Announcing New Bella

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Photo by Jannica Honey

Bella is changing to meet the needs of our new political situation. Bella aims to be the best site for commentary, analysis and reporting on Scotland and beyond. We want to capture and recharge the energy of the Yes movement and help re-channel it / us into the next phase and onto the next challenge. To do so we’re bringing together some of the best writers artists and thinkers around.

We’ll be bringing you more international coverage, more arts & culture, coverage of breaking innovation and change, plus commentary on social justice, ecology and community, plus all the rest. These categories are not sealed, nor are they exclusive.

On the announcement of the new team, Alastair McIntosh commented:

‘The Referendum saw a noble steed dragged down into the mire by a gilded carriage. Unless “The Vow” involves redirecting our oil wealth to social justice and getting a grip on foreign affairs to unstitch the Empire as underwritten by warmongering and Trident, I will constantly work to persuade those who voted No to rethink their moral position. This requires a free media. One that is rooted in the Scottish people, in our democratic intellect – democratically accountable – and not subaltern to the forces of our internal and inner colonisation where money and fear trump justice and hope. That is why I support Bella Caledonia.’

For the political challenges ahead we’ll need all the creativity, invention and energy we can muster, whether it’s defending against the next onslaught of ecological crisis or the next wave of austerity cuts.  Or, whether it’s re-booting for the next phase of the independence movement beyond the Smith Commission or the next election.

It’s with this perspective and a fresh and open mind that we are delighted to announce our new editorial board working on these themes:

On Social Justice we have trade union activist and RIC founder, Cat Boyd, with rapper, poet and lyricist Darren McGarvey (aka Loki), Douglas Robertson, and 19 year old Haniya Khalid.

On International reporting we have Justin Kenrick (in the Congo), Karen Emslie (Spain), Yiannis Baboulias (Athens), Kirsten Han (Singapore), Jack Ferguson (Amsterdam), and Smari McCarthy (Reykjavík).

On Community we have author and campaigner Alastair McIntosh, with writer Rebecca Nada-Rajah, author and broadcaster Lesley Riddoch, and Mairi McFaddyen of National Collective and TradYes.

On Ecology we have short story writer, performer and artist Dougie Strang, cultural activist and writer Laura Cameron Lewis, and historical geographer Fraser MacDonald.

On Arts & Culture we have Bella co-founder and publisher Kevin Williamson, roaming about culture but also focusing on film, novelist Meaghan Delahunt  and acclaimed poet Kathleen Jamie both focusing on poetry and fiction, plus playwright Peter Arnott, and arts producer Fiona Ferguson (who was behind the Aye Talks).

Covering Innovation we have Lauren Currie, Skye-based author DJ MacLennan, and writer and musician Pat Kane.

 

There’s some basic housekeeping we’re doing too. We are pleased to be working with the fabulous Cat Ingall on illustrations and Jannica Honey on photography (see above) to improve the visual look of the site and the incomparable Greg Moodie who’ll be kicking off his regular strip exclusively for Bella next week (buy Greg Moodie versus the Union here). We also have a proofing system in place (some of you will be very pleased to hear) and we’ll be overhauling the website’s structure and design in the coming weeks.

 

For press details and more information contact us at: bellasletters@yahoo.co.uk

 

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To make a donation and support our work please go here. Thank you.

 

 



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59 replies

  1. Particularly looking forward to hearing from the Congo and Athens – and I hope you find someone to cover Catalonia soon as well.

  2. That’s great news, but no tie in with Wingsoverscotland? Or any other top notch pro YES website?

  3. This is fantastic news !!!
    Will there be hard copy available also? Will Bella be on the newsstands in the near future?

  4. As an avid reader of most of the pro indy sites, all of which I admire for different reasons, Bella brings a quality and intellectual rigour par excellence.
    I very much look forward to future editions of Bella with anticipation.

  5. Gilleasbuig Aotrom for Gaelic editor!

  6. Hi Neil – we’ll be continuing to back gaelic language and Scottish culture in all its magnificent forms!

  7. Aw, if I’d known you needed proofreaders…

    • There’s always room for more…

      • I’m still available for proofing, Mike!

        Apart from that world-shattering news, I wanted to let you and your readers know about plans to link up many of the indy websites, Facebook groups, Twitterers, Instagrams, Tumblrs, blogs, news sites, and offline groups as possible into the Yes Social Network, which we hope to present to the media as hundreds of thousands strong.

