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Sowing the Seeds for a Good Anthropocene: Participant Workshops in Wester Ross Biosphere

March 2024

The Scottish CULTIVATE team recently held a series of workshops in the settlements of Ullapool, Torridon and Dornie aimed at engaging with a range of local stakeholders to explore, discuss and agree how we can move from our current situation to a more just, inclusive and sustainable future for the cultural and natural landscapes in Wester Ross.

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Employing the interactive Seeds of Good Anthropocenes methodology (, participants were asked to envision a realistic and optimistic vision for the cultural landscapes of the Wester Ross biosphere area in 2034 and to identify existing initiatives or projects (the ‘seeds’) that can form the basis of our means to reach this vision.

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Led by Ros Bryce from UHI’s Centre for Mountain Studies, the team included Zoe Russell from the University of Edinburgh, Natasha Hutchison from Wester Ross Biosphere and UHI’s Steve Taylor.  UHI PhD student Leonie Charlton, a crofter from Argyll, was on hand to observe and at the end of each workshop led a contemplative poetry session, in which participants were invited to contemplate the workshop and collaboratively create a prose-poem that collectively reflected people’s thoughts and feelings.

Facilitated by the CULTIVATE team, a total of 32 participants, representing a wide range of organisations and interests, from crofting and Gaelic culture to cultural heritage and economic development, made for very engaging contemplations, debates and discussions to create a series of visions for the cultural landscapes of the area.  Six different visions for the future were proposed, centred around, for example:

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  • Community-led decision making.

  • Sustainable communities that are attractive places for young people to live and work.

  • Enabling a good quality of life for residents, with everyone having a home and a job.

  • A society that values its built heritage and strives to restore, repair and reuse it.

  • Communities thriving in a healthy environment.

  • A resilient network of independent and interdependent communities that can serve as a prototype how this can be achieved.

Following a discussion at the recent CULTIVATE meeting in Nordhordland on the success of the workshops in each partner area, the teams now turn to collating and analysing the findings to shape our deliberations on the meaning of culture in these regions and the evolution and role of cultural narratives in influencing future sustainable land use.

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