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Building the CoDesRes micro-ecology

Updated: Aug 12, 2018

Connections - CoDesRes initial mapping

One of the initial stages of the pCr methodology is to building a micro-ecology around a project. Most locations have many people involved in organisations and working individually with shared or related aims. Through the development of micro-ecologies as a foundation for citizen’s involvement in shaping and governing places, we can begin to share multiple perspectives and exchange skills and expertise as we are often unaware of the skills, knowledge, passions and interests within our local communities. These temporary public spaces encourage dialogue, inter-relating and action.

Since Jan 2018 we have been working with a number people and local organisations to build relationships and create a micro-ecology around CoDesRes. The first step in the pCr methodology begins to map the skills and activities of the community and how this might contribute to sustainable development and community resilience. The pCr framework uses a simple visual mapping tool derived from the Zoning method in Permaculture. This has a number of uses both to begin to see the operational landscape and to develop a relational understanding of the location.

CoDesRes’s micro-ecology enables a systemic approach to working towards its aims and integrating the local organism's (organisations, groups or people) place-based knowledge, adding to the area's potential for local resilience. Further, the exchange and collaborations between the organisations and individuals enables them to begin to re-imagine how they might do things differently or co-create new activities. We look forward to working with more groups and individuals this year and continuing to work with the groups and individuals we have worked with since Jan 2018, its been amazing and a big thank you to all of them.

This iconic building is home to the Daniel O’Connell visitor centre and local history museum. The building was originally constructed between 1870 and 1875 as a Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks by the British Government. The Old Barracks is full of history dating back to its construction from 1870 - 1875. Its life mirrors all significant events in Irish history from the Civil War and  War of Independence right through to the Ireland of today. Read more history here

CoDesRes HQ is on the top floor of the Old Barracks giving us an opportunity to work closely with them on projects contributes to the sustainability and resilience of the building and the local community. We worked closely with Acard Ltd, who manage the building on the St Patrick's Day parade and last year's Spookemon and will be continuing to work with the staff and board of directors.

Our next collaboration, begins in August with Heritage Week and the launch of our Storybank project, Aug 2018 - August 2019. We are looking forward to gathering and sharing the stories and tips of making and mending, the thrifty living that our grandparents practiced that shows us sustainability is not new.

The Caherdaniel Japanese Knotweed Project is a community-led initiative seeking to carry out a five-year research project to determine effective non-chemical treatment methods for the invasive plant Japanese Knotweed (JKW). The group formed in 2016 after efforts to address the improvement of the waste water system in the village of Caherdaniel were delayed due to the presence of JKW on the proposed site. This lead to further investigations by the community on the extent of JKW growth along the river and current methods of removal available.

This project aims at testing three different non-chemical control methods while engaging the

community via citizen science, education and training opportunities to aid in dissemination of

project results across a wide network. CoDesRes, WP3 lead Eleanor Turner, with support from the CoDesRes team will work with CJKWP particularly on aspects of arts-led community engagement and STEAM education.

The team is waiting on their Garda Vetting for Kerry County Council and once we have this through we will be starting a number of STEAM learning workshops and activities.

Although the team is already vetted by Kerry ETB, UCD and Coláiste na Sceilge, new regulation means each organisation much vet any prospective workers. We will be keeping everyone up-to-date with our activities at the library, which will hope to starting in September.

Members of the team began working with Cahersiveen Tidy Towns particularly aligned to three of the Tidy