        As you’ll see below, the aims are very much in line with those of Bella and Common Weal. In particular we want to maximise media coverage, practical cooperation, and to provide a strong, unified voice for Scotland’s greatest ever grassroots movement. We also want to appeal to soft Noes and waverers wherever possible, so the Network would only be for groups that require reasonable behaviour from their members.

        The wording below has been put together by #YesAlliance with a view to further discussion, tweaking and addition from as many others as possible. If interested, please join our group below and contribute to your heart’s content. Individuals, groups and organisations are all welcome.

        https://www.facebook.com/groups/Yes.Alliance

        Onwards.

        —————————

        The Yes Social Network

        How we want to govern ourselves has been transformed. We’ve gone from apathy to engagement, from fear to hope, from No Society to A Yes Society. We’re evolving away from a twentieth-century, corrupt, infantile Old Boys’ Club towards a twenty-first-century, mature, fully-inclusive *social network*.

        The Yes Social Network exists to preserve and further this evolution, in the following ways:

        1. FAIRNESS. We will keep working for a fairer and more sustainable society both before and after independence is achieved.

        2. COOPERATION. We will encourage cross-party cooperation wherever possible, with a view to shedding last century’s political tribalism and careerism. In the same spirit, we welcome cooperation with No voters wherever possible, in accordance with the Network’s principles.

        3. VOICE. We will pool the Network’s resources to provide a strong, cohesive voice for the Scottish people at the heart of national affairs.

        4. ENGAGEMENT. We will bring together people with ideas, projects and events and those with the skills, time and enthusiasm to make them a success. We welcome the arrival of the most socially knowledgeable and engaged younger generation in our country’s history, and ask their help in maintaining such engagement in generations to come.

        5. RESPECT. We will encourage greater civility and transparency at all levels of discussion, online and offline, as it affects Scottish politics, society and culture.

        6. BALANCE. We will correct twentieth-century-style media bias and propaganda wherever we find it, and employ the full power of new technology to expose how such propaganda operates and to provide alternative news and perspectives.

        7. INTERNATIONALISM. We will pool resources with other movements of self-determination that fit with the Network’s principles.

        8. ENJOYMENT. We will have fun.

      • Dear BellaCaledonia, I would be more than happy to assist in any newscoverage, proofreading etc. I currently reside in Greece and have done for the past 20 years and work as an ELT teacher/Translator. Please don´t hesitate to contact me on the following: (0030) 6932453544. Regards, G. MacQueen

  8. Very pleased to see Alistair McIntosh’s name listed as a supporter. I expected him to have a much more visible presence during the referendum debate. Do you know why we didn’t see and hear more from him? (I’m not looking for gossip just genuinely concerned that a very wise and sane voice was not heard as much as I think it should have been).

    • Well, I don’t know who you are, Wulbert, but one person to answer your questions might be the said Alastair McIntosh.

      Being self-employed, I actually had about as much as I could manage during the Referendum including invitations from RIC in Inverness, Glasgow and Aberdeen, a dinner address to mainly No supporters in Edinburgh, a lecture on what was happening in Scotland at the Greenbelt festival in England, book reviews of indy-theology texts in Third Way, a slot on Scotland 2014 TV, a couple of BBC Thought for the Days where I was pleasantly surprised by what they let me get away with, a couple of mythic poetic contributions in Scotia Nova (Luath Press), and then the post-Referendum sermon at Iona Abbey. Some of these are online at http://goo.gl/cTZJFH .

      Frankly, to many on the political spectrum my stuff, being grounded in the spiritual, probably doesn’t quite press the right buttons. I’m in the wrong “universe of discourse”. Thankfully we seem to be a broad kirk and so there is considerable toleration, though as the convenor of the Scottish Landowners’ Federation told the press after I’d addressed their board on land reform a number of years ago, “Nobody takes Alastair McIntosh seriously.”

      Meanwhile, yours faithfully is happy to be associated, albeit loosely, with this new direction of Bella Caledonia and grateful to be granted some house-space. So go well, Wulbert, and thank you for your encouraging comments.

      Oh, and can I say how pleased I am to see people offering to do copy editing. As one who gets so involved in the poetic process of writing that the words themselves sometimes fall off the end of the keyboard leaving embarrassing black holes in the text, I really appreciate the gifts of a conscientious copy editor. Such diversity is the strength of authentic community.

