By Aidan Ring - 12 June 2018
YFoE Newsletter – Birra March, April and May
Quote of the month:
Conor – ‘I’d love to do an event on the Extinction Crisis.’
Person B at group meeting – ‘Anything in particular in mind?’
Conor – ‘Not really, I just feel an urge to shout about it.’
Dare I say that… it’s all happening?!?
Since we last put out a newsletter, we have achieved and grown A LOT! During the period from mid March to the end of May, we have officially launched our Food Sovereignty campaign and held two events thereof, we have committed to hosting the YFoE Europe AGM in January, we have significantly expanded our mailing list, we have implemented big changes in internal communications with two new platforms for it (Slack and Asana), and have produced an indecent volume of food-related puns and word-play (some of which might have escaped censorship here). At the risk of cursing it (which seems almost as absurd as believing in such things as curses 😉 ), I would venture to say we’re on a roll….
Just read on…
YFoE Activist Gathering at Gyreum Eco-Lodge (16/03/18 – 19/03/18)
Well-organised, productive and filled with interesting people. But enough about Gyreum Eco-Lodge. This was a weekend to remember by all accounts. This was not just because it was memorable but because it generated a lot of content that which was extremely worthy of remembering.
The YFoE Activist Gathering is an annual occurrence and this year, on Paddy’s weekend, a highly diverse group of 28 activists made our way over to Co. Sligo, via liftshare of course, to an eco-lodge for 3 full days of workshops, films, chats, projects, hikes, Tai Chi and delicious food. As outlined in my piece on this weekend (available here), we accomplished a huge amount in those 3 days through over 60 hours of goal-directed discussions and projects, but the parts that were really special were where we got to know each other as people as opposed to just activists. Such team-building exercises included hearing each others’ activism stories, playing games like ‘Werewolf’ and ‘I’m an environmentalist But!’, planting seeds in the Gyreum garden and sneaking down to the local to watch Ireland give England an arse-whoopin in the rugby. We even had a Wall of Kindness at which people could drop anonymous compliments into each others’ envelopes, leaving everyone with at least a few heart-warming personal take-home messages.
The lodge itself is a wonderfully futuristic, sustainable complex with (figurative) acres of floor space for workshops and activities, a sunken central hearth area, and a very communal circular building structure with living pods around the outside. The water is heated by geothermal energy and it is built into the side of a hill to limit its visual impact on the landscape. They grow a lot of their own food in their garden and the staff are wonderfully friendly and helpful. Such was our rapport with their staff that we even invited their outstanding chef (who made mouth-watering banana bread) to come and be a judge at our Come Veg with Us event. Unfortunately, she couldn’t make it, but we are delighted to have established good relations going forward.
FS Campaign Prelaunch Film Screening; Seed: The Untold Story (27/03/18)
On the evening of Tuesday the 27th of March, the lovely people at Patagonia on Exchequer St, one of Dublin’s most eco-friendly businesses, were good enough to lend us their space to screen a film called ‘Seed: The Untold Story’.
This was the warm-up act to the main event of the Chew On This Launch Event which happened the following week. This was a film screening designed to get people thinking and talking about food sovereignty, seeds and soil, to generate interest in what we were doing and to, potentially, get our own creative juices flowing. It certainly did so. Expressions of shock, concern and repulsion were prevalent during certain parts of this film which really did not pull any punches. It told the story, through interweaving narratives, of how arable farming, and its gradual take over by multi-national corporations, throughout human history has slowly but surely decimated the diversity of our seed supply (one particularly striking factoid asserted that, in the 20th century, mankind has lost 94% of its edible seed varieties).
It was eye-opening and it does make you angry to think about these things. But this event was not supposed to rally the activist troops and inspire them all to swift and decisive action. No, rather like the film itself, this was an intimate coming together of like-minded people on a project designed to provoke thoughtful discussion by laying the facts out bare and recognising their full implications. In so doing, it created the platform from which the Chew On This campaign was successfully launched less than two weeks later.
Chew On This Launch Event (08/04/18)
This was a pretty special one! Because of the high turnover rates of voluntary organisations, many of YFoE’s current active members have never been involved in a YFoE Ireland campaign. This was not because the intention was lacking but rather that we have never had the critical mass to support the programme of events necessary for a campaign to come to fruition before. Thus, to see Chew On This, the final product of months of brainstorming, discussions and effort, officially launch with such a bang was truly glorious for all of those who have poured their hearts and souls into it. And it did not just launch officially, it launched explosively!!! The rocket of YFoE, in this case represented by a carrot (what else?), blasted off into the stratosphere on April 8th with a smashing success of a Pub Quiz and schedule of performances held in the charming, jam-packed venue of Jigsaw in Dublin’s North Inner City.
