Before I go on any more, I want you first to hear one of the Commissioners talking about the difference involving communities does make:
It isn't often that the problem with the way we govern and are governed is laid bare in such stark terms. It takes a lot of effort at a government or council level to break out of policy silos, to see initiatives and ideas in the broadest terms. So, is this action on health also helping the economy or contributing on climate change? Is this measure designed to tackle anti-social behaviour having a wider impact, positive or negative? Will this idea actually work?
Government is split into interests, which naturally views problems from one perspective. There is also a pressure to act, or at least be seen to act. The challenge in government is bringing these perspectives and pressures together in a coherent way. It is not just finding a solution, but the right solution. This can be done with difficulty at the top, but with greater ease at a community level.
Bottom up solutions are joined up solutions because the people making the decisions see more of the picture: they will have a better sense of what works because they are actually living it.
On Friday I heard more practical and effective ideas - evidenced with real life examples - than I had in any other meeting in this process. I don't know if any would grab a headline, but they are each making a difference.
They have given us a lot to think about in terms of the detail, and left a powerfully clear message about the bigger picture. Successful policy is policy that is built by and with our communities. Scotland has a complex mosaic of need and that must be responded to with a mosaic of solutions, some very local. Government in the centre doesn't know best. People like me, 'policy wonks', certainly don't. Communities do. The Be Part of Better consultation has helped, but meetings like this one are crucial too.
And if I didn't know it already, the meeting brought home just how remote too much of politics is (or has become). We do live in a bubble and it is a bubble that needs burst.
I have written a few times now that community empowerment will be a big theme for a second term SNP government. Friday's meeting has confirmed in my mind that this is the right approach. But it has to be real, it has to go beyond the words on the pages of a policy document and become a way of delivery that has people and their community at its heart. And that is a challenge I believe we are up for.