It’s Time to Get Above Ourselves

Bella is a response to our rapidly changing political landscape. We think our new democracy needs a new media.

We think we’re at the beginning not the end of the movement to transform and reclaim Scotland, so we’re aiming higher and we’re being ambitious. We’re aiming to raise £50,000 to build on the platform we’ve created since 2007.

We need your help to make this work.

Our key aims are:

  • Strengthening and connecting the Scottish radical democratic movement
  • Continue to explore fresh thinking and challenging ideas
  • Creating a self-critical reflective space
  • Bringing new and unheard voices to public debate and discussion
  • Boosting new technology and social media innovation
  • Training in media literacy and content creation
  • Collaborating and partnering with other alternative media projects

If we are successful in raising the funds we need, the money will go towards: a full-time editor post, paying contributors, design and illustration, web site hosting, events, translation, marketing, legal costs.

Our political aims remain a commitment to independence. self-determination and autonomy, in Scotland and elsewhere – that means exploring where power lies in society and how we can help reclaim, decentralise and redistribute it.  Key to this is raising peoples hopes, expectations and aspirations away from the managed decline and dependency culture we have been encouraged to accept as the normal way of things. So ‘It’s time to get above ourselves’, both in terms of encouraging these higher aspirations and start redefining our place in the world.

Some of the key political challenges ahead are mapping post-nationalist ideas of self-determination, charting and shaping what is demanded off gender and social equality, exploring a post-oil economy for Scotland and encouraging a commitment to the politics of solidarity in a society predicated on greed and individualism.

With your support we want to expand our output and improve our content. We want to host an annual gathering which brings those with new ideas and the alternative media together to host training, workshops and talks to help build on the solid foundations that have already been put in place. Our supporters would help guide the direction of the publication. This would seek to accelerate the spawning of new creative output, from both writers and reporters – a new 5th Estate – with networks of knowledge and content distribution.

We want to be the best place for comment, analysis and opinion which combines polemic, essays and features with music, video and photography. 

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Comments (46)

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  1. Neil says:

    If Mike Small wants £50,000 he needs to explain exactly what he is actually going to spend it on, because there are a lot more deserving causes than web blogs, and running a blog costs a very small fraction of £50,000.

    1. davie says:

      Hi Neil, The indiegogo page goes into further detail re: expected costs.

    2. We’ll happily explain exactly what our intentions are. The sole point is to develop and take it beyond being a simple blog that has some limited impact and develop a proper infrastructure where we have a paid staff member and pay contributors.

  2. Roland Chaplain says:

    I’ve been continuing to reflect on how we can extend engagement with all who want to be engaged in the political process.
    I’ve been touched by ways in which I’ve received heartfelt congratulations from non-voting anarchists, Labour voters, Greens and even Conservatives.
    All share a sense that we have done something hugely important for democracy not just here in Scotland but right across these islands and further afield.
    Here in Dumfries and Galloway the on-going cover up in relation to R&D’s insolvency with more than athousand direct victims is such a blatant denial of our new politics.
    An empowered electorate demands that Officials, elected representatives, even those of us who are SNP Party office holders should all be answerable to the people of Scotland.
    We need to harness the enthusiasm of the growing number of new members to use these Shows more creatively than just to sell produce, have raffles and hope people will come to us.
    We need to have high profile, informative roles in campaigns such as that against any form of TTIP which gives power to big corporations to control and fine national Governments (right down to locally owned community initiatives).
    In rural areas we need to support our new MPs in an all out campaign to reverse the ageing demographic.
    In D&G we missed the opportunity for data centres using renewable energy so dramatically 7 years ago.
    Lets make sure the same doesn’t happen (due to vested interests of some of the Energy sector) with the storage and local use of locally generated renewable energy to attract and grow new businesses and social enterprises.
    We mustn’t be afraid to face difficult issues such as where people who used to be friends and colleagues start to fail when they become our elected representatives.
    No elected representative’s job is a sinecure for life.
    That should be very much at the back of our minds as we begin the long task of helping those seeking to stand in the 2017 Council elections end the appalling level of “corruption” and manipulation by Officials with their own agendas.

  3. Neil says:

    Out of interest, how much would the full-time editor get paid? And is the post going to be advertised?

    1. Hi Neil, we’re aiming for a salary of £30,000. I suppose we’re asking people to support the work we’ve been doing since 2007, overwhelmingly on a voluntary basis.

      1. Neil says:

        I think it would be fairer, and more honest to put up a paywall to read Bella as an online magazine if you intend to have full-time employment from the proceeds of turning Bella into a money-making online enterprise.

