Green Politics in Northern Ireland – with Cllr Dr Georgina Milne

On Eco Living in Action I’m usually pretty focused on the practical actions that we all can take to transition to a sustainable future. But politics, whether we enjoy it or not, is a critical part of our transition.

In the past, Northern Irish politics has been dominated by the nationalist-unionist divide, sidelining big issues  that affect us all – such as biodiversity loss, climate change and the state of our environment. Things have improved a little but there is much progress to be made.

Join me  as I chat with Cllr Dr Georgina Milne who is the Green Party’s representative in the Ormiston district in Belfast City Council. Georgina works as a research scientist at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute based in Belfast. We talk about the state of Green politics in Northern Ireland, how she is finding life as a politician, and what Northern Ireland needs to focus on to transition to a sustainable future.

This show was recorded on the 26th May 2017.

To listen to this programme about GREEN POLITICS IN NORTHERN IRELAND please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=d58ffea8-3fa5-476a-bc97-074dcf0fe36f

(If you want to listen to this show and the link is not working – please let me know! We endeavour to re-air our older popular shows on request.)

For more information –

This show was originally broadcast on the 8th June 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

 

Cllr Dr Georgina Milne, Green Party representative for the Ormiston District in the Belfast City Council

Old tools for new livelihoods – with Stephen Wood from Tools for Solidarity

Tools For Solidarity is a small charity based in the cities of Belfast and Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. The charity collects, refurbishes and sends old unwanted hand tools and sewing machines from here in Ireland to skilled tradespeople living in Africa, helping them to secure productive livelihoods for them, their families, and their communities.

Tools for Solidarity has been running since 1992, and over the years it has slowly developed and expanded on the initiatives that it has chosen. There is so much that I admire about this charity. In particular, its passion for overseas aid work, its reuse of unwanted tools, the sustainability education work it does in schools and its commitment to giving meaningful work to people who have special needs. On top of this, the organisation is run in a way that includes a commitment to consensus decision making, equitable pay and a non-hierarchical structure. Fantastic!

In this show recorded on 29th March 2017, I visit Stephen Wood from Tools for Solidarity at their Belfast workshop to talk to him about some of the work that this charity is doing.

 To listen to this programme about Tools for Solidarity please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=c320e66b-bb71-4fa5-924e-3097b86e1031. (If you want to listen to this show and the link is not working – please let me know! We endeavour to re-air our older popular shows on request.)

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

For more information –

  • About Tools for Solidarity, go to http://www.toolsforsolidarity.com/ Contact – Tools For Solidarity,
    55A Sunnyside Street, Belfast BT7 3EX. Tel Tel: +44 (0)28 9543 5972. E-mail: tools.belfast@myphone.coop

This show was originally broadcast on the 4th May 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

Stephen Wood, along with his brother John Wood, are two core volunteers at Tools for Solidarity, without whom it would not exist.

Outside the Tools for Solidarity workshop in Belfast. There is also another workshop in Downpatrick (not pictured here).

Sewing machines are donated to Tools for Solidarity. These are refurbished and converted so they can be operated manually without electricity before heading off to Africa.

Stephen Wood in the hand tools section of the workshop

Tool boxes are the latest venture of Tools for Solidarity. Each is targeted to a specific trade skill. Still at planning stage, it is hoped they can be distributed to young skilled workers in Africa.

Hand saws sorted according to teeth size. Excellent sorting and labelling skills are required at Tools for Solidarity!

Laura Rio Fernandez, a sustainability educator, leads the Education for Sustainable Development Programme that is offered to schools by Tools for Solidarity.

 

 

 

A Grassroots Protector of the Climate – with guest Rosemary Penwarden

When you go out walking do you find yourself picking up the litter of strangers? Do you sign petitions to change government policy? Do you go on rallys, or introduce recycling at work or school? Whatever environmental protection actions you take – if you are trying to change your bit of the world for the better – then you can call yourself a protector of the planet.

One person who firmly fits the label of planet protector is Rosemary Penwarden. Rosemary spent many years working as a medical laboratory scientist, is a proud grandmother (‘Rama’) and lives in Waitati north of Dunedin. In the last five years she has become actively passionate about the issue of climate change, and is involved in opposing fossil fuel extraction in New Zealand and particularly in Dunedin. She is part of Oil Free Otago and CANA (Coal Action Network Aotearoa).

On this show recorded on the 24th February 2017, I chat with Rosemary Penwarden about her personal journey to grassroots action, and what it is like to directly oppose big business corporations in the fossil fuel industry in New Zealand.

