Our planned course day included a tour of the community, and some villager stories. I think this was the part that I found most interesting and inspiring. Peadar Kirby, formerly a professor of International Politics and Public Policy at the University of Limerick made the point that this time of Climate Emergency is an opportunity for change and that Cloughjordan can be seen as the seed of a new kind of community and society. This for me was very heartening - to see someone who has studied much of what I am interested in and to conclude that it is an opportunity rather than a disaster, is very encouraging. There were other wonderful stories and the common theme that I picked up was an unease at the way we are 'supposed' to live and a desire to do things differently. And the villagers, of course, have already put their beliefs into action and work hard to live in that different world.
For it is certainly not an easy option and Davie Philip, another course tutor and one of the founders of the Eco Village, has stressed that it has taken a huge amount of work and that there have been many pitfalls along the way. In that sense, a real commitment is needed and a mind shift away from our own egos is probably a necessary part of that process. This is something that I find very interesting at the moment, how we might as a society begin to have real dialogue and openness to change. Even in my own life, suspending my own ego and beliefs can be a struggle at times! With this in mind, I'm planning to do a Facilitation course in November, run by Social Justice Ireland.
In general, aside from the Eco Village, I have found the experience of doing a Course with like minded people invigorating and fantastic. I'm not sure exactly if it is simply that we all have similar goals, or if being aware of environmental issues perhaps makes us more open to communication and effecting change, but in any case it has renewed my faith in humanity and given me a new energy.
The landscape of the Village is a bit wild, with quite conventional housing for the most part, but also cob houses and apartments and interspersed with trees and edible bushes. It is all very open, there aren't any big walls or fences separating people, just natural meandering borders.
There is an amphitheater and a community woodland - the picture below is from the amphitheater
We visited the Community Farm and also got to see the fantastic Red Gardens run by Bruce
The Community Garden is run on the basis of Community Supported Agriculture and is the first and largest scheme of its kind in Ireland. The idea is that the people in the community commit to paying over the year upfront and this means that the farm has a continuous safe income. This scheme is also open to people in the Cloughjordan community at large and this is something worth mentioning also, the Village does exist within a larger community and has developed good relationships with that larger grouping.
The Red Gardens is run by Bruce who runs his YouTube channel to share his experience and insights. Basically he has seven different gardens and uses a different gardening methodology in each in order to gather data and research the impacts of different methods. I found this so interesting, could have stayed for ages listening to him!
Although the outdoors aspects of the Village are the things I love, I can't neglect to mention that it is not all outdoorsy - the Village also has a Fab Lab which is very cool and the only community Fab Lab in Ireland.It uses open source plans and a 3D printer as well as other tools to make things and this enables people to create prototypes right there rather than looking abroad. Recreate is the enterprise space for co-working and education (and where we spent much of the day).
The success of the Village, I feel, is down to this ability to innovate and think of different ways of doing things- and then of course to have the determination and energy to implement these ideas. The visit was hugely inspiring for me, it gave me renewed faith that we can actually build a just and egalitarian society and that we can learn from the pioneers who have led the way.
Last but not least I must recommend Django's Hostel - we stayed the night there and it was so nice. It is a hostel, so not anything fancy but we had a nice room to ourselves and there was a super comfy sitting area where we spent a lot of the evening. We chatted to people and were very kindly offered some delicious chocolate brownies which were spare. It was actually really lovely to have that social aspect. Basic breakfast is provided but if you want anything extra, you can always bring it yourself and pop it in the communal fridge.
Some other posts you might like:
Shankill Castle Visit
Trip to Derryounce Lakes
June Blake's Garden