During 2016, we made 76 postings on this ESIN site https://europeansmallislands.com. 16 of these were about events taking place in Greece, 8 in Scotland, 9 in Sweden, 7 each in France and Ireland, 6 in Finland, 3 in Denmark, and 2 in Estonia, Åland and Italy respectively.
The subjects were mixed: 7 out of 76 posts were about renewable energy (plus 2 about Smilegov), 5 about island schools, 4 about island kids, 3 about agriculture, 8 about literature and art, 5 about transports, 6 about ISISA, 4 about CPMR and 2 about waste. The intention is to give an overall picture of life on a small European island, its joys and hardships.
We had almost twelve thousand (11.824) visits by five thousand (5,375) visitors. Most of them came from the UK (c:a 2,000), Sweden (c:a 800), the US (c:a 750), Ireland, Greece and Germany (c:a 700 each), France (c:a 500), Italy, Estonia, Åland and Maldives (c:a 300 each).
Everything posted on this site is mirrored on our Facebook page which had an amazing 34,927 views during 2016. Most popular posts were: the letter from Arranmore on September 15 (seen by 1,478 people), Inishbofin’s ecoturism award on May 4 (1,138 views), the ESIN AGM in Brussels on October, 2 (1,010 views) and the opportunity for young islanders to study tourism in Palermo published on March 8 (1,005 views).
DG Energy’s Marie Donnely island pledge on December 2 reached 751 people, ESIN’s Elefteris Kechagioglou’s attendance to the CPMR 36th Annual General Meeting on May 19 was seen by 696 people and the recent link to “Islands of the Future” documentary films stirred the interest of 686 people.
On the French islands Ouessant (Ushant), the new year begins well as little Leane was born on 3rd of January. She shook up her parents, the medical services and the island statistics to become the first baby to be born on the island of Ouessant for a good thirty years.
The future mom ouessantine was about to take the Monday 16:30 boat to Brest, in anticipation of her imminent delivery, not wanting to quit her job at the local supermarket too early. The unborn baby decided otherwise while her mother was still on the Stiff landing stage.
The firefighters and the island doctor were called, the future mother was placed in the fire truck and taken to the airfield, waiting for the arrival of the airborne mainland medical services. It was there that Leane was born, around 5.45 pm. “It was in the open air and everyone brought blankets,” says an islander.
The last birth on the island dates back to June 18, 1986. A little girl, too. And, wink of fate, the brother of the young mother, born on October 6, 1985, was the penultimate birth to Ouessant. He was born at the motherhood of the island, which has since been transformed into a youth hostel.2017 is starting off well on Ouessant which just got its 879th inhabitant. Happy New Year!
A winter view from ESIN’s office in Karlby, Kökar. The temperature is just below minus and the sea is beginning to freeze. Wishing all islanders and island-friends a Happy New Year!
2016 ends like autumn, not winter, on Kökar. It’s almost midnight on New Year’s Eve, I’m a little drunk, out to pee in the shadowy slope beneath the old gate. It’s 5oC but the clouds are gone and the sky is boiling with stars.
Happy there aren’t any fireworks, hoping 2017 will bring better times for small islands, dreaming of zero waste and zero nonsense, wishing for more research, reflection, reaction and action. Kind of foolish to wish upon a star but remember they are all alive. Maybe they will let us all get a reasonable share of love from others and from ourselves.
This is a link to five documentary films on five exceptional islands, beautiful and fascinating, but above all exemplary. Farmers, business people, engineers and scientists on these islands have taken on the challenge or revolutionising energy provision – without oil, coal, gas or nuclear power.
The people who live on these islands have been battling against the forces of nature for centuries. Now they intend to use the power of water, the waves, the tides, the wind, geothermal energy and the sun for a better future. These islands are laboratories of hope that are showing the rest of the world how climate protection can be achieved and, above all, that it works.
The Danish island of Samsø, the Canary island of El Hierro, Madeira, Iceland and Orkney in Scotland have discovered pathways to the future without destroying their breathtaking landscapes.
Enso by Torei Enji (1721-1792)
Susanne is a friend of mine who paints ensō’s. It is a Japanese word meaning ”circle” and a concept strongly associated with Zen. Ensō is perhaps the most common subject of Japanese calligraphy, symbolizing strength, elegance, the universe, single mindedness, the state of mind of the artist at the moment of creation and the acceptance of imperfection as perfect.
To me, it is a picture of an island. They can be drawn with or without an opening. Susanne’s ensō is an island with no opening. The island has its residents who move around paths and roads inside the island. Outside of he “o” there is a lot of traffic mainly at the bottom of the painting. Maybe, maybe there are some small connections?
When drawn with an opening, it can suggest that imperfection is an essential and inherent part of existence, a part of something greater.
I prefer to see islands as open ensō’s. No island can exist with a harbour which is the opening, the connection to the mainland, the acceptance that the island cannot survive as a secluded, self-supporting society.
I am, of course, heavily influenced by the fact that the Swedish word for island is ”ö”. It is a word of Germanic origin meaning “land close to water”. It is, as you can see, an ensō, a ”o” with two dots on top, like a French ”trema”. It’s could be a pictogram of an island with its round shape supported by two skerries or rocks or lighthouses.
In Danish, the word for island is ”ø” (not too bad), in Norwegia ”øy” (no ore a pictogram). In Finnish it ish ”saari” and in Estonian ”saar”, both languages have of Slavonic roots. Germans say ”insel”, French say ”île”, English people say ”island and so do the Irish and the Scots if they aren’t saying ” eilean” or ”innis”. The Italians say ”isola”, most of these are derived from latin and have to do with isolation. The Croatians say ”otoka” and the Greeks say ”νησί”.
I believe there is no more accurate and beautiful word for island than the Swedish “ö”. Open or not, you decide.
Ensō by Susanne Frunck
2014 enso by Jaysen Matthew Waller
A monk asked his master to express Zen on paper so that he would have something tangible to study. At first the master refused, saying, “Since it is right in front of your face why should I try to capture it with brush and ink?” Still the monk continued to plead with the master for something concrete. The master drew a circle on a piece of paper and added this inscription: “Thinking about this and understanding it is second best; not thinking about it and understanding it is third best.” The master did not say what is first best.
Zenga: Brushstrokes of Enlightenment