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4 climate action projects bringing waves of change

6 min read

4 climate action projects bringing waves of change

6 min read


4 climate action projects bringing waves of change

With International Day of Forests (21st March), World Water Day (22nd March) and World Meteorological Day (23rd March) all falling within days of each other this week, we’ve got our planet and its climate challenges on the brain. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the great work that just some of the Creative Climate Action projects of 2022 achieved.

The 15 inaugural Creative Climate Action fund projects were exciting, thoughtful and ambitious in equal measure. These included dramatic light installations that demonstrated rising sea levels in Galway and Wexford, immersive agricultural programmes in Dingle and Tipperary, decarbonising projects in Limerick and Waterford, and the regeneration of repair and reuse culture in Westmeath.

This fund, the first of its kind in Europe, brought together artists and the wider creative sector, climate scientists, local authorities and community groups to deliver projects that promoted awareness around the behaviour changes needed to address the climate crisis.

On foot of the initiative’s success, in November 2022 a new €3.6 million fund, Creative Climate Action II: Agents of Change, was launched and is set to run from 2023-2025.

Water, water, everywhere | ACT Waterford

ACT Waterford was the first interdisciplinary event of its kind, bringing together five different communities in Waterford City and county with five creatives in an effort to help Waterford become a decarbonised zone by 2040. 

The ACT team worked with these communities and creatives to address a range of climate change themes including suburban transport, domestic energy use, horticulture, biodiversity and responsible consumption. With communities at its very heart, the project explored how people could take meaningful climate action and were encouraged and supported to consider climate action barriers and explore local solutions.

Just one facet of ACT Waterford’s climate action work was the biodiversity project, For the Love of Water. With the aim of exploring the geographical area surrounding the River Mahon and to do it as much as possible on foot or by bike, the intention was to become as intimate as possible with the landscape and connect with it on a deeper level. 

Artist Kieran McBride spent four months engaging with a number of local groups; he led nature walks of the Anna Valley wetlands with primary school pupils and well-known naturalist Paddy Dwan; ran a Slogans on Slates art workshop and gave a talk on the importance of biodiversity in all ecosystems.

At the hugely popular events All Together Now and the Waterford Harvest Festival, Kieran held Water Warriors craft workshops, inviting festival-goers to make water warrior masks from nature-based biodegradable materials.

"The aqua-themed pièce de résistance of this biodiversity strand was August’s For the Love of Water Festival"

The aqua-themed pièce de résistance of this biodiversity strand was August’s For the Love of Water Festival. A fantastic festival of H2O in Kilmacthomas, ACT Waterford constructed a large tipi tent and base camp, which were used for art making, music, discussions and workshops on project themes like permaculture and life beneath the rapids.

In a post-project survey, event participants highlighted their increased environmental awareness, citing “how precious water is” and reflecting on having learned “what’s happening to our cherished water networks all around us.” And quite simply, how the “Mahon River is magical.”

This is just a hint of ACT Waterford’s 2022 Creative Climate Action work, read more about their initiatives here.

Above: Greenhills story map, Ripple

A ripple effect | Ripple, Ballina

In Co. Mayo, revamping public spaces with water, climate resilience and social benefits in mind was the name of the game.

The Ripple project team worked with a community in Ballina to understand, map and record their experience, perspectives, and knowledge about their neighbourhood green spaces in relation to water and climate change. 

Through a six-workshop process residents shared their insights, aspirations and hopes for their neighbourhood, and jointly co-designed 16 potential projects to improve the movement of water, the biodiversity, and the amenity value of parts of the Greenhills housing estate. 

With public green spaces, common in housing estates throughout Ireland, representing a significant untapped resource for climate action, and with Ballina’s aim to become Ireland’s greenest town by 2025, Greenhills’ potential transformation as a water-resilient, productive, and socially-cohesive public space was an exciting prospect.

Residents voted for their favourite design – The Paradise Garden – a haven for wildlife, nature, and people, that reimagined a part of the estate that was identified as damp but full of potential to become a climate resilient and inclusive amenity.

