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Landlocked island communities

Philip’s message told me of his frustration at the aborted attempt to visit Colintraive and Glendaruel in Argyll, for project work.

Landslips onto roads were the reason, caused by three days of solid rain. Not only did these block the Rest and be Thankful pass between Arrochar and Inveraray, a relatively common occurrence, but also the diversion via Crianlarich. This turned out to be ‘fortuitous’, as he subsequently discovered the road beyond Inveraray was also impassable.

It was also ironic. The visit was a kick off meeting to develop a working relationship with the community Development Trust in this isolated part of Scotland, to research community resilience and sustainable development. For a short time, Colintraive and Glendaruel is experiencing first hand what this European funded research is exploring for policy makers – the need for self-sufficiency in the face of a changing world. In short, to adopt an island mentality. A quick look at the website shows what this has meant to them in the past few months: using invasive Rhododendron as a fuel source; a call to tender for hydro installation; and local food production and forestry.

In The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, Michael Pollan summed up one way we could all experience this island community ethos first hand: “The single greatest lesson the garden teaches is that our relationship to the planet need not be zero-sum, and that as long as the sun still shines and people still can plan and plant, think and do, we can, if we bother to try, find ways to provide for ourselves without diminishing the world.”


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