      • I’m a witch and my Yes vote has always been a spiritual one – it’s a heart-coherent decision for me and the head-based logic follows on. It’s just the right thing to do. We are all anam cara. We are all connected. Let’s do this. Blessed be.

      • Blessed be, indeed, Julie. Starhawk amongst others spelled it out or should I say, danced.

  9. Will you still accept articles from ‘subaltern voices’?
    PS You just got a piece o Osborne’s lousy puny pension money…use it to rid us of the scourge.,, and with haste….some of us are running short of time and patience!

  10. Wow! I am really excited about this! As someone who has not read any newspapers for years Bella Caledonia has fast become my go to site. I look forward to reading more! Thank you

  11. Hello Bella. I’m originally from Glasgow but have lived in the ‘Dark Star’ for some time now. I’m a photographer and into making film so let me know how i can help and get involved.

  12. I am particularly happy to see Loki in the team. Our young people, in particular, need to be inspired and this young man has a clarity of thought that is inspiring.

  13. Bella, congrats on your stellar line-up, you’ve really shown you’re worth…

    It shows how much the written word is worth these days that Bella, and National Collective – the latter, two fatal words conjoined in one name, which ought to make anybody with an artistic temperament run for cover – pay 1,000 pounds to the person who came up with a poster for indie and not a penny for anybody who ever wrote a word for them. Not even a symbolic 20, or 30 or 50 quid. At least as far as I know.

    There are over 30,00o people subscribed to Bella’s email list. If they all paid a pound or two a year, then people who live by writing could actually afford a meal now and again.

    Writing as a hobby and and pastime, like bowls or cricket…

    Are we to surmise from this that Bella/NC is/are more interested in graphic art than language which embodies meaning like no other art form does? I would say so.

    I would say that as far as Bella and the MSM sees it, anybody who can write a sentence is a writer. And NC, that hotbed of people who want to sign up to the lick my arse club of sycophants, half of them “writers” or “playrights”… funny..

    What Bella needs, for all that has always been a lifesbloods and to whom we owe a great deal, those posting since circa 2008, is not more writers but an editor. A frigging editor!

    Mike Small is a great journalist and a tireless worker for the cause, but DE JURE has nothing to do with the word JOURNAL, which comes from the French word JOUR..

    And so it goes…..

    • Er, thanks, but you are completely wrong in what you say about us paying people. And, National Collective had nothing to do with the poster competition, it was the Scottish Independence Convention that out up the prize money.

      Bella has an editor.

  14. I wanted to make a monthly donation via PayPal but in spite of what you say on your donations page I couldn’t find any way of doing it.

  15. Relevant to outlets like Bella, I chanced to be on Google Scholar just now, and they are flagging up a house article about the rise of “non-elite journals”. See http://goo.gl/SwkuEk .

    I find myself in two minds. Most of my own published record has been in non-elite journals with just enough elite stuff to hold credibility. The point is that scholarship is a specialised and therefore elite activity. To me, this is where the principle of the democratic intellect becomes so important. As Murdo Macdonald has explained in various articles, the original idea is that scholarship by its nature creates elites, and that that one of the problems with elitism is that it creates blind spots, and these undermine the utility of knowledge. The democratic intellect is the Scots (though not uniquely) principle that knowledge should be tested against the generalist perspective of the community. I think, pushing it a bit beyond that, we might be justified in suggesting that it should also serve the community instead of primarily serving self-serving elite interests.

    So, interesting to see Google flagging up the non-elite issue. Also, interesting to reflect on how this sits with peer review in the best sense of that expression, what it means for quality control, and the implications for avoiding wackiness on the one hand, and not being in a creative straitjacket on the other. All questions relevant to such new media as Bella.

    • Alastair, this is my despair with the current scene in Scotland.

      You have the academy/academia/academics who all earn huge salaries, and, as Andy Wightman points out in “The Poor Had No Lawyers”, charge you for sourcing their work on-line journals, work which is paid for from the public purse.

      It is shocking and yes, sorry, completely at odds with the egalitarian Lad o pairts myth. It is elitist and designed to shut people out and reduce learning to a small circle, a coterie of academics, those experts in “fractional knowledge” as Ezra Pound put it…

      Then you have the free press, where everybody writes for free, which is well intentioned enough but amounts to beggar-thy-neighbour journalism…

      Hairdressers, doctors, teachers, nurses, bakers, butchers and candlestick makers, musicians and graphic designers, oil rig workers, train drivers and shelf-stackers in Tescoe….anybody who works gets paid for it…except writers…writers are these days are supposed to live off LIKES and SHARES and the ether of the web….

