By Nicol Nicolson, Community Enterprise Manager, Langholm Alliance
THE American novelist Thomas Wolfe famously said you can’t go home again but I feel inclined to argue he was being a tad pessimistic.
No matter where you’ve been and what you’ve seen, if you’re proud of where you come from and if you love the people of a place, there should be no barrier to going home.
In returning to Langholm and Eskdale, albeit with the remit of helping to build a better community, I’m in the fortunate position of coming home to an area, whose inhabitants have already got plenty to be proud of: our heritage, surroundings and, above all, tenacity and community spirit.
There is no better representation of that community spirit than in the welcome I’ve received since I got back a few weeks ago. I’d like to offer my sincere thanks for that.
With publicly-funded positions such as mine, a degree of scepticism should be expected and a willingness to be challenged should be par for the course.
In fact, all degrees of engagement must be encouraged.
The first thing I want the people of this community to know is that, while I report to the Langholm Alliance board, I am accountable to every single one of you.
If my objective is to make this area a better place to live in, work in and visit by 2030, I need your input.
You needn’t sit on a committee or be chairperson of an organisation to have a voice.
I want to be someone who gives you the chance to have your voice heard, regardless of your opinion or personal circumstances.
As community enterprise manager, I have to act as a conduit between the people already getting on with great things on the ground and the established organisations which are trying to represent and promote that great work.
I haven’t had the chance to speak with all of you yet but please believe I am working on that.
I cannot be – and will not be – another unnecessary arm of what’s viewed in some quarters as an overly-verbose talking shop.
It’s not my experience of Langholm life but I’m not going to ignore the numerous people who see things that way.
I’m certainly not going to attempt to justify the lack of diversity and inclusion in committee culture which, I can reassure you, is being worked on. I’m here to get things done for as many people as possible.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Langholm Community Action Plan and its eight priority themes, copies are available at the E&L Advertiser office in the High Street and I can send you a digital copy if you email firstname.lastname@example.org
Years of work have gone into this community-led vision so we must not, despite the unforeseen changes to the world since it was drawn up, reinvent the wheel.
We can adapt and innovate and we can add flesh to its bones.
I welcome all contributions and ideas which align with the plan already in place and all offers of help from those who can play into our community’s progress.
I’m here to support you in that progress by identifying funding, expertise, media exposure or all of the above.
We will soon have a project assistant in place who can augment those efforts. But we simply must get on with it.
In the weeks ahead I’ll move into the Langholm Alliance’s new High Street premises, which most of you will know as the former E&L office.
In the current climate I’ll be unable to hold meetings there; we need to be conscious of keeping our community safe above all else.
But I don’t want anyone to view COVID-19 as a hindrance when it can help us to focus our minds, set our roadmap for success and get things ready to steal a march when the obstacles are lifted.
We just need to look at the Langholm Moor buyout as an example of what this tremendous community can achieve under adverse circumstances when it sets its mind to it.
The transformative potential of that one project is immense for all of us, particularly our younger people who, among our ageing population, cannot be lost or left behind.
I’m glad I came home. I believe I did so at the right time and I want all of you to feel part of the progress we are going to make.
Don’t hesitate to contact me via the aforementioned email address or on 07881 675417.
We’ve got so much going for us. Let’s harness it and work together to make the next decade one we can all take pride in. And thanks for having me back.