By Féidhlim Harty
Between climate change, plastic waste and biodiversity loss nationally and globally it’s easy to feel disheartened. However all around County Clare there are groups and individuals working hard to make the world a better place.
In this series of articles we talk with some of these groups about the work that they do and outline why it is of benefit. Here, local environmental consultant and writer Féidhlim Harty gives an overview of the what the series will hold.
This series of articles will draw together a diverse range of community groups and hear their stories. The aim is to inspire increased engagement in community-led initiatives, social enterprises, wellbeing projects and the overall reduction in our ecological footprint.
The articles are based on a presentation night in Glór organised by Daive Philip from Cloughjordan eco-village and Sarah Clancy of the Clare Public Participation Network. Each group gave a presentation of their project or interest. This was followed by a facilitated café-style discussion forum to tease out similarities and challenges that the different groups face in their work. The energy and enthusiasm in the gathering was palpable as each spoke passionately about the constructive events taking place in their own areas.
Irish Seed Savers Association manager Jen McConnell gave an update on this well established charity based in Scarriff. She outlined the importance of their seed saving work and education. Also in Scarriff is the East Clare Co-op. Phoenix O’Reilly described the inviting space within the community in the form of a café, second hand clothes shop and book shop, community garden and other services and activities.
Moving westwards, Kate Lavender described the work of the Burrenbeo Conservation Volunteers and their projects to keep the Burren countryside beautiful. Matt Smith outlined the new Community Supported Agriculture (SCA) project at Moy Hill Farm outside Lahinch, where people are invited to roll up their sleeves and join in with planting and weeding or simply show up to buy fresh chemical-free vegetables. In Ennistymon, Green Schools co-ordinator Róisín Garvey has been liaising with local businesses to “love your cup”. Coffee shop visitors now get a discount on their morning coffee if they bring their own keep-cup instead of using a disposable paper cup. Theresa O’Donohoe has been working with Lisdoonvarna students on a Sustainable Community Project, testing the limits of young imaginations and enjoying watching them rise to the challenge.
Back in Ennis Cormac McCarthy spoke about the Ennis Tidy Towns biodiversity initiative which kick-started in 2016 and has been literally spreading its wings since then into a variety of educational and directly practical projects around Ennis. These have been attracting wildlife and bring our native flora and fauna into greater public awareness. Working in tandem with the biodiversity initiative is another Ennis based endeavour, Garden of Eden Projects Ireland. This is a project which I run as a way to provide funding for community orchards in Clare and elsewhere around the country.
Many ideas were shared and discussed at the event. One of our expressed areas of focus was the UN Sustainable Development Goals. These range from very immediate human needs such as tackling poverty and hunger and providing good health and well-being, education, gender equality and reduced inequalities, to broader concerns including climate action, peace and sustainability. Energy, water quality, responsible consumption and production are also central to the goals, as are protection of life on land and below water. The goals were agreed in 2015 and each has specific targets to be met over the coming 15 years.
All the projects presented in Glór tie in with the Sustainable Development Goals in many different ways. If you want to get involved in transforming our world, see the UN website on www.globalgoals.org and look online for contact details for any of the speakers listed in this article. In the coming weeks, a number of the projects will be described in more detail by the speakers themselves, so watch this space.
Féidhlim Harty is an environmental consultant and writer and runs Garden of Eden Projects Ireland. See www.wetlandsystems.ie/gardenofedenprojects.html