The 9th DTA Scotland Annual Conference, “Development Trusts – Doing the Business”, took place over 2-3 September 2012 in Cumbernauld.
Around 215 delegates signed up to attend making it the largest conference to date, but more importantly, 70% of delegates were from member organisations and another 10% were from non-member community organisations – this creates a unique atmosphere, where not only do delegates learn from the speakers and workshops but also from each other - sparking connections, offering solutions and demonstrating again and again what can be achieved within our movement, to which everyone who attends, both contributes to and feeds off!
The conference began on the Sunday afternoon with 2 study visits to Fintry Development Trust and Lambhill Stables in Glasgow which highlighted two very different projects and for those who stayed behind, a round table discussion on “Development Trusts and Place-making” led by member, Alan Sim of Community Central Hall. Next, the AGM, overseeing the proceedings for the last time our retiring Chair, Alex Walker of Ekopia Resource Exchange, and a variety of presentations including the launch of a new Energy Action Group Bulk Energy Buying Scheme in Scotland and a short but fascinating dvd from Inverclyde Community Development Trust on their heritage project “Rebuilding the Comet”
The evening drinks reception was, for the first time, sponsored by one of our member organisations, Community Central Hall in Glasgow, as part of their 35 year anniversary celebrations and then the biggest networking opportunity of the 2 days - the conference dinner!
The second day of the conference began with three thought provoking presentations “Setting the Context” by keynote speakers, Alex Neil MSP, Colin Mair of the Improvement Service Scotland and Judith Robertson of Oxfam Scotland. It was good to hear a Scottish Government Minister so explicitly promoting community-led development, and supporting the work of DTAS. This led on to a choice of 23 seminars (including a new and very popular addition to the programme - one to one surgery sessions) from member and partner organisations which hopefully informed, inspired and energised members to address many of the issues raised in the opening keynote addresses. Throughout the day the Marketplace was a hub of activity with 22 organisations being represented, from the Scottish Government to the Social Enterprise Academy to Endsleigh Insurance launching their new bespoke service for DTAS members.
The conference closed on a high with a session on “The Condition and Vibrancy of our High Streets” and was chaired by the indomitable Lesley Riddoch, writer and broadcaster, with an input from Richard Heggie of Urban Animation to kick the proceedings off. It was an extraordinarily animated, interactive, high energy discussion addressing some of the wider, and let’s be frank, more basic needs of our town centres!!
It has been described in the feedback as "the best final session of any conference I have attended". What more can we say… hopefully see you next year!