Hello and a warm welcome to the new edition of the Voice as we welcome the arrival of May – which has to be one of my favourite months! Nature seems to be bursting into life around us, the birds sing louder, the trees grow fuller and the days hopefully a little warmer. Keeping with the nature theme, the beginning of the month starts with International Dawn Chorus Day on 2nd. If you’re in Arran you’ll most likely be aware of the symphony of birdsong we are treated to each day, but Dawn Chorus Day is marked to encourage us all to set our alarms for an early rise to immerse ourselves in the natural soundscape that ensues in cities and country alike.

Next up, next week, are the elections, for the Holyrood MSPs if you are in Scotland. In It’s Election Time…Time to Vote, Sally Campbell has written a personal and stirring piece to remind us of the meaning and importance of our right to vote. If we want to see change on the policy level we need to take on our responsibility to engage with the process. To me, party political lines are less important than the big themes and issues of our time, and my deepest hope is that whoever is next in power will put climate change, environmental protections and the transition to a green economy at the forefront of the agenda in a way that will completely restructure how we do things.

For this is what I keep hearing is needed and several authors in this issue also assert this. Francis Stewart in his piece Green Jobs for Scotland considers the areas that need huge investment and reorganisation in a decarbonising society, from energy to buildings to waste to agriculture. He writes, “The scale of public investment required [is] in the hundreds of billions of pounds – far exceeding what the Scottish Government alone can access under the current financial settlement.” Apart from the constitutional challenge this potentially creates for Scotland, the problem of raising the necessary finance to decarbonise our society remains.

David Graeber’s polemic, After the Pandemic, We Can’t Go Back to Sleep, fundamentally questions that financial markets are the best way to direct long-term investment “as they continue propelling us to destroy most of life on Earth”. Instead we need government which takes into account “the actual reality of human life, which is that we are a collection of fragile beings taking care of one another,” and that “if ‘the economy’ means anything, it is the way we provide each other with what we need to be alive (in every sense of the term)”. These are the key issues that both the pandemic and the upcoming election put a spotlight on and need now to be addressed. How will we support life in a more equitable and sustainable way and how will the necessary sums of money be raised to make these far-reaching changes?

Climate change, the economy and politics aside, we have some interesting articles on new local projects and the local lives behind some of these. A new ArranOnline app has been launched and an ‘Arranology’ project is being developed; we hear from an island celebrant and discover some life lessons from an Arran fiddler. We hope you enjoy these pieces and we wish you a wonderful month. I will take up my democratic cue next week with a resolute focus on a healthier planet, a focus which I fiercely hope our politicians will also honour….Elsa