Hello and a warm welcome to the May edition of the Voice for Arran. Over the last week I have been enjoying the sight and sound of swallows arriving once again. A reassuring sign that summer is on the way and that even though we humans often don’t get things right, we can at least rely on the natural world to know what to do!

There is plenty to look forward to on Arran in the coming month – the Arran Mountain Festival, a Music Arran concert, the last day (on the 2nd) of a local quilt exhibition and some volunteer days at the Arran Community Land Initiative. Nationally, the Big Plastic Count is taking place in May and Hilary Patrick brings us news on how to join what is set to be the biggest ever investigation into household plastic waste. We also have some interesting historical pieces in this issue, including the final part of Jim Henderson’s series on Robert the Bruce, and a fascinating article from David Pott on Sannox and the Macmillans.

As some readers may know, Daniel Macmillan, who went onto found the Macmillan publishing company with his brother, was born in a north Arran croft in the early 19th century. While the family moved to the mainland when Daniel was still young, he maintained close ties with the island for the rest of his life. His grandson Harold Macmillan was to become prime minister, and Pott attributes the far-reaching impact of this family on the legacy of the Sannox community, the spiritual heritage of Sannox church and the spectacular landscape of the area. Harold Macmillan reportedly kept a photo of the Arran croft “on his desk at 10 Downing Street to remind him of his humble origins.”

With the local government elections coming up in the next few days, Sally Campbell has written a piece on the subject of ‘What sort of leaders do we need in 2022?’ Reflecting on the UK’s political heritage, and on the crisis of leadership today, she raises relevant questions about how politicians could move beyond the current ‘power model’ of governance. She says that “leaders have emerged with large egos, a sense of entitlement, narcissistic personalities, [and] passive aggressive behaviours”. This contrasts to a ‘servant-leader’ model which involves a participatory approach, a co-creative relationship with partners and sharing of power. The focus is “on evoking and shaping what is possible, instead of taking care of what already is, in their interest.”

“So”, Sally asks, “how can we develop as Servant-Leaders?” Looking to literature on Emotional Intelligence, which is the ability to understand your own emotions and those of the people around you, she says growing qualities of self-awareness, empathy, and humility are key. Quoting Margaret Wheatley, author of Who do we choose to be? she writes, “Sane leadership is the unshakeable faith in people’s capacity to be generous, creative and kind. It is the commitment to create the conditions for these capacities to blossom, protected from the external environment.”

And what if, as is mostly the case at the moment, we don’t see these qualities reflected back to us from public life? Then it is always a good place to start with ourselves. As Sally says, such attributes are “important in communities of people, a nation, a village, a business, a local authority”, not just in the nation’s leaders, and are qualities we can all tap into with the right attention and a lot of perseverance!  We hope you enjoy the issue and wish you a lovely month ahead, Elsa