Ripple participant

"Being shown all the projects and ideas at the start showed us that so much can be done for climate change"

Nature-based landscape architect Roisín Byrne worked with the residents and Ripple team to develop the design of this lush idyll. With changing water events and altruistic action for nature at its heart, The Paradise Garden and its co-design approach is itself the origin of a ripple effect that extends outwards from Greenhills to the broader community. 

Boasting raised vegetable beds, a mini orchard of heritage apple trees, seating, native pollinator plants, and a tree nursery, water is gathered and directed into a rain garden, slowing the flow of heavy rain, and allowing rain tolerant planting to absorb some of the precious water. 

Throughout the project’s year-long lifespan, connections were also made between the Greenhills residents and the Karen Community Garden in Ballina, who kindly shared their knowledge, experience and plants with the core group who will look after The Paradise Garden into the future. Ecologist Martin McGarrigle also led a workshop looking at the water health of the River Brusna, which runs alongside the estate, finding that eels, shrimp and many more creatures were in abundance. 

The project concluded by mapping the Ripple Effect, the rippling out of the positive impact of being empowered to make local changes that benefit the community, plantlife, other species and beyond. By creating connections, and sparking other actions and projects, everyone can be encouraged to be a champion for their own neighbourhood, for biodiversity and for climate-resilient shared places.

At the start of the project, a questionnaire was given to all 205 households in Greenhills estate to understand how concerned residents were with climate change, how empowered they felt to take action, and to understand their relationship with water. The survey revealed that 88% of residents save water at home, that the majority are concerned about climate change, and that 58% felt empowered to take action. 

At the project’s end, a second questionnaire was sent, the responses to which revealed that over 80% felt more empowered to take action since being involved with the Ripple project; that 88% were more informed about climate change after participating in it; and that 81% of respondents plan to take action or make behavioural change after their involvement with the project.

“Being shown all the projects and ideas at the start showed us that so much can be done for climate change”, said one optimistic respondent.

This is just a taste of Ripple’s 2022 Creative Climate Action work, read more about their efforts here.

Locally-owned energy, social good & solar power | Callan Energy Store, Kilkenny

In Co. Kilkenny, one town’s history of community energy was the inspiration for a project that sought to engage locals in taking urgent climate action.

As early as 1909, the town of Callan boasted its own locally-owned electricity generation station, founded by a group of local businesses. Now, almost 100 years on, the town is again experiencing an exciting wave of imaginative thinking around energy – most importantly from renewable, environmentally-friendly, and locally-owned energy sources.

Initiated by Asylum Production Theatre Company in collaboration with Loosysmokes Circus Company and Colm Byrne from Callan Community Energy, a fledgling not-for-profit energy company, Callan Energy Store was devised as a pop-up store for exchanging big ideas in the heart of the town. An innovative community engagement project that aimed to reimagine the town’s energy supply and facilitate the beginning of a new community conversation, the ambitious three-week project programme ran in April 2022.

The physical centre of the project was the ‘social hub’, a temporary interactive discussion and exhibition space (and former home of Callan Bacon) that invited participation from locals. While the former Callan Powerhouse no longer has a mains power grid connection, as part of the project the building and public programme were run on solar power, provided by a mobile solar generator unit parked outside. In addition, a low-carbon pellet-burning stove was installed to heat the building. These interventions were designed to spark dialogue, initiate a conversation on the potential of sustainable energy and autonomy, and provide participants with a practical demonstration of the technology in use.

Callan Energy Store participant

"There are a lot of people who feel overwhelmed about the climate crisis... this felt like a good first step towards a map for us all to see how we can contribute and see real results"

With a host of public engagement activities around sustainable energy and energy generation, from kitchen table talks and coffee mornings, to documentary movie nights and science info sessions, these activities started important conversations. The programme of events were in turn playful, informative and interactive, the community was invited to consider and explore their energy consumption and the possibilities of energy production. 

