Jelte met me at the airport, glued to his phone. He's in a start-up business, connecting communities with renewable energy systems, and the throes of financing, interpersonal territory, and so on, are still settling down. I grew up in a businessman's household, and feel right at home with that ambiance.
We perched at the top of a double decker bus which swayed alarmingly along on the wrong side of the road. His flat is urban-on the same block as the opera and the "Bottoms Up" strip club and a greeting card store.
Up Lothian Road to the Meadows Park, then through the park back around to Old Town. Typical European buildings made from yellowish sandstone, four or five stories high, flush against the street. Somewhere in there I found the National Museum, with carved Pictish stones and Viking beads and a horse skeleton.
Then a long walk around the bottom of the castle, which included Hunters' Square and Waverly Bridge, an extravagant blackening stone tower honoring Walter Scott, and lots of construction along Princes Street where they installed a defective light rail system that they are now tearing up and replacing. I asked directions of a short Scottish woman, who pronounced "go" the way they do in Norway, "gooah." I watched her hands carefully because I missed much of what she said.
That evening Jelte and I went to an awards ceremony at the Botanical Gardens. It was crashingly dull, despite what both of us thought of as interesting subject matter. I chatted up the lady who won fifth prize, a Beach Ranger on the island of Bute. She is responsible for twelve miles of beach, which she patrols with a tractor and trailer, using children and mentally disabled adults to help collect ten tons of trash per year. She said she had been planning to move to Vancouver but bonded deeply with the beach she is responsible for.
As a teacher and artist, I would recommend to any environmental program:
1. That they include a way to include children in the overall mission, not just as students but as participants.
2. That they use engaging techniques when making presentations to bring the audience into active participation. For example, at the awards ceremony, they could have allowed the award recipients to speak a little and answer questions from the audience.
3. That they seek out and engage community volunteers in real work such as data collecting, systems monitoring, or outreach.
Scotland has very ambitious sustainability goals, which include things like reforesting 25% of the country by 2050 and drastically reducing their carbon footprint.
After the ceremony, we looked at a crappy art exhibit on how awful the current environmental crisis is. I was offended. We don't actually need much more education about how terrible the situation is. What people need is fun and interesting ways to engage in solutions. We don't need to hear about how bad it is to use fossil fuels. What we want is to help build bike paths in our neighborhoods and to find out how to build solar cookers and actually use them.