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The Here We Are Story - past, present and future

TSOAOSO-001 - To See Ourselves As Others See Us (2005)

March 2021 Christina Noble

To See Ourselves as Others See Us -DVD

It began with a visit here from Andrew Ward and colleagues from Inishowen Rural Development Ltd at the instigation of Sheila Mclean our LEADER +  [and Whelk] Development officer. She wondered if we would be interested in a Transnational project together.

John MacDonald, Alastair MacCallum Sheila and I then went there to visit them in Ballyliffin in Donegal.  We all were struck by how our places were similar – hills and sea inlets- but also how different they were. We began to discuss what we might do as a Transnational Project. 

 We decided to make a film to explore what we had in common and why we were so different.  We began a brief and to locate a film director to tender for it.  I thought of Donald Coutts, who had been here as a child, and had recently been here shooting a TV film. In early November he, John MacDonald who had been at school with him and I met in the pub. Donald though it was a great concept and quoted a lower price that others we had approached.

.We put together a proposal for Whelk (LEADER +) which would comply with ..

  • The East-West strand of the Good Friday agreement
  • Argyll and Bute Council’s initiative to support local people to be actively involved in their communities
  • The principle of the European Conference on Rural Development which had adopted the Cork Declaration – ‘The Living Countryside’ to make rural areas more attractive to people to love and work in

 The proposal was successful, and with some private charitable funding that HWA managed to put together, and ‘contributions in kind’ we accumulated the required £45,000.

In April 2005 Donald, Alastair, John and I put together some notes, issues that might be highlighted in the film in both Cairndow and Ballyliffin

  • What works?
  • What are the issues?
  • How could we solve them?

Filming began in May 2005. Andrew Ward and two others came here at the time of the Sea Food Fair.  And John MacDonald, Alastair MacCallam, Chair and Sheila McLean went over to Donegal soon after. The final shoot, and in my view the most interesting part of the film, is our discussion in a pub in Ballyliffin.

Donald’s understanding of the concept and relaxed interviewing style made the film what it is. But added to that was his and his wife’s editing, the jacket for the DVD and the voice over. 

We then began to use the film to promote discussion and we hoped with resulting developments.

  • In January 2006 there was a Rural Development Seminar at the Stage Coach Inn in Cairndow, facilitated by Robin Lingard. The programme, the attendants, and The Report – [ Robin’s conclusion raised various points – not least the significance of the lack of affordable housing here, and the important benefits to the economy of EU membership to the rural economy]
  • There was a similar film showing and discussion in a large hall in Ballyliffin.
  • And in June 2006 there was a showing and discussion at the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood. Andrew Ward was sorry he wasn’t able to attend but sent a note, illustrating his intelligent and though provoking views, highlighting ‘Rural Proofing’ all Dublin policies have to be scrutinised for their rural impact and the importance of housing and jobs for young people, the impact of the difference in scales of landownership in Ireland and Scotland. 

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