Some attended to express solidarity, some were there out of curiosity and some were just there for the free nibbles (which were delicious). But everyone got something out of it, whether that was a new friend, a fun fact or even just an interesting conversation. The atmosphere was electric with people of all ages from all walks of life forming teams of roughly six and becoming instant allies in the quest to win any one of a range of spot prizes kindly donated by local eco-friendly eateries. But even after the prizes had been dished out, the energy didn’t let up! Our sound engineers were Johnny-on-the-spot meaning that a talented bunch of musicians, performers and poets could take to the stage straight away... and remain there until the bitter end.
And so the evening wore on and, despite the gradual, inevitable thinning out of the crowd, there were always enough people present to give a decent cheer. But the room felt so cozy and the energy so intimate that there was a feeling that we were all a part of these performances. In a sense we were. In the same way, everyone who organised, attended, cooked, performed or cleaned on that day was a part of the Chew On This Launch Party. It is the people involved, and their vibes, which make an event special and there were many, many good people involved in this one.
NHNA Film Screening: Promised Land (01/05/18)
Our very own Aido (Aideen O’Dochartaigh) described it thusly:
‘On May 1st, environmental group Not Here Not Anywhere organised a screening of Promised Land to mark the international day of action to Break the Fracking Cycle. Last year, we banned fracking of “natural”, or fossil gas in Ireland because of its damaging effects on local communities. But now the government wants to build Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminals in Ireland so we can import fracked gas from around the world, with no consideration of the impact on those communities. The film Promised Land tells the story of a Pennsylvania community’s campaign to defend their land against a natural gas company.
On the night we also played a video message from communities in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, where companies plan to ship fracked gas to Ireland as LNG. The film screening was one of a number of actions taken by groups worldwide to stand in solidarity with communities affected by fracking and urge the fossil fuel industry to Break the Fracking Cycle. You can watch the video of the action featuring all the international demonstrations here.’
Birthday Hike and Ziplining (15/04/18)
Oh how it rained.
This was the birthday celebration of no fewer than three young friends of the Earth (who are ostensibly getting older). The plan was for some of us to do a lovely hike along a section of Wicklow Way between Marlay Park and Glencullen and for a smaller contingent of adventurous thrill-seekers, to do a Ziplining Adventure in Tibradden Woods close by. Our very own David McMullin described the Ziplining thusly; ‘Despite inclement weather conditions, eight intrepid explorers flew through the treetops (well, tree middles) in County Wicklow.’
Both Zipliners and Hikers met up in Johnnie Fox’s pub, Glencullen straight afterwards for food and drinks, making sure to wipe their feet.
Oh, how it rained.
I was involved in the hike, personally, and it was drizzling when we got to Marlay Park. It didn’t let up all day but at least there was shelter amongst the trees. The craic was mighty and the crew was so large (around 20 of us showed up on the day) that you were never stuck for a chat. That was the thing; as long as your mind had an idea to distract it, and your body had movement to warm it, you didn’t mind the weather so much. And there was no shortage of ideas or movement on this hike. People were decked out to varying degrees of appropriateness, some very waterproof with taped seams, some highly water absorbent with denim jeans. But even the sturdiest raincoat couldn’t keep a hiker entirely dry on the top of Three Rock ridge where the wind howled and...
Oh, how it rained.
But the rain is Ireland. Ireland is wet.
They say that if you can see the hills, then it’s about to rain. And if you can’t, it’s raining.
If you live an active outdoorsy lifestyle in Ireland, you’re going to get wet. The rain cleanses the air and the earth; in many other countries, they would do anything for this amount of moisture. Our climate is our climate, it is what it is, and I say that you haven’t fully experienced Ireland until you’ve arrived at a pub in the hills, soaked to the skin to toast your success in completing a hike in the rain!
Oh how it rains! 😊
New Member’s Meeting 4 (08/05/18)
Approximately every six weeks, YFoE hosts a meeting officially dedicated to welcoming new members into the fold and which is advertised accordingly. It gives new people a chance to see what we do and how they can get involved without getting thrown in at the deep end and having to play catch up. This one was just lovely; the featured ice-breaker game was a the card name game (sometimes called Celebrity Heads) where one person in the group has a card on their forehead with a word written on it and every else has to help them guess the word without speaking; one of the words was claustrophobia….. this took us a while! Incidentally, I believe that this was one of the first meetings when it was officially still sunny outside when we left our meeting room in Comhlámh on Parliament St at 20.30! What a lovely way to welcome a few new people!
