Our History

We all know life is complex and that positive community change doesn’t just happen. There is a learning rollercoaster to ride. The right mix of magic, relationships and courage needs to be in place for our communities to create the collective Leaders of tomorrow. Here are a few highs and lows of just one story from thousands across Scotland and beyond.

The roots – 2008

Through a combination of running interactive and creative community projects in Alloa; experiencing local people sharing their trauma and deep lack of hope; a personal background in computer programming systems mixed with Fine Art and creative processes; and being from a family with generations of ‘self-employed’ resilience – Angela and Patricia (daughter and mum) experienced that the public/private institutions no longer served the people and that people felt powerless, with ‘collective illness’ an epidemic. Their question (as often mums and daughters do put the world to rights over a cup of tea): How to create the positive environment for people to choose to develop their own ‘power’?

The Roots - Resonate Together
The Science - Resonate Together

The science – 2009

On a weekend retreat entitled ‘Quantum Physics and Spirituality’ the seeds (or should that be atoms) of an idea came together. Through copious science research patterns, connections and ‘coincidences’ unfolded. Science fact could create the framework from which community innovation may flourish. The Brownian Motion, the Feynman Diagrams through to the work of Lothar Schafer, all could be the foundations of understanding the interconnected relationships with self, others and our planet. Taking risk in innovating an equality driven, inclusive way forward – having the self-belief not to know all the answers – meant that rather than relying on past ‘job experience’ of a how to approach this, courage needed to be at the core, focus needed to be on the moment and not a community business driven by a five-year business plan.

The start-up inspired – 2010

In 2010, Patricia donated the insurance award she received from a bungled cancer operation to enable Angela to rent a warehouse in Alloa. As the evidence was strong that the current short-term funding driven by agreed outcomes, all prior to the project beginning, led to ‘positive blips and deeper lows’ rather than the generational social change needed – they decided to go forwards with self-funding the, well, what ever it was going to be! For it could not be limited by their own boundaries. They knew it needed to be different to the current organisational models and structures, to be intuitive to help people heal and it had to be inclusive for everyone to contribute to creating an authentic way forward for people and planet to thrive. This was about intuitive cooperative leadership for all and by all.

The Start Up - Resonate Together
The Listening - Resonate Together

The Listening – 2011

Throughout 2010 and 2011, people flooded into the warehouse, often with the same question – “What is the project about?”. The honest response was always “We don’t know but doing something together is better than doing nothing alone”. So, an environment of trust and kindness was built to house the diverse activity. The initial challenge in listening to what people wanted, was that the intense levels of hopelessness had created a community who felt their voice was lost. So the journey of discovery, of connecting our hearts and minds, of utilising creativity to find inner qualities and begin the road to self-value began.

The intuitive way – 2011

Finding the new language to explain a system that can only be compared to the current business models by what it is not is a difficult situation to be in. The developing conversations of the hundreds of people per month driving activity at Resonate and the professionals, the experts that were willing to offer their guidance created a gulf, a position of two approaches. These two opposites meant Resonates interconnectedness, the intuitive sharing, the focus on relationships was deemed a “chaos model” by those in hierarchical power seeking a system led clarity, to fund, to govern and to evaluate. 2011 was the start of a long journey of either fitting the current system or sitting outside of it, for it seemed there wasn’t a middle way. The challenge for grassroots to go with what works for local people is how to conform to a system that creates silos, in short time spans and is risk free so they may gain the funding to drive the activity. Or to go it alone and try and self-fund from the first day. Our communities have lost a great many good community led initiatives due to the rigidity of hierarchical structures being process first and people second.

The intuitive way - Resonate Together
The Social Enterprise - Resonate Together

The Social Enterprise – 2012

In 2012 at one of Resonates many community gatherings the question was asked “what governance structure should we be?”. For the pressure (always on) to conform was constant and, as with many grassroots start-ups that develop in response to local issues and which are driven by passion, no one knew the answer. However, many spoke of not wanting to be a “yet another begging charity” but of wanting to drive positive innovations. For our community needed to be the ones making the changes needed locally. So, Resonate Together, with the advice and support of Firstport became a Social Enterprise.

