Where do I start? Phones, emails, twitter,Facebook,papers ,journalists, speculation, letters to the press,a community council meeting, oh and lots and lots of stress for those involved. Yesterday evening we held our monthly CC meeting and with 6 members of the public there we got through the business and almost the AOB before the LAS campaign, letters and petitions came up. All in all it was a very well-ordered,intelligent and at times humorous evening. The only pertinent point I felt I had to make was the way the LAS campaign was used to “have a go” at the Community Council and the Community Company and possibly ,at the risk of being slightly paranoid having a go at personalities within these democratically elected bodies that have done nothing but good over the last few years. Both bodies have had to crisis manage several situations recently and I think come through many of them intact. There have been many difficulties,many of which have been negotiated successfully and written about, like the medical services and the Filling Station, rubbish collections and now the withdrawal of the snowblower making the closure of the Bealach over long periods inevitable.. Our campaigns and activities have gained a lot of favourable reaction, mainly I have to say from out with the community ,some of whom look in with envy at our community resilience. This resilience has been tested from within by the much discredited “petitions”, letters and machinations of a few. Today I was asked to phone a paper to try to remove some one’s signature as he realised the import of what he had signed.Not that he had been told at the time. Some of the things told to people to encourage them to sign the “petition” I would be too embarrassed to repeat.
The fan was really smacked today when the Trust employed the PR firm MediaHouse to announce that they were, with regret, rejecting the applications to become members of the Trust. This,as usual, kicked off press interest and the phone started ringing to find a “balance” to the story. Because I know that there is a lot of disquiet in the community the responsiblity to say nothing divisive but at the same time getting a coherent and reasonable message across was immense. Those outside the community have made their opinions clear and most have been negative towards the actions of the Trust. Who knows how this is all going to pan out but I hope for the sake of the Trust and the community that the Trust do not go forward saying they have the support of the community on the strength of this “petition”. Just an opinion but a considered one. It is such a pity that one or two individuals are attacking the Company on a week that we have two press embargos on us for winning two big grants to further the success of this community alongside the Scottish Government picking us for upgrading our broadband. I was speaking yesterday to a composer who was planning a project with film maker next year desperately needing a decent connection. This is what I want to blog more about,positive,imaginative and innovative ideas that fit in with the spirituality of the place. I do not think that the Company needs a PR firm but can just point to what is being achieved in its name. I am always aware of the older members of this community and accept that they live a different life style but do not think these advances will alter their quiet existence in any way. Change or die has often been quoted to me and I think this can be achieved without disrupting the quietude and solitude of those that want it. The extremes of those that do not want tourists to visit maybe have to be challenged as unreasonable.
I went up to the Bay partly to get away from contact and ended todays walk with Dougal and family charging along the sand at the tide level chasing some very cheesed off oyster catchers,gulls and crows. Not a chance of getting near any of them but it was fun watching them to the extent I was laughing out loud and that was a moment when I was alive and the stramash in effect was meaningless in the extreme. Especially watching Dougal going at full tilt not knowing he was heading straight for the river and of course he disappears under the water. I wonder if the solution is to take all the protagonists out on to the Bay at low tide with the Dougal,his mum and granny and ask what are you all about? Have you all honestly thought what you really want and how that affects other members of the community. I like a naive fantasy every now and again. Despite all the politics that are going on the application to shift the wood from the Coal Shed pier is going ahead. The delay in awarding the contract has meant that it is a little rushed but an immense amount of work is being done with quotes,letters of support and grant applications being worked on with deadlines looming. This joint project between the Company and the Trust is aimed at reinstating a pier that was used to take in supplies of coal many years ago. The picture below has been kindly lent by the Heritage Centre and shows coal being unloaded by horse and cart from the beached puffer.
Thought crossed my mind as I was signing off. If I was not on the internet and did not have Facebook and did not have access to twitter, got account but never tweeted, would I be more or less informed. I think I would be more vulnerable to people with agendas and the tourists still ask “But what do you do for the winter up here?”