Friday, 24 February 2012

Reforesting Scotland - A thousand huts - campaign to promote hutting culture Reforesting Scotland - A thousand huts - campaign to promote hutting culture

Twitter @thousandhuts

A Thousand Huts is a Reforesting Scotland campaign centred around the idea of the hut as a place, an experience, an endeavour, an ideal for all to enjoy. In contrast to many other European countries, Scotland has a modest historic tradition of hutting, whilst in Nordic nations hutting is well established as a way of life.

Building huts with local timber can revive skills that all rural communities once took for granted and strengthen community resilience.

In Scotland, hutting is predominantly associated with a working class movement that developed early in the 20th century when small holiday huts began to be built on land close to Scotland's main industrial cities. The best known of these sites is at Carbeth in Stirlingshire. Hutters in Scotland can be characterised as belonging to a number of groups:

  • Traditional hutters in hutting "colonies".
  • Individual hutters often seeking a quiet retreat.
  • Alternative homes (Lunga etc and those who live in huts or dwellings of uncertain status).
  • Allotmenteers (urban hutters).

A Huts and Hutters in Scotland research study carried out in 2000 by the Scottish Executive identified a number of structural weaknesses in the sustainability of traditional hutting including an ageing population and poor legal safeguards. (See Huts and Hutters in Scotland, Scottish Executive Central Research Unit, 2000.)

What we're about

The aim of A Thousand Huts campaign is to promote huts and hutting - the building and enjoyment of simple structures (usually wooden) for living, working and recreation in the countryside. This will be achieved by securing a change of culture and attitude and reform of the law so as to permit those who wish to build huts and pursue hutting to do so freely and within the law.

A Thousand Huts will work with a wide range of organisations to deliver change in a number of areas, some of which will take time (e.g. legal, planning etc). Our campaign will focus on the following areas of activity:

Raising awareness of huts and hutting

1. Research and publish material on the Scottish history and culture of huts and hutting, in the context of the European tradition.
2. Research and document current state and extent of traditional hutting.
3. Develop and Twitter and Facebook campaigns.
4. Curate exhibitions of huts and hutting.

Huts, hutting and sustainable rural development

5. Encourage urban and rural community, youth and cultural groups to build and use more huts in the countryside.
6. Work with landowners to develop woodland hutting communities and/or hutting retreats for people who don't own land.
7. Develop models of legal land tenure structures to facilitate the expansion of hutting and promote the benefits of hutting as a way of stimulating the rural economy.
8. Develop, organise and promote good hut design and building techniques.

Huts legislation and hutters' rights

9. Initiate and support the establishment of a Scottish Federation of Hutters.
10. Lobby for proper legal protection against eviction for existing hutters.
11. Publish a report on the laws and planning regulations surrounding hutting in different European countries.
12. Lobby for a change in planning legislation to create a "hutting consent" and a new building class of "hut" within building regulations.

Huts news

Campaign launch: 15 June 2011, Edinburgh, 930am-430pm.

Hut-Building course at Falkland Centre for Stewardship: 13-19 August 2011.

To find out more or to get involved:

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Andy the Daft Hermit lives 45 minutes outside Inverness with his wife Mel in an old bus parked in a layby. This current home of theirs is the longest they have ever stayed in one spot. “I’ve been travelling now 25 years,” said Andy Lowe. “Mel’s been travelling 15. One of the reasons we’ve come and stayed up here is because of Mel’s health. I wanted to bring her to the mountains for fresh air and clean water and just a slower pace of life.” Mel has had breast cancer twice, skin cancer once, and for three years believed she had bone cancer after being wrongly diagnosed. Andy’s belief in the restorative powers of the north made them pack up ‘The Black Bus’ that they live in and cross the border into Scotland. New Highland home for hermit couple Andy and Mel “I think we both believe in trying to get to a more simple way of life,” said Andy, “but it’s strange for us because we are sort of hermits, or we like to live separate, but it’s not being anti-social… it’s just the way we are that allows us to be creative.” Andy first began travelling when he left the army. Fed up with bureaucracy he packed a rucksack and left for France and has been travelling ever since. By investing any money the couple have earned into solar panels and wind generators they now live a self-sustaining existence, without electric bills, and collect rain water “straight from Heaven”. “It’s not easy,” said Mel. “There might be time when there might not be enough facilities around, but you always find a way, you know?” Rather than rejecting technology, Andy blogs about his travels online and collaborates with artists from around the world via his ‘Scratchy Heid Film Studio’, which he runs from a static trailer next to the couple’s bus. He explained his philosophy: “My belief is that if you can go through life and you drop dead and you’ve got a balance there that slightly outweighs the good than the bad, you’ve done alright. “Yesterday, with what Mel’s been through with the cancer and all that, I had a woman on one of my sites there that thanked me for the writing, for the positive things, and to me that’s worth everything. You can keep your millions, we’re not interested. That is what we do.” To check out Andy’s artwork and video projects check out his website. MORE FROM THE NORTH

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