      As I’ve said before, it’s not a particular criticism of Bella, it has become the norm….but it can only undermine good writing in the end.

      • I share that concern, Douglas, and it applies to much of the creative world, not just writers. From both private conversations and his website declaration of interests Andy Wightman earns not far off minimum wage whereas a higher education system more orientated towards Scottish values and needs would have our finest institutions competing to offer him a personal chair, not to mention honorary degrees, and not to mention the perennial resourcing struggles of such likes as the School of Scottish Studies.

        When Mahatma Gandhi was asked what had been his greatest disappointment in life he said, “The hard-heartedness of the educated.”

        In his 1855 paper, “On the Advancement of Learning in Scotland” – http://goo.gl/AEfcLu – John Stuart Blackie (the professor of Greek at Edinburgh as well as the mover and shaker behind the chair in Celtic and an avid land reformer on behalf of crofters) wrote the following. “We demand a scholarship with a large human soul, and a pregnant social significance.”

      • Douglas thanks for your opinion on academics. We are not all the elitist types you seem to think we are. Open source, open access and community service are roles many of us take very seriously. Some of us are involved in trying to shift our institutions from the inside. I’m sorry if you think we don’t earn our keep.

  16. Great news all round, especially the bit about proof readers. Whit!! Nae Scots? Agus dé mu dheidhinn ar cànain agus ar cultur? (‘s e iolradh a tha ann an cànain)

    Same auld English pish. Fowk at says “whom”. Naebody says “whom”, “ought” nor “shall”. Fuckin hypercorrect keich. Gin ye cannae spik, ye cannae screive . . . .

    Wir aw scunnert siek hearin the same auld English voices, never heid thir tellin us it’s aw about Scotlan. Fuck that. We spik Inglis. Or Scots. Air neo Gàidhlig. We’d be better aff learnin up Inglish, French, Flemish, Irish, Welsh, Norsk, Dansk, HIndi, Urdu, ภาษาถิ่นพายัพ, Kalaallisut, ontihng barr English.

    Whit’s the point o readin mair English? The same auld cald cac het up.

    The downfall o the independence movement. Its aw in English. Fuck that. Language o the maisters. Yir aw fuckin servants.

    • “The downfall o the independence movement.”

      Don’t see language as a major issue in it at all.
      Most people speak with a sprinkling of Scots words or phrases in everyday life, in all sorts of accents.
      The literature, musical and cultural scene is healthy.

      But political articles in standard English are simply easier to read online – to the widest number of people.

      We live in an international world, and language evolves..
      English and Scots come from a hundred other languages and will go on changing.
      USA and Canada, Australia, New Zealand etc.. All proud independent nations.

  17. Good-looking team. Particularly pleased to see that Jamie and Arnott are involved. Now, gods, stand up for poets and playwrights!

  18. So are we brushing the economy under the carpet? I would have thought after getting hammered from the msm and by the nay sayers,Darling et al, that would be the first on the list for an editorial role?

  19. s=Good news from Bella. I am dependent upon this site for decent analysis and interesting journalism. Long may you flourish for you’re so needed in these dark times where lies and deceits have become normalised

  20. There is a comment above asking for a print version of Bella, this could work well, and get to the non Internet audience.
    But if this is not possible, how about setting up a system for local groups putting out newsletters/newspapers to be able use and acknowledge Bella articles. If we could do this well it gives people information and also a link to go to for further articles, we could expand readership and the cause of social justice among those who need it the most.

    • There is a website ISSUU which contains around 18 million publications. It allows you to publish your own and put them on the site. Although not the printed word (although some could be printed off) something could be published every week showing highlights from the pro Indy websites, or indeed any information. Looking at a non- updated newspaper/magazine form saves wading through sites and is perhaps easier to use for time constrained or those of a less
      technically minded persuasion.

    • Hi John, each article has a print button underneath it and we are committed to a quarterly print publication. We’ve written on several occasions about why we don’t favour a print publication. Having some experience in the logistics or print distribution and watching the print media flounder – this direction is, in our opinion, a strategic mistake. If it is driven by the quite legitimate argument / criticism that websites like Bella need to expand their reach, that is a different question, and one we intend to approach by good marketing and promotion.

