'Rathlin 2020' Event

Friday 14 March 2014

Over fifty five Rathlin residents came along to Bruce’s Kitchen last Saturday to participate in the RDCA’s community consultation.

The event was part of a process begun last December, when Tim Slack of Appreciating People – a company specialising in helping communities develop their plans, skills and visions for the local area, using a range of approaches – started to work with the RDCA Committee. Following on from this, a small group of ten island residents volunteered to have conversations with Rathlin residents about what they liked about the island, changes that have occurred and what they thought Rathlin would be like in 2020. A total of eighty seven island residents participated in the conversations – an amazingly high response rate for this kind of project. Work was also done with St Mary’s Primary School, including images, ideas and statements for a time capsule to be opened in 2020.

As well as consulting as widely as possible with the Island community through the conversations, there was also to be an event where people could come together to discuss ideas and help shape priorities for the development of Rathlin over the next six years. Two facilitators from Appreciating People, Tim Slack and Helen Bush worked with people to get the conversations going. They also commented on the impressive quality of the contributions made through the conversations, and on the support the whole process was receiving from the Rathlin Island community.

The packed attendance in Bruce’s Kitchen worked in small groups identifying key themes and ideas that people themselves felt were important. When each table presented their ideas, it was remarkable how much overlap there was among the range of people present.

All the time these ideas and suggestions were being discussed and teased out, two artists, Chris Murray and Claire Stringer were working away on ‘visual minutes’. These are simply drawings and writings that sum up the ideas that are being worked on, in an accessible and memorable way. These proved to be one of the highlights of the day for many people.

The whole experience seems to have been a very positive one, with a very good atmosphere and a lot of energy in the room. Thanks are due to all the island residents who took the time and made the effort to come along and get involved in the future of Rathlin, both at the event and through the conversations; to the volunteers who conducted the conversations with so many residents; to the team from Appreciating People; and to everyone at McCuaig’s Bar.

Tim Slack (Appreciating People), Michael Cecil (Chair, RDCA), David Quinney Mee (Community Development Worker, RDCA), Claire Stringer (Visual Minuter), Chris Murray (Visual Minuter) and Helen Bush (Appreciating People)

While the ‘Rathlin 2020’ event last Saturday can be seen as an important success, it is still just part of an on-going process, one that will continue to need the support and involvement of as many members of the community as possible, in helping shape the future of the island that everyone cares for so much.

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