The Community of Salt (part iii)

Time has come for our FEAST. The one once dreamt. We are preparing the viands, setting the table, collecting our makings… TO SHARE. This community, the creative community, has been a tipping point for a long dream to become true: The Community of Salt.

As any community, as any system, it takes time to emerge from idea to being.

All started last March with a wonder.

The wonder transformed into a thought that became a thing. Taking form. Ethereal. Embryonic. Nascent.
From salt making in November 2020 to have a nascent identity in March 2021.
Salt dissolving and preserving. Salt transforming. Salt catalysing.
There are not many people in this community. It is still in part a wonder, in part a beginning, in part a vision.

Rocks and Life in abundance is what is left here from the Saltpans in St. Monan [Fife]

St. Monan – in Fife, Scotland – was a fishing port also used to export salt from the saltpans. The Saltpans in St. Monan are now part of the Community, bringing history and a sense of place to this “wondering-becoming-community” We went there this August to discover a natural landscape taking over the human landscape: Rocks and life in abundance.

How all started?

In 1771 the Newark Coal and Saltworks Company was established. At St Monan’s on the Scottish east coast they built 9 saltpans, probably a settling tank and channel. Wagonary was used to transport coal from the surrounding area to the pans, and then took the salt as well as coal to the nearby Pittenweem Harbour for export. At the end of the 18th century salt production went on around the clock.

The Forth basin, at which St Monan’s is at the mouth of, was abundant in coal supplies and perfect for the needs of the saltpans furnaces, and this part of the coastline was the main area for salt production in Scotland for some 800 years. In 1614 salt was Scotland’s third most important export, after wool and fish. These saltworks became the third largest salt producer in Fife, but only lasted for about 40 years, with production coming to a halt in 1825.

The landscape has grown wild since then. The metal pans are not there any longer, the rocks have taken over and all kind of life in form of algae, likens, and plankton to feed small fishes have made this place home. When the tide goes down the tide pools are full of life that stay there, trap in small communities, a world within the world we know as planet earth. These communities showing us a way of respect and communal living that works because of uniqueness and togetherness. And I am in awe…

Underwater. Disappearing. The Community of Salt. Searching for a Sense of Place. A journey just starting.

How does it feel to be part of the community? I ask the rocks and the algae, I ask the small shells. They answer.

Awww of course, time and place. Two essential components of any system. I still wonder… What will want to emerge? There are some parts of this ecosystem that are forming and disappearing at the same time. A paradox? I don’t think so, it is more a kind of organic and natural way for communities to become. A journey is just starting and I don’t feel like rushing it.