IN PURSUIT OF A BETTER SOCIETY, NO MORE BUSINESS AS USUAL
Transition is a movement of communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world. It is about communities stepping up to address the big challenges they face by starting local. By thinking together, we are able to crowd-source solutions that seek to nurture a caring culture, one focused on supporting each other, both as groups or as wider communities.
In practice, transition communities strive to reclaim the economy, spark entrepreneurship,
reimagine work, reskill and weave webs of connection and support. It’s an approach that has spread
now to over 50 countries, one of the key ways it spreads is through telling inspiring stories. Theresa
O’Donohoe [www.theresaod.com] shares her vision for a Transition Town in 2025.
I live in a town with two bakeries, a brewery, a dairy co-op, flour mill, a butcher, soap maker,
technology company and numerous other businesses. We have a community farm out by the
allotments. I work 4 days at CESC, the Community, Enterprise, and Social Centre, so I don’t have time
to grow enough food for home. I pay a set price to the dairy farm every week then I email an order for fresh eggs, cheese, yogurt, and butter. I pick up my vegetables whenever I need them from the farm or in their stall at the shop. I usually get to the market in town each week. With so many people
working from home, or on 4 day weeks, there’s a good buzz there on Friday.
COMMUNITY IS KEY
The town is powered by the solar panels on all the roofs, 3 hydro systems on the waterways, anaerobic digesters at each farm and the wind turbine behind the GAA pitches. Due to the growing export market the towns energy co-op is looking for 2 more engineers and a project manager to assess our capacity for expansion. My daughter hopes to get a job there now that she’s qualified. My youngest is an apprentice at the joinery and my eldest son works in the community bank. I hear all the news from the primary school as my eldest daughter teaches 3rd class. The children learn in a way that suits them best, so this term maths is being taught through football. Age Action meet them at the community garden once a week to share skills and stories.
The repair cafe is usually hosted by the Men’s Shed and the whole community gathers with their fixer uppers for a cup of tea. We got my radio working last week and fixed 2 bicycles for the youth club. When the pandemic struck 5 years ago we learned a lot. We found out how much we relied on imports for most of our food and energy. We realised we were more productive working for less hours and lots of our work could be done at home. We learned that we can’t live without the arts. We learned that privatising essential services doesn’t work. Being at home and caring for others all day isn’t as easy as many people think. The people we relied on most during that time had been taken for granted for years. We realised that we had lost our way and made sure not to return to business as usual. Our communities have become stronger and more resilient since.
Our response to Covid-19 has helped us imagine and create a better society. Let’s not go back to
business as usual but strive for a more inclusive, collaborative, caring society while building resilience
to the challenges that the climate and biodiversity emergencies are posing.
Drumlin Nature Watch – by Liam Murtagh
Welcoming the Summer Rain and the Summer Solstice
Following the recent prolonged warm dry spell, a thunderstorm
heralded some downpours. Our dog made his way to his hiding place
under the kitchen table until the thunderstorm had passed. Later he
would enjoy drinking from puddles on the path outside (pictured) in
preference to tap water.
Rain brings life to our earth. Up to mid-June this year most farm crops were suffering because of drought, so the recent rain was welcomed by farmers. Gardeners like myself were glad to have the watering done for them. Following the rain, the countryside seemed even greener and the air was filled with a pleasing musky aroma. In the garden the raindrops on the Lady’s Mantle looked like pearls (pictured left) while the Teasel trapped some rain in a ‘water tank’ at the joints between stem and leaf (pictured right).
During my schooldays, my parents, at this time of year, worried about rain spoiling the newly cut hay
meadows. Many summers were quite wet, and it adversely affected the hay that was saved for the
farm animals’ winter feed. Occasionally some summers were very dry such as 1976 and 1995 and
more recently in 2018. We can expect more dry summers in the future, especially away from the
west and north coasts. Currently a UCD project is seeking to hear people’s stories about the impact
of past droughts in Ireland. More at ucd.ie/droughtmemories.
In many hotter parts of the world there are just two seasons, a rainy one and dry one. When I lived
in West Africa for a few years, the arrival of the rains seemed dramatic. Intense heat was followed by thunderstorms that lit up the sky. At dusk, a local person would often use a flashlight shone on a
basin of water to collect flying insects that came ahead of the rain. They were then cooked to
provide a nutritious meal. Of course, the rains also meant that crops could be planted, and streams
would again provide much needed water.