The Living City – 2013

Welcoming Keynote Speaker Mick Pearce, Biomimicry Architect from Zimbabwe to our International Symposium in the summer of 2013, was an incredible triumph for our all-volunteer team. This transdisciplinary symposium explored the holistic approach needed for social sustainability within urban communities. Speakers included, Douglas Westwater, CEO Community Enterprise; Fraser Kelly, CEO Social Enterprise Scotland; Richard MacCowan, MD Biomimicry UK; Rob Wherrett RSA, Founder Zymolsis; Diane Bate, Coalfields Regeneration Trust; David Sanchez Ruano, PhD, CECHR Dundee University; Bob Giulianotti, Firstport and special thanks to the Earl of Mar and Kellie for the Opening Welcome. Collaborating with Mick Pearce, The Alloa Harbour Project was born.

The Living City - Resonate Together
The activity - Resonate Together

The activity – 2013

Throughout the first three years Resonate Together gathered learning by experience and found that, for the many people coming through our doors, using their hands to create led to the much-needed development of open conversation. 2013 was the year the team embedded the power of activity to start the connecting process. Clackmannanshire – known in the past for its Textile Mills, Coal Mines, Harbour and Silver Mines – still had a community of people that could turn their hands to anything. Connecting with the local heritage, the county’s history underpinned the way forwards.

The turning point – 2014

In 2014 Angela got in touch on twitter with the then Scottish Government Director of Local Government & Communities, Kenneth Hogg who then came to tea. The many people in Resonates community that wished to meet with Kenneth also had an opportunity to try and answer when asked, “what was Resonate and what did it do for them?”. The personal outpourings from many individuals, showed how diversity, equality and inclusion was at the heart of this human learning, evolving system. Kenneth shared that “Resonate ticks everyone of the single outcome agreements”, but being a self-funded, independent community led group, none of the attendees knew what that was. And so with Kenneth and his teams help, Resonate Together began a journey to learn, understand and to impact the national policies of Scotland.

The turning point - Resonate Together
The introduction - Resonate Together

The introduction – 2014

2014 welcomed our second International Symposium with Keynote Speaker Peter Head CBE, listed in Time Magazine as one of the top 25 people to save the planet. Peter, Founder and CEO of The Ecological Sequestration Trust, was introduced at the symposium to Kenneth Hogg, Scottish Government Director. Out of this connecting and working with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency through Terry A’Hearn, CEO of a new department at Stirling University, the Department for Sustainable Practice and Living was born. The aim – to inspire and empower communities to develop new pathways to achieve sustainable practice. Scottish Government talk of “measuring and data collection” but capturing the first ripple from an innovation pebble skimmed is a challenge and Resonate Together learned that ownership of ideas in a collaborative culture can be a contradiction. Often the community leading risk takers at grassroots have to share their ideas to seek the ‘R&D’ money to make it happen, so many incredible ideas shared and so little backing.

The Alloa Harbour project – 2015

The development of the initial Biomimicry designed ‘Venice of the North’ river project by Mick Pearce, Architect, took great steps forward in 2015 with the team growing to include Kirsty Cassels, Environmental Designer & Builder. Full Alloa Harbour project designs were created from the community consultations and included urban agriculture, food production, aquaponics, health and fitness activities, visual and audio art creations with artist in residence, pod hotel, sailing marina, workstations for individuals and group working, conferences and teaching and information resources. An innovative project of transformation, regeneration and connection.

The Alloa Harbour Project - Resonate Together
The Loss - Resonate Together

The loss – 2015

2015 saw the passing of Patricia after a long battle with Dementia. “I remember the day my mum, my best friend and inspiration forgot who I was… those moments create a darkness in your heart that time cannot heal” said Angela. In the five years since Resonate Togethers inception, 27 people had openly shared their story of choosing life thanks to the authentic, meaningful, and honest support of the ‘Resonate Family’. As with many grassroots organisations, any income is focused on the activities within the community. Angela being a volunteer for five years meant that her great friend, Fiona Jones stepped in to help pay for the cost of her mum’s funeral. Being a Founder of a community organisation can mean connecting with your vulnerability, fragility and learning to accept help.

The support – 2016

Timothy Ma, Co-Founder of the Hong Kong Social Entrepreneurship Forum and Board Member of the World Economic Forum, Service Development Subcommittee, Senior Citizen Home Safety Association, came to Keynote Speak at the Resonate Together Older Peoples Conference in 2016. Throughout the development of Resonate, the support shown by international social entrepreneurs has enabled our understanding of social innovation to take huge steps forward for our local community.

