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!”

Who is on Your Back?

The game

On Wednesday 26th April, EVS volunteers leaded a biodiversity game in Youth Café Drumshanbo. The name of the game is «Who’s on Your Back?». The concept was reviewing Irish wildlife through team communication.

Rules of the game

We prepared sticky labels with the names of well-known animals on it. For instance: whale, rabbit, snake and so on. Then we stuck the labels on everyone’s back without letting them know «who they were». Each member had to find out who was on their back by asking questions to the others in the team. Questions were asked in such a way that the answers could be just «Yes» or «No». The player could ask no more than two questions then it was other’s player turn. Once they found out who they were they could play again with another animal on their backs.

The result

It was an useful game to develop children’s communication skills and attention. They were listening to each other carefully and with interest. The environmental outcome of the game  showed that children are really curious about Irish wild life and they  guessed the answers very quickly. It was great craic!

EPA FRACKING STUDY HAS MAJOR FLAWS

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Aedín McLoughlin hands Submission to Hildegarde Naughten TD, chairperson of Oireachtas committee

GEAI submission to Oireachtas Committee.

GEAI has made a major submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Environment, Climate Action and Communications on the EPA-commissioned Unconventional Gas Exploration and Extraction (UGEE) Joint Research Programme.  This Study had as its major research question: “Can UGEE be carried out while protecting the environment and human health?”

Conclusions do not reflect findings

We have discovered that the overall summary report did not reflect the findings of the five research reports, which more correctly should have highlighted that:

  • UGEE (fracking) operations globally have major impacts on the environment and on human health, but as human health was not included in the Terms of Reference for the study, the impact of fracking on human health was not included in the study.
  • There are several unknowns around the process of fracking globally and it is not possible to guarantee that hydraulic fracturing can be carried out without contamination of groundwater and air.
  • The hydrogeological profile of the Northwest Carboniferous Basin (mainly Leitrim and Fermanagh) is heavily faulted with deep-seated aquifers and shallow shales, which makes it unsuitable for fracking.

Summary Submission

Full Submission

We still remember Christmas

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Our EVS volunteers, Kate and Andrea, experienced Christmas time in different locations: Leitrim and Vigo (Spain).

Christmas holiday in Leitrim

Christmas is over but this magic time full of lights, Christmas trees, decorations, gifts is still in our memory.

What does Christmas  look like in  rural Leitrim? Kate spent Christmas with a Ballinaglera family  and experienced a traditional irish festival.

Christmas Eve began with Christmas Mass in Saint Hugh’s Catholic Church. Maybe you already know that in Ballinaglera each person is in some way a musician. The choir at Mass consisted of local ordinary people and for sure you could not see the difference between this and a professional one. Famous «Hallelujah» and «We wish you a Merry Christmas» bonded everybody.

After mass but before the children went to bed, the family put milk and cookies for Santa in front of the chimney and carrot for reindeers. Our family really takes care of Santa.

Christmas day started with cheerful shouts and screaming not only from children, everybody was delighted to see what Santa brought for them (including earrings for Kate!). The cookies and carrots had disappeared as you might have guessed.

Christmas dinner or lunch is the next part of enjoyment. The table groaned under the food: duck with gravy, bacon, all kinds of vegetables and Christmas pudding at the end. Thank God everybody survived – it was delicious!

Christmas holiday in Spain

Christmas is an important event in Spain, not just because of the religious connotation but also family gatherings. December 24th evening is the most important celebration. Families have dinner together enjoying a wide range of delicious meals: seafood, smoked salmon and salad for starters following by roasted lamb with gravy or steamed cod with cauliflower. For dessert different choices are available on the table: cheesecake, apple pie, turron, raisins and dates. During the meal we share our memories and usually speak about our lives and politics.

New Year’s Eve is an important celebration too. It’s not as intimate and quiet as Christmas Eve but there’s one important tradition. Twelve seconds before 12.00 am we sit around the table and eat  twelve grapes. Each grape symbolizes each month of the year and they have to be eaten with every clock stroke. The tradition started in 1909 due to a grape harvest surplus in Alicante. It’s a way to say goodbye to the previous year and start the new one with the best of luck!

The night of 5th of January is the most important celebration for kids! We commemorate the  time when, according to Christian religion, The three Wise Men brought presents to Jesus. That night, presents appear under the Christmas tree and the day after all family enjoy together their new gifts.

Christmas is a period of joy and social events.  It’s about spending time with important people in your life and sharing your food and time with them!

Last activities before Christmas with our sustainable group

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Energy Game

Last Wednesday 30th November, the EVS volunteers Kate and Andrea, developed a dynamic energy quiz in Drumshanbo Youth Café. It was the second session we had with the same group of children between 10-12 years old. The game was based on musical chairs. Instead of being directly  out of the game when someone was standing, we gave them the opportunity to continue  playing if they answered correctly an energy question.

The purpose of the quiz is learning more about renewable energy and energy saving tips while they have fun playing a game they are familiar with. We found it was an effective approach to mix fun and knowledge. The children were full of energy and inspiration. They answered the questions quickly enough to return to the game. We can say it was a complete success, while playing we heard comments such as: “this is great fun!”, “let’s play again”. We were delighted to share our time with them and to contribute to their non-formal learning.

Art from rubbish

15387476_1809160116026000_473100069_oAfter that, we had our last session with them before Christmas. Our EVS volunteers in cooperation with Drumsanbo local pubs “Conways” and “The Millrace”  collected recyclable rubbish to create Christmas decorations.

The idea was to show a simple example of sustainability and recycling through  art. GEAI volunteers, Andrea, Kate and Alex went to Drumshanbo’s pubs and asked the staff to keep caps and cans from non alcohol beverage during the weekend. They collected a lot of bottle caps and cans. Using them Kate and Andrea showed  the group of children how to create  a snowman as an example of Christmas decorations.

Children were excited! They created different kinds of snowmen using cans, caps and other materials.

It was really enjoyable. During the weekend they sold their snowmen on Drumshanbo local Christmas market.

We were  delighted to collaborate with Youth Café staff members and we are really thankful to the pubs. We know this weekend was profitable for our sustainable little group.15409820_1809157082692970_1290276233_o

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