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Pioneering Scottish advocate to place SLC issue in global context

Acclaimed Scottish author and environmental activist Alastair McIntosh will deliver a talk on “Battling the Mountain Busters (Scotland and Greenport): Putting the SLC Struggle into a Global Context” on Saturday, August 23 at 7:00 pm, at St. Mary's Academy in Hudson.

The author of Soil and Soul: People Versus Corporate Power, McIntosh has gained an international reputation, particularly for his work on behalf of land reform in his native country. This public event, open to all, is sponsored by Friends of Hudson, in association with the E.F. Schumacher Society. Admission is $15.

His work and extensive writings are accessible through his website (click HERE).

The centerpiece of McIntosh’s presentation will be his 10-year experience in blocking a superquarry (“the gravel mine of Europe”) on the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides, part of a National Scenic Area, by Lafarge Redland Aggregates, subsidiary of, Lafarge, the French-based multinational. Now the largest cement manufacturer in the world, Lafarge’s holdings now also include the former Blue Circle plant in Ravena, NY, just south of Albany.

Friends of Hudson executive director Sam Pratt will provide additional perspective on Lafarge’s main competitor, the Swiss-based multinational Holcim, whose subsidiary St. Lawrence Cement of Montreal seeks to establish a massive cement facility and 1,200-acre superquarry of its own in Greenport and Hudson.

Steve Breyman, RPI Professor of Ecological Economics in the Values & Policy Program, will be host and moderator.

In addition to his key role in the Harris superquarry battle, McIntosh is perhaps best known for his work with the people of the Isle of Eigg. With the eventual purchase of the island by the Isle of Eigg Trust, the residents struck a history-making blow at Scotland’s archaic feudal system of land ownership. The high profile success of the community land trust in democratizing the island has become a symbol and catalyst for placing land reform legislation at the center of the new Scottish Parliament’s agenda.

The case studies of Harris and Eigg form the core of Soil and Soul, published in Britain in 2000 and now available in this country. It has become recognized as a masterwork of the environmental literature in its skillful synthesis of history, poetry, theology and ecology. In the words of Carolyn Merchant, author of The Death of Nature, "Soil and Soul is an extraordinary biography of the earth. This book will be an inspiration to anyone who cares abut their own connection to place, past and the nature we have all lost and hope to reclaim." Copies of Soil and Soul will be available for purchase at the event and at the Friends office (362 1/2 Warren Street) during working hours.

Alastair McIntosh is a Fellow of the Center for Human Ecology, Edinburgh. The Center is an independent, accredited teaching institute devoted to advancing the health of human communities within the larger context of the physical environment, incorporating activism as part of its academic mission. McIntosh’s skills as a strategist have been widely recognized for their innovative, and often dramatic, advocacy of spiritual values on a par with economic concerns. According to McIntosh, "the basis of using natural resources should be reverence: profound respect for the Creation." At a public government inquiry on the Harris proposal, he enlisted the testimony of a Native American warrior chief from Nova Scotia along with one of the leading progressive Calvinist theologians from Scotland.

Other ongoing pursuits of McIntosh and his colleagues at the Center for Human Ecology include the People and Parliament project, developing a national 'values discernment' process; the Embracing Multicultural Scotland project, combating prejudice and racism; and the GalGael Trust created by marginalized urban youth in Glasgow who are reclaiming their culture and traditional boat building skills. McIntosh has published extensively on a diverse array of topics including community identity, globalization, nonviolence, sustainability, land reform, science policy, and cultural psychotherapy. Healing Nationhood: Essays in Spirituality, Place and Community, also published in 2000, describes his work with the Russian Academy of Science and the Russian Orthodox Church searching for a third way between corporate capitalism and communism.

Reservations are recommended as space is limited. To make a reservation or for further information, call Friends of Hudson at (518) 822-0334. McIntosh’s visit to the Northeast includes a number of other public appearances, including a program at Time & Space Limited the following evening (Sunday, August 24). For further information on McIntosh’s other appearances, please contact Jim Cashen at (518) 851-7021 or Christopher Reed (518) 672-7743.

St. Mary's Academy is at the corner of 3rd and Allen Streets in Hudson (the same location as Friends of Hudson's annual March party).

Friends of Hudson, with a membership of over 3,500 donors, is a project of the Open Space Institute. Its mission includes protecting public health, air and water quality and preserving scenic, cultural, archaeological, historical and agricultural resources. The McIntosh event is part of an ongoing series of forums designed to advance public discussion about the economic and environmental health of the region.