Video: Gerry Hassan on Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland

Video by Stuart Platt of Gerry Hassan’s 16th April 2014 talk at CHE in Govan on his latest book Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland

We are pleased to have Gerry Hassan joining us at the next in our series of public talks. Gerry will be sharing the ideas contained in his new book, ‘Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland’. Join us for an evening exploring Scotland’s radical stories and future.

About ‘Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland’
Caledonian Dreaming examines the state of contemporary Scotland, the context of the independence referendum, what it means and its wider consequences. It challenges some of the central assumptions of public life and politics and identifies six myths that define modern Scotland – from the notion that it is a land of egalitarianism to the idea of educational opportunity and that power is regularly held to account.

Hassan analyses the strange condition of the United Kingdom – a place of increasing inequality, right-wing politics and limited democracy – and one with a growing obsession with celebrating and manufacturing the past. He forensically examines the shortcomings of Scottish society – from the ‘missing Scotland’ of voters disconnected from public life to the collusion of Labour and SNP on most issues bar independence.

Yet while Britain’s political classes and elites are unwilling or unable to challenge the current state of the UK, Scotland has the potential to become a modern, progressive, democratic country – aided by the creative energies and passions unleashed by the independence question.

Hassan critiques many of the prevailing ways of thinking about Scotland and politics – from that of ‘official Scotland’ to the left, nationalists and ‘civic Scotland’. He concludes that the conventional ways of doing politics and social change are increasingly being challenged, and that in places, a culture of self-determination is emerging which offers the prospect of a very different Scotland.

“An intelligent, brave and much needed contribution to the debate around the referendum in Scotland” Elaine C Smith
“This is a remarkable book – balanced and brave, insightful and incisive, intelligently blending the personal and the political.” Sue Palmer, Author, Toxic Childhood

About Gerry Hassan

Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. Hailed by the Sunday Herald as ‘Scotland’s main public intellectual’ , Gerry has written and edited a dozen books in the last decade on Scotland and the wider world: from the setting up of the Parliament, to its record, policy, indepth studies of the Labour Party and SNP, and looking at how we imagine the future. Gerry’s activities include facilitating events, discussions and conversations which bring people together in Scotland and across the world.

Facebook event:

VIDEO- Alastair McIntosh on From Island Spirituality to American Exceptionalism: Some Religious Roots of Violence in Our Times

Enjoy this video of CHE fellow Alastair McIntosh sharing the ideas contained in his most recent book.

Alastair McIntosh was raised in a deeply Presbyterian community on the Isle of Lewis. In this talk about his new book, Island Spirituality, he explored the profound values and experiences that get behind the stereotypes of island religion and how they have informed his work. Also, how aspects of European Puritan thought raise questions about the political doctrine of Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism – an argument that found recent prominence in President Putin’s address to the American people about war in Syria.

Alastair is a Scottish writer, broadcaster and activist on social, environmental and spiritual issues. A Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology, a former Visiting Professor at the University of Strathclyde, and an Honorary Fellow in the School of Divinity (New College) at Edinburgh University, and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the College of Social Sciences at Glasgow University, he holds a BSc from the University of Aberdeen, an MBA from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD in liberation theology and land reform from the University of Ulster.

His books include Hell & High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition on the cultural and spiritual dimensions of climate change, Rekindling Community on the spiritual basis of inter-relationship, and Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power on land reform and environmental protection – the latter described as “world changing” by George Monbiot, “life changing” by the Bishop of Liverpool and “truly mental” by Thom Yorke of Radiohead.

For the past 9 years he and his wife, Vérène Nicolas, have lived in Govan where he is a founding director of the GalGael Trust for the regeneration of people and place. A Quaker, he lectures around the world at institutions including WWF International, the World Council of Churches, the Russian Academy of Sciences and the UK Defence Academy (on nonviolence). His driving passion is to explore the deep roots of what it can mean to become fully human, and use such insights to address the pressing problems of our times

Audio Chatcast 3: Lynne Friedli on mental health and the psychologising of social justice in Scotland



Health researcher Dr Lynne Friedli joined us in April in Govan, Glasgow for a highly stimulating evening. This presentation, and the following discussion, is now available to download and stream, along with Lynne’s slides and bibliography.

Lynne Friedli is author of a report for World Health Organisation Europe on Mental health, resilience and inequality and has contributed to the forthcoming WHO Europe Strategy on Mental Health..

Lynne is interested in current debates about the politics of ‘assets based approaches’ and the psychologising of public health, and is currently researching the use of psychological approaches in workfare and other employment programmes.

Part one: Lynne Friedli talk- ‘It’s a Hearts and Minds Thing': Mental Health and the Psychologising of Social Justice in Scotland’

[powerpress url=""]

Part two: roundtable discussion with Lynne Friedli and participants (headphones or quality speakers recommended)

[powerpress url=""]


get part one here (mp3)

get part two here (mp3)

get powerpoint slides and bibliography here (pptx)


Community Energy and Cohousing: Doing It Ourselves- Library chat with Kevin Frea

Community Energy and Cohousing: Doing It Ourselves- Library chat with Kevin Frea
Wednesday 26th March 6.30pm The Pearce Institute, 840-860 Govan Rd, Glasgow G51 3UU (near Govan underground station)
 Join us for our latest ‘library chat’, an informal roundtable conversation in the convivial surroundings of our library in the Pearce Institute.
 There will be space and time for general discussion and input from all participants. Light refreshments provided.Please email to confirm attendance. RSVP essential.

We are joined by CHE graduate Kevin Frea.

Sixty members of Lancaster Cohousing have built an energy self sufficient and efficient community on the banks of the River Lune near Lancaster.

The 41 homes, built to Sustainable Building Code 6 and Passivhaus standard, have a district heating system, powered by woodchip from a nearby sawmill, and generate electricity from solar PV and (later this year) from a 200 kWe community hydro scheme on the nearby weir.

Lancaster Cohousing intends to “build a community on ecological values and to be at the cutting edge of sustainable design and living…Our concerns span climate change, biodiversity, food, chemicals, transport, waste, resources and global development issues.”

Community energy schemes have the potential to increase democratic control of energy resources, reduce carbon emissions, alleviate fuel poverty, generate income for community projects, and provide an ethical investment opportunity. They have enthusiastic support across the political spectrum, from (moderate) Conservatives to the Green Party and hold the possibility to engage people who would not otherwise be interested in alternatives to fossil fuels.

About Kevin Frea

After Kevin graduated from the Centre for Human Ecology with a Masters degree in 2009 he set up a community energy co-operative in Gloucestershire. He has a lifelong interest in renewable energy and co-operatives, and is currently a Director of several energy generating and saving community schemes including Halton Lune Hydro and Less (Lancaster) CIC.

He lives with his partner at Lancaster Cohousing and will talk about the practicalities of setting up community energy projects and the challenges and delights of living in an aspiring ‘eco community’.

Facebook event here: