One of the best things to happen for the Granite City in recent years is also one of the most inspirational.
Take a step forward and a big bow, Aberdeen Inspired, an organisation that has shown vision and leadership in striving to make our city everything it can, should and deserves to be.
Okay, so its Sunday title of a business improvement district is a bit underwhelming, but the power of work this team has carried out is anything but.
Name something good that has happened in the city centre in recent years and I’ll bet Aberdeen Inspired is behind it.
Let’s see… the Aberdeen International Comedy Festival that has grown from small beginnings to having the potential to be one of the biggest laughter fests in the country. That’s theirs.
Aberdeen Restaurant Week, where we get to enjoy the astonishing range of cuisine and talent on offer at budget prices. See above.
Nuart… the art festival that literally changed the way our city centre looks. Thanks very much Aberdeen Inspired.
The hard work to make our night time economy a thriving and safe powerhouse we can all enjoy. Same folk.
Of course, this sterling effort was, like the rest of our lives, utterly halted by the arrival of the pandemic.
But if you look at who is at the forefront of talking about recovery, about looking for ways to get the sectors hit hardest back on their feet, to give us our city centre back, you will find Aberdeen Inspired right there.
And front and centre of that tireless drive is the organisation’s chief executive, Adrian Watson.
What he says makes sense, the route map he is outlining points to a better future and his plea for all of us to talk up Aberdeen needs to be heard.
Adrian believes in a Team Aberdeen approach, one where everyone who has a love of our city and a passion to see it thrive should work together.
He is right in his call for people to talk up everything that is good about the Granite City, but not with rose-tinted glasses on.
Of course things can be better. We all know that.
It’s just that some people take the view that instead of just carping and whinging from the sidelines, we all need to roll up our sleeves and do the work to make things work.
Once Covid-19 is behind us, we have an incredible number of challenges ahead of us.
Aberdeen Inspired knows that and is already working out the game plan to do it.
There is, of course, the small matter of a vote in June on whether or not the business improvement district be retained for another five years. Let’s hope the stakeholders say yes.
Because when you listen to Adrian talking about Aberdeen becoming a proper regional capital, about breathing new life into the city centre, about fighting for Aberdeen’s well-being and future at every level of government, it is, to be frank, inspiratonal.
Our city is very much richer for Aberdeen Inspired and would be very much poorer without it.
Scrutiny, like space, is the final frontier
I was reminded recently of Oscar Wilde’s great quote: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
It was brought to mind by news Elon Musk’s SpaceX company won the contract to build the lander which will return humans to the moon in the next decade.
It carried a mahoosive price tag of almost $3 billion, but just think of us having people walking in the footsteps of Neil Armstrong again. Per Ardua Ad Astra and all that.
Then I turned the page and read all about how much it is costing to deliver the outsourced coronavirus track and trace programme in England (we’ve got a different one up here).
That is checking in at a cool £37bn… and according to a scathing Westminster watchdog there’s little evidence it is doing any good.
So for more than 10 times the cost of getting to the moon and back, taxpayers are shelling out for a system that isn’t even properly protecting people in a pandemic.
Where’s the outrage? Where is the demand for explanations as to how such an unimaginable sum of money is apparently being squandered.
Come to it, where’s the outrage over all of the unsavoury and downright sleazy dealings swirling around the House of Commons?
Isn’t it about time Westminster was held to account as rigorously as Holyrood must be?
Let’s not end up back at square one
In my on-off love affair with running I have learned a truth.
No matter what distance you’re doing, be it 10k or a half-marathon, that last kilometre feels achingly long and you just need it to stop. Which is much how I feel about the lifting of restrictions from Monday.
It has been a trial of endurance and we collectively feel the need to get back to normal, with open shops, restaurants and beer gardens, with more easing to follow. That last part, though, depends on us. We still need to follow rules and take precautions. Let’s keep the heid from Monday so we don’t end up back at square one.