Hello, and welcome to Voice for Arran, and to the new month which brings with it quite a tangle of news and events from the last few weeks. We heard with great relief that many of the NTS jobs put at risk in Scotland recently have been saved and that all the posts at Brodick Castle and Country Park are secure. This comes with more sobering reports, on the one side of us, of plans to restart the ageing nuclear reactors at Hunterston, while over on the other side on Kintyre, last week saw the escape of nearly 50,000 salmon from the North Carradale farm as it was hit by Storm Ellen. In this issue Sally Campbell provides a report on the serious situation now arising for the wild salmon in our seas after this incident.
August also saw the arrival of Earth Overshoot Day, the day that apparently marks the time when our demand for ecological resources and services exceeds what the earth can regenerate in a given year. With the coronavirus we have reached this day three weeks later than last year and although the decrease in carbon consumption was not by human intention, it has given earth not only an unexpected (and very brief) respite but also granted us a rejuvenated awareness and opportunity for going forward in different and hopefully more graceful ways. Here in Arran, the ARG (Arran Recovery Group) is working hard on a recovery plan for the island after Covid-19 and is asking islanders to read the draft plan and send in their feedback (see the link here).
I have found many of the articles in this issue helpful in revealing ways as to how we might proceed. In his piece, ‘Future generations deserve good ancestors, will you be one?’ Roman Krznaric considers how in our histories of consuming, we have not only colonised other people and countries but we are colonising future generations as well. To begin to address this situation, he says that instead of continuing to use resources faster than they can be naturally replenished, we learn from our co-beings on this earth and from the wisdom that nature has to offer. “The way that living organisms have evolved to survive over the long term is to take care of the place that will take care of their offspring. In other words, to live within the biophysical limits of their environment. That’s how everything from owls to otters survive, generation after generation”.
In working towards a recovery plan for Arran, there are important lessons to take from this, perhaps in particular regarding the future nature of tourism. It is maybe not the time to remain wedded to an economic model which looks to achieve more and more visitor numbers, and which (at least until now) relies on taking more from our environment than can be replaced . As Dawn Hollis discusses in her article ‘Is it time to stop climbing mountains?’ perhaps now is the time for us to question our personal and collective motives that keep us buying the latest iphone, or experiencing a particular destination, seeking to reach the top of the next mountain. She says that in lockdown, “Over the past months, we have all given up personal freedoms for a greater good. If you love mountains, especially in the sense of wanting to place your own boots on their summits, what freedoms are you willing to give up to preserve them? The same goes for the wider outdoor environment. Are you prepared to help limit footfall in these places, and the carbon emissions needed to reach them?”
Along with these substantial questions, this issue also brings news of some lovely events to look forward to in September, including online workshops with Eco Savvy, the publication of a new children’s book, an exhibition opening of the work of the amazing community arts project 52 Stitched Stories, as well as the beginning of plans for an Arran Arboretum. Mhairi Aileen Smeir tells us about members of the University of the 3rd Age (U3A) who have been inspired to mark their gratitude to the selflessness of so many on Arran during the Covid pandemic by creating a woodland. Planting trees is also one way in which we can gift to future generations, rather than continuing a pattern of take, as if there was going to be nobody there. Krznaric uses a Maori concept ‘whakapapa’ to consider the way generations past present and future are linked. He says “It is the idea that we are all connected in a great chain of life that links the present back to the generations of the past and forwards to all the generations going on into the future”. With this view we can see that “we need to respect their interests and the world they inhabit as much as our own” and begin to act in ways that takes more care to do this.
We hope you enjoy the issue and have a lovely month, Elsa