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Popular Education, Social Solidarity and the Internet

Caledonia Centre for Social Development, April 2005

The Centre exists to help eliminate poverty. It views social development as the process of building a more equitable system of political economy grounded in the principles of social justice and asset democracy. It uses the internet to promote popular education and to build social solidarity.

Current medium to long term interests include:
bulletthe promotion of cooperatives, social enterprises and self-help organisation as a means of creating jobs and wealth, reducing poverty, ensuring community well-being and increasing voice and representation;
bulletthe countervailing power dimensions of user participation in research, participatory development and global social justice - particularly through the 'popularisation of policy' and the application of fairtrade;
bulletbuilding organisations of the poor through developing community-to-community extension services in which groups of socially active poor people act as the agents of their own development processes;
bulletland reform, land rights and land information systems as tools of poverty elimination and equitable development.

The internet is used for:
bullethelping 'make the links' between different sources of information. Many of these are buried deep in labyrinthine websites or have been lost to the public domain.
bulletpopularising and web-publishing a variety of short, thought provoking articles drawn from a wide range of sources (including practitioner 'grey literature')
bullethighlighting and encouraging the potential for increased networking, synergies, and information and skills sharing.

Note that the Centre is:
bulletnot trying to compete with better financed and staffed Internet development gateway sites and portals. Rather it seeks to compliment them by bringing a 'fresh voice and perspective'.
bulletnot pretending to be neutral and value free. It openly declares its solidarity with the poor, and with progressive forces for global social justice.

About Caledonia's Websites

As part of its popular education and information dissemination work the Centre runs a cluster of inter-related public domain websites of which the land reform and social land websites are the largest of their kind in the United Kingdom.

Caledonia Centre website -

Papers on the social and cooperative economy (e.g. UN policy guidance to national governments) plus articles on new localism, mutualisation of public services, community enterprise, credit unions and cooperatives; countervailing power and global social justice; participatory research and development; policy popularisation of poverty reduction strategy papers, etc. Links to global websites on poverty reduction; cooperative development agencies and research institutions; and international civil society fora. (At end of Oct 2004 - 302 htm files and 125 doc and pdf files)

Caledonia Land Programme website -

Key papers, articles and briefings on land reform, land rights, land tenure issues in Scotland and internationally (mainly sub-Saharan Africa). The site provides links to Scottish, UK and International land reform websites. It is the largest land reform site in the UK. (At end of Oct 2004 - 279 htm files and 111 doc and pdf files)

Caledonia Social Land website -

Case studies and sector assessments of the scale and extent of social landownership in Scotland. The site contains over 25 Scottish case studies; articles on the US Land Trust movement; and 6 Canadian forestry case studies. (At end of Oct 2004 - 95 htm files and 8 doc and pdf files)

Commonweal website -

Key documents on common property rights in Scotland - overview, history and current state of common property plus links to international common property research centres.

Who Owns Scotland website -

This is a joint project between the Centre and Andy Wightman an independent land researcher. It seeks to provide publicly accessible rural land tenure information on Scotland. The website contains landownership information linked to maps of all private properties over 100 hectares on a county by county basis.

Networks of Community Agents website -

25-page booklet which sets out current best practice in establishing and running networks of part time community development agents whose purpose is to support local livelihood and well-being initiatives.

Training of Trainers website -

Comprehensive set of guidance papers and exercises on how to organise, develop and run training of trainers courses using participatory techniques.

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