Tuesday, June 21, 2016

It's About Community

Post By: Makiko Yoshida
2nd Year Student at College of the Atlantic

Another amazing day on Samso Island is coming to the end and so as our week long stay on the island. Six days have passed since I arrived to Samso Island. I explored the island biking between farm lands and wind turbines, visiting people to hear about their experience on energy transition that took place on the island. Samso Island took on the challenge to transition their energy source from fossil fuel to renewable. The island is now carbon negative. I came to Samso with interest in exploring local community’s engagement in this energy transition. Through interactions with people on the island, I experienced tremendous trust among the community, willingness to help each other and work together as a community. “We don’t have very many resources so we have to work together,” said young lady who grew up on the island. I believe it is this willingness to work with the community and respect to the nature that makes this island very comforting to everyone who visits. Samso community has what is missing in consumeristic society that many of us live today. People in the community work together to make decisions that are best not only for people but also for the environment.
I learned that height of wind turbines on the island reflects the landscape of the area. Some are tall and some are short. This may not seem very significant, but to me it represents the respect people on the island holds for the nature. Instead of separating manmade product from surrounding environment, wind turbines are built with respect to the landscape. People here work with nature and are part of the nature.
Over the past weekI have been amazed with how people in the community contributed in transitioning to more sustainable society in their own ways. Yesterday, I had a chance to visit golf course on the island. I was welcomed by over thirty sheep. “They are my cheap employer,” laugh the owner of the golf course. Glass on of the golf course is mowed by sheep and electric car. Water is pumped up from pond with energy from wind turbines built on the golf course. No pesticides have been used for the last few years but instead, seaweeds and micro clovers are planted and used to keep the grass green. I was very amazed with the work the owner of the golf course have done but what impressed me even more was how happy and proud he looked when he was explaining all the work he have done. The experience of living on the island and meeting people here has showed me the importance of working with nature and with people.
I was biking back from visiting people on the other side of the island for an interview. Cows and horses were munching on grass on the side of the road, fields of wheat were starting to turn golden, and in distance, I could see wind turbines reflecting the last remaining sunlight of the day. The world around me was covered with orange light from sunset. The world seemed complete and I was content. I am so grateful for the opportunity I was given to visit this island and for the experience I had here.
In few days I will be traveling back to Japan. I am excited to meet people in my home community who are also interested in transitioning to carbon free society and exploring how I can bring back what I learned here.