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Pupils from St. Mary's National School, Tournaneena, shepherding the way to climate action


5 innovative ACT Waterford projects

3 min read

5 innovative ACT Waterford projects

3 min read


5 innovative ACT Waterford projects

ACT Waterford is the first interdisciplinary event of its kind that brings together five different communities in Waterford City and County with five creatives to help Waterford become a decarbonised zone by 2040. Waterford is one of Ireland’s first recipients of funding to support creative projects in building awareness around climate change that will lead to meaningful behavioural change around climate issues. This year-long climate awareness project, called ACT (Action Climate Targets) Waterford is an interdisciplinary venture which brings together Waterford City and County Council (WCCC) and South East Technological University (SETU) in an exciting project funded by the Creative Ireland Creative Climate Action Fund.

These ambitious plans for decarbonisation call for much needed action from industry, business, government and individuals. To build greater understanding and to combat confusion, ACT Waterford is working with five Waterford communities and through the engagement of five creative facilitators for each community, they are addressing many climate change themes including suburban transport, domestic energy use, horticulture, biodiversity and responsible consumption.

These communities are the focus of this project and they are exploring how individuals and their communities can take meaningful action in response to climate change, and how their experiences and learnings can be brought to a wider audience. Communities are encouraged to consider barriers to climate action and are being urged to explore local solutions. Social media channels and the ACT Waterford website allow them share their ideas on an ongoing basis. A series of public workshops, exhibitions and performances, with some aligning with various local cultural events, are in train.

Using these new creative approaches, the ACT Waterford project is helping to build capacity and understanding about the challenges of climate change and stimulate climate action.

This ground-breaking, innovative project is supported by Creative Ireland under the Creative Climate Action Fund and is driven by Calmast – the South East Technological University’s STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) engagement centre.

Katherine Collins, Creative Ireland Waterford

Creativity and imagination are our most important tools to overcome challenges and recognise opportunities.

Nollaig Healy, Project Manager for ACT Waterford, said:

“This is a hugely ambitious project which will help place Waterford in the lead of climate action in Ireland. We are delighted to be partnering with so many talented creatives who are working with the communities and taking such a variety of creative approaches to addressing climate change in Waterford. The response and engagement from community groups and individuals has been excellent and we are excited to see the outputs of this ever-evolving project.

We believe these community projects will bring about real change and a move from climate change awareness to climate change action.”

Katherine Collins, Waterford’s Creative Ireland Coordinator said:

“Creativity and imagination are our most important tools to overcome challenges and recognise opportunities. Through a collective approach we will bring science, technology, education and creativity together with communities in Waterford who want to make positive changes leading to climate actions in their homes and localities.”

Fergus Galvin, WCCC Director of Service for Roads, Water & Environment, also welcomes the announcement:

“This project aligns with WCCC’s aim to make Waterford City a decarbonised zone by 2040. We have set ambitious targets, including cutting carbon emissions by 7% per annum between now and 2040. The actions required to achieve these targets will be taken by all communities in Waterford and it is important that creative approaches are seen as an essential part of the solution.”

The 5 Act Waterford projects 

Greening The City, Ballybricken

Greening the City is led by creative Rebecca Cappuccini, who has a strong background in community gardens, citizen engagement and is ideally placed to work with this community. Rebecca has very close ties to the area, her grandparents being the local undertakers. Rebecca herself worked in the infamous local fish mongers Billy Burkes for seven years.

One of Rebecca’s latest achievements as a co-founder of the ‘Top of the City’ garden is a total transformation of a landfill into a little green paradise for local communities, where vegetables are grown and summer events happen. As a committee member of Community Gardens Ireland, Rebecca commits her time and energy to support forming and networking of the community growing spaces in Ireland. This project is informed by feedback provided by its local and trans-disciplinary audience/communities. The community will promote planting in public spaces, gardens and balconies, find novel places to grow and also create a vision for how they would like their area to look like in future.

Ballybricken as a place is very interesting, being one of the oldest and most historic parts of Waterford City. This area was the centre of the livestock and bacon-curing industry with a fair taking place on the green every month. The rasher was invented in Waterford by Henry Denny in 1846 and Denny’s factory in Ballybricken was the biggest of its kind in Britain and Ireland in the 1930s. At one time, there were a total of five bacon factories in the city – now there are none. The decline in industry in the area led to increased levels of unemployment and a lot of disadvantage. This project aims to plant the seeds for future blossoming of the area.


Suburban Transport – Take the Bus for a Change, Dunmore Road

Working with Dunmore Road communities, creative Joanne Donohue has been spending time exploring the residential area of the Dunmore Road, chatting to residents, examining access to bus routes from the residential estates and exploring walking and cycling options already available.

Joanne is gathering positive and negative stories around taking the bus and, through these stories, looking at the solutions and problems associated with the reality of leaving the car behind for a better option for the environment.

As part of the project, Joanne is walking the beautiful river walk along the Dunmore Road with her environmentally unfriendly plastic globe beach ball to start a conversation with local residents. She is taking photos with the plastic “world” alongside nature spots and posting the journey on ACT Waterford’s social media channels. She is also taking it with her on the bus to encourage discussion and is organising artist happenings in the estates along the Dunmore Road.

Joanne is an artist, theatre director and set designer living in New Ross County Wexford. She studied Fine Art in Dun Laoghaire College of Art Design and Technology and Carlow IT and has studied craft in Grennan Mill Craft School, Thomastown, County Kilkenny. Her expertise in theatre has been developed through training with Youth Theatre Ireland and on-the-ground experience. Joanne has been the artistic director and set designer for WACT youth theatre for the past ten years and has worked on over twenty plays starring young people from all over County Wexford. Currently, she is teaching set design online as part of the JCT Play Create Perform initiative in collaboration with Youth Theatre Ireland. She is excited to be an ACT Waterford creative and looks forward to working with the residents of the Dunmore Road.

