Friday, January 25, 2008

Visionaries and Others

I live in a breathtakingly beautiful part of the world. Alas, the tradeoff in this case for that wonderful scenery is that it can be very hard to make a living here.

I had lunch with the visionary woman who put me to work in the energy efficiency project that she stitched together from different organizations and different funding sources. As a result of her vision and a handful of people who were willing to believe in her, there is a team of 4 people trained specifically in how to address issues of fuel poverty--how to be more energy efficient in the home, how to read meters, understand utility bills, make better consumer and environmental choices, and take charge of their lives or a little part of them. More than 100 homes had been visited when I left the team last year. I imagine by now that has doubled.

In addition to homes helped and 4 jobs created, several volunteers have been trained and given experience to help them into employment either with the project as it expands or in areas of their choosing. Volunteering gave them skills, experience, and confidence both in themselves and in possibilities here. Invaluable gifts.

By contrast, I heard today about two people who are going back south because they or their partners cannot find work up here. It is all too common an occurrence.

I have a deep and abiding fondness for visionaries. I have been described as a hope-full person and one who can see connections that others might not put together. Those are two traits that I share with my friend who created the Energy Project. I have the capacity to believe in the possibilities that they can envision. I recently heard just the end of a folk tale on the radio recently while driving home. The story came to the required happy ending because "a fool had listened to a story that might be true." The wise fool, one of my favorite character types, seems often to be missing up here. There are visionaries here but not enough people to listen to the stories that might be true and so make them come true.

I recently attended a highland council meeting specifically to look at a story that might be true. Many years of planning and research had gone into proposed siting for a wind farm. Despite having been approved by the council's own planning officer, the meeting looked more like an episode from Judge Roy Bean's court than a meeting. Speaker after speaker lined up to say that the wind farm would detract from tourism, cause a decline in property values, forever ruin the landscape and so on. All speculative (for all my visionary leanings, I do require a good argument) and not to the point of the meeting. No one seemed to notice. No one was listening to the story that might be true.

In particular I thought about that today because the wind farm would create 5 full time jobs. If the council had listened, then those folks might not be going back south now.

If you are a visionary, take heart. There are wise fools willing to listen to you. Just keep looking.

If you are not a visionary, then do the world a favor and call up a friend or colleague who tends to be a bit wild eyed for your taste and have a cuppa and just listen as if the story is true. You might decide to believe it and if not, you have at least had a nice cup of coffee.


At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just wanted to say, i have been reading your blog for the last month and thoroughly enjoy your style of writing. Your latest post seems to have a different tone to it altogether. You mention the beauty of the area and i wonder if you are sub-consciously upset with the impact the wind turbines will have on the area. For me life is all about balance and although there will be 5 f/t jobs created you must ask yourself the question of what will the impact be on the area/people?


At 6:02 PM, Blogger landgirl said...

Thanks for reading my blog and taking time to comment. I appreciate it very much. Balance is important to me, too, and I think the balance between economic development and pristine beauty is always a challenge.
I believe in wind power, however, both for Caithness and for the world at large. Right now it is one of the only mature technologies for sustainable energy. I think solar works well up here, too, for such things as heating water. I'd love to see solar heating in effect for the pool in Thurso because it is sooo cold.

I also think that big wind farms may actually preserve more of the landscape than all these smaller projects dotted here and there across the horizon.

Caithness needs something to generate income right now because many people up here are being hard squeezed by economics. Caithness needs something even more desperately in the near future when we lose Dounreay. I think wind farms such as the Baillie one are our best bet for preserving both the landscape and the people who love it. Please keep reading and share your opinions. I like to hear what people think.


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