Archive | February 2012

Creative Writing Workshop at Gorgie City Farm

I’m delighted to announce this creative writing workshop at one of my favourite places in Edinburgh!


Gorgie City Farm

Let the Animals Inspire You!

Dexter the Gorgie Farm Cat

Creative Writing Workshop

with local writer Juliet Wilson

 2-4pm, Tuesday 17 April 2012

Cost: £10 / £8 concessions

 To book please phone Malcolm on

0131 623 7031 or email


The workshop will include a tour of the farm.

When I worked for the Federation of City Farms  I was based at Gorgie City Farm so I know the farm and its animals well, though I admit to a certain bias towards the rabbits…. I’m delighted to be back at the farm to facilitate this workshop!

Some Thoughts on Marketing Inspired by Birdwatching

The birdwatching class I teach for City of Edinburgh Council Adult Education Programme met today at Musselburgh, by the bridge over the River Esk.  We had a wonderful walk along the Esk, along the John Muir Way and to Musselburgh Lagoons. Some of the birds were starting their courtship displays, the male goldeneye ducks for example were throwing their heads back onto their heads, to attract the females and warn off their rivals.

A few days ago at Linlithgow Loch I saw great crested grebes doing their courtship dances.

And even without the displays and the dancing, have you ever noticed how polished and shiny the male birds look at this time of year? Look at the male tufted ducks below! Their black and white plumage is crisp and bright and they have little crests on their heads.

advertising for birds

They make themselves look nice so they can attract a mate. Good looks equal good breeding condition. This is the birds’ equivalent of marketing.

Marketing isn’t just a commercial activity that we should treat with suspicion (though some forms of marketing are dubious and definitely to be avoided!) but something that on one level is integral to survival!

As a writer, I’m used to fellow writers and other artists complaining about how they  don’t want to compromise themselves by marketing their work. Or how great work will just be discovered, they shouldn’t need to market. It’s not necessarily true! You need to find your audience!

Equally, to be fair, I do know of small businesses and creative individuals who are very successful and depend purely on word of mouth to expand their business. That however doesn’t work for everyone!

Most people will find themselves much more successful (whether that’s in terms of finding an audience, finding supporters for a campaign or selling more products) if they do some marketing.

So, if you’re thinking marketing is the devil’s work and not something you want to tarnish yourself with, just go out birdwatching, you might be surprised by how much marketing is going on in the bird world!

Do you know what happens to your money once you’ve deposited it in the bank? For most people, their cash probably seems to disappear into a black hole where it undergoes mysterious transactions until such time as they want to withdraw it and it magically returns. Even if you bank with the ethical Co-operative Bank (and that’s where my current account is, while my savings are with Triodos) you only really know that your money isn’t being used in unethical ways, you probably don’t really have much idea of where it does go.

Which is where Triodos Bank is different. Not only do you know they won’t use your money in morally dubious ways, you know exactly what it is being used for! Their website has this very useful Google map so you can find exactly what they spend your money on, including being able to see what they fund in your local area.

As Charles Middleton, the managing director of Triodos said earlier today in a talk at a customer event at Out the Blue Drill Hall a community based arts centre in Edinburgh, this is a bank that is all about connection.

Today’s event was all about enabling connections between Triodos customers in Edinburgh and a local project that is funded by the bank. I’ve visited Out the Blue several times before and have been fascinated by the building and the creative energies involved in the project. So I was delighted to get this opportunity as a Triodos customer to have a behind the scenes look at the project and to find out how the bank works with Out the Blue to ensure that the project can develop sustainably.

Rob Hoon, the co-ordinator of Out the Blue gave us an inspiring potted history of the project, including insights into the transformation of this purpose built military drill hall into an exciting space for artists and community groups. We had a guided tour of the venue and found out about the environmentally friendly construction, including solar tubes for water heating and the old firing range that is being partly converted into a garden. We also met some of the inspiring organisations and craftspeople who are based here, including: Take One Action Film Festival; Precious Metals Workshop and Dance Movement Psychotherapy Scotland. We also had a wonderful lunch provided by the Out the Blue cafe project, which has a very ethical food policy and offers a training programme for young people. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that my money is helping organisations like this to thrive!

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This site will outline my environmental communication services and creative workshops!

I’ll be blogging here about once a week, sharing ideas around environmental communications and related issues (such as green offices and ethical finance). I’ll also post updates about my creative workshops!

Meanwhile you can find out more by clicking on the tabs at the top of the page or follow me on Twitter!