The Tin Forest


Dear Glasgow – Kieran Hurley’s letter

Whilst the discussion groups were in full flow, Kieran worked quietly in the middle of the room with his laptop. From public Tweets, scribes’ reports and snatches of conversation, he pulled together many ideas into one letter addressed to the city.

At the end of the night, he read this letter to the room.


Dear Glasgow

How are you? We’ve been thinking about you a lot, Glasgow. We’ve been talking about you a lot, and there are some things… well, there are some things we’d like to get off our chest.
Glasgow, please don’t take this the wrong way, but…

What’s this all about?

We used to make play out of nothing, Glasgow. Rough and wild, jumped, climbed, fell.

Some days, Glasgow, it seems to me that children don’t know how to play anymore. Playing together taught tolerance. Children’s problem is not their imagination.  Children’s problem is grown ups and the environment. Have kids forgotten how to play? Can we find a way to help them play together again?

Glasgow, you have amazingly bright sons and daughters.

We need more creative opportunities for young people. Not just the big names.

Glasgow, you beautiful big moist dome of creativity.

What are you like? What are you bloody well like eh?

Tolerance. Sectarianism. Woooft. Glasgow, sectarianism is down to wanting identity. Do kids want to identify with that? Maybe not, but they do want to fit in somewhere. Let’s sort this out Glasgow. Let’s sort this out tonight.

Glasgow, ok. Glasgow. I’d like you to see this as a list of demands. Glasgow, this is not an ultimatum. Not yet anyway.

Glasgow, we need a policy that addresses the culture of poverty.

Glasgow, we need to see each other as people. We all are the same regardless of sexuality, background, or religion. We need more respect!

Glasgow, I have a hope for a redistribution of wealth. Also for a better understanding.

Glasgow, in the 1990s City of Culture you proudly wore tens of thousands of posters reading, “Glasgow. City of Defiance. Pay No Poll Tax.”

Glasgow I hope that man to man the world o’er shall brothers be for all that.

Please excuse the badly gendered language Glasgow, it was written by Rabbie Burns. Maybe you shouldn’t excuse and maybe it’s not my place to say.

Glasgow, earlier on someone suggested a conversation on gender equality and it got the biggest cheer of them all. Dear Glasgow, I really think we should listen to that cheer.

Glasgow, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Glasgow, these are just the notes that I got. Glasgow, there was a whole room full of conversation, and that conversation, the one that got the cheer, the one about gender Glasgow, from where I was it was packed out. It was packed out almost entirely of women. Glasgow, why is that?

Glasgow I don’t have everything to share back with you, not even close. These are just the notes that one man managed to pull together, it’s all much bigger than that and this one voice is never enough. This one voice might not even be the right voice, in fact it’s most likely not.

People are talking, Glasgow.

Glasgow, please can the conversation happening about independence be happening with people who think we’re better together? Glasgow, make it so. We need dialogue between yes and no voters, because we need to live together after the referendum regardless of the result.

We want people to listen to each other’s voices.

And as for the oil, what is in the ground should stay in the ground.

Glasgow, shouldn’t people from different religions go into schools and educate children on them all to then decide for themselves? Well, only if that includes a “none of the above” option.

Glasgow, I want to talk to you about work.

In the past work was something we did to stay alive. Now we think of it as things we want to do. What makes a job crap? It’s working 35 to 40 hours a week. The jobs young people will be doing in the future aren’t even invented yet.

Glasgow, it’s impossible for this collection of ideas not to contain contradictions.

But still. There’s more that needs to be said.

We want Glasgow to set the example on environmental food policy!

We want a place to call our own to grow our own food and for the good of our mental health.

We want mental health to be treated in the same way as physical health.

We want to change the language around mental health.

We want better workplace democracy.

We want to test out a four day week.

We want financial investment in arts and creativity.

We want to help people develop confidence in cycling!

We want everyone to have a green space to call their own.

We want to renationalise key services and introduce a living wage!

We want everyone to read Jimmy Reid’s speech on Alienation!

We want gender equality in schools and workplaces.

We want smaller school class sizes, more support and less pressure for teachers.

We want creativity taught as a core subject in schools.

We want hydroponic walls and aquaponics which use fish tanks and fish poo to fertilise plant growth!

Glasgow! Great artists became great by doing what wasn’t the norm! How can kids do this under pressure to always give the right answer?

Glasgow, are we going to talk about what it’s like being trans in Scotland?

Glasgow, rape jokes are not funny.

Glasgow, we’re going to take personal responsibility to challenge intolerance wherever we encounter it.

Glasgow, there are so many good ideas for our dear green place. It’s amazing how many of these discussions are connected. Youth. Equality. Education. Tolerance.

Is this the point where we all crawl over the carpet towards tolerance and coorie in?

Dear Glasgow, I don’t just want this to sound like a list of complaints.

Glasgow, I want you to know that I know that it’s complicated.

It occurs to me that I am Glasgow. I am talking to myself again. We are Glasgow. And we’re talking with each other. We’re not so bad at that you know.

Glasgow, you’ve already heard our list of action points. Glasgow, we’re going to be busy.

Glasgow, who is not in this room? Glasgow everyone from this room is from relatively similar backgrounds and experiences. Glasgow what are we going to do about access?

Glasgow why were some of the questions not chosen?

Time is running out, Glasgow.

Glasgow there is too much that I have missed.

This is just a letter to you Glasgow. It’s just a letter. And it doesn’t come close to containing all of the ideas and the hopes and the frustrations that were in this room in your South Rotunda tonight. And it can’t fix them all, it can’t sort them all out, but some conversations happened. And some action plans were made. And that’s a start Glasgow. You have to admit that’s a start.

Glasgow, we’ll be alright, you and me.

Let’s keep working at it though right?  Let’s not get lazy, or dispirited. Whatever happens can we promise that? Glasgow? Can we?  Can we promise, that at the very least, we’ll not forget each other? And we’ll look each other in the eye? And that we’ll try?

Glasgow, please don’t be afraid of the future. Embrace change, Glasgow and flourish.


Us Lot.

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