of working together and supporting each other’s endeavours. This fund was made available to our community through the hard work of Ullapool Community Trust and was supported by Lochbroom Community Council and other volunteers from the community, each of whom devoted many hours of their time to the Lochbroom 3-D Fund. There were some difficulties along the way, mainly via the double-edged sword of social media, but knowing how much work the projects put into their presentations, knowing what it felt like to be in the hall on Saturday, and being part of it all was very rewarding and triumphed over any negativity.
Being part of something matters, and on Saturday we came together as a community to decide what matters to us. We did something together. It wasn’t perfect, there are things we could improve on, but making mistakes is how we learn. What’s important is that we did our best and we made it happen.
The 3-D in the Lochbroom 3-D Fund stands for Discuss, Decide, Do. The management group discussed. You, the community, decided. Now the funds are in place, it’s time for the projects to do. We wish you every luck in your endeavours and look forward to the benefits our community will reap.
(Credit: Lorraine Thomson, Loch Broom Community Council, 2018)
Since the funding day finished UCT has been able to crunch the numbers and we can now reveal that on the day 130 people turned up and 116 voting cards were counted as valid. 32 projects presented and 15 of them were successful in receiving funding. Since the event, several projects have received private donations or other sources of funding. UCT are also encouraged to hear that some of those projects are now working together to fundraise and achieve their aims. UCT believes that this method of voting, although not perfect, brought about extra synergy and benefit for the groups, that would not have been possible if the vote was carried out remotely or online. This meant however that the event was not as inclusive as we would have wished, as those not able to attend in person on the day, were not able to vote. A point for reflection and to bear in mind for the future.