The Highland and Islands of Scotland are understandably much romanticized owing to no lack of films, tv shows and books which have depicted these areas and the people who live there with a great deal of fantasy and historical intrigue.
If you’ve ever wanted to hear about what life is actually like in the Scottish Highland and Islands then there’s a brilliant platform called HI Voices which features new guest contributors every week sharing their experiences, perspectives and insights and it’s well worth checking out.
Set up as a rotational Twitter account with accompanying blog by Domhnall Macsween in 2013 HI Voices offers a glimpse into the people who live and work in the Highland and Islands and it’s a real treasure to take a look at.
Recent contributors include Eilidh Smith who describes her experiences living in Strathpeffer and spending time in Achmore on the Isle of Lewis. Currently Eilidh is working at the Gairloch Museum and in a recent post she shared this insightful comment about Highland life:
” Living and working in the Highlands and Islands, we have a canny ability to adapt, to change our plans and make the most of whatever is thrown at us. Maybe that comes from years of coping with ever-changing weather, knowing we need to change tack and adjust to fit the fronts as they move through. Maybe it’s that our communities are close and small enough that we know someone who can help, or someone who knows someone who can help… “
The feeling of community spirit and togetherness that Eilidh describes is a central theme in a lot of the contributions on HI Voices as the people who live and work in the Highland and Islands seem to be very aware of the importance of kinship, of working together in harmony with each other as well as the land itself in order to thrive and survive.
Although the Highlands and Islands are wonderful destinations for tourists, drawing visitors from all over the world, they are places where people have lived for thousands of years and where distinct culture, customs and language has managed to survive despite many challenges and the never ending march towards globalization. The people who live there are rightfully proud of their roots and their identities.
Rhoda Meek from the Isle of Tiree shares some insights: “For me, our Scottish islands and especially the one I am lucky enough to call home, are so much more than a destination. They are living breathing places with an incredibly rich cultural heritage – and I see that culture sitting on the cusp of survival.”
HI Voices moderator Linda Ross had this to say on the project:
“With the Highlands and Islands Voices account we go beyond the mythology of the region and hear from those who make the region what it is – a diverse area that, although steeped in a remarkable heritage, is so much more than the tartan and castles in the mists for which it is often celebrated. Our weekly curators show off the area as progressive, exciting and characterised by a landscape which is for living. Through them, the area has an online presence which reflects everything from the rich cultural scene to the industrial and technological developments which have been an ever-present part of modern life in the region. Perhaps more importantly, it gives a platform to the intricacies of daily life and leaves us with a tangible record of the reality (both positive and negative) of Highlands and Islands life. It picks up on the area’s inherent diversity and pride to remind us that there is no singular voice of the region; although people come together as ‘Highlanders’, the account shows us that being ‘Highland’ means different things to different people.”