The Support - Resonate Together
The collaboration - Resonate Together

The collaboration – 2017

Across Clackmannanshire and Stirling young Artists were invited to hold an Art Exhibition within the Swarm Gallery at Resonate Togethers venue in 2017, entitled “Collaboration”. The art works were created during sessions at Stirling University, with Forth Valley College and Resonate Together. This partnership was brought together by Mr Jack leading the Art and Design Network across Clackmannanshire and Stirling. The full weekend of design activity at Resonate enabled students to experiment and learn about glass, pyrography, and installation art. Collaboration and creativity with young people can enable a deeper self-connection to help them deal with the challenges of the twenty first century.

The City Deal – 2017

Great excitement rippled through Resonate Together to find out the Alloa Harbour Project was being considered a ‘Flagship’ idea to be put forward for Clackmannanshire in 2017. A City Region Deal is a mechanism for accelerating growth by pulling in significant government investment. By investing this funding in innovation, skills and infrastructure, performance will be significantly improved, and we will tackle inequality and deprivation. Creating a community led, community owned Scottish leading destination centre on the shores of the Forth to drive the local economy, what could be more innovative!

The City Deal - Resonate Together
The unconditional - Resonate Together

The unconditional – 2018 

To say that love is at the heart of Resonate Together’s ethos may sound far from the governance driven focus that is often considered the foundations of the voluntary sector. However, love is what keeps the hundreds of thousands of volunteers across Scotland and beyond donating their time, dedicating their energy, and often spending their own money to keep people safe, protected and living their lives. 2018 welcomed the marriage of Cameron Watt to Resonate Together Founder, Angela. Cameron’s unconditional love had enabled Angela to be a fulltime volunteer and to drive Resonates activities, a story example of so very many founding leaders from across Scotland that have family support so they may achieve positive change for all.

The experience – 2018

In 2018 Resonate Together welcomed Psychology Placement Students from Stirling University. Resonates collaboration partnerships developed across the wide range of educational institutions and has benefited all those involved. The opportunity to listen to the students and learn about the most recent advances in psychology education, enabled Resonate Together to keep expanding our knowledge. For the students, the opportunity for real life experience, the learning from interactions at grassroots and developing the understanding of the wider well-being challenges within communities enables their career choices to be informed.

The Experience - Resonate Together
The Alloa 500 - Resonate Together

The Alloa 500 – 2018

How to balance the time developing relationships, collaborations and partnership with and for our community, while creating income to drive our organisation – a challenge faced each day by all grassroots communities. In an area of multiple deprivation and financial hardship with venue overheads alone at £30,000 per year our team were, as always, under financial pressure. Then Angela had a sponsorship idea and The Alloa 500 was born in 2018. With support from the inspiring Ian Findlay, CEO of Paths for All and colleague on the Board of ACOSVO, Angela and Ian hatched a plan. A cycle route of 500 miles, which went around Scotland, that could be completed in 5 days and Angela was to do it! The community came together, and several thousand pounds was raised. Angela shared short videos on social media from around the route and the support was incredible. “When I cycled out of Alloa and knew I had to be in Fort William that night, it took me till Glencoe to think it was a crazy idea!” said Angela. The support from Recyke-A-Bike and their CEO Angela Barron, meant that at least the bike was fit when Angela made it back to Alloa!

The complexity lens – 2018

Recognising that Resonate Together continued using valuable time going in circles trying to frame their Equalities and Inclusion Model, Angela once again sought help. Watching a 6-minute Vimeo video by Dr. Domenico Lepore on “Quality, Involvement, Flow: The Systemic Organization” was a light bulb moment. Then after much communication, Angela was invited to Italy to work with Dr Lepore and Intelligent Management Co-Founder, Dr Angela Montgomery. Their unique ‘Network of Projects’ organisational design, helps shape organisations to overcome silos for the demands of the Digital Age. It promotes intelligence, effectiveness, and accountability in the place of bureaucracy and promotes flow in the place of artificial barriers, guiding people to leverage constraints and achieve incredible results. So how to evolve this systemic change for Resonate Together in a bureaucratic world?

The complexity Lens - Resonate Together
The PeerEx Program - Resonate Together

The PeerEx Program – 2019

Social innovation is often lead by individuals who wish to find solutions. It is not about re-inventing, ignoring history or repeating but about seeking ways in which todays communities can be supported, enabled and encouraged to flourish. The work of Resonate Together, the willingness of many people involved to speak out about the benefits they experience in being part of this human learning, evolving community has led to connections made beyond the usual boundaries. 2019 welcomed the selection of Angela to take part in the PeerEx International program in Russia. This Charities Aid Foundation, British Embassy Moscow and Euclid Network collaboration enabled 6 UK based Social Sector Leaders to partner with 6 Russian based Leaders to help each other develop their organisations through mutual support and learning. Thank you to Patricia Armstrong OBE.