Come Veg With Us & Creative Performance (12/05/18)
This was a delicious one! The Chew On this campaign ploughed forward (sorry) on Saturday May 12th with the second event in our programme, a potluck dinner (and show) called ‘Come Veg With Us’. It was like Come Dine With Me except more exclusive as there wasn’t a camera crew. The venue, once again, was the magnificent Jigsaw on Belvedere Court. The structure was the same as the tv show except that, rather than just being scored on flavour, contestant’s dishes were also judged on the Carbon footprint of the ingredients and their nutritional value. This was possible thanks to a collaboration with Evocco, a company whose amazing, recently launched, smartphone app is designed to help consumers find the most nutritious food with the lowest environmental impact! For further information on Evocco and their excellent work, click here.
We also had a professional chef to judge the flavour and creativity of the dishes… and there was no shortage of either. From feta cheese and spinach pie to Sri Lankan curry, the variety and culinary talent on display was remarkable. Even more remarkable was the fact that everyone in attendance, not just the contestants, got fed with what was basically a full meal’s worth of delicious, nutritious, capricious food; there were around fifty people there and none of them had to fight over the twelve dishes entered!
After everyone had been fed and watered, the evening wound down with the world premier of our unique vegetable-related variety show. This served as a teaser for our Creative Performance event which is in the works for a slot later on in the programme. The show was improvisational in tone and suitably silly for an act which involved the reworking of iconic film scenes to include fruit and veg-related lines (e.g. ‘That’ll do fig, that’ll do.) Sadly, no footage exists so if such a ridiculously fun experience sounds intriguing, we would highly recommend you watch this space for future YFoE shenanigans!
The No-Garden Garden Project (26/05/18)
On May 26th, we hosted the ‘No Garden’ Garden workshop in the vegetable garden of the School Street Family Resource Centre with Bridgefoot St Community Garden. It was a part of the ongoing No-Garden Garden project. Two of our members described it thusly;
‘It is a way for people to develop a better connection with their food so that, with whatever space they have, they can learn how to grow it.
The No-Garden Garden was a practical workshop with tips on how to grow food in limited spaces in urban areas. Participants could design their dream #nogardengarden. We were talking about choosing the right container, about soil and compost, which plants can go in which containers and which ones aren’t compatible. We also got to know a bit about flowers, which are the edible ones and the ones that are repellent to insects. In the practical bit, all the participants chose some seeds (sent by Irish seed savers association), pots and compost and started sowing. Everyone took home their plants and the surplus was delivered to Bridgefoot St Community Garden.
Ash facilitated the event, playing the role of MC and guiding us through the whole event from the warm up and the Food Sovereignty explanation, to the workshop. I (Reamonn) explained a bit about food sovereignty and its part in a just transition to a fair and sustainable environment, I looked at the challenges that the food system faces and what each person can do to work towards a better food system. Richard explained the situation with Bridgefoot St Community Garden. It seems that they are more integrated in the Bridgefoot St Park plans and up-coming events like Cottage Market for Street Feast on the 10th June.
Ivana lead the workshop. The attendees selected the size of pot, depending on their available space and what they were growing. Ivana explained seeds, soil and compost. The rule of thumb with seeds is that the bigger the seed, the less you need, so with a bean seed, which was the biggest seed we had, you just use one seed per pot. When potting, a mix of soil and compost is preferable. Fill up the pot up with soil/compost at 3:4, add the seeds and cover over with some more compost. Water it once a day, leave in front of sun light and watch it grow!
So I think the attendees went home that little bit happier, wiser and with planted vegetables, pulses.’
- Chew On This Part III: Well-being Event – Thursday, 21/06/17 venue to be confirmed.
- Restoring Food to the Heart of the Community – With Green Foundation Ireland – Friday 29th of June – UCC, Cork
I wish that I could say that’s all the news that’s fit to print but it simply isn’t the case. We’ve been up to so much more than could possibly be fit into a newsletter and if you want to know about that, then you’re just going to have to come along to one of our meetings, now aren’t ya! Indeed, a combination of an ever-expanding and increasingly mobilised taskforce, the volume of projects on the go and the seasonal transition to Summer which seems to make everyone a bit more energised, mean that this might well be the most productive period in the history of YFoE… and it shows no signs of stopping! Onwards and upwards!
Until next time, we are...
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!