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Future Proof Kilkenny
First poster for ‘A Crude Awakening’

2008 has been a busy and fruitful year!

We began with a series of film screenings in and around Kilkenny. At the time oil prices were on an upward trend so there was a lot of concern about the cost of fuel and interest in peak oil was, well, reaching a peak!

The screenings were well attended and were followed with workshops and discussions that gave the message that we were more than just a film club but were attempting to start looking at what we can do locally to prepare for life beyond oil.

Daniel Lerch, Brian Dillon and Malcolm Noonan

Next up was a co-hosted seminar with the Carlow Kilkenny Renewable Energy Agency called “Housing, Planning & Urban design for a Sustainable Future”. Daniel Lerch from the Post Carbon Institute gave the keynote presentation to a room full of planners, developers, local authority representatives, green energy providers and concerned citizens. In a clear and precise presentation and drawing heavily on his excellent guidebook for local governments, Post Carbon Cities, he set out what steps can be taken to plan and prepare for energy and climate uncertainty.

The Global Lunch Box flyer. Attractive design caught people’s attention.

May saw the launch of our ambitious “Global Lunch Box” – a series of informal lunchtime workshops exploring local responses to climate change, peak oil and the limits to growth. The press release read:

“Peak Oil and Climate Change are big challenges facing humanity but often the last thing we want to talk about. One of the main reasons behind the Global Lunch Box is to provide a space where people can talk about these important issues, meet like-minded individuals and hopefully inspire a more collective, community wide response.”

The reason for a lunchtime event was to offer something short and snappy that was entertaining and would have people talking about it afterwards. Using different learning skills and techniques the format followed a sequence of warm-up, media clip or slide show, short group discussions, feedback and, to send people away smiling, a humorous or thoughtful closing. The four titles were “Peak Oil Primer”, “Climate Change Café”, “The Story of Stuff” and “Making the Transition”.

The Global Lunch Box put Future Proof Kilkenny into the spot light in the local media and was very well received. The model has since been duplicated by Transition Town Clonmel.

Brainstorming and harvesting ideas

To consolidate the awareness raised and contacts made we immediately followed with a series of longer more in-depth evening events under the title of “Rethinking the Future”. The purpose of these was to begin looking beyond the problems, to brainstorm how we might respond as a community and to imagine what life might look like in Kilkenny beyond cheap oil and gas.

Meeting the Minister at the Electric picnic

After a memorable summer giving presentations and workshops at the Electric Picnic and the Green Gathering (and recapturing our youth!) the core group put together a program for the Autumn called “Transition Events”.

Inspired by the Transition Handbook this was divided into 3 sections under the themes “for The Head”, “for The Heart” and “for The Hands”. The aim was to convey the message that tackling climate change and peak oil is not all doom and gloom and that many of the most appropriate solutions are positive and should be done anyway: rebuilding communities, strengthening local economies, diversifying our skills and becoming more self-reliant.

Monica teaches how to start an orchard

Events “for The Head” continued the awareness raising with seminars on sustainable transport, oil vulnerability auditing, and a timely presentation by FEASTA called “The Money Bubble: From Financial Crisis to the End of Growth”.

Events “for The Heart” focused on the process of rebuilding our social glue, addressing the emotional impact of climate change and creating a sense of association to normalise and re-enforce pro-environmental behavior.

Events “for The Hands” was our first attempt at beginning “the Great Reskilling” and included courses on creating an orchard and domestic renewable energy.

Cleeres pub, ideal venue for the Green Screen

Finally, in cooperation with the Kilkenny Film Club “the Green Screen” was launched to show films and documentaries that examine the global issues of sustainability, justice, equality and the environment. A Crude Awakening, the Power of Community, History of Oil and Black Gold were this years offerings.

With Agenda 21 funding now under our belt we are in the process of planning out next years Transition Events. These will include a re-run of the Global Lunch Box and the Green Screen, hosting Cultivate’s Powerdown course and some exciting practical projects such as “400 Fruit Trees”, a “50 Mile Meal Award” and a “Green Home Help” group.

Launching the Autumn 2008 program in Butler House

Perhaps most exciting of all is the seeding of other Transition groups in the county including Thomastown, Callan, MoonCoin and Castlecomer.

2009 should be an interesting year.

Happy Christmas!

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