Hello and welcome to the November issue of the Voice for Arran!

We have what may seem a disparate mix of pieces for you this month. Yet somehow, as we head into times once more of further corona restrictions and towards a pivotal Presidential election in the US, they have come to feel very much connected, a connection which I sense comes from the aspects of social history on which a number of the articles hinge. While bringing the issue together, I have gained a vivid appreciation of the many ways our present and past are inseparable, how ideas, philosophies, and experiences, seem to both stretch and converge across space and time.

One understanding of this has come about through reading Robert Thorson’s article, ‘What ‘Walden’ can tell us about social distancing and focusing on life’s essentials’, which opens the issue. Thorson draws out some of the themes in Thoreau’s classic book that could suggest ways to help us during this time of both Covid-19 and environmental crisis. Among them are lessons on solitude, on having the time to look within, and on clarifying the difference between what we need and what we think we need.

The month of November for many in western societies signals a time of remembrance and we have several pieces which pay tribute to this. Kenneth Gibson reports on the Scotland Poppy Appeal nearing its centenary, and Jim Henderson continues his account (in part 3) of the 11 Commando’s time spent training in Arran in the early 1940s. There is also news from those now working towards a future where such atrocities of world war are not repeated. The Scotland wide Peace Maps Project is looking to document and celebrate many of the meaningful places that promote the effort for fellowship, an end to war, and social justice. Meanwhile Scottish CND reports on events last month whereby the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons set up in 2017 now has enough ratifications by member states for it to pass into international law in the coming months.

Themes of intergenerational connection continue with Christina Quarrell’s reflections on the positive benefits of relationships between the young and elderly and what each can bring to the other, while Lesley Paton Cox, in her recently published book ‘This Dear Place’, asks that we do not forget the meaning and value of those living here before us. In her folk history of Corrie and Sannox villages, Paton Cox describes a way of life and sense of place for people which was based in large part on a strong identification with being born into an ‘Arran family’, creating a sense of belonging to these lineages which remains to this day.

Back in the here and now, we have news of the continuing struggle against the proposals for the salmon farm in north Arran, with accounts from the Friends of Millstone Point campaign, as well as from diver and activist Matt Mellen (see Loch, Stock and Salmon) and from a long-time Arran visitor and fly fisherman (in Letter to the Editor) who expand further on the problem of fish farms in the west of Scotland. The latest consultation with the council for the revised Millstone Point application ends on 9th November so please lend your support to the campaign either by visiting the protest site if you are nearby or by lodging an objection online with the NAC by this date.

In looking to the future we may be as well to contemplate the wisdoms given to us from the past, which often point to a simpler and saner way of life. As Thorson says, “I’m rediscovering the value of two of Thoreau’s key points: Solitude is helping me recalibrate what matters most, and the current economic slowdown offers short-term gains and a long-term message for the planet”.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that the news from America next week will offer hope that whoever takes office will also take the wisdom of his forebears to heart! Wishing you a lovely month, Elsa