Hello and welcome to this month’s Voice for Arran, we hope this issue finds you well and enjoying the warming days of spring. Without the visitors and events that usually accompany Easter here there is a low-key quality about the island. Yet underneath this muted feeling the month has begun with a boost of optimism across community and environmental groups with the news that North Ayrshire Council has unanimously rejected the salmon farm proposal for Millstone Point, in the north of Arran.
The Love Millstone Point campaign has been ongoing for the last two years and the decision by the council last month was greeted with joy and relief. In this issue, a statement on the decision by COAST notes that although this is just one step against the fight against open-cage salmon farming, it is a testament to the commitment and effectiveness of local community organising. It follows the rejection by Highland Council last year for a salmon farm off Skye, and next month another application will be considered by Argyll and Bute about a proposal for a farm at North Kilbrannan.
This context is a reminder that campaigning work is far from over and in her article ‘The Long Read – despite Millstone Point, our campaigning is not yet done’, Sally Campbell describes how “multinational salmon farming companies are upping their game to expand in Scotland.” But while the success of the campaign marks one step against a complex and dominant political-economic system it feels like an important one because it draws focus to the corresponding actions of the many pioneering organisations, around the world as well as here in Arran, who are laying the groundwork for another way of organising our communities.
The Pioneer Project is one such group whose work began at the start of lockdown last year developing community growing sites across Arran. In this issue they report on the planting of tree orchards at some of the project locations and through these collective initiatives they are bringing people together around ecological and sustainable principles, not only revitalising disused pieces of land but reconnecting people to the land and to each other as well. In some small way these activities at least help to build an alternative to the destructive practices of salmon or any intensive farming. As Sally identifies, “the complexity of this industry from feed [for the salmon] to farm to plate makes it ideal to hide the environmental and community costs to us all and to the benefit of shareholder value and short term profits”.
There is an online Marine Hustings coming up on 8th April, a good opportunity to question candidates before the elections in May on their vision and strategy for protecting our marine ecosystems. Holding those in power to account is one part of campaigning work, but perhaps it is also essential for each of us to take the responsibility onto ourselves, by participating in local initiatives and connecting everyday to a vision of a more ecological way we might live.
In a delightful comic we’ve included in this issue ‘How to bring nature into your daily life’, Sarah Lazarovic says, “We’re of two worlds. We know there’s a world that should be entirely different, with ecological principles at its core, where sustainability guides all that we do, where we understand a thriving planet means thriving people.” But then we go back to our daily life, of bills and shopping and plastic, which is when our deeper vision of how to live to gets foggy. So “how do we keep our connection to an ecological world at the forefront?” Sarah says the best way is just to get outside… “The important thing is just to go, to notice, and to feel,” simply go for a walk, touch some soil or get growing with your local Pioneer Project!
Wishing you all a lovely month, Elsa