Among some of the creative installations that piqued locals’ curiosity were an interactive bicycle-powered electric generator hitched to a repurposed blender that became a human-powered smoothie maker; a Scalextric racing car game, bike-powered radios, sound installation works, and not forgetting ‘Rusty’s O’Tool’s Electrolysis Corner’ – an ingenious solar-powered electrolysis bath for de-rusting old tools.

With an encouraging 93.75% of people surveyed stating that they planned on taking action or changing their behaviour or lifestyle after participating in the Callan Energy Store, one participant noted: 

“There are a lot of people who feel overwhelmed about the climate crisis and how they can fit in with being part of the solution; this felt like a good first step towards a map for us all to see how we can contribute and see real results and walk taller.”

This is just some of the Callan Energy Store’s 2022 Creative Climate Action work, read more about the project here.

Above: RISING on the Liffey

Turning the tide | RISING, Dublin City

Through a creative combination of practical workshops, an innovative audiovisual installation and a public presentation showcase, the RISING project brought together a diverse group of concerned Dublin Docklands residents to creatively take action on climate change in their locality.

This compelling project was led by Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and Brokentalkers Theatre Company, in collaboration with Dublin Theatre Festival and Algorithm Creative Production Studio. 

Brokentalkers initiated the project by engaging with local residents and youth groups, primarily connected to St. Andrew’s Resource Centre, Pearse Street. To develop an understanding of the potential effects of climate change in Dublin’s Docklands, they also interviewed a number of academics active in climate-related disciplines in TCD.

Brokentalkers and production studio Algorithm, then developed an immersive audiovisual experience which premiered at Dublin Theatre Festival in October 2021. A site-specific piece presented on the Liffey walls around Sir John Rogerson’s Quay and Customs House Quay, audiences used their mobile phones to listen to an audio piece performed by local Pearse Street resident, Kym Delaney. Simultaneously, a light installation displayed a series of texts and animations on the walls of the quays. Kym narrated the 20-minute piece which imagined a future in which no action has been taken on climate change, and reflects on the impact locally in the docklands, as well as globally. Some 672 free tickets were booked for the performances over the festival’s three days.

RISING participant

"I often worry that no one cares or that my actions aren’t as impactful... finding people who are passionate and worried, makes me hopeful"

Other stages of the project aimed to empower residents to explore the complexities of climate issues through workshops involving participatory creative practice. Participants wrote down examples of behaviour changes that could reduce climate change that could be made individually, collectively or systemically and placed the suggestions on a ‘Wall of Change’. 

One participant remarked during the process: “I just want to say, it’s a comfort to me… The concerns I have can cause me some anxiety. Sometimes it feels like a very lonely experience. I often worry that no one cares or that my actions aren’t as impactful and that can be very overwhelming, so finding people who are passionate and worried, makes me hopeful.”

Many of the participants especially appreciated and valued the increased connection with and access to TCD: “We’re in a rare situation to have lecturers, science lecturers who are connected with/are stakeholders in Ireland’s overall response to climate issues, come and lecture us weekly and you know, empower us with that information and ideas on what to do in response. So that was a rare situation to be in and I felt super privileged.”

The final showcase for the project was a two-night public presentation at the Lir National Academy of Dramatic Art, Grand Canal Quay. The participants rehearsed a written script put together by Brokentalkers which reflected their own words, captured through their creative writing exercises, discussion and improv during workshops. The hour-long show saw participants deliver emotive performances as they reflected on their journey over the previous months, highlighting their different approaches to tackling climate actions.

As one participant put it, “we are rising ourselves to something bigger… So then at the end of the day, it’s not just addressing climate change, but it is to go for something that is bigger than us. And somehow the environment is bigger than us, it’s more beautiful. We rely on it.”

Find out more about the RISING project’s work in 2022 here

These projects are just a few of the 15 Creative Climate Action 2022 fund-recipients, read more about the rest in our blog, or dig deeper into some of the projects’ final reports in our Publications section.

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