  4. Diogenes says:

    This is one of the major questions which vexes me how can the establishments stranglehold(south of the border anyway) over the public conciousness be broken? I feel that citizen journalism such as Bella espouses is the way forward

  5. GlennM says:

    I’d be very interested in finding out your plans for marketing. I’m moving back to Scotland later this year and would love to get involved.

    1. Hi Glenn – do get in touch when you’re back.

      1. GlennM says:

        I’m in Bristol currently but if all works out I should (touch wood) be back September possibly sooner in August. I’d be perfectly happy to send you personal contact details if that’s ok?

  6. john young says:

    There has to be absolute honesty with the people of Scotland,we have to look for /to the future, what we can do to help those that are not working into work,all able bodies should have employment of some sort and contributing to the commonweal,how is the world going to look in 10yrs can we adapt to this everchanging world,does our education curriculum provide for these changes or do we need to come up with a different one,can we make better use of the plentiful land we have by encouraging/training youngsters to have their own smallholding producing healthy foodstuffs,we have to nationalise the utilities and reduce the cost to business/people,we have to have wherever possible good low rent housing thereby freeing up cash that will be spent and hopefully encourage growth.For ever and a day ordinary folks have struggled to make ends meet never mindhaving a go at the few luxuries that are available.There is so much that can/should be done in this country all we need is the collective will of the people.

  7. MBC says:

    Much preferred the old layout! This one is much more jumbled and confusing! At least, the way it appears on iPad.

  8. MBC says:

    Beautiful Bella has shrunk and the more open layout is now cluttered and really yucky, sorry

    You need more white space. It’s fundamental to good graphic design to have plenty of white space.

    1. leavergirl says:

      I second that.

      1. leavergirl says:

        Oh and it would be great to be able to edit one’s comments. 🙂

        1. davie says:

          good idea, I’ll add that to my dev list.

  9. June Stewart says:

    Happy to contribute to Mike and will be even happier to help in any way I can once I get home to Scotland in September.

      1. June Stewart says:

        You are welcome Mike, I noticed there might be a wee glitch on the Bella page when trying to share on FB, hopefully it is just on my end. All the very best with the campaign !!

  10. Malcolm McDiarmid says:

    Too often on the web, a cause, product or aspect of day to day life becomes diluted or difficult to find due the web’s very nature.

    Raising standards and professionalism, I am all in favour of, but key to success is in the number and dedication of new recruits won to the cause and their subsequent contribution to the cause.

    Increasing numbers using and contributing to site is how to judge success.

    Three inexpensive means of doing this are:

    – all pro Scottish independence sites have visible links to each other

    – register with all search engines and be creative with search words and meta data

    – create a portal that provides a focal point or first destination for those wishing to become engaged by providing access to politicans on blogs (guest blogs), notification of events (events diary), merchandise (to subside site or events) , context / history, etc.

  11. Soldierboy says:

    I thought Bella was a collaborative affair editorially speaking – democratic? Why does it need such a dramatic change? If they could manage it as a second job all throughout the indy ref then surely they still can? Really not sure about £30 000 for one person editing what is essentially a personal blog – not sure how this will effect editorial distance and not be just more corrupt MSM? Can it be split between say, four rotating editors? Or indeed as the earlier post suggested advertise a full time editor who is accountable/ removable, to the funders/ shareholders?

    Otherwise it is just the same as the Old MSM?

    1. Soldierboy its unsustainable for me to continue doing it for free. I do 99% of the work and have done for eight years. Yes we coordinate with a wider editorial board and they are commissioners and sometimes contributors. We view it as having ambition for a really effective alternative media, working on different principles but properly resourced. I hope that makes sense?

  12. Doon the A701 says:

    Absolutely nothing against this. However, name aside – why This is an American outfit. Like all crowd sourcing platforms a fee will be deducted from your donation, anywhere between 4% and ~12% depending on how you pay and how much is eventually donated. If you are happy lining the pockets of fat cat banker types and tax avoiders, fair enough. There is ample information out there to inform you about this business and its shareholders. There are crowd funding platforms closer to home that IMO would have been more suited.

    1. Hi Doon, I take your point – but Indiegogo has become what people use for several reasons (mostly ease of use and the fact that if you don’t make your target you get to keep what you have reached) – we are happy to take donations directly to our bank.

      1. Doon the A701 says:

        Hi Bella. Yes I fully understand why a platform like Indiegogo is a better option than (say) Crowdcube. It supports donation/reward funding as opposed to equity funding, and it’s not all or nothing – but there’s a 5% fee penalty if you don’t reach your target. My point is about the ‘ethics’ of using Indiegogo. It’s a large and highly prominent crowd funding business in the US (e.g. Obama). I don’t know much about the financial institutions / individuals that are shareholders in Indiegogo, but one of them is Richard Branson. I for one would be loathe to be feathering his nest. Your campaign has done exceptionally well in such a short time, credit to you and your supporters. However, it it was me, I’d rather not be associated with Indiegogo, especially since many of your site’s blogs/comments have criticised banker types and tax avoiders. As for direct donations – even more work for you to administer – but higher %age retention of money donated. As to whether your readership would be inclined to donate directly – I don’t know? I suspect they would.

