It Starts with Children
As an island culture free of coal mines, steelworks, factories, and high-rise office complexes, our close to nature farming and fishing community have a hands-on relationship with the fabric of our planet. There is not simply an innate respect for the purity of the air we breathe, the soil we till and the pristine waters that surround us, moreover there is a direct relationship between mankind and his surroundings.
And so it is almost second nature for people to develop an ecology consciousness. Last month the Burray and South Ronaldsay Brownies spent the early part of their evening on a local beach collecting pollutants residing on the beach as the tide receded.
Here these young ladies and some parents diligently combed a few hundred metres of stony beach to identify and remove the evidence of how mankind has polluted one of the Earth’s greatest resources, our oceans. The majority of offending items could be classified as intercontinental plastics together with partial shotgun cartridges and nylon ropes. Many of these items may have come from the Eastern Seaboard of United States of America, some may have been thrown overboard from sea bound traffic and much could also have been thrown away on land by treating a river as a human rubbish disposal system.
Within approximately one hour this goodly group of people had collected more than 20 large plastic bags of harmful material.
Whilst there, local amateur ornithologist Stan Groundwater gave some of us an initiate lesson in birdwatching. It started with a simple instruction: stand still, open your eyes and look up. Yes we were surrounded by wildlife which for many of us passes unnoticed as we go about our daily preoccupations.
Long Tail Ducks
And finally, for 20 minutes we felt the fixed gaze of the supervisor Short Eared Owl making sure that we had done a good job.
So . . .
when you come to Orkney, possessed with an itinerary of archaeology, historical buildings or ancestral searches, please remember to: stand still, open your eyes and look up.
Click here for more about Stan Groundwater
"This church had 134 years of weddings, blessings and Sunday school; it must be Inculcated with love, the walls must exude happiness and joy." Keiko Yamaga-White November 2007