This year the Summer Solstice or midsummers day was on
Saturday, 20 June. The day was celebrated in ancient
Ireland at sites like the Hill of Tara and in recent years the
celebration has been revived there and on Navan Fort,
Armagh (pictured). While some megalithic monuments
such as Newgrange are aligned with sunrise on the Winter
Solstice, some others like at Lough Gur are aligned with the Summer Solstice sunrise. With the restrictions this year
most Solstice events were cancelled. One event that was to go ahead online was one at the Common Ground NI project near Fivemiletown, Co Fermanagh. Unfortunately, their event was cancelled due to rain and high winds. This rain was not so welcome for the organisers and those of us who planned to attend online.
Insect Asides – by Patrick Gleeson
Gold Swift Moth
The Gold Swift is a small moth found in open
woodland, heath and rough grassland areas, often
with bracken. The caterpillars feed on bracken and
some grasses, whereas the adults do not feed as they
have no mouthparts. The males can be distinguished
from the much paler females by their gold and white
wing markings. The mating process of these moths is
quite complex and is an interesting little spectacle to
see. During June and July the courtship dances can be seen at dusk with males hovering from side to side. An unusual feature of the Gold Swift is the pineapple like scent the males emit to attract a female. The females can also emit their own scent to attract a male. Another unusual feature is its ability to play dead to avoid predation and very convincingly it must be said. If disturbed they will ‘drop dead’ into the vegetation below and remain motionless. Touching the moth very gently triggers this response and it is very strange and amusing to watch.
Staying Connected @ Home
Consultation to Inform a Grid Development Policy for Offshore Wind in Ireland: Ireland has
ambitious climate targets towards 2030, including a target to develop at least 3.5 GW of offshore
wind energy, as published in the Climate Action Plan (CAP) in June 2019. To meet these targets
Government has to put in place a policy framework for the delivery model for offshore grid in
alignment with National Marine Planning Framework (NMPF). The consultation paper is not to provide a decision on the best option, but rather to present evidence that informs the decision for a
grid delivery model suitable for offshore wind development. Deadline 5pm Wednesday, 1 July. See
dccae.gov.ie for more details.
Innovate Together Fund: This is a collaboration between Government, philanthropists, and social
innovations. The Fund is supported by a commitment of €5 million from the Department of Rural
and Community Development through the support of the Dormant Accounts Fund. Social Innovation Fund Ireland pledges to raise additional significant philanthropic funds for this initiative. Next call for applications opens Wednesday, 22 July.
OURganic Gardens courses: Always wanted to grow your own food but didn’t know where to start? Join Joanne for her very informative 6 week ‘Grow your own food’; online course and gain the skills you need to grow. The next set of courses begin on Monday 6th July, see ourganicgardens.ie for available dates and times.
Dublin Buddhist Centre Meditation Courses: (1) How to live in a world on fire – How do we live well
in a troubled world? How do we decide how to act and behave? Living ethically springs from the
awareness that other people are no different from yourself, and we can actively develop this
awareness through cultivating love, clarity, and contentment. (2) A creative response to uncertain
times – We live in troubled and uncertain times. As many of the routines and certainties of normal
life are lost to the coronavirus outbreak, we may find ourselves faced with urgent and
uncomfortable questions about the nature and purpose of human life and our place in the world.
See dublinbuddhistcentre.org for more details.
Cycling safe Dundalk: Many major European cities are making their centres car free, regional towns
in Ireland should also be considering these same measures. Support the petition for making cycling
safe in Dundalk post Covid-19. Find the petition at www.change.org/DundalkCyclingPostCovid.
Volunteers sought for Irish Hedgehog Survey: The reporting of casual hedgehog sightings is being encouraged as part of this new survey. Volunteers can also opt to participate in a more focused survey using footprint tunnels or camera. No specialist training is required. There is also a short questionnaire that farmers are being invited to complete. Survey will run between June and September.
See irishhedgehogsurvey.com for more details.
Are you a reader of the column? Do you have something to say? Is there a particular
subject you would like to hear more about? Do you want to submit an article?
Contact us by texting Dermot on 086 830 3392, even if it’s just to say hello!
“Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex,
the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”