Hello dear readers, and welcome back after our unexpected break. It’s good to be here once again, bringing news of what has been happening as well as what is to come, as September starts in Arran in full festival flow. We are moving into the second week of the McLellan Arts Festival with lots of interesting events lined up, including Wee Mac Arran, the island’s first children’s book festival, on 9th and 10th September. This is an amazing opportunity for children and grown-ups alike, with many well-known and much-loved authors, poets and illustrators performing live here over the two days.
Continuing with the festival theme, and another first for the island, is the Arran Festival of Food and Drink, taking place on 16th – 24th September. The week is packed with different food events taking place across the island, including a seaweed forage with COAST, a pick your own picnic at Woodside Farm, a festival farmers market, barn dance and BBQ! And if you’re not in Arran for all this wonderful cultural and foodie activity? The Climate Fringe Festival is also happening in Scotland in September, with community based climate actions going on from Orkney to Shetland to Glasgow and Arran, when we will be visited once more by the lovely Nature Library. The Library will be based this time at Arran Botanical Drinks, Cladach, on the weekend of 10th September.
Still not anywhere near the festival fun?! Then we hope you find some good things to read here. With the upcoming busyness, we have kept one eye on the increasingly worrying matters of the climate and biodiversity crises. The Scottish Government is currently working on a new Biodiversity Strategy and the public consultation is open until 12th September. Some of the articles that have come in for this edition issue a timely reminder about the gravity of the problems we face, and the consultation is a welcome opportunity for us to respond to this significant policy which should define how the country will respond to the global nature crisis here in Scotland from now until 2045.
In her piece ‘In Memoriam: James Lovelock’, Sally Campbell marks the death in July, of one of the most instrumental inventors, scientists and environmentalists of our time. We learn about Lovelock’s invention of the electron capture detector in 1957 and how he used this “to determine the widespread presence of chlorohydrocarbons in the atmosphere”, becoming “the first to discover human made gases were building up in the atmosphere.” The invention would also, in Lovelock’s words, lead to “the discovery of the ubiquitous distribution of pesticide residues in the natural environment, and to Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, which can be said to have started the environmental movement.”
In another event in July, the head of the Environment Agency, Sir James Bevan, launched a report, Working with Nature. In his speech he quoted the opening lines of Silent Spring, “ ‘On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices there was now no sound; only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh.’” Ahead of the UN Convention of Biological Diversity later this year, he warned of a ‘silent spring’ that awaits humanity unless action is taken.
I have taken a short break and crossed the stretch of water from Arran to Holy Isle, a place of such vibrant natural beauty and a stillness of its own, that Carson’s words seem to echo more deeply in my ears. I truly hope that Bevan’s next ones ring louder in the months to come, that: “Since we humans and everything we cherish depends on nature, we have the strongest possible interest in avoiding that outcome.”
We hope you have a lovely month, enjoy the issue, and any of the festivals if you are able to join them! Elsa