29 August 2022, 3 min read
A story from Shetland...
Paddy and I eloped to Shetland. When I consider my own purpose and the challenges we’re all facing right now, Shetland helped me to see things from a different perspective, from 60 degrees north.
On the 1st August – 4 weeks ago today – I married my best friend and rock in life, Paddy.
We’ve been together a long time and, let’s be honest both been here before, so wanted to keep things small. But, looking at wedding venues we were astounded by the outrageous cost and waste. We understand the Pandemic has exacerbated the problem, but whatever the reason, we just didn’t feel we could justify the expense (not that we could afford it anyway).
So, like I do in my business, I started to think about how I could do things differently.
We’ve always been intrigued by Shetland, and suddenly the idea of just the two of us running away to somewhere so wild and remote seemed like the most romantic thing in the world.
And it was.
Paddy and I, the registrar and two random witnesses to sign the register. It doesn’t sound very romantic, does it? But those 15 minutes, the shortest of ceremonies, were incredibly intense and will remain with me forever.
Two weeks staying on the island has thrown up more than we bargained for. Sure, it’s the most beautiful place to get married and our wedding day was exactly what we wanted, but the magic of those islands has left its mark on us.
When I consider my own purpose and the challenges we’re all facing right now, Shetland helped me to see things from a different perspective, from 60 degrees north.
On the first full day of our stay (and the day before our wedding) we were in complete awe of the breathtaking landscape. But, more than that, we were amazed by the quality and scale of the infrastructure and services – the roads were like carpets (not a pothole in sight!); a school and a leisure centre with a swimming pool in every little community; the buildings well-maintained. Everywhere we looked was pristine.
And then, as we were marveling at all around us, something brought our thoughts back to the reality of the situation. A makeshift protest at the side of the perfect road:
“We need Cambo oil”.
For those that don’t know, Cambo is an oil and gas field planned for development north west of the Shetland islands.
This was a reminder – scratch that, a massive jolt – that outside of my network and LinkedIn bubble there are many different views about oil. It isn’t just the fat cats at the top of the industries who benefit from fossil fuels, this community is built on it, and relies on it.
Islanders talk about “before the oil” like it was a different world. I don’t doubt that it was. The perfect infrastructure and public services that we had been so eagerly admiring had been funded by money generated from oil and gas.
So this begs the question, how does a community like this transition to a zero carbon future?
There are 23,000 people across the Shetland islands. How many of them feel they ‘need Cambo’, and see the only alternative as going back to hard island life of crofting and fishing?
If we’re going to move to a zero carbon world, we need to think carefully and compassionately about how communities like this can survive, and thrive.
Climate change and social injustice go hand-in-hand. How do we make sure that the solutions don’t make things worse for communities like Shetland?
These people deserve better.
The good news is there is another way. There IS enough money, resources and opportunity for everyone, but we must be willing to think differently. As Einstein famously said: “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
It’s about distribution.
I talk about ‘less is more’. But let’s be clear, this doesn’t mean stepping back in time. It’s a new way of moving forward.
For the people of Shetland, Scotland, the UK and the world.
It isn’t going to be easy, especially for these communities. But the alternative will be even harder.
Within all this soul searching, we’ve been so captivated by island life we’re seriously reflecting upon what our future holds, and whether we could make a life – and a living – there.
But before we can even consider upping sticks, I have work to do here, and you are all part of that.
I’d love to know what you think. How do we ensure a fair and just transition for all? Let’s talk some more.