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Poem celebrates community in Scotland

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Tuesday's session of the Scottish Parliament began with a poignant piece which draws on life in a community for people with disabilities

Politicians took a moment away from their busy schedule to hear about the spirit of community.

Jon Plunkett, a renowned poet who also works at the Camphill Corbenic Community, read his work Meanwhile to start business in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday (11 August).

The poem looks at the importance of community at difficult times, and draws on Plunkett’s experiences at the care home in Perthshire for adults with learning disabilities.

It stresses that community is never stagnant, and rides along with the difficulties presented by the world.

The work was originally scheduled to take place in March, but had to be rescheduled to this month due to the impact of Covid-19 on the parliamentary business.

The Time for Reflection was supported by Perthshire North MSP and deputy first minister John Swinney, and is the first time someone from Corbenic has spoken in front of Holyrood.

Tuesday’s session, which begins with Meanwhile, can be viewed online.

Meanwhile, by Jon Plunkett

“In various places at various times

people discuss community—

what it was, or is.

What it could be,

or should be.


on a spread of land by the River Braan

trees knit the earth into place

while their branches point to things beyond.

And in workshops clay is spun into pots,

pots are used for drinks and moments shared.

Flour is kneaded into dough, dough baked into bread,

bread delivered by small steps and swinging baskets.

Fields are ploughed into furrows.

Seeds stretch to drink the sun. Animals are fed.

Horses are cared for.

Wool is spun into weave, design is pressed into art.

Wood is ringed and split. Wood is warmth.

Days are turned into dates, dates into festivals.

Houses are turned into homes,

And plans into action (most of the time!)

Wax is melted into moulds,

liquid into solid, solid into light.

Needs are met with care, care leads to love.

And within, and around and between

all these small transformations

are joinings of one being to another.

So people can discuss community—

what it was, or is.

What it could be,

or should be.


here, on our spread of land by the River Braan

community is what it is, and carries on.

Turbulent and calm, turbulent and calm,

but never stagnant,

and like the river,

flowing always

to depths unknown.”