“When we consciously explore what it is that we want to protect about Earth we become more effectively motivated to change our behaviour permanently. Taking public transport for the benefit of climate change has to have meaning and value for people in order to replace the effective immediacy of cars. Instead of being irritated by inconsistency, can we embrace going with the flow more? Is there value in that?

These are some of the questions that I will explore when I am in residency in the estates to encourage new bus riders and while on the bus to celebrate the riders who are already doing something for the world by taking the bus. I think people who are everyday bus travellers are not recognised as doing something of real value. They maybe don’t see it as so either. I believe it should be celebrated. It’s time to really meditate on what it means to care and take action around climate change. Art creates space for that to occur.”

While the majority of Irish citizens are concerned about the environment, a far smaller percentage take action on that concern.

Biodiversity in Kilmacthomas

All the issues such as biodiversity, habitat loss and sustainable agriculture can be explored through the lens of water.

The community selected for this project is Kilmacthomas and the creative appointed is Kieran McBride. In order to give this project an immediate focus, water and river systems is the central theme. Explorations began with local water and river systems and expanded to include their catchment areas. These explorations include coastal areas, estuaries, lakes, streams, springs, bogs and peatlands, reed beds, fens, salt marshes, flood plains, wet alluvial woodlands, and more. Increasing the planting of trees and increasing renewable energy sources are some of the most well-known strategies to tackle climate change, yet in the popular imagination restoration of water and river systems is often overlooked.

Restoring river systems and their habitats can drive change across the entire catchment area. River restoration contributes to biodiversity and can include things such as re-meandering, creating green natural river banks, removal of man-made obstructions to open up habitats for migratory fish, planting of trees which provide shade and reduce water temperatures, and restoring upland wetlands to increase water storage and assist the prevention of flooding.

Kieran has been working with a diverse group of people running workshops such as ‘Slogans on Slates’, in which he discusses the theme and the issues and encourages responses in the form of slogans crafted on slates. The ‘For the Love of Water’ festival, which will take place in August beginning at the All Together Now festival, will feature a wide variety of workshops and events all related to biodiversity. Activities include seaweed foraging, hikes, ‘Guardians of the River’ mask making and permaculture workshops.

Kieran McBride is an interdisciplinary artist based in Waterford whose arts practice incorporates filmmaking, set design, script writing, performance and visual arts. He exhibited work in the group show Cycling Through the Rages, curated by Kelly Ratchford, at the Olivier Carnet Gallery, Dublin which explored the issues of urban transport and the challenges faced by cyclists. Kieran’s arts practice has organically gravitated towards the field of participatory and community-based arts and he is committed to the production of work that is socially engaged. Prior to the pandemic he studied community development under Amel Yacef at the CDETB.  He has developed a series of voice and movement workshops for elderly women at the St. Andrews Resource Centre in Dublin and is currently a volunteer at Manor Chillout, a social space for LGBT+ youth run by Waterford Youth Services.

Energy Use and Efficiency in a Domestic Setting

Responding to a set theme, The Walls Project (TWP) is working collaboratively with the Ballybeg community in Waterford to examine domestic energy use and efficiency. They are taking a practical approach to energy efficiency and what people can do on a day-to-day basis in their lives.

They are paying particular attention to real and achievable changes that the community can make to combat climate change and examining local issues that impact people’s ability and willingness to take action.

The workshops are on-going and the painting activities will start on August 16th and run until the 20th as part of the Waterford Walls Festival. Artists from Bloom the Art project, Fiona and Aisling from Dublin along with Magda Karol, started working with the community members in the Cillbarra sports centre on Monday June 13th. The selected artists have extensive experience in inspiring communities through their murals and workshops; their main aim is to empower people to grow, overcome and look forward to a happier future. They are encouraging participants through a series of creative games to conceive sketches of the mural to be painted on the community wall in August.

The Walls Project CLG is a social enterprise which delivers large-scale public artworks and outreach projects. There are four main pillars to The Walls Project:

  1. Waterford Walls Festival impacts communities through artistic collaborations
  2. They deliver large-scale public and private art commissions across Ireland
  3. The work engages with communities and students via community and educational outreach workshops
  4. They engage in artistic exchanges and collaborations focused on connecting diverse people and communities both in Ireland and internationally

Responsible Consumption and the Adoption of a More Sustainable Lifestyle

In addition to working with four local communities, ACT Waterford sought to consider an online community investigating shopping and recycling habits.

Slí Waterford are the creatives selected for this strand.

Working alongside the ACT Waterford team, Slí Waterford is working to identify what are the obstacles and impediments to young people (18-30) taking action in terms of responsible consumption and recycling. While the majority of Irish citizens are concerned about the environment,  a far smaller percentage take action on that concern. The aim of Slí’s contribution to the larger ACT project is to produce a video series entitled Call to Climate Action to help people overcome those impediments.

Slí was founded as The Waterford Sustainable Living Initiative (SLI). Slí provides a range of education and awareness raising programmes to schools, youth groups and community organisations to raise the profile of sustainability within the community. All of their work takes place within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. Slí works on a variety of issues that fall under this umbrella, including the problems of single-use plastic, waste, fair trade, child and forced labour, ethical fashion, water, transportation and more. Sli’s vision is of a global community working together to ensure an equitable and sustainable future for all, and their mission is to educate and empower the people of Ireland to act on issues of sustainability, responsible consumption and climate change.

The project will be overseen by WCCC and managed by Calmast, SETU’s STEM Engagement Centre with support from climate action experts from WCCC and SETU. The project is managed by Calmast, South East Technological University, on behalf of Waterford City and County Council.

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