Living in a community like we do is both a privilege and a responsibility.
When we were interviewed for our croft here on Rum one of the questions we were asked was what we could offer the community here. Our reply was that if we were to move to Rum and make our lives here then we would be expecting an awful lot from Rum. It would need to be our everything – meet all of our social, educational, recreational, financial needs. In order to expect that much from Rum we would need to be prepared to give at least that much, probably a whole lot more, back.
I think we do that. We do it in lots and lots of ways.
We do it by the small part time jobs we work – at the shop and post office, the castle, the venison company and previously at the school. We work for hourly rates lower than we earned 15 years ago in our mainland lives but it keeps the local economy turning, ensures those jobs do get done and while we know if we didn’t do them someone else would being the people who do them gives back as much as we get back in wages.
We do it by working our croft – putting energy and time and money into making good the land we took on and slowly improving the soil, demonstrating that it can be done, growing local produce, supporting the tourist trade by creating our brand and adding to the offering of goods and services visitors to the island can buy from.
We do it by attending events, being there and making up the numbers. Competing for Rum in the small isles games, going to the ceilidhs, the quiz nights, the parties, the nativity, the halloween party, the bonfire night, Burns night, hogmanay, the birthday celebrations, the cinema evenings, the ranger events.
We do it by supporting the other small businesses here on the island, by buying food from the shop, arts and crafts from the other makers, tea and cakes from the teashop, meat from the venison company.
We do it with the voluntary posts we hold – director of the community trust, small isles community councillor, sitting on steering groups, attending meetings, interviewing employees, writing for the local newsletter, the website, editing and compiling the community newsletter, emailing, talking to, liaisiing with….
We do all of this because we want to be here, we want to take back from this community to meet our needs so we need to make sure it exists by giving to it as much as we can. We understand how lucky we are to live here and be part of this and how much energy and effort is required to ensure it is here at all.
But this afternoon, despite having 101 other things we could have been busy with on the croft, or doing on the computer, or planning or talking about we bunked off. Between at least five meetings already this week and another scheduled by phone for this evening (and it’s only Tuesday!!) we headed off where we knew we’d see no one and just enjoyed neither taking or giving anything other than to each other.