As we enter a new year and new decade everybody appears to be taking stock. Setting my priorities is something I tend to do at the start of every year because I tend to get pulled in many directions which just dilutes my effectiveness. Towards the end of 2019 I started two significant life projects. I set up a climate action business and wrote a book. I also turned 50. My age doesn’t bother me as I feel 50. I feel I have achieved a lot – 5 children, my own home, shaping national and local policy on top of activism all while living on medication for a long term illness.
As an activist it is easy get pulled in many directions so it is always good to re-evaluate what you give your time and energy to. After family and friends I place climate action and social justice. Then public participation and policy. I haven’t had much time and enthusiasm for policy over the past couple of years but I’m slowly getting back into it. My end of year blog tells the tales from my role in public participation and policy during the past year or so. I’m pretty disillusioned with participating in policy at this stage. I have seen changes being incorporated into policy for the past 10 years but never actually being implemented. Policy is just words. It is the follow up action that counts and demonstrates commitment. Usually commitment to change. We need to hold politicians and civil servants accountable.
During 2019 I stepped down from Clare PPN – Public Participation Network secretariat. There are lots of brilliant people involved now so I felt I could step back. I still represent the PPN on Clare’s LCDC – Local Community Development Committee. We’ve 2 excellent staff who are passionate about public participation independent of and complimentary to the local authority.
My blog is still going 6 years on. 2018 was the highest traffic with posts about Direct Provision receiving the greatest interest. I was alerted to the fact that the role I played when the Direct Provision centre was announced for Lisdoonvarna was being lied about by the far right so I decided to write my story and my experience. Here is a little video by Joe.ie on twitter explaining what I’m doing and why. Here is a link if you wish to donate towards the cost of printing the book.
I also started my own business ClimateCare.ie towards the end of 2019. I need to pay that a little attention! I host workshops and support people to take action to address climate change in their business, community and home. “How will climate change impact you and what can you do about it? How can your business and community act on climate?”
During 2019 the School Strikes for the Climate and Extinction Rebellion became mainstream. Find them at Fridays for Future Ireland on Twitter and XR Ireland on Twitter, Suddenly it is cool to be fighting for the planet. Those of us in the climate action space for years are delighted to see reinforcements. 2020 promises to build on that. I firmly believe that change will not come from government until it is forced by mass mobilisation of voters. Or disaster. XR and FFF make my personal preference of mass mobilisation a possibility.
So to concrete actions. I still hope that regenerative culture grows exponentially. Something like the Transition movement – “communities coming together to reimagine and rebuild our world”. Get your community involved in climate action – start a transition initiative in your area. More from their website here:
“Transition is a movement that has been growing since 2005. It is about communities stepping up to address the big challenges they face by starting local. By coming together, they are able to crowd-source solutions. They seek to nurture a caring culture, one focused on supporting each other, both as groups or as wider communities.
In practice, they are reclaiming the economy, sparking entrepreneurship, reimagining work, reskilling themselves and weaving webs of connection and support. It’s an approach that has spread now to over 50 countries, in thousands of groups: in towns, villages, cities, Universities, schools. One of the key ways it spreads is through telling inspiring stories, and that’s what we aim to do on this website. We really hope you feel inspired to take part, we’d be honoured if you did.”
Transition started in Kinsale, Ireland back in 2005 and you can get in touch with the movement in Ireland via Facebook here. We need much more than transition of course – we need policies that make polluters pay. Policies that rid our world of polluting practices such as generating power with fossil fuel and producing food with toxic chemicals. We need neoliberal capitalism to be replaced with sustainable economies. We need livelihoods with a work life balance. We need to realise that there are limits to growth and we only have one planet.
Let’s not forget how the year started with this image of Australia on fire…
Here’s to 2020 – the year we start to turn the ship around.
5th January 2020