Five ways to rock the Irish green on St Paddy's day
Since I happen to love Ireland – for me it’s not a family thing so much as a land-and-culture admiration thing – I herewith present five ways to think about green this Sunday:
- Check out (at least virtually) the rural Irish ecovillage at Cloughjordan, in County Tipperary. I described the project back in 2009, when it was new, noting that its founders aimed to build 130 green homes within an existing town in need of regeneration, while conserving land for forest preservation and sustainable farming outside the village. The Transistion Network website describes Cloughjordan this way:
“Cloughjordan, the winner of Ireland's national Green Community award and the second best Village to live in, according to the Irish Times, makes for a perfect environment to experiment with community resilience initiatives. Due to its high level of community spirit car-pooling, tool sharing, a bread club and food exchanges already exist and more collaborative enterprises are popping up.
“The Ecovillage project has . . . land designated for food growing, community woodlands, a district heating system fuelled by woodchip and a large array of solar collectors, as well as its own in-house IT company and internet provider. It has spawned the Cloughjordan Community Farm, a wholefoods buyers club, and has contributed to the spirit of active citizenship seen in the town . . . The new Cloughjordan Wood-Fired Bakery just won several awards for excellence and there is a burgeoning community of artists and craftspeople.”
There’s more on the websites.
- Enjoy a pint of Guinness, one of the world’s greatest beverages, with the knowledge that the venerable brewery is embracing sustainable practices in a number of ways. Or, if you’d prefer to drink local, consider one of the five sustainably brewed American stouts recommended by Robin Shreeves. They are from Vermont, North Carolina, California, and Delaware. And either designate a sober driver or stay within one of the walkable “pub sheds” highlighted by my cyber-pal and city/town thinker Scott Doyon.
- Go green with envy over Dublin’s spectacular, walkable Aviva stadium. Not sure I’ll ever quite understand Gaelic football, but this is one of the most beautiful and greenest sports venues in the world, with advanced waste management, energy, food, transportation, and water efficiency/quality measures. (While you’re at it, check out NRDC’s report on the greening of pro sports in America.)
- Celebrate the wonderful Irish landscape, to my eyes the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. I’m sure we all have our favorites, but so far, this is mine. It’s every bit as green as legend in song and story has it, frequently “misty wet with rain” but seldom with downpours. I find it calming, magical, and, as an environmentalist, motivating.
- Consider that Ireland has a cool president. I won’t pretend to know much about Irish politics, but everything I hear and read about Michael D. Higgins makes me want to know more. All I knew at first was that one of my favorite roots-rock bands, County Galway’s Saw Doctors, had written a kick-ass song about him, stemming from his days representing Galway in the Irish Dail. Since then I have learned that he is an accomplished poet, a strong campaigner for human rights, a critic of homophobia and useless wars, an environmentalist, supporter of rural and urban regeneration, and a heck of a speaker.
Speaking of cyber-pals, my Facebook friend Leo Moran provides a great introduction to Higgins before launching into the song with his mates in the Saw Docs, and the man himself has some stirring things to say (in both Irish and English) at the launch of Convergence 2012 in Cloughjordan:
- When artists are rooted in place: a small-town musician fights for a piece of community history (October 15, 2012)
- The greening of Guinness (March 16, 2012)
- A sustainable community in County Galway (March 17, 2011)
- Dublin gets spectacular green stadium (June 3, 2010)
- Why we do this: a musical tribute to the Irish landscape (March 17, 2010)
- Ireland’s eco-village at Cloughjordan (March 17, 2009)
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Kaid Benfield writes about community, development, and the environment on Switchboard and in other national media. For more posts, see his blog's home page. Please also visit NRDC’s Sustainable Communities Video Channels.