The National:

IT'S easy and not wrong to focus on the crowd, the images, the thronging that began as a trickle and built to flood. The crowd tells a story. The centrally organised crowd is one thing, but the one that just, flows together from many, many tributaries is quite another.

You don’t get to place where people overcome their fear of crowds and of protests spontaneously. Not least when the practice of the pandemic has been giving each other space. It’s a romantic seduction, like the belief that a virtuous violinist can "just" play. The crowd was, in the main, community educated, well-practiced, and the tip of the iceberg.

Behind scenes of high-vis vests, shimmering, gauzy Eid frocks, face masks, and prams, there were acts of kindness yesterday and just sheer practical care. Folk ensuring food and water were supplied, even sun cream. There were phone calls, peace talks and messages zig-zagging every network. And again, behind the scenes, people sitting talking and remembering those dawn-raided or detained in the past, in the way the now legendary Glasgow Girls Documentary Musical by Cora Bissett tells it. Because some folk were "triggered off the scale" and their worst nightmares were back with a vengeance.

The National:

Many of us were remembering our friend Soloman Rashid – a peaceful man – deported to Iraq from Dungavel over a decade ago and killed.

Such a crowd is made and sustained by the on-going everyday actions of care, built up over years of many strong small organisations that mean everyone who’s "fae somewhere" – as Refuweegee put it - can know someone. In a world of epidemic loneliness exacerbated by this pandemic, this is an antidote from Glasgow’s "in yer face" friendliness.

READ MORE: Alison Thewliss: Scotland deserves better than inhumane Home Office

It’s also a romantic nonsense to suggest that this is all and only "grassroots". Yes, that’s where we start and finish, but it’s equally true that the kinds of community trust #KenmureStreet demonstrates has been policy in Scotland for over 10 years #NewScots. It has been part of structured learning and teaching and discussions in schools and universities, churches and mosques, in NGOs and advocacy organisations in the often fraught but pearl-potential grit of action, that continues to produce a city, that forms its New Scots and Old Scots anew.

The New Scots policy is far from perfect but it was built from the ground up, through many, many grassroots organisations, NGOs, public service & endless practical & caring and sometimes fraught debates. And it was informed by careful and important academic study modelled by Dr Alison Strang and Prof Alastair Ager of Queen Margaret University. Their work placed social bonds at the heart of New Scots Policy. Social bonds are actively fostered because that’s what keeps people safe, especially when state structures creak or fail. Social bonds make us neighbours who meet, greet and eat with one another.

The National:

Asylum dispersal was designed by the Home Office to stop social bonds happening. But in Glasgow it didn’t work. Or elsewhere. The Westminister Government’s New Plan for Immigration seeks to destroy those social bonds with its proposals for off-shoring and direct provision.

Integration networks grew that integrated further, grew new leaders in communities, dismissed the necessary early reliance on the teachers. Fifteen years ago this was small, fragile, inexperienced. Now it literally has a life of its own. Led by New Scots, supported by Old Scots.

These days it’s hard to list how many different extraordinary community actions there are that work like Bruce Lee’s water, mingling and moving behind the scenes. A meshwork of connections. Strong as. At least in the rainy seasons. It’s no longer just the three or four usual suspects. In 2014 and 2015 massive political community education began to spread organically. A politics of the kitchen table, and the subway stranger-friend conversation.

The National:

The man who placed himself underneath the immigration van stopped by protesters in Kenmure Street

Glasgow is rightly famed for this, full of potential humble "van man" moments and Glasgow Girls. It organises practically and, vitally, culturally. It gathers, speaks, listens, is gallus in its endless conversation, never afraid of argument. Unlike in England, our folk traditions are redolent with this.

I’ll be updating my University of Glasgow lecture on Glasgow over the weekend again. Mary Barbour, Jimmy Reid, George Macleod, PI, Poll Tax, Iona Community in Govan, #GlasgowGirls, and now Kenmure Street and never forgetting Annie’s Loo. (Search it, do).

We’ve hard days ahead. The Home Office is hell bent on cruelty and has an entirely different ideological understanding, and fear-fed action agenda. I am under no illusions. At all.

But I’ll take the joy yesterday represented and for its long holding as much as for the victory cries. Time to praise sing the heroes. And to keep on, rightly, "unsinging" the ordinary extraordinariness of those who stick with the committed work of continuously creating a city that cares and can-do, when it matters.

It’s no small thing.

Alison Phipps is UNESCO Chair for Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow, and Ambassador for the Scottish Refugee Council