Easter time already and despite a flurry of snow, things are starting to grow again around the city.
Not just the plants and gardens but maybe also a time to rethink how communities can grow.
Around the city community groups and initiatives are growing too.
The growth of social capital in the city, which Josiah Lockhart from the Grassmarket Community Project describes as a culture of trust and tolerance, in which extensive networks of voluntary associations emerge, may provide some new solutions to old problems of unemployment, homelessness, poverty and the blight of failed developments.
Whilst the GCP has been able to start on the development of additional facilities to accommodate their growing programme of activities and services many local initiatives continue to struggle to find space to operate. There is still an obvious shortage of premises for both new initiatives developing within the city (eg. Remade in Edinburgh) and more established organisations and charities who have provided a range of facilities and who have become or are becoming homeless (eg. Forest Cafe and the Bongo Club).
The Bongo Club is currently under threat as it has to vacate its home at St Johns Street/Holyrood Road by September. Initially it was hoped it could find accommodation within the landlords(Edinburgh Uni) estate after it was announced they have to vacate to the existing venue as additional Uni staff facilities are needed there. However requests to consider the relocation to an abandoned church next door have been dismissed on the basis it is part of the Uni's long term development plans.
Surely creating a bespoke venue for the Bongo which reuses a historic building and has the potential to accommodate other charities/social enterprise ventures is exactly the kind of 'long term development' which should be supported - or do Edinburgh Uni really believe the continued neglect will enable demolition and so the site can be free for a large new block to serve as office/student accommodation/hotel etc?
Its time to ask candidates standing for election to local councils in May what they will do to support this growth in social capital and in particular how they will enable or support local initiatives to make better use of public assets and our cultural and architectural heritage