We always look with interest for new (and old and forgotten!) methods of active and imaginative engagement. This applies to our community workshops as well as working with children and young people. Our Bridging the Gap programme, created to build connections between planners and decision makers and young people. Earlier in the year we tasked a group of pupils from McLaren High School in Callander and staff of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park to create a zine, covering place-related issues that affect young people of areas within that planning authority.

A zine is a DIY magazine, with an artistic aesthetic, designed to get people thinking about issues and to promote discussion and awareness, in an informal and creative way. You may remember zines as a key element of the DIY culture of the music movements of the 1970s and beyond. You may also recall our first attempt at zine creation, which took place last year.

Find out about the issues highlighted by the pupils of McLaren High School by flicking through the zine above, or click to view it in a larger window here.

The workshop, which took place in January 2020, involved a group of pupils from McLaren High School, many of them from the area known as Strathfillan and Killin, as well as children from other communities within the school’s catchment area. As part of PAS Young Placemaker training, the participants first learnt about the role of planning and then had a chance to find out how it works in the National Park.

Loch Lomond & The Trossachs’ Derek Manson, Development Planner, gave an overview of his team’s work and the purpose of the Local Development Plan, while Bob Darracott, Elected Board Member and Depute Chair of the Planning & Access Committee at the Park Authority, explained his role and how decisions are made on behalf of the communities. Both emphasised the importance of the inclusion of the voices of young people in the decisions made by planning authorities and encouraged the participants to contribute their views not just on the day, but also in the future as young active citizens.

Click play above to see some photographs from the workshop.

The group created maps of their areas identifying good and bad things in the area they live and then suggested specific interventions that could lead to the improvement of the quality of place. Finally, the McLaren High pupils let their creative skills loose to create pages of the zine. After a good debate around issues in their area and using a variety of materials that were provided, such as magazines, old newspapers, old planning documents, stickers, pens and googly eyes, everyone got a chance to show their creative flair. Each group of enthusiastic participants created a page (or two) about something to do with place that they were passionate about, experimenting with different creative methods to express their feelings about different issues, and collaborating to find pictures and materials to decorate the pages.

“This zine will be used to inform the Community Action Plan that is being developed for Killin and Strathfillan. It is vitally important that when developing a community action plan we capture the priorities and aspirations of all ages of the community; the zine will be used to reflect the views of the young people that attended the workshop and reflects their priorities and issues they want to see addressed in their community.” – Derek Manson, Development Planner, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park.

This workshop was supported by Carlos, a PAS volunteer:

“This was my very first experience with PAS and also the first time in a workshop aimed to explain some basic urban planning concepts to such a young audience. I gained awareness in terms of playful methods to teach and engage, [which] can be very useful to certain age groups. I also gained awareness on how important is to engage young people in planning issues […]; they have ideas and thoughts that could be powerful if well interpreted”.

If you fancy doing something similar yourself, make sure to contact our Volunteer & Interns Manager, Erin Fulton, who will be more than happy to introduce you to the variety of opportunities that you can get involved with as a PAS Volunteer. Get in touch with ErinWojciech or Alison if you are interested in a zine workshop in your community!

We would like to thank Mr Jonathan Anderson, the Deputy Head Teacher of McLaren High School in Callander for his help. We would also like to thank Derek Manson of Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and Anne Sobey from the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs Community Partnership for coordinating Bridging the Gap within the park authority.