By Aidan Ring - 22 March 2018
Quote of the month:
Bríd Smith TD – ‘This bill is not going to change the world but it will send a very clear message to the government: this shit is serious, we need to get our act together!’
The keen newsletter reader will have noticed that there has not been a January edition. For this we apologise and we can assure you that we will be covering both of the first two months of 2018 (as well as a little bit of March) in this issue. We can also assure you that this is not because there has been nothing happening, far from it! While the new year did indeed start in a relaxed fashion, as it will have done for most people, it is also the case that most of the stuff happening in January was the behind-the-scenes work, the technical stuff, the administrative, bureaucratic, legislative magic required to make great things happen. And on that note, let’s kick this newsletter off with a special supplement about one such great thing!
Special Supplement: ‘Chew On This’ Food Sovereignty Campaign
Yes, that’s right! We are FINALLY ready to whip off the cover of our new Food Sovereignty event series entitled Chew On This!
- Food Sovereignty refers to a nation being self-sufficient by being in control of its own food supply. Rather than their food system being governed by a multinational corporation, a food sovereign nation can ensure that their citizens have access to a reliable source of healthy, nutritious and culturally appropriate food.
There has been a lot of work going on behind the scenes at YFoE for the quiet Winter months, with scheming, plotting and conspiring aplenty, but it’s finally paying off. We are putting the finishing touches on a schedule for our campaign that will run from March until September which includes a main event every month and several smaller events happening throughout. We cannot wait to share it all with you! The underlying theme of all of these events will, of course, be Food Sovereignty. We will be aiming to increase awareness of the different concepts involved through film-viewings, discussions workshops... and much, much more! There will also be a major focus on giving you the tools to become self-sufficient with your own food supply and encouraging people to think about just where their food comes from. We can’t be too specific here but what we can say is that, well, we hope you like food-related puns...! In fact, a large group of us headed to Gyreum Eco-Lodge in Sligo this month for our network gathering which involved fruitful campaign work as well as general team-building!
There will be notifications about every event on all social media platforms as well as via email so keep an eye on this space! If anyone has some knowledge to share with us, an idea for an event or a guest speaker or just generally wants to be involved, please feel free to contact any of us here at the YFoE team; shooting a message over to the YFoE facebook page usually does the trick! The first event will be a film screening on March 28th with a Food Sovereignty-related film entitled Seed, just to ease us all into the run of things and build a little momentum! Once again, see here for more details.
- Pre-launch event for 'Chew on This' - 7:30pm Tuesday March 27th, Patagonia, 24-26 Exchequer St, Dublin 2.
- Our next meeting specifically for new members isn't planned yet, but you'll be the first to know when it is! Until then, we meet every Tuesday in Comhlámh, 12 Parliament Street Dublin, from 6-8pm *except not the 27th because we're having an event that night^^^*
Getting to know the Earth we are befriending
It was decided at a meeting in late December that we, at YFoE, should organise a hike at least once per month. This would be to enjoy the beautiful nature of our gorgeous little island, to remind ourselves of what exactly it is that we are defending and to build camaraderie between our members (as if that was necessary LOL). And so it was that, on the first day of January, 2018, ten of our young eco-heroes braved the adversarial conditions and set forth from the Marlay Park end of the Wicklow Way Hill Walk to embark on an epic trek that would take them to unimagimable heights... well, unimaginable if you’re used to the urban environment at sea level; We climbed Three Rock which offers amazing views but which, to the people of Stepaside, is just up the road! And they probably wish we had stayed there as it was to Stepaside village that we next headed for food, drinks and tales of merriment which they insisted on imparting to the staff.
The February walk, which took place on Sunday the 25th, was no less glorious with another YFoE crew setting off with the very same goal; to reach the finish line! This time, it was the great and majestic Bray to Greystones Hill Walk which was braved by our intrepid explorers and a blast was had by all. This was a decidedly nicer day but a longer walk and the turn out was, once again, impressive! Our next walk will be on Sunday, April 15th when we will trek the Dublin Mountains Way… and then hit up the famous Johnnie Fox’s pub for a few celebratory drinks! See below for details!
Trees on the Land
This was another great project in which some of us were intimately involved! To fill you in, Trees on the Land is a not-for-profit organisation aiming to, eventually, bring our native woodlands back into being with continuous cover woodland! They do this by supplying bundles of mixed sapling trees for very low prices. The idea is that volunteers then scout out their local areas for appropriate sites to plant the trees and seek out permission from the land-owners. When the trees are bought and approved locations are identified, we pick a day in the new year and distribute those trees to whoever wants them!
