Hello and welcome to the June edition of the Voice for Arran. We hope you are all keeping well!
Arran is taking its first tentative steps out of lockdown, and as is happening all round the world conversations are taking place on how to proceed next. It feels almost unimaginable (and very exciting) that more and more headlines actually suggest that a green recovery is on the cards. The EU has pledged billions for a ‘green’ stimulus package, and businesses seem to be calling on the UK government to lead the country out of recession with huge investment in building green infrastructure. Here in Arran, community groups and businesses are meeting and an online survey has been distributed for residents to share their views.
In this issue of the Voice, amongst other things we look at themes around growth and degrowth, and a couple of our articles show that a green recovery in food growing is already taking place here. In For the Love of Soil, Alice Maxwell describes the successes and failures she encounters with her flowers, vegetables and herbs over the seasons, and Eco Savvy introduce their new Growing on Arran Podcast. Sinead Fortune also considers the fundamentals of growing, in A Food Revolution starts with Seed. She discusses the importance of returning to a local connection with seed that has been lost over the years. With stocks of seed running low in small organic companies recently, due to a huge increase in demand, Fortune encourages communities to develop their own seed banks, something which Eco Savvy has exciting plans to establish for Arran in the near future.
This theme of nurturing life takes us right to the centre of the New Roots Collective’s call for a ‘degrowth’ model for rebuilding the economy. In an open letter, they suggest scaling down wasteful production and focus instead on our basic human needs, such as the right to food, housing and education for everyone, as the best way of moving beyond lockdown. Their number one principle for the recovery of the economy and the basis of creating a just society is to “Put life at the centre of our economic systems”. In this approach, attention is given primarily to people and the natural world, with investment needed in healthcare, education, renewable energy and ecological agriculture. In Arran, tourism could also be added to this list.
What could these insights mean for a post-covid recovery in Arran? And what would it look like with such a respect for life at its core? We are hearing conversations about putting the community’s safety and well-being at the heart of recovery, as well as how to manage the safe return of visitors. Arran depends on tourism but a new way of organising this will be needed. The arguably old, growth model of tourism based on the maximisation of visitors and the idea of Arran as a product, keeps us separate from the natural world, which we are now learning more starkly than ever with Covid -19 is increasingly untenable. Once we put life at the centre and honour our connection to nature then the safety and well-being of Arran and it’s community will be safeguarded, and from this understanding means also that the safety and well-being of all who visit will be too.
We hope you enjoy this issue and have a great month! Elsa