  13. H Scott says:

    Best wishes to Bella on your proposals. To me, the new website is much better than the old one for reading the articles and comments.

  14. Barbara McKenzie says:

    Good luck with this.

    The last time I donated to a crowd funder, a comprehensive budget was provided, which was very reassuring.

    1. Barbara McKenzie says:

      Sorry for the way that reads. I really did mean ‘Good Luck’ (!)

      1. Thanks Barbara – we’ll answer any questions you have and post a more detailed breakdown today.

  15. MBC says:

    Can we not have the old web site back please? This one’s hideous. I can hardly find anything. It is all so cluttered and crazy looking, at least on my iPad. It’s driving me away. I can’t read anything. Plus it won’t download either. Sorry.

    1. davie says:

      Hi MBC, alas the ‘grid view’ on the index pages just went down better with people during the early stages of development. However, I appreciate that not everyone is the same and I did toy with the idea of adding a ‘list view’ option for the index pages with maybe a cookie that keeps the setting for return visits. so, I’ll add it to my (ever growing) development list and drop you a message when its done.

      PS what exactly won’t download?

      1. MBC says:

        It’s better today for some reason. But the images were in triplicate and very little was downloading. I don’t like grey, and Bella looks hackit when she’s shrunk. Sorry to keep moaning but I was a graphic designer. The hierarchy of titles is too compressed. It is looking cluttered. There needs to be more white space. Sorry. Thanks for replying. No offence intended. Trying to help.

        1. Bella Caledonia Webguy says:

          No worries, feedback is welcome. For resource and time constraint reasons, we need to take a staged development approach and the initial switch caused a number of issues – least not, as you mentioned, the layout on tablet devices ‘issue’. But now that that dust has settled I’m hoping the updates I’ve completed thus far have you feeling better about things?

  16. John Page says:

    Good luck!
    Hope to see you continue with strong emphasis on the environment going forward
    John Page

  17. Allan Thomson says:

    No one who has followed Bella at length can doubt the sincerity and sheer effort the blog has historically illustrated for the cause of Scottish Independence. On that basis of trust I am Bemused at some queries as to future Editorial expenditure. I would suggest that if the target is exceeded Mike Small should allocate himself some back pay. This to compensate for time spent fighting the cause we all have at heart, when he might otherwise have been earning money. Some will say that was his choice! I’m glad he made it and want him to continue and grow.

  18. Davie says:

    I cannot believe the hassle this idea is getting. Somebody who has devoted endless hours over a period of years producing something for the greater good is looking for a bit of support to lessen their load and safeguard the site in the coming years. Some of the complaints and criticisms are not a kick in the pants away from libelous.

    Perhaps some Bella readers should contrast their comments with the Wings readers and their response to offering financial support. Is it a class thing? The more you have the less likely you are to give?

    I dip in and out of the site but I’ll gladly chuck a few quid at it.

    1. Thanks very much Davie

  19. Alex Wright says:

    I agree with Dave. There seems to be some unnecessary criticism on this post.
    If you don’t want to contribute to the fund raiser, that’s your prerogative, but attempting to undermine it by questionable innuendo is disgraceful.
    Mike Small and Bella have contributed massively to the accessibility of information, which in turn, has increased the knowledge and awareness of how this country of ours has been corruptly run.
    I’m quite happy to follow his lead in forward thinking, by donating a few quid to help create this new ” 5th Estate”.
    Good luck to all involved.

    1. Thanks Alex, we’re open to the criticism and feedback – but equally you are right – if you don’t like what we’re doing, don’t support us…

    2. June Stewart says:

      I agree wholeheartedly Alix.

  20. Hilary says:

    Yes, I agree wiht Davie too. It’s a great site, extremely helpful, informative and good spirited. I’ll donate more when my year has run.
    Good luck.

  21. Helen kemp says:

    I’m happy to contribute as really enjoy the articles – great pieces of writing and comment – Thankyou for all the hard work.
    Only thing is since donating I no longer seem to get email notification of new posts . Hope they will continue now that I’ve ticked the box!

    1. Bella Caledonia Webguy says:

      Hi Helen,

      firstly, thank you and secondly, we needed to move to a new platform in order to take things to the next level going forward but somebody (me) neglected to copy over the current subscribers list. The existing subscribers will be copied over ASAP but, as you say, if you’ve checked the box when submitting your message then you’ll already be on the ‘new’ subscribers list. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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