The Trees on the Land sub-group purchased over 300 native Irish tree saplings, a mixture of hazel, birch, apple, oak and ash, all to be supplied to people throughout the Dublin region with the ultimate intention of regenerating Ireland’s green belt of native woodland. The sub-group, along with various interested volunteers, were kept busy looking for sites. This is easier said than done! Although, perhaps, we did not encounter quite as much interest as we would have hoped, we certainly did the best we could with the limited resources we had available. In the end, one way or another, we made sure that the trees were either put in good new homes or, if those homes were not available yet, that they were safely stored away until homes could be found for them! The Green Belt will grow again!
Since YFoE are a not-for-profit volunteer activist group, financial investors have, thus far, proven scarce. Therefore, we have spent a significant amount of energy of the quiet first weeks of this year on seeking out, and pursuing, funding streams. So far, we have applied for both the Energia Get Ireland Growing Fund and the Patagonia Environmental Grant. The former is specifically for food and agriculture-related projects while the second is aimed at grassroots movements designed to promote public engagement with environmental issues. We are waiting to hear back from the good people of Patagonia (the company, not the South American biome... although I’m sure the people there are good as well!).
Regarding the Energia fund, although we did not succeed in the former endeavour, the application process was certainly not a waste of time! The process afforded us the opportunity to iron out the kinks in our Balcony Growing Starter Kit project and to help out our friends at Bridgefoot St Community Garden with their own funding proposal; theirs was significantly more successful as they made it to the FINAL THREE participants with winners announced last week! They did not win overall (that honour went to the excellent L’Arche Belfast’s Growing Project) but they did come in joined second place and bag a nifty grant which will certainly not be a hindrance! It will propel them forwards on their quest to make Bridgefoot St Community Garden into everything it can be and we look forward to being involved in that wonderful process. It’s also just nice to get recognition for the outstanding work done in that garden and the asset it has become to the local community. We would also add that we would welcome any input from anyone else with access to funding streams or who could even point us in the right direction!
If you want to be involved in a sub-group for funding applications, get in touch by emailing us at email@example.com or popping us a message over FaceBook.
Climate Emergency Bill passes in Dáil
On February 8th, Ireland’s first Climate Emergency Bill passed the second stage in the Dáil, soon to be put before the committee with a towards implementation! The bill is a groundbreaking piece of legislation but ONLY metaphorically. In the literal sense, it is designed to keep the ground unbroken by preventing further fossil fuel exploration on this beautiful island of ours... and it has a good chance of passing! This would be a landmark step in Ireland’s progression towards clean energy security and indicates a necessary shift in thinking regarding our climate policy. It also comes on the back of a commitment by our Taoiseach to the European Parliament to make a concerted effort to drastically improve our climate action of which he ‘is not proud’ and which has been paltry up until this point.
Brid Smith, the solitary People-Before-Profit TD in Ireland, introduced this bill earlier in the term. Encouragingly, it was met with a favourable reception with its passage supported by a coalition of all opposition parties and several independents. Its passage was also supported by a coalition of vociferous and flamboyant environmental groups who performed demonstrations outside government buildings in the days and hours leading up to the vote. Such demonstrations have proven effective in raising awareness and heaping pressure upon the powers that be; when a young environmentalist dressed as a jellyfish, whose future depends on the bill you are considering, calls you out, you tend to take notice. Could the government finally be getting its act together? Here’s hoping!
Friends of the Irish Environment Climate Case
Things are getting interesting in the political sphere with the Irish Climate Case gathering steam! For those of you who do not know, the our government, and it’s Department of Climate Action & Environment, has displayed what can only be called major shortcomings in its attitude towards climate action. The government’s National Mitigation Plan was about five years too late and five times too soft in its ambition, containing, as it did, effectively no meaningful policy changes or even updates to our plans to meet our emissions targets to which we agreed in 2015; this is strange considering that things have gotten worse and are projected to continue doing so. Thus, as mentioned in the last newsletter, a small group of concerned and determined citizens from Friends of the Irish Environment (FIE) have come together to pursue legal action against their government for this potentially catastrophic failure to do anything about the most pressing issue of our times.
Even being allowed to take this legal action against the state is a victory in itself but the legal strategy is solid and it looks like the government will not be able to circumvent responsibility easily; they are already on the back foot and have requested more time to prepare their responses to the allegations. There have been two demonstrations on this issue outside the Dáil which have made a splash (no pun intended) by getting a shout out on the RTE News and kicking up what can only be described as a fuss. Regardless of the final outcome, awareness is definitely sky-rocketing about our government’s dangerous lack of action on climate change and this climate case is simply further proof that the Irish people will not stand for it. If you agree with these sentiments and want to physically ‘not stand for it’ by protesting, the next chance you will have to not do so will be outside the Four Courts with the FIE on April 10th; see the FB post here for more details!
Aidan has been involved in YFoE since the Summer of 2017 and has represented YFoEI both at a local and an international level. His passion lies in environmental psychology and he uses his knowledge of this relatively new discipline to find unique ways to frame and spread our message. He is a lover of nature and you will probably find his material reflects this!