Hello, welcome to the January Voice for Arran, and a very Happy New Year to you when it comes!
It is the day before 2020 and a gorgeous cold sunny one here on Arran. As I look outside, the sea, the sky, the trees and the light on the mountains seem perfect. A momentary reflection before the celebration of Hogmanay begins, and before the momentum of the coming year’s events and activities take hold. ‘Reflection’ is a theme in one of our pieces this month. Sally Campbell writes about the necessity of taking time to be still. Over the next decade when so many radical actions insist on being made, some stillness of mind and space to reflect may be the best place from where to begin. In his poem, The Peace of Wild Things (2018) that Sally references, Wendell Berry reminds us how being in nature can help us find this peace, and if we let it, we can learn from its innate equanimity too.
Yet in so many areas of life we are still in a blind rush to produce and consume, with the resulting degradation of our environment. ‘How did we come to this in 2020?’, and ‘Building a Repair Economy’ in this issue, and the publication in The Guardian today about the proposed salmon farm for north Arran, starkly reminds us of this. 2020 has been designated the Year of Coasts and Waters in Scotland. In and of itself this is an amazing thing to be honouring. But our coasts and waters, and trees and mountains, are not in and of themselves, and the dominant context we bring to the natural world continues to be destructive. Many coastal communities in Scotland in 2020 will be facing struggles with the fish farming industry and the government to try and protect their local marine environments. Arran’s COAST is one organisation at the heart of this conflict, and in this issue we report on some of their campaigns over the last year, including an update on their work against The Scottish Salmon Company’s proposal for north Arran. In 2020 can we now offer the protection our oceans and marine wildlife need to genuinely celebrate the Year of Coasts and Waters?
Other items in this issue highlight the many positive activities by groups who are working hard to bring about the changes we need. Eco Savvy are bringing work experience opportunities to young people on the island, and Arran Community Land Initiative and Arran Horticultural Society are holding a ‘growing food’ workshop early in the month. ACLI have volunteer tree planting days planned too. I am particularly excited about the return of Arran milk and have yet to try the free festive vending machine in Shore Road! Luckily a visit to the vending machine is one of my (small and doable) New Year resolutions! One of my less small but hopefully still doable aims for next year is to take Sally’s, and Wendell Berry’s counsel – to find stillness in often senseless times, so that I may “For a time…rest in the grace of the world, and am free”. We hope you have a great 2020 and can too find some much needed motivation and happiness, as well as peace!