The Flourishing Destinations Project held an event on the 20th of February, in collaboration with the ATC, that marked the beginning of the delivery of an ambitious collaborative project. With the purpose of promoting community led tourism development in partnership with other rural communities in Belgium and Romania; the challenge is to engage with the Angus community and develop local tourism in an organic way that benefits the wider community and not just those deemed to be specifically a ‘tourism’ businesses.  All with a belief that businesses, residents, community groups and voluntary organisations can all play a part in creating the authentic destination that visitors want to visit and experience. 

The newly built Friockhub, in the Angus town of Friockheim, played host to the community engagement workshop and allowed a platform to introduce the Angus community to those who will be coordinating the EU Funded initiative. 

A warm welcome to the event started with a taste of some of the fine Angus produce supplied by Sacred Grounds Coffee, Appley Ever After and Artisana Bakery. This was followed by an introduction from the ATC’s Ann-Marie Black, Alison Elliot from Murton Trust, Norma Lyall from Flourish9 and finally Stuart Clark from the ATC. They all spoke of their roles within the FD Project whilst detailing a history of the formative steps taken to bring the project to bear from its conception and planning through to the practical application and delivery.  They are all spearheading the projects’ management over the next 18 months. A schedule of events will take place from now until spring in 2020, including learning visits to each host country which kicks off with delegations from Angus and Belgium visiting Romania from the 17th to the 23rd of March 2019.

Angus Council are involved in the project as a financial sponsor to enable the project to go ahead. For those that don’t know; any EU funded Leader projects must first have the costs covered and then applied for restrospectively.

Throughout the project different participatory methods will be used to enable the community to engage in the conversations around how to create a better collaborative approach in Angus. The first ‘experiment’ on the night looked to ask the question of how connected we are with our neighbours within our local areas. A space was created that allowed people to place themselves geographically in the room at a point which represented their location in Angus from which they could literally reach out and see who their neighbours were on the night. It offered an unusual way to connect with another person or business that maybe they didn’t know. A connection that might be literally round the corner from where they work or live.

The first guest speaker on the night, Kathryn Baker from Sacred Grounds Coffee, provided a snapshot into her life as the only coffee roaster in Angus. She was followed by David McGovern, of Monikie Rock Art, talking of his passion for ensuring that traditional craft skills are preserved through education and the continuation of those skills passed down from master to student. The third speaker, Leeby Adams, talked of how she had embraced a business that allowed her to be able to be fully involved in the whole process of creation and delivery of her apple juice.

The attendees were back up on their feet soon after to participate in a session of ‘World Cafe’. This is again another example of employing a flexible format to get more engagement out of a larger group.

The questions to the room were

  1. What was it that made you come along to the event this evening? 
  2. Can you tell us what you think a Flourishing Destination is? 
  3. Are you already doing anything you would describe as flourishing? 
  4. What can we do as a whole community to enable Angus to grow and thrive into a Flourishing Destination for locals and visitors?

There were plenty of ideas from the attendees that were collated and they will be referenced in the work that progresses within the project. 

After all that hard work it was time to thank everyone for being present, in every sense, for the night and then they all enjoyed an opportunity to openly network around the room. Thanks goes to the staff and volunteers at Friockheim Community Hub for providing a great venue to host the first ‘Flourishing Destinations’ event.

The event was free to attend and was organised as a joint event from FD and the ATC.  Thirty six people from the Angus community attended.

The next ‘FD’ event will take place in April. More details will be announced soon from the delivery partners.