Sustainable Star Island

 Getting Back To Basics By Moving Forward

Solar Panels, 2015

Solar Panels, 2015

Written by Helen Ball

Star Island has long been a place where people can escape from the pressure and grind of everyday life. The Star Island Corporation holds the potential of their island for spiritual renewal very dear [1], and do their utmost to ensure that visitors have an island experience which enables them to connect or reconnect with what’s basically important. It may seem that the recent addition of the largest off-grid bank of solar panels in New England [2] disrupts the peace, serenity, and sense of history inherent in the look and ‘feel’ of the island. Certainly the panels look prohibitively modern and industrial. However, the ethos behind this progressive move towards sustainable energy does in fact spring from commendably old roots. Self-sufficiency, as well as respect for the environment, is at the heart of the move – and these are values which island peoples the world over will recognize as of the greatest historical import for the insular way of life.
The Solar Panels
The new solar array is expected to provide around 130,000 KWH of power to Star Island – hopefully 60% or more of the island’s total power usage during the summer time [3]. It covers half an acre of the 44 acre island, and does, admittedly, look rather too modern to be in keeping with the island’s pristine aesthetic. In all fairness, the corporation have done their absolute utmost to position the array in such a way that it will cause minimal aesthetic disruption to people’s enjoyment of the island, but there are always some who look askance at banks of solar panels in beautiful areas. Such things have caused a deal of controversy in other areas before now [4], and continue to do so. However, such doubts can perhaps be allayed by looking at what is hoped to be achieved through the erection of the solar array. Ultimately, it’s all about self-sufficiency and preserving environmental integrity. 
Modern Malaise
We live in an increasingly high-octane society, which consumes at a rate far above that which is really sustainable. We are becoming so accustomed to thoughtlessly consuming without replacing, and doing little to either produce or sustain that which we consume that we are arguable losing touch with our roots in a manner which is having some alarming consequences. Quite apart from the undeniable environmental damage caused by reckless consumption, and the impact upon poorer global communities who suffer in order to feed our relentless appetites, the demands of the modern world and our growing disconnection from the world around us is having a terrible effect upon ourselves. Consumerism [5] and a sense of subsequent alienation from ‘real’ things has been linked to depression, particularly among women [6]. While the way our forbears lived may not have been perfect, it is notable that their lifestyles were a lot more sustainable – which in turn gave them a far greater sense of connection to the places in which they lived, of control over their resources, and acceptance of the natural way of things. Their lives may have been simple, but they were sustainable, and that sustainability brought with it a degree of happiness.
Sustainability
The Star Island Corporation has been perfectly clear all along in stating that the aim of the solar array is to render the island a more sustainable, self-sufficient location [7]. It’s about putting the resources used by Star Island back within island hands, and about being responsible for our own actions without compromising on comfort. This is simultaneously a step forward and an acceptance of the wisdom of our self-sufficient ancestors. While retaining the comforts of modern society, we are discarding the disconnection and unsustainable methodology which has characterised modern life thus far. Instead, we are returning to an era of sustainable self-sufficiency which will harm neither the environment nor our own health – although we are using some very modern technology to do so!
[1] Star Island Corporation, “About”
[3] Deborah McDermott, “Solar array ‘a big deal’ for Star Island”, Seacoast online, Jun 2015
[5] Jill Krasny, “STUDY: Consumerism Is Making Us Depressed And Anti-Social”, Business Insider, Apr 2012
[6] PsychGuides, “Depression in Women”
Image retrieved from http://starisland.org/img/StarIslandSolarPanelsAlexdeSteiguer.jpg