Reduce your bill – join local sustainable community.

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Our Survey of Four Communities in Leitrim is done

Volunteers from GEAI finished surveys last week on how households get and use energy . Four towns were surveyed: Drumshanbo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Ballinamore and Carrigallen. 10% of houses in Drumshanbo (60), Carrick-on-Shannon (150), Ballinamore (50) were surveyed and 20% of houses in Carrigallen (25).

This energy survey is part of the Northwest Energy Communities Start-up project (NECS). The project is a part of the national plan for transition of communities all over Ireland to a low carbon economy, moving away from fossil fuels and using renewable energy resources.

The partners in this project are Good Energies Alliance Ireland and I.T. Sligo. The project is funded by SEAI – the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Basically the NECS project is researching how people, in selected towns, use energy and how much it costs them. GEAI and IT Sligo prepared questionnaires for each town.  The questions were about type of houses, heating systems, heating control systems and most importantly, questions about energy bills.

After all the information is analyzed, GEAI and IT Sligo will organize an Exhibition Day in each surveyed town to give the results of the surveys and plan how residents could have warmer, more comfortable homes while costing them less on fuel and heating.

After the project, each town can be registered as a  (SEC) with the SEAI.  The SEC programme gives grants to make homes more energy efficient and warmer through more insulation, better windows, solar panels and upgrading boilers, for example.

Form volunteers perspective.

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For the GEAI volunteers it was a unique experience.

“We were knocking on doors and asking questions. This experience helped to train our communication skills, flexibility, teamwork and many other skills.”

The volunteers worked 2 days per week in the evening from about 5 pm till 8:30 pm. They were supported by local volunteers in each town, so that people were happy to answer questions.

“We came across different situations, different people’s reactions. The vast majority of people were nice to us and they were glad to help us.  They were also interested in reducing their energy bills!”

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How history was made in front of our eyes as we went to the Dail to witness the vote to ban fracking

After six years of campaigning against fracking in Ireland, GEAI members finally saw the impact of their action and of the commitment of the many people who joined the fight. On Wednesday the 31th of June, between 10am and 12am, TDs gathered in the Dail to unanimously agree on banning Fracking from Ireland. And GEAI members were there to witness it.

Aedin McLoughlin, Liam Breslin, Eddie Mitchell and two of our EVS volunteers drove to the Dail to see it happen with their own eyes. It was a great opportunity for our European volunteers to discover for the first time Ireland’s political institutions and system. Ingrid – our French volunteer – had been with us for almost four months but it was her first time in the Dail whereas Bruno – our brand new volunteer from Spain – got to witness this event on his very first day in Ireland!

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As the discussion went on about the several amendments, Aedin explained who were the different politicians speaking and the parties they were from so that the volunteers would be able to understand what was happening, especially when the matter of whether or not offshore shale gas exploitation should be included in the ban or not was brought on.

The EVS volunteers thought it was thrilling to see the actual arguments and votes go on in front of their eyes as well as discovering the building where it took place and meeting people committed to the same cause as them. They shared the excitement of the room when the ban was finally voted five minutes before the meeting deadline.

Some people had a hard time sitting still while the clock was ticking, afraid that the ban would not be voted in time and that the vote would have to be rescheduled. The volunteers shared this concern as well as the general relief of the ban being finally agreed on at the last minute. Then they could enjoy joining the celebration of everyone involved in the matter.

This is a day they will remember all their life, and same goes for all the people concerned about Fracking, in Ireland and beyond.

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EVS experience: Biodiversity Trek at Lough Boora Parklands

   From the 19th to the 28th of May, Biodiversity was celebrated in Ireland through about 50 events forming our National Biodiversity Week. All over the country, environmental organisations offered free family-friendly events in order to regenerate the link between People and Nature as well as reminding us how much our wildlife and flora are precious and how we could – should – learn to protect them from the many threats opposed to them.  

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   On the 27th of June, two of our EVS volunteers went to Lough Boora Parklands, county Offaly, to participate in a Biodiversity Trek organised by the Irish Wildlife Trust; a conservation charity committed to raise awareness about our local natural heritage and which is in charge of numerous natural reserves; one of them being in Lough Boora Parklands.

  Kieran Flood – Conservation Officer for the Irish Wildlife Trust – was their guide for the day. During an approximately three hours walk, they learned about different types of plants, flowers and animals. They learned what a bog is, how it is formed and what wildlife can develop there.

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  They learned that common flowers like “Birds-foot trefoil” (Lotus Corniculus) are good for butterflies to lay their eggs on, that there about twenty different species of bumblebees in Ireland which hibernate during winter, that Yew trees (Taxus Baccata) are Ireland’s most ancient growing trees, that their seed is toxic and their berries are poisonous but that their evergreen property and their impressivDSC_0387e longevity (they usually can reach between 400 and 600 years of age) make them symbols of eternal life and thus are often planted in cemeteries…

 

 

 Our two volunteers were delighted to learn those facts and many more as to witness Irish biodiversity wealth by laying their eyes on wild orchids, a red squirrel, a parasite wasps’ nest…

   The Irish Wildlife Trust and GEAI are both part of the Environmental Pillar (a network of national environmental organisations in Ireland). Our volunteers were delighted to meet another Irish environmental NGO and they came back to work more enthusiastic than ever about protecting Irish Biodiversity.

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All the photographs featured in this post have been taken by our EVS volunteer
Katsiaryna Trusova

Musical chairs recycling game

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Yesterday, 22th March, EVS volunteers organised a recycling game in Youth Café Drumshanbo. It was based on musical chairs but the aim was learning more about good recycling habits.

We had developed this game before with an energy quiz and it was a complete success that’s why we decided to do it again. The main idea was dancing around while the music was playing and try to find a chair when it stopped. The kid who was standing because he/she wasn’t able to find an available chair, had to answer a recycling question. A correct answer meant the kid could continue playing, however an incorrect answer meant he/she was out of the game. It was great! They took their time to think and they chose their answers carefully. At the end we concluded that our previous recycling workshops were effective because they have pretty clear what a good recycling habit is. We will see them next week!

Informal learning: hopscotch water quiz!

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Yesterday, 15th February, GEAI EVS volunteers coordinated an informal learning activity about water in Youth Café Drumshanbo. It consisted on a combination between a fun game and a water quiz. The kids had fun and learned at the same time.

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Based on Hopscotch game we put paper sheets on the floor with numbers from 1-11. The group of kids was divided into two teams. The first team chose a member to start  throwing the die. They should answer the water question associated with the number that the die just showed. All the questions were related to the water topic.  To get to the number they hoped and scotched. If they answered correctly they continued playing, if not the other team played. The purpose of the game was that all team members reached the “end” paper sheet to be the winner team.

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While playing, we found out that they paid attention to every answer, just in case the question could be repeated again. They were engaged with the game, trying to do their best. They have learned that the energy generated from water is called hydroelectric, that almost 80% of the Earth is covered by water however, less than 1% of it is available to drink. It was great to develop the activity with them! They would like to play hopscotch again! It is amazing to see how a popular game mixed with a learning activity can amuse them.

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