Festival of Activism: On a mission without permission

What is activism? 

the policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.

Definition of Permission

the action of officially allowing someone to do a particular thing; consent or authorization.

If activism means working to bring about change in the established way of doing (or not doing) things then asking for consent or permission from those in power (the establishment) seems counterintuitive.

There is of course a broad spectrum of activism techniques to agitate for change, from collective demonstration of opinion to civil disobedience but at the heart of any activism is a passion to work to enable a desired change to outcomes.

At last weekend’s Doune The Rabbit Hole music festival, the Common Weal team had the pleasure of facilitating an array of passionate speakers on a diverse range of fascinating topics at the Douniversity stage.

Obi getting ready to get active at Douniversity and be heard 😜

Each speaker brought a unique perspective to their talk but all shared a common thread: a motivation for positive action that was mot stopped by a permission barrier to begin their mission for change.

A weekend immersed with people sharing their stories, passion and proactive attitudes, against a backdrop of a truly chilled, family music festival alongside our brilliant Common Weal team and volunteers was a real life enforcing experience.

It was a real jolt of energy to witness what is possible when you find your tribe and your groove, to bring clarity to focussing on your common goal.

It suddenly seems obvious stop seeking permission to start and just get on, do stuff and demonstrate value!

Each of the speakers, over three days of TEDX style talks, educated, entertained and informed their audiences. There were great conversations over churros & coffee (from our neighbouring stall) and lots of laughs at the Common Weal stall, set against ever present background tunes from every genre on the music stages, catering to every taste, as the festive vibe wafted across the grassy fields of West Stirlingshire. 

Now obviously we, as citizens, have a responsibility to seek permission from authority to do certain things to keep ourselves and others safe, healthy, society functioning etc., but those in authority do have a responsibility too. 

Authority must support societal needs and adapt to change where it is required or desired. There’s a balance of course of rights and protections but if a case is well made as to the benefits of a proposed change then there is an obligation of authority to engage, understand and objectively assess any proposed change where a strong thoughtful case is made. 

I was blown away by the speakers I listened to at Douniversity, for the degree of work and effort behind their passionate communication to the audiences on their ideas, actions and organisations. They were all enthusiastic to ‘sell’ their vision to a tent full of strangers as they had deep knowledge and passion of their talk’s topic.

The common thread amongst them all was that they had not been dissuaded by barriers of ‘permission’ to begin , they had found ways to progress with their focus firmly on their goal to ensure delivery of the outcomes they seek. 

Whether for healthier, safer buildings, homes and communities, sustainable growth and wellbeing, just treatment and fair rent for tenants or fundamental changes to how our society values and achieves wellbeing and happiness beyond consumerism, each had a passion that melted away the permission barriers! 

The power of demonstrating a vision takes words from a page and shows even the most cynical what can be done. Once you clear the first hurdle of disbelief you unlock a confidence that can be nurtured and built upon. It brings the exhilaration of possibilities from a self confidence that we really are only limited by our own imagination, vision and ambition: that’s true empowerment! 

My own wee talk on the Friday evening was about Active Communities. That’s my area of passion because I see the power in networks and collective action. When folk who share a passion for change can pull their knowledge, experience and vision to achieve something they can feel proud to be a part of, it changes them and lifts their heads, their confidence and their ambition.

Monster Radish Club – Community Growing Garden

The sharing of failures and successes reinforces the learning journey is every bit as important as the destination you seek to reach your goal. The camaraderie of your community network supports you on low days as you support others on theirs.

Friendships emerge from the most unlikely or corners and that’s joyous when you ‘find your tribe’!

Scotland is not just a stunningly beautiful, resources rich land mass, it is a network of communities, whether geographic, academic, sport, recreational, religious, political or other shared interests.

My political passion is for Scotland’s people across every community in our land, to have the self confidence in ourself that others across the globe have in us.

Once this collective confidence reaches a tipping point, where feudal permission seeking melts away, then independence is inevitable.

As, Victor Hugo said, “All the forces in the world are not so powerful as an idea whose time has come.”

Politicians in London, Edinburgh and everywhere in between must then get onboard with the real change that is happening BY the people across these islands. Politicians serve at the pleasure of their electorate so must deliver what the people demand, if they are to command respect and succeed in being (re)elected. 

Scotland is indeed a globally renowned picturesque land but her true essence of wonder is in our people. Each person has something to contribute as an individual but that contribution becomes powerful when harnessed in our communities.

These communities all bring value to our collective as a nation. If we can draw that confidence of achievement together with an ambitious vision of what a new Scotland could be then the sky is the limit!

A nation of confident, active communities inspired to unlock the potential of self determination, when all decisions are made IN Scotland, FOR Scotland, BY Scotland then who would bet against us!

My advice, to become a valued part of creating an ambitious, inspiring new Scotland is to first throw off the ingrained feudal mindset. When we no long seek permission from our ’heros’ and ‘betters’ to instruct us to do stuff for them and instead, act and work WITH not FOR others. we empower ourselves and create our communities!


  • Find your tribe
  • Get active (in whatever way you can)
  • Build self confidence and collective confidence 
  • Believe YOU can and believe WE can 

Allow your beliefs to shape your thoughts and create a vision of what’s possible.

Let your thoughts form your words to communicate with others and lead to positive actions you can take to demonstrate your vision.

Commit to these positive actions to build good habits to expand the impact of your actions and you’ve established your values that you can  connect with to build a community of common purpose.

Then YOU will have set your destiny!

Our collective destiny is Scotland’s future and that make it all of our responsibility!

The very first step to self determination is for us to decide we can and we should make our own decisions. Seems logical right? So what are we waiting for Scotland, let’s get connected!

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