Ola’s Diary 1 -A network of passionate people.

In the middle of the strange summer of 2020, I was invited to join the Sustaining Dunbar team to help develop a new project called “What If?”

As it happened, I just completed reading the inspirational Rob Hopkins book of the same title. It felt rather serendipitous – I was ready to go! If you ever crave something motivating, bursting of possibilities and unleashing imagination at every page turn, this book is for you.

The What If? project was born out of a strong conviction that we, lucky to live in Dunbar, East Linton or the surrounding villages, seem to recognise the power of community and passionately want the community and area to thrive.

We have dozens of voluntary groups which make a tangible difference and hundreds of people who are ready to share their expertise, ideas and time to make things better for others. We have an incredibly beautiful coast, fresh air and so many local attractions we could never go anywhere else and yet find enough to explore on the doorstep.

Having said all that, sometimes there’s so much happening that it’s easy to forget to share with others who may be doing similar things in parallel, blissfully unaware of duplication. What If? Network has been created to help interconnect those people, projects and hopes and find imaginative ways of doing things together.

As I write this, more emails arrive to my inbox with requests to join the network. Our Members include local fishermen, artists, volunteer gardeners, enthusiastic chefs, poets who work in local grocers, members of various churches and many more.

We talk, write emails, meet in gardens and parks (and Zoom!), exchange ideas, plot new projects, discuss hopes and dreams, support one another. If you’d like to join us, do get in touch!

Ola Wojtkiewicz, Community Engagement Manager, Sustaining Dunbar


Carbon Conversations

We are planning to host a number of Carbon Conversations groups for individuals and organisations in Dunbar and District over the Autumn and Winter of 2020/21.
Carbon Conversations are about getting together with a small group of our friends/neighbours/colleagues in a safe and well supported space to help us face our complex reactions to climate breakdown and to start taking practical steps that can make a difference. 
These structured and facilitated group ‘conversations’ are a very well tried and tested approach which normally involve attending six, two-hour sessions over two to three months.
We realise that some people may find it difficult to commit to the whole programme up front so we are planning to run some introductory, ‘taster’ sessions as well.
Experience shows that most people really enjoy the experience and many groups continue to meet up regularly long after completing the sessions.
If you, or your group, want to discuss joining one of these Conversations then please get in touch now by registering your interest HERE and we will get back to you as soon as possible.


2020 Member’s Meeting

7-8pm Tuesday 1st September (online).

This year we are holding our Annual Member’s Meeting (AGM) online. This is your chance to find out more about what Sustaining Dunbar has been up to over the past year and, in particular, about future plans and activities, including for The What If Network*.

All welcome, please do come along and share your ideas and find out how you could become more involved.

Register here to be sent information on how to join the meeting.

This is a short Annual Report for the past year.

If you are interested to join our volunteer Board, please get in touch with Jo McNamara: ‘‘ to discuss this.

*The What If Network of local groups will work together to create and deliver a community-led action plan for Dunbar and district to be a home to thriving people, in a thriving place, while respecting the wellbeing of all people, and the health of the whole planet.


What if… COVID-19 stimulated our communities to be even stronger and more thriving?

While life was easier for many of us before COVID-19, below the surface “normal” was far from perfect. Often out of sight and out of mind, “normal” was a time of inequality with food banks getting ever busier across the country, of rising mental ill health, of loneliness, of social and political divisions, and of environmental and climate crises, and of economic instability. These problems are still there and getting worse, pandemic or no pandemic.

The What If Network

Dunbar, East Linton and the local villages have always been community-minded places with a get-it-done approach to making a great place to live even better. From organising gala days to Christmas lights, from sports clubs to arts events and much more. Local groups and their volunteers also provide help and support when it’s needed including running food banks and lunch clubs, providing training to vulnerable people, debt advice, etc. And of course the Community Councils and a range of local groups, including faith groups, have been central to the response to COVID-19.

We are now coming together to ask:

  • What if COVID-19 stimulated our communities to be even stronger and more thriving?
  • What if we, and others, put the energy and resources we applied to the immediate response to COVID-19 into creating a better future – right now?
  • What if we could influence local and national social, environmental and economic policies to create the sort of society we want and need?

The What If Network offers local groups, local people and key stakeholders spaces to think big, work out what’s most needed, and make it happen. We look forward to working with the Community Councils, Area Partnership and East Lothian Council; together with our allies we can bring additional resources, enthusiasm and energy to help shape a new and better normal for everyone.

An action network, not a talking shop

Making plans is (relatively) easy. But they’re useless unless turned into effective action and bring about worthwhile change. It won’t necessarily be quick and it will take hard work. A key element of this will be securing funding to extend and grow existing projects and to develop new ones.


Another World is Possible…

Can we grasp this moment?

We might look back longingly to the time before the pandemic and the restrictions it’s brought. But while life was easier for many of us, below the surface, often out of sight and out of mind, “normal” was a mess. “Normal” meant rising inequalities, with food banks getting ever busier across the country, mental ill health, loneliness, social and political divisions and, of course, the environmental and climate emergencies. These problems are still there and getting worse. 

That’s why governments, NGOs, think tanks, business groups and even the Financial Times are saying that as we recover from the pandemic we must fundamentally rethink the economy so that we can tackle these social and environmental crises together. The massive shock to the system that we have experienced is opening up new opportunities to reimagine the future and for taking radical action. 


Dunbar and East Linton Area Community COVID Response

The incredible response from the community of Dunbar and East Linton to the crisis caused by the global pandemic should be held up as a gold standard.

Dunbar and East Linton is and has always been a community-minded place with a fiercely responsible get-it-done attitude to solving problems for local folk, by local folk. This resilience has been put to the test in this pandemic, and multiple community-led initiatives have risen to this huge challenge proactively and with agility.


Dunbar tells Scottish Government what’s needed

To build a greener, fairer and more inclusive society in Scotland, we need to change the way the economy works. It’s important that government action to address the economic impact of COVID-19 also help build a more robust, more resilient Scottish economy.

The Scottish Government has appointed an Advisory Group on Economic Recovery to recommend how they can best do this. The Advisory Group asked for views to inform their work from a broad cross-section of organisations, businesses and individuals across Scotland. They wanted to hear from those impacted by COVID-19 and from those who will be critical to rebuilding Scotland’s economy in a greener, fairer and inclusive manner.


‘Need or Want: What Matters Post-Covid-19?’

Join one or all of a series of 3 Facilitated Conversations on what matters to us, post-Covid-19.

The ‘Fixing for a Future’ project, a collaboration between East Linton Melting Pot and Sustaining Dunbar, has officially started.  


What if we followed nature’s lead?

‘You only get so many Mays in your life.’

Inspired by studying Rob Hopkin’s book ‘From What is to What if?’ together over the winter, a group of us were very excited by the idea of heading off to the woods with bikes and children and picnic breakfasts to celebrate Dawn Chorus Day on the first Sunday in May. But then along came Covid-19 to stop us in our tracks. Instead, at a time when nature connection seems more important than ever, some of us headed off independently.


We have a new webinar series!

7 – 8pm, Monday 27th April

Gardener’s Question Time

Struggling with your seedlings, toiling with your tatties? Puzzling over how to turn that wee bit of grass into your new veg patch?

Join Dunbar’s gardening experts Naomi and Graham for the first Sustaining Dunbar ‘Gardener’s Questions Time’!

With sowing season underway, the gardeners from Belhaven Community Garden have some (at least) of the answers for novice gardeners wanting to start growing their own fruit and veg in the lockdown – and may even have some helpful hints for houseplant parents.