The Economy – 2019

Another Alloa mum came into Resonate Togethers venue in tears – this had happened several times over the years. Her daughter, a bright teenager as defined by her careers adviser, was told that she could potentially get a job within the Fashion industry that she dreamed of but that she would have to relocate out of the local area to follow her destiny. Coming from a tight knit close family, and like so many families across Scotland in rural and economically deprived areas, this is a heart-breaking moment of choice. Stepping up the existing partnership with Frank-Jurgen Richter, CEO of Horasis, Director of Davos and the World Economic Forum, Angela started networking with many of the Horasis leaders to learn of their inclusive economic solutions, chairing an international panel and forging partnerships to benefit our local community.

The Economy - Resonate Together
The pandemic - Resonate Together

The pandemic – 2020

So you work for over 9 years, get to the point of a little self-generated income in the bank, all bills paid, an organised team ready to push on with the fundraising program and increasing activities for our community and for just one moment you think “this is it” – then a pandemic hits. As with so many voluntary sector organisations, in the space of a few hours 2020 went from the year of planned development to a head spin! In 2020 Resonate closed its doors inline with the Government Covid requirements and went from a venue centred action hub to serving individuals in the most extraordinary of times. Securing funding to deliver food packages door to door, to setting up a one-on-one walking mental health program, through to home visits for elderly family whose relatives lived out of the area – 2020 was thinking on your feet and all abut helping each other. The successful UK Government award to cover the £30k a year venue overheads, meant for the first time in our history, we had the bills paid for a year ahead. Ironic, given we could not use the venue and those public sector departments we offered the venue to for free, could not use it either.

The opportunity – 2020

In September 2020 came a new challenge. Our landlord now needed one of our three warehouses returned. So, entering pragmatic negotiations with them, we saw a great opportunity to relocate Resonate Together closer to the Alloa Town Centre and to take on a building that been empty for over a year. CTSI, Alloa First and many others put in their support to enable a collaboration to form an Alloa North and West Hub from which community, groups and town centre activity would flourish. The excitement grew at a time when we all needed something to hope for. However, it was not to be and when the opportunity was taken off the table, for the first time in our 10-year history, Resonate Together became homeless. We only had a short time to feel sad for the challenges in our community, the increasing number of individuals needing support ensured we focused on supporting our community, while living out of boxes.

The opportunity - Resonate Together
The journey - Resonate Together

The journey – 2021

During 2021 Resonate Together went through a great deal of community enquiry, with a large community questionnaire linked to the SDG’s producing evidence of community change; online meet-ups, discussions and analysis of those changes within our community driven by Covid. We recognised the significant level of vulnerability, of loss and of anxiety and through targeted strategic development, we began to win funding awards as Resonate Together’s focus on relationship building was deemed core to a community getting on its feet. Our journey continues, a journey of trial and error, of change after change, of being agile to respond and being courageous enough to innovate and take risks; after all in communities like ours, if the local people don’t step up and lead, then who will?

Cultural Heart – 2022

A resounding ‘We want a home to bring communities together!’ came back to our Team when we asked our community what Resonate Together could be utilised best for now. It seems in Clackmannanshire, we have felt enough loss; enough of losing our young people who move out of the area for a ‘decent’ job; enough of losing our heritage for more housing that is built disconnected from our communities and enough of feeling we, the people, are not valued. The way Resonate Together encourages our inner qualities to flourish is also driven by the external opportunities in our community – we can all flourish in the ‘right’ environment. So here goes another leg of our journey, lets see if together, we can create that ‘community home’ that heals, inspires and  brings together our magical human inner-abilities and lots of external innovative opportunities – exciting times ahead!

Harvey House
The Learning - Resonate Together

The learning

Since starting in Alloa in 2010 we have learned over the years that driving change requires work at multiple levels, from the individual to the ecosystem. We have learned that there is no quick fix for creating this change that is needed for our communities to thrive and our planet to heal and grow. For local life is full of complexities that only local people understand. We know that passion is an incredible force but can only get you so far and that is why throughout our journey we have been researching and developing our systems approach for today’s agile world.

Resonate Together has ambition, yet we keep our feet firmly on Alloa ground to ensure each action has a local positive impact for our community, in this global network of opportunity that we have built up over the years.

Resonate Together is over a decade old and what an exciting journey of our own experimentation, innovation, and discovery to date. Now we are ready for that next step.

If you would like to get involved, please join today or contact us to start the conversation, for you never know where it may lead.