Jonathan: Inspiration so often comes unannounced, from where it’s least expected! Comparisons are most helpful when most parameters are in common, just a few contrast. Like many islanders, we’re fascinated by life on other islands: how lives that are similarly constrained may yet be so different. The greater the similarities, the more unexpected – the more challenging – the differences. The more informative – the more inspiring! Compare: Eilean Siar v Faeroes ; Scarp v Sark ; Lewis & Harris, Scotland v Chiloe, Chile. But what if we flip that around: similarities of cultural context, differences of geography? Compare: Rural but landless households of Ness or Vatersay, v Farm workers of Aberdeenshire or Argyll, banished to suburban council estates ; Shareholders in a Hebridean common grazing v Commoners in a Lakeland hill ; Crofters around the bleak moors of Lewis v Hill farmers of Dartmoor. How about those last? The hill-farmers of Dartmoor are besieged by the same forces as is the crofting Gael, and though the two might possibly have difficulty understanding each other’s words, each could join the other in working the land and livestock with scarce need for words at all. And the differences? Whilst the crofting way of life is fenced about by measures designed to preserve it, the law seems to have achieved little more than to keep local tradesmen in work building ever more grandiose grant-aided croft houses for nominal crofters with no interest in their land and often not living on or even anywear near it, and to encourage the most outrageous abuse of a system designed to protect a community once itself the subject of outrageous abuse. By contrast, whilst those that farm the land amidst the headwaters of the Dart are left to struggle on without any specific official recognition or protection such as that enjoyed by crofters, they lack also their complacency, and this results in the emergence of a new relationship between the hill farmers and their wider community than is found between crofters and the feu-holders of the crofting counties: it’s stronger, healthier, more direct – and certainly more dynamic. So, now to those website comparisons: Scottish Crofting Federation, a website that epitomises the crofting world’s pre-occupation with legislation and grants. Except for a very few brave pioneers, crofters seem to feel no need to engage with the interests, concerns and needs of wider society, other than by simply sending livestock to market to supply the long food chain to their neighbours, or selling off bits of their crofts for second homes whilst endlessly berating any official protection to any other manifestation of life than their own, including wildlife – no, especially, wildlife. By contrast One Hut Full is a website that expresses an almost diametrically opposite viewpoint to that of crofting, one where consumers, customers, artisans and artists, or simply well-wishers, all share a with the hill-farmers themselves a desire to find new meaning, forge new purposes – and indeed new products! – and above all to bring new life to the hill farms of Dartmoor, re-peopling the land with minds in tune with its natural qualities and intrinsic worth. Question: Has a century and a quarter of crofting legislation really preserved the crofting way of life, or has it in truth just corrupted it? Question: Should every tenant crofter be given a last chance to buy the freehold of his land, and then the whole legal structure be swept into oblivion? Question: Might not it be more helpful to let go of the idea that crofting is a unique way of life ; might we not learn to love it more, and to live it better, for seeing first the similarites with the lives of others, and then – and only then – turning back to consider the true differences, the unique attributes of our own way of life, and reconsider their value to us?