It Takes an Island

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Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about our responsibilities as a member of a community. What is our obligation to make the place we live in better with us than it would be without us? – I suppose some would say, “is that an obligation at all?” I think it is, but I also think it’s the kind of obligation that is actually a gift. When you give yourself, in whatever role you can, to your community you create a space that will give back to you when you need it. From the 30/30 initiative, to the effort to help Sadie Rose in her recuperation, to the incredible outflowing of support for the Hayeses after Piers’ sudden passing, this community’s ability to come together and give back when needed is amazing.
We can all see and feel the effects of this kind of involvement in a small community like Bowen, but what about the larger, global community? Are there things that I can change in my day to day life that will positively impact the environment? Given where we live what is our obligation to the planet? This is what I’ve been struggling with lately. It’s probably worth saying that my whole family already recycles, composts, limits our water, heat, and electricity use, and buys local (and ethical) whenever possible. But these things have really become the default in our society – something that you need to justify not doing rather than doing. Since Bowen is such an awesome community filled with people willing to share their ideas, expertise, and experience (Yay Bowen Forum and various Facebook groups!) – I know that there are lots of others trying to find solutions to this same problem. Kelly Schwenning is spearheading a group looking into the bulk purchase of solar panels and Elizabeth Burdock is blogging about her goal of feeding her family locally and sustainably – and that’s not even going into all of the fantastic things that BAA has going on!
One small thing that I can do is to grow more of my own food and start wildcrafting. For some of you that may not seem like a big deal at all, but full disclosure – I am a terrible gardener. I can kill just about anything, so this is going to be an uphill battle for me! Luckily, I live on acreage that gets plenty of sun and have access to tons (literally) of awesome compost. You won’t see me selling at the Farmers’ Markets any time soon, but if I’m able to significantly reduce the amount of packaged produce that my family currently buys – I’ll consider it a win. How successful my efforts are is yet to be determined, but so far I’m optimistic!


I have sat down to write this numerous times over the last couple of weeks, but every time I do what were beautifully formed phrases in my head refuse to flow out onto the keyboard. It’s like they get stuck somewhere in the joints of my hands, hovering above expression, not quite ready to be made public. So, I’m trying again and please forgive me if this isn’t as elegant as all of the other beautiful remembrances of Piers that have been published and printed and shared over the last little while.
I remember when the Hayeses first came to Bowen with the news of their arrival spreading like a brush fire,
“Have you met the new family?”
“They sailed from half way across the globe to come here.”
“You’ll love them, they’re the nicest people.”
And they are the nicest people and we do love them. With their dedication, hard work, love, and community-mindedness the Hayeses have turned The Snug into the manifestation of the Heart of this community. Piers was a person who greeted you like an old friend, was always ready to share a joke or story, and would offer you a lift home if you needed it. He was all of the qualities and characteristics that make Bowen great. And the space that is left with his passing is equally great.

– Margaret Miller

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