Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Love of Place

Post by: Spencer Gray
4th year student at College of the Atlantic

When you love a place, you tend to not stray far from it. Maine is that place for me. Apart from leaving Maine during high school, my entire life has been spent living here on the coast. In fact, apart from one trip to California (when I was 9 months old!) I have spent my entire life on the East coast of the United States. Consequently, Denmark was a huge step off of my normal path. A three hour drive, a four hour bus ride, a nine hour overnight flight, a connection, two train rides, a ferry, and finally a bike ride just to get to the campground! Who would go through twenty six hours of traveling to go visit a place! When I first arrived at Samsø I was struck by two things, how familiar the place felt and how subtly different it was. In reality this place isn't really that physically different than Mount Desert Island. Yes it is flat, very flat, and instead of park there are farmlands, but the variation between the two is not geography.

The goals of the community are not driven by individual interest and the resulting benefit to one person. Instead there is a drive to serve common good with the understanding that it will benefit each person individually as well. It is impossible not to reference the wind turbines that dot the island in this context. Community investment in these turbines is what made them possible. Collective ownership drove the interest and participation that allowed Samsø to go through its great transition. This community spirit has not waned with time either. A new project, an on island Biogas plant, is aimed at moving the island ferries off of fossil fuels and helping the island complete its fossil free goals. I spoke with the project manager of the project recently and he expressed his desire to keep the plant in the hands of the people.
“I want the community to be able to purchase shares or invest in the new biogas plant, so its not theirs, or my, but our biogas plant.”
Perhaps the variation between our island and theirs is a fundamentally different perspective. There is no technological magic bullet that allowed them to reach their goal. The project specifically used proven current technology, no futuristic miracle machines. Why can’t we do the same.