Civic Engagement

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What’s the value of knowledge if we don’t use it for progressive change? For me, my theoretical and academic knowledge is first and foremost a tool and means by which to bring about meaningful change in real-world contexts. Findings ways to creatively apply critical insights, knowledge and learning for progressive change in society is central to what I do. Alongside my academic research and teaching, I have been actively involved in leading and coordinating a number of community activist initiatives and projects throughout Galway and further afield.

 

One of my biggest commitments to date has involved my role in community activism around sustainability transitions. In 2011 myself and two friends, Caoimhin and Kieran, set up Transition Galway  and since this date I have been an active leader on the coordinating team.  Through my involvement here, I have been specifically interested in designing and employing creative participatory tools for engaging the public around questions of social and environmental change. For example, through our work with Transition Galway we designed, hosted and coordinated a series of community planning visioning events in Galway city during 2013 and 2014 which sought to engage the public in community planning for sustainability transitions. Following these events, we worked as a team to produce the ideas generated by Galway’s public into a coherent plan for Galway’s sustainability transition, leading to the publication of ‘A Vision for Galway 2030’ (2015), a published document which outlines a host of community-based ideas and solutions for facilitating sustainable development in Galway. I have also participated in many other community planning initiatives, including helping to set up a community garden (Galway’s Garden of Transition) and community bike workshop (An Mheitheal Rothar) in the city and running regular film nights and social events in the city.

 

In seeking to advance development in Galway along socially equitable and sustainable lines, the importance of extending our work beyond the confines of the university is paramount. I have sought to do so through developing community relations with a diverse range of stakeholders throughout the city, including the local council, community groups, schools and businesses. Finding ways to creatively participate in outreach programs and initiatives which seek to engage the community around society-environment change is a fun and stimulating way of helping to drive change. Some examples of communicative work I have been engaged with include delivering presentations to the Galway City Council, organising public seminars, featuring in radio and TV interviews, as well as writing for local media and blogs. Through these avenues, I seek to communicate and implement critical social science far beyond the academy.

 

Selected Examples of Activist Outreach Engagement

2018                      Elected as Director on An Mheitheal Rothar’s Board of Directors

2017                       Launched and co-host of new radio show ‘Transition Radio’ on Flirt 101.3 FM that explores the social and cultural dimensions of sustainability transitions. The aim of this show is to engage the public around sustainable development and communicate social science research and approaches to sustainability transitions beyond the academy.

2017                       Radio interview on Flirt 101.3 FM discussing PhD research ‘The Rise of the Fridge is the Decline of the Milkman’, 29th March.

2017                       Campaign coordinator on Recupan Galway Campaign.

2016                       Host of ‘Sustainability Stories – Galway Eco-PechaKucha’, an event run by Transition Galway as part of the Convergence festival, October 29th 2016.

2016                       Interview with Rob Hopkins, Transition Town Movement co-founder, March 2016 (see https://soundcloud.com/transition-culture/transition-galway-discuss-their-a-vision-for-galway-2030-report).

2016                       Interview on Connemara Community Radio discussing community-based visions for sustainability transitions in Galway, March 2016.

2013-2015            Coordinator and organizer of a series of Community Visioning Engagement events in Galway city which took place at various locations in the city during 2013 and 2014.  Co-designed, hosted and coordinated the implementation of these events. Key contributor and author of ‘A Vision for Galway 2030’ (2015), a published document which outlines a host of community-based ideas and solutions for facilitating sustainable development in Galway. (see https://transitiongalway.wordpress.com/ for more information).

2015                       Interview on Irish TV covering the launch of a ‘Vision for Galway’.

2013                       Coordinator and volunteer of ‘Disco Soup’, a community food project which aimed to engage the community around solutions to food waste in Galway city, 28th July 2013.

2013                       Volunteer coordinating and setting up a new community garden in Galway city ‘Galway’s garden of Transition’.

2012                       Volunteer helping to set up Galway’s community bike workshop ‘An Mheiteal Rothar’.

2012                       Speaker in debate ‘Four Angry Women – A free public ‘state of the nation’ debate’, 26th Nov 2012, Galway City Museum.

2012-15                 Contributor to NUI Galway student paper SIN. Authored several articles discussed sustainable lifestyles and consumption.

2011-12                 Contributor to the Living Link Magazine, a local paper focusing on alternative and sustainable living. Authored several articles discussing the Transition Movement and sustainable living.

2012                       Organiser of Permaculture Workshop in Galway city workshop, 4th December 2011.

2011                       Presentation on ‘Transition and Peak Oil – What it means for Galway’ to the Environmental SPC (Strategic Policy Committee) of Galway City Council, 26th May 2011.

2011+present      Coordinator Transition Galway

2011                       Co-founded Transition Galway