      • Will you/do you have a policy on others printing your articles on dead trees? Looking at a local project to make some of the best online articles available offline to the older or not so net-inclinded, and it’d be nice to be able to have access to good-quality articles for this purpose. Ta.

  21. Commendable stuff, a good initiative to further the cause, well done. It is obvious that you have been doing some deep thinking about this.I wish you great success.

    I am not sure though why you would not have listed Wings, it would make ultimate sense to gather all together and create something really great. Some thing that will really catch the imagination, as far as it can be taken.
    Bringing together with Wings and it’s large membership/ readers, would on the face of it be sensible for everyone. I would suggest any politics that may be there, should be set aside, for the greater good, when needed. The sites will always need to be different, offering different views.

    I understand there will always be differences in the various sites, but when a common interest and common good is concerned, these should be put aside. For example, during the REF, the MSM made concerted efforts against us through all their avenues at the same time. This made a big impact, and something we should learn from.

    Be individual, yes, of course, but to be able to act in unison on major issues we need to address, would help to get the message out so much more, and create a bigger challenge to the ongoing MSM output. Reactions can of course be individually address it style of the site, but the end message should be on song. Just saying!

    I have supported “Wings, Bella, NNS and others”

  22. I’m happy that your are moving forward. But you don’t have anyone addressing religion.

    In the run up to the May General Election, have you considered the effect that the following may have on you and all the other Pro Indy sites? Westminster has passed a law to gag you.

    http://www.scriptonitedaily.com/2014/01/29/the-government-just-passed-a-gagging-law-to-outlaw-critics-ahead-of-2015-elections/

  23. You forgot to mention who was covering sport .

  24. Have you picked anyone for the sports section yet ?

  25. What is the business model? If you want people to donate you need to be open about that.

    I hate to inject some realism here but when you’ve got four editors dealing with social justice and none on economics or business I don’t see this project being taken seriously by the type of people you need to win over. We won the argument on social justice hands-down. It was technical matters like the currency where people, rightly or wrongly, weren’t convinced.

  26. Go team Bella! If you are interested in contributions from an international reporter in New Zealand do let me know who to send my CV to. I was born a Scot and remain proud of my country. I believe it’s only a matter of time until the concerted effort of the most capable Scottish people brings independence to the table and gives others a great example to follow. I’d be happy to contribute to the cause in a more visible way.

    Kia kaha (Maori term = stay strong)

  27. Great news especially about the proofing!

  28. Looking forward to reading the new Bella and wish you every sucess. It will be refreshing to read news reports that are given out as information rather than the main streams media’s idea of news as instruction…..

  29. Please organise for bellacaledonia to be put out in print. It would, literally fly off the newsstands. Get it beside the ‘Metro’ on public transport. I thought the purpose of Bella was to inform and give a voice to people who are in need of both.
    I have a coffeehouse and I buy a couple of papers everyday for the customers. I would so love to have a pile of Bellacaledonia to offer instead of the other diatribe that goes for news.
    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE there must be people in our ever growing new community who know how to run a printing press, have the time to do delivery runs and take this on. Charge a competitive price and it will pay for itself in a matter of months. Stranger things have happened, there are too many people being left in the dark though who need to know when they are being ripped off and lied to.

    • The quarterly produced SNP Independence Magazine to which I subscribe could with some collaboration with Bella (Closer Mag) and other excellent social media sites become a news vehicle supported by advertising revenue which if relaunched initially to the new membership has the potential to evolve,with a little creative marketing into a worthy and credible voice for the whole movement.

      I envisage a new “Independence Magazine ” featuring articles from all wider indy movements.

      The cause would be helped enormously if such a collabaration could be investigated. Some urgent innovative thinking required to address the absence of a Pro-Indy Mag on new stands.

      An idea for Peter Murrell! A single magazine with content from the whole movement -the Brand and Title is already established. Produced by a partnership to include the SNP,Greens,SSP,Wings, Bella and Derek Bateman and others!

      The Independent Newspaper could also seize an opportunity to become involved in this new venture.

      We are in a new era lets move on and create something visionary to stimulate further interest.

      There so many excellent contributions and opinions that need to be brought to a wider audience.

      There must be an INDY supporting publisher out there that can help progress such a venture.

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