Reimagining our Rural Communities

Nino, our Italian EVS volunteer, took part in the “Reimagining our Rural Communities” event organized by Leitrim Development Company in Drumshanbo on September 26th. The meeting was attended by various associations and organizations representing the entire county of Leitrim. The aim was to stimulate debate and share ideas and opportunities for the future of the county.

Leitrim is a rural county, and this has both positive and negative aspects. Sometimes the decisions made by the central government do not fit well with the real needs of the territory and there are different problems. The aim of this first meeting is to activate a virtuous process that, starting from the requests of the community and therefore of individual citizens, tries to imagine and put into practice solutions.

During the meeting four round tables were set up and the one in which Nino participated was called “Dreams”. The question was: What do you dream for Leitrim? The answers were really varied and just to name a few: development of renewable energy and recycling, better public services and implementation of practices such as car sharing. – Leitrim could become a model in this field and be, for example, the first sustainable county in Ireland. – In addition, more services – for example the health service is really lacking – and consequently higher quality of life, greater opportunities for young people, and finally greater sense of community.

The issues addressed were many, some generic while others specific, and what is positive is that several people have come together to talk. Maybe Leitrim’s strength lies in the fact that it is a small county, and together it is possible to create a common vision on it. So see you at the next meeting.

Pre-Departure Training for EVS in Greece

EVS Volunteers with GEAI

Good Energies Alliance Ireland is accredited as a sending organisation for young people in County Leitrim who would like to live an international experience through the European Voluntary Service (EVS) programme. This summer, for the first time, four young Irish participants will enjoy Greece for one month!

Pre-Departure Training for EVS in GreeceThey will work with a Greek organisation on a project which involves the care of forest areas in Xylokastro, a seaside town in the Peloponnese. It will be also a good opportunity for them to discover the Greek culture, meet new people from other countries in Europe and enjoy the beach and the sun!

Pre-departure Training

Before their departure, we organised pre-departure sessions for the volunteers and a joing session for the volunteers and their guardians to disseminate information about their EVS project and also to address practical considerations, e.g. travel arrangements, money, etc.  Non-formal pre-departure training was delivered by our long-term EVS volunteers to talk about the EVS programme and their fears, goals and expectations. They used non-formal learning methodologies, such as the tree of expectations and fears, the cultural iceberg and the curve of adaptation. They also explained the aims of EVS projects and the YouthPass certificate that they will receive at the end of their experience. In addition, they gave them information on cultural challenges, conflict management and practical tips for their stay.

This project will be a great opportunity for them, and hopefully, a stepping stone to further travels around Europe!

 

A New Climate for Education – an important Seminar

Last Friday, at the Teacher’s Club in Dublin, a seminar “A New Climate for Education“ was held, to discuss how Climate Change and sustainability are incorporated into schools curricula. This was organised by Green Foundation Ireland, Cultivate, GEAI and ECO – UNESCO.

Aedín McLoughlin, Director of Good Energies Alliance Ireland and the GEAI EVS volunteers attended this event.  During the morning there were really interesting presentations from the ecologist and TV presenter, Duncan Stewart; Breda Naughten from Dept. Of Education; and Peadar Kirby, Professor Emeritus at the University of Limerick. Young people had an opportunity to express their views and time was given for discussion on how best to implement climate change studies in schools.

The most memorable quotes that we took away with us included:

An increase in temperature of three and a half degrees is going to make our planet uninhabitable, and we need to get this information into the schools. We’re on borrowed time. We’re taking young people’s future, it’s a serious situation.” (Duncan Stewart)

“Are we sowing the seeds of new values, new energies, new questing people? Or are we conforming to the system?” (Peadar Kirby)

“I think the most important thing is that we don’t make anything worse. Each euro spent in an investment in the world we live in.” (Ben Mallon)

Also memorable was the great contribution by young people to the discussion.

You can find more information about the event itself here.

Time to celebrate the fracking ban!

On Saturday 14th October at the Ballroom of Romance in Glenfarne, Co. Leitrim, there was a hectic and vibrant atmosphere with people gathering from all around Ireland to celebrate the outstanding outcome represented by the ban of hydraulic fracturing activities on the Irish soil. While approaching the location of the party, one could admire the sparkling Love Leitrim’s Heart lit on the hill in the darkness giving a strong signal of hope to the rest of the world.

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The Leitrim’s Heart (Ph. Love Leitrim)

The six-year-long campaign has been difficult, putting considerable strain on people involved in it. However, looking at people’s faces there is no doubt that very effort was worth to be made. International activists Julia Walsh from New York and Helmut Fehr from Germany joined the party and gave speeches on how Ireland’s fight and victory against fracking has inspired them to keep pursuing their own campaigns.

Entertainment was provided by the well-renowned Kila Band, followed by Stephen Murphy’s touching poetry and the performance of Three Speaking Monkey and The Mullies Crowd and, lastly, the 70’s disco.

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Kila members performing

GEAI members and EVS Volunteers who attended the party would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Love Leitrim, which did a fantastic job in setting up the lovely venue!

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EVS Volunteers at the Global Frackdown party

 

EVS Volunteers at the International Climate Change and Health Conference

On Friday 22th September our EVS Volunteers attended the international conference on “Climate Change and Health: the Challenges and Opportunities” which took place at the National University of Ireland in Galway.

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During the morning various speakers presented different aspects of the interconnectivity between direct and indirect impacts of a changing climate and the human population dynamics. For instance, in the future we will assist to an increase of malnutrition among children living in countries largely exposed to severe and extreme climate events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves as well as the increase of mental illnesses and other diseases which could emerge from these types of phenomena.

Dr. Nicholas Watts, the Lancet Countdown, highlighted how climate change can potentially undermine the progress made in global health during the last 50 years and the response to it can be the greatest challenge of the 21st century.  Joni Pegram, Senior Climate Change Policy and Advocacy Adviser for UNICEF UK, emphasised how child rights are being very often overlooked in national and international climate policies and vice versa.

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John O’Neill, Department of Communication, Climate Action and Environment, illustrated the institutional and policy framework on climate change at national level and the key role that the local authorities are called to play at local level in the fight to climate change. Lastly, Dr. Ina Kelly of the NHS Midlands pointed out the importance to build a climate-resilient health infrastructure and to be prepared for extreme events with appropriate planning.

Dr. Watts reminded us that “whether we move from climate change as a threat to an opportunity is not a technological or economic question anymore but it is entirely political”. The time to act is now!

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