May 3, 2017
That elusive yardstick
Scottish Government may have created a rod for its back by committing itself to developing a new framework for measuring social impact. This has long been the Holy Grail and thus far, proved completely elusive. Proponents of social auditing, balanced score card, social return on investment and other hybrids have all failed to hit the mark. Perhaps the answer is that social impact is so multi-dimensional as to render any single measurement irrelevant. After 20 years of community ownership, the islanders of Eigg wouldn’t know where to start. The impact is everywhere.
An amazing film about the island (ers) of Eigg. Watch here
THE isle of Eigg – the centre of a famous buyout by islanders 20 years ago – is celebrating after hitting a population milestone by passing 100 residents.
A trust that runs the Hebridean isle now believes there are 105 islanders, but only realised they had hit the historic threshold after doing a mental calculation. When Eigg was bought out in 1997 it had just 64 people.
However, the century milestone almost went unnoticed until some islanders started to do the maths.
Maggie Fyffe, secretary of the trust, said: “I think what we have achieved is fantastic. Eigg is very much a different place now.
“We only recently realised we have passed 100 residents. We never really set targets – slow and sustainable growth is what is important.
“It is also pleasing to see such a diverse population with a healthy demographic. To have 19 children here is wonderful and the oldest resident is in her 80s.
“It is a good and varied mix. We have achieved a lot and we hope to achieve even more in the years to come.
“There is no question [the buyout] has been worth it. The employment opportunities have increased considerably and we have renovated a lot of houses and improved the environment. We have a lot to be proud of.”
It is believed the 100th resident was a baby boy born in January, but there have also been new residents moving to Eigg, including the new owner of a stunning home said to have inspired parts of JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was put up for sale for £230,000.
Eigg was Scotland’s first major community buy-out and came after decades of problems with absentee landlords. The purchase paved the way in the land reform movement throughout Scotland.
Among its achievements, Eigg has the first completely wind, water and sun-powered electricity grid in the world. It was on 12 June 1997 the residents bought the island for £1.75 million, aided by a £1m gift from an anonymous donor.
Her identity still remains a closely guarded secret. In the 20 years of community ownership, the population of Eigg has increased more than 60 per cent.
Five children now attend the primary school and are among the 19 children on the island – older youngsters attend Mallaig High School, 18 miles away on the mainland. The Isle of Eigg Heritage Trust, which owns the island, has over the years built a tea shop and set-up forestry projects and created much other employment. It even runs its own building company.
Eigg’s former owners included former Olympic bobsleigher, Keith Schellenberg, who brought many of Eigg’s current residents to the island – but ended-up being booed off the isle.