To listen to this programme about Protecting the Climate please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=a3b8ea7f-59ce-4b9a-8da6-621cd4d247f7. (If you want to listen to this show and the link is not working – please let me know! We endeavour to re-air our older popular shows on request.)

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

For more information –

This show was originally broadcast on the 16th march 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

Oil Free Otago spokesperson Rosemary Penwarden stands in front of their banner at the Dunedin Railway Station clock tower. The group wants the government to invest in clean energy projects instead of deep sea oil and gas drilling.

 

Oil Free Otago campaigners peacefully protest at a petroleum conference blockade, Sky City, Auckland. 2016

CANA (Coal Action Network Aotearoa) protest against Fonterra’s continued used of coal at their Clandeboye plant near Timaru – 2017. Photo taken by Shannon Gilmore.

Rosemary enjoys some family time with her grandson Arlo (2016)

Fostering Energy Resilience in Blueskin Bay – with Scott Willis

Since it was formed in 2008, the Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT) has had its share of successes as well as its challenges. Back in 2013, Scott Willis from the group came on the show to talk about their exciting proposal to build three wind turbines to generate energy in the community of Blueskin Bay, just north of Dunedin. Unfortunately, despite community support, the turbine proposal has also faced some local opposition leading to a reduction in the number of planned turbines being proposed.

But BRCT is as resilient as its name suggests, and provides many other positive benefits to the local community (and Dunedin) such as Home Performance Assessments, the ClimateSafeHouse project, Community Energy Advice, bulk firewood and insulation, and Climate Change planning.

In this show, recorded on 3rd April 2017, I talk to Scott Willis about positive developments for BRCT, setbacks, the big picture of community based energy resilience – and what keeps Scott motivated over the long term.

To listen to this programme about COMMUNITY ENERGY RESILIENCE please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=a9a0ad0b-edcd-4133-aa92-6beed95bb4b3

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

This show was originally broadcast on the 13th April 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

Scott Willis, Project Manager at Blueskin Resilient Communities Trust (BRCT) in Waitati, Dunedin, New Zealand

Early mock up of the proposed wind development on Porteous Hill. Currently for one turbine.

Preparing the wind site for geotech assessment

Services that BRCT provide include firewood delivery to the Blueskin Community.

BRCT also provides advice on energy efficient homes. Here are most of the Home Performance Assessment team

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Zealand’s ‘Best’ Environment Centre – with Robyn Guyton

The Riverton Environment Centre is the oldest continually operating environment centre in New Zealand and is rated the best Environment Centre in the country by the Ministry for Environment. It is a pleasure to visit, a fabulous source of information and environmentally friendly products, a valuable community hub, and an umbrella organisation for several important environmental initiatives such as the Open Orchard project and the Heritage Harvest Festival.

If you have ever visited it you’re likely to be pretty concerned by recent news that its premises may be sold to the highest bidder come end of February 2017. This will happen if members of the South Coast Environment Society do not raise sufficient funds to purchase it.

By supporting their Pledge Me Campaign we can help keep the Riverton Environment Centre going at its current premises.

On this show recorded on the 13th February 2017 I chatted with Robyn Guyton, Riverton Environment Centre Co-ordinator, about the centre’s achievements, its benefits not only to Riverton but to Dunedin and New Zealand, and how we can support it so the Riverton Environment Centre can buy its property and with the freedom of ownership make several exciting new developments.

To listen to this programme about New Zealand’s ‘Best’ Environment Centre please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=c788cd3b-d4bd-4ceb-8f7e-c402abdd0f16

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

For more information –

This show was originally broadcast on the 16th February 2017 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

Robyn Guyton, Co-founder and Coordinator of Riverton Environment Centre

Robyn Guyton, Co-founder and Coordinator of the Riverton Environment Centre

Riverton Environment Centre (South Environment Centre) on 120 Main St, Riverton

Riverton Environment Centre (run by the South Coast Environment Society) situated on 154 Palmerston St, Riverton

 

 

 

 

Interior of the Riverton Environment Centre. Eco-products are for sale, as well as plentiful displays and information on environmental issues. Staff are on hand to assist with questions. Approximately 50 people come in on a daily basis.

Interior of the Riverton Environment Centre. Eco-products are for sale, as well as plentiful displays and information on environmental issues. Staff are on hand to assist with questions for the approximately 50-100 people who come into the shop on a daily basis.

