Happy May Day and welcome to this issue of the Voice! We hope you are settling into life under lockdown, it feels like a lot has happened since last month, yet also not very much… Despite the restrictions it is clear that a lot continues to go on and we have a packed issue filled with community news and stories, as well as a few things coming up in May and beyond.

Getting this issue together has brought up some themes I have been contemplating over the last few weeks, and realise that the over-riding sense for me has been one of gratitude. This is possibly a risky thing to be feeling given that many people during this time are suffering so much. Yet after the initial pandemonium that the pandemic brought about, life has settled into a slower more spacious way of being for which I am incredibly grateful. It is not to say we are not busy, sometimes manically so, or don’t have our share of desperate (mostly home school related) moments but I am aware of a quality of expansiveness in our days that was not present before.

Perhaps it is the new element of remaining local; we are not locked into the never-ending, unthinking rounds of school, work, activities, homework and other deadlines, and all made possible by endless car journeys. Instead we now take the tiny walk round the corner to the beach, or run round the local campsite, we plant some vegetables, and the biggest thing we celebrate is our now once a week car journey!

In the article on the postponement of the COP26 Climate Change conference that was due to take place in Glasgow this year, a number of organisations reiterate how important it is not to let the global climate crisis drop off the agenda at this time. The words that stick with me the most perhaps are from Hargeet Singh, speaking from Action Aid, who says, “…the pandemic also proves that if there is political will, dramatic actions can be taken, trillions of dollars can be mobilised and people will accept inconvenience and strong government interventions, if it means protecting millions of lives. It shows the level of ambition that must be applied to the climate emergency.”

In this issue the stories of community life and activity, as well as the gratitude that comes through in the pieces about our NHS and keyworkers, somehow soften the reality of the massive changes that people are undergoing. Barb Taub tells of the Facemasks for Arran project, which is one group that has grown since the pandemic began. It is not just about providing much needed protective equipment but also about the sense of purpose it provides members, the new social connections it creates, and doing something practical to contribute to the situation we are in. Alice Maxwell’s lockdown reflections describe the innumerable benefits music can bring and she encourages us to explore ways we can connect with it in our lives, while COAST’s story of Wee Sharky who last week found freedom in Lamlash Bay brings us joyously into connection with our natural world.

Conversations about the climate crisis before Covid-19 tentatively asked how much inconvenience could people put up with, how much consuming could we forgo, and how much restructuring of our lives could be possible in order to do what scientists warn needs to be done. Now these questions and conversations take on a different meaning in a Covid-19 context both on a global and personal level. We know massive inconvenience can be endured if it is for the wellbeing of a greater number of people, and I hope once the greatest risks from the pandemic pass this understanding will be applied by governments with urgency to the future wellbeing of our planet and children.

For me, I realise my deep sense of gratitude comes from the fact that the pandemic has flung us into a life that is in so many ways so much more beneficial, but one that I was refusing. I knew in my heart that it was the right way, for the planet especially, yet it was something I kept at bay, kept thinking ‘we’ll do in a few years’. For a greener way of living that I ‘believed in’ I was still somehow outside of it, and now the possibility of being outside has been taken away, and it is turning out to be an ‘inconvenience’ that overall is not one that needs to be endured but rejoiced… Hope you stay well this month, Elsa