About the Campaign

This campaign arises from a simple idea: that human beings flourish when they have control over their own lives.

We think that the vast majority of Scots realise that freedom and power is best exercised as a community. As lone individuals we can potentially do some good things but as groups of individuals we have so much more power, can create and build better, and have more fun. Working and organising in the interests of our friends and neighbours means they work in our interests too. By doing this we find out how capable we all are, building trust in ourselves and in each other to run our own places.

But we are not there yet. At the moment most of us have things done to us; power exercised over us by the government, by the council, or by companies who don’t work with our community interests at their core. This disempowers and patronises us.

If democracy is about anything it is about us running our own affairs. That is why we are asking you to ‘act as if you own the place’—if the citizens of a village, town, city or country don’t own it, then who does?

We are encouraging communities all over Scotland to hold ‘Act as if Councils.’ These are events where many local people gather together to talk about how they want to run that local place. If you like the idea of running your own community, then work out how you might do more than talk about it.  Some are already planned see events section below. If you or a group of you are interested in holding an ‘Act as if Council’ in your community then contact us. We will help you make it happen.

We hope there will be many ‘Act as if Councils’ across Scotland, building confidence in people and asking the powerful to make way for them. Communities can redesign their local democracy to work better for them, flourishing all the more by taking control of their community’s future.

Who's already in?

Our Democracy is a loose and open coalition of organisations, campaigners and politicians who are dedicated to improving our local democracy. If you want to work with us, we want to hear from you.

Coalition members include:

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The People's Council

Get Involved

There has never been a more exciting time to get involved in the campaign for a better local democracy. Moreover, there has never been a time when it has been more needed. 

Our democracy isn’t working in the way it should. To renew and extend the control we have in our communities, it needs a shot in the arm from you and your friends and networks. 

That’s why we have designed this campaign with you in mind. We want you to attend the tour of meetings being held across Scotland—and to set up your own if there isn’t already one in your town. These councils need your ideas, your time and your skills to make an impact. 

We will ensure you are well resourced and supported if you want to set up an Act As If You Own The Place council. Don’t hesitate to get in touch — we would love to hear from you or your organization to partner. You might need more information on what’s going on in your area or maybe you have feedback that we can learn from. Whatever it is, we want your involvement. 

This campaign is about advancing democratic initiative and taking back control. It belongs to you. Help us shape it — and together we can build a movement for real democracy.

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Publications

Act As If We Own The Place Report Cover

Highlighting the background, ideas, processes and outcomes of a collaborative experiment in local democracy run in collaboration with Coalfields Regeneration Trust.

Democracy Matters

Highlighting ERS Scotland and the Our Democracy Coalition’s vision for the future of local governance in Scotland.

Events

Click on past events to find out more about what they discussed at their Act As If council

28Apr, 2019

Local Democracy: How can we get...

EICC, 150 Morrison St, Edinburgh, EH3 8EE12.45pm
23Sep, 2018

Our Democracy, ERS Scotland & Politics...

Black-E Liverpool, L1 5EW1pm - 3pm
23Jun, 2018

Democracy 21

Glasgow Marriott Hotel, 500 Argyle Street, Glasgow, G3 8RR10:00am - 5:00pm
21Oct, 2017

Amplify Our Democracy: A showcase

The Steeple, Nethergate, Dundee11am
15Jun, 2017

Dumfries

The Stove, 100 High Street, DG1 2BNTBD
25Apr, 2017

Oban

The Corran Halls7-9.30pm
23Apr, 2017

Dunblane

Braeport Centre, Dunblane, FK15 0AT11am
18Mar, 2017

Dundee

The Shore, 15 Shore Terrace, Dundee, DD1 3DN10.30
04Feb, 2017

Govan

Pearce Institute11.30am — 2pm
14Jan, 2017

Kirriemuir

Kirriemuir Old Parish Church11am

Declaration on Local Democracy

Democracy is the right for people to decide how the place where they live is run. For a hundred years this right has built our communities, our society and our sense of justice. But too few people now believe that this right is being honoured, too few believe that they decide and too many believe they are powerless and voiceless. So we call for a new democracy which is ready to help us build for a hundred years to come.

First, decisions must be made for each place, in that place by the people who live there. Our towns and villages must decide for themselves just as our nation must decide for itself. Power must exist at the scale of the community which is affected. We need our democracy much closer.

Second, the right to decide should not disappear each time the brief flicker of an election is over. Delegating our right to decide is not, in itself, enough. We must create a democracy that involves us all the time, where citizens do not just choose rulers but shape the rules.

Third, democracy must be powerful. The right to choose must be matched by the power to do – and the power to do must be matched with the resource to do it. Democracy is not gifted from above but from below, so power and resource must rest in the places where people live.

This is our simple vision for our future; a truly local democracy, a truly participatory democracy and a truly powerful democracy.

We have learned the lesson of our last hundred years; it is not enough that the future is built, it must be built for us. We must now learn a lesson for our next hundred years; it is not enough that the future is built for us, it must be built by us.

Acting up already

send your own acting up stories to [email protected]

People in Denmark's cities got creative with their empty spaces

People in Denmark’s cities got creative with their empty spaces

Frome ripped up the rule book and revolutionised their local elections

Frome ripped up the rule book and revolutionised their local elections

The Swedish model shows the collective bargaining power of tenants

The Swedish model shows the collective bargaining power of tenants

People in Fintry use income from their wind turbine to build a more sustainable community

People in Fintry use income from their wind turbine to build a more sustainable community

After successfully reclaiming their land, the Misak indigeonous people of Colombia built a method for envisioning their collective future

After successfully reclaiming their land, the Misak indigeonous people of Colombia built a method for envisioning their collective future

Cumnock Action Plan provides a place for the community to set out their priorities in a coherent vision

Cumnock Action Plan provides a place for the community to set out their priorities in a coherent vision

People gathered to think about the future of their town centre in Dumfries

People gathered to think about the future of their town centre in Dumfries

High school pupils in Cochabamba experiment in how school representatives are elected

High school pupils in Cochabamba experiment in how school representatives are elected

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