Grafting workshop in Riverton. The Riverton Environment Centre is also an umbrella body for a number of initiatives such as the Open Orchard Project.

Grafting workshop in Glenorchy. The Riverton Environment Centre is an umbrella body for sustainable living workshops that are run throughout South Otago and Southland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Campaigning for Renewable Energy in Northern Ireland – with Declan Allison

While I am staying in Northern Ireland, I’m keen to profile as many of the key environmental and sustainability groups here as I can. When I assisted with the Feed the 5000 event in Belfast, I found out that FoE NI was one of the organisers. And when I checked out on the internet what is happening here in Northern Ireland with regard to protecting the country from environmentally damaging energy extraction, FoE NI again came back as a major player, a group that is assisting communities to defend themselves against hydraulic fracturing for gas (fracking).

FoE NI is an active grassroots group campaigning on a wide range of issues from transport, to creating wildflower meadows, to campaigning for more renewable energy generation. It is also part of an international organisation that is based in around 70 countries. In preparing for this show, I’ve discovered that there is also a Friends of the Earth New Zealand. Unfortunately it does not have an active website.

For this show, recorded on the 28th October 2016, I met with Declan Allison, Campaigner, with FoE NI to ask him about energy generation and use in Northern Ireland. In this show I find out about the potential for renewable generation in Northern Ireland, as well as what FoE NI are doing to help Northern Ireland to transition to a 100% renewable energy province.

To listen to this programme about Campaignging for Renewable Energy Generation in Northern Ireland please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=789b02ae-b621-46ca-b802-41c9eb5bcdc9

To listen to other Eco Living in Action radio shows on the Otago Access Radio Website go to http://www.accessradio.org/ProgrammePage.aspx?PID=d6c5fa93-1644-4811-acef-71386373b70a

For more information –

This show was originally broadcast on the 17th November 2016 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

Declan Allison, Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland.

Declan Allison, Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Northern Ireland.

Belfast, a Sustainable Food City – with Kerry Melville

There are many people passionate about good sustainable healthy food in Dunedin, such as the grassroots collective – Our Food Network Dunedin, as well as Dunedin’s permaculture movement and the great increase in community gardens around the city. In particular it is exciting that currently work is being carried out by the Dunedin City Council to implement an action plan to support local food producers and businesses, promote local food events, and generally assist Dunedinites to obtain healthy sustainably produced food. It is with this knowledge in mind that I am especially interested to see what is also happening in other cities.

While writing this I am in Northern Ireland, and for this show I travelled to Belfast its capital. Belfast is home to approximately 334,000 people, and like Dunedin it has embraced local food resilience – aiming to support a thriving local food economy that is healthy as well as environmentally sustainable.

Kerry Melville is Coordinator of the Belfast Food Network, an NGO that has received funding to initiate a wide range of activities that will help promote a thriving food economy in the city that is both sustainable, healthy and equitable.

Kerry was born in South Africa, has spend many years in England and since 1999 has lived in Northern Ireland. She says she is passionate about this little country and that it is almost as beautiful as New Zealand which she visited for five months as a WWOOFer in 2005. (As I was born in Northern Ireland and live in NZ – I also must agree!)

I spoke with Kerry on the 29th July 2016 about the exciting initiatives and achievements of the Belfast Food Network. I have included photos from the September 2016 Feeding the 5000 event in Belfast, which the Belfast Food Network coordinated along with Friends of the Earth NI.

To listen to this programme about Belfast – a Sustainable Food City please click on http://www.accessradio.org/Player.aspx?eid=248f1317-d84d-473f-905b-cccbb6061c07

For more information

This show was originally broadcast on the 4th August 2016 with the help of Otago Access Radio 105.4FM. Eco Living in Action is sponsored by Sustainable Dunedin City.

Kerry Melville, Coordinator of the Belfast Food Network

Kerry Melville, Coordinator of the Belfast Food Network

The Belfast Food network obtained food from farmers in Northern Ireland that was surplus and would otherwise have gone to waste. The food was served by volunteers. Friends of the Earth NI and Hare Krishna group ?? coordinated preparation and cooking.

The Belfast Food Network  and Friends of the Earth NI collaborated for the Feedin the 5000 event. Surplus vegetables from farmers in Northern Ireland were donated – food that would otherwise have gone to waste. The food was  prepared and served by volunteers and cooked by Iskcon Belfast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerry, in action at the Feed the 5000 event in Belfast, 2016.

Kerry and volunteers at the Feed the 5000 event in Belfast, 2016.