Hello and very happy New Year to you all!

I woke this morning with a sense of curiosity and hope. It may have been to do with the amusing dream I had just had, but the clear blue sky, frosty air and the approaching sunrise filled the morning with a sense of peace. With all the ongoing political and coronavirus turbulence, easing in to the new year like this was a welcome reprieve. If there is one thing I am coming to learn (and over the past year I have been given numerous times to practice it!), it is that even with the considerable turmoil going on in our lives, there is, thankfully, an innate tranquillity available to us to which we can connect and help grow if we give it a little space. It is perhaps easier to locate this in ourselves living in a place like Arran, and I have been prompted many times throughout the year to reflect on our fortune to be here. At the same time, as recent events have happened we are continually reminded we are not untouched on this island either. From the stories of shellfish from Arran seas bound for the continent and stuck for days in Lorries in Kent, to the many Christmases that have been disrupted and families forced to stay apart, the truth of our common experience and interdependence is never far away.

Several pieces in this issue highlight the many ways we are connected with global issues, from Sally Campbell’s call for a 21st century activism to take place across the generations in her article ‘What Can I Do?’ to Pauline Robinson’s account of being an observer of Scotland’s Climate Assembly. While it is easy for these events to pass us by, Pauline explains how we can get involved, and how important it is for us to engage with these issues, perhaps especially so with the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) taking place in November this year in Glasgow. There will be many opportunities for us to get involved over the coming months and to turn our energy in positive ways towards tackling the effects of climate change. 2020 ended with some optimistic news from COAST about the flame shell reef recently discovered in the waters of Arran’s Marine Protected Area, and also from Holyrood where the topic of establishing more No Take Zones around Scotland was discussed. For more on this see Kenneth Gibson’s report. Let’s hope the important area of marine conservation remains a priority in the coming year, with some significant action taking place after the debate!

We will see what 2021 brings and in what ways Covid, Brexit and the climate crisis will affect us all but perhaps some hopeful words from Lama Yeshe Rinpoche’s recent book can accompany us into the new year. In Alice Maxwell’s review of From a Mountain in Tibet, we hear about Lama Yeshe’s remarkable life story, a life which shows that even through the experience of extreme external circumstances he has found that, “At the core of every human being is not sin or some sort of void but an innate goodness and intelligence”. He says, “It has been my life’s work to find that part of myself in order that I might demonstrate to others that they too have the potential to find their own, and so bring about personal transformation. When such change is sought sincerely, for the express purpose of bringing more peace and happiness into the wider world, it will always come to pass.”

I hope you may take inspiration from these words and wish you all the best for a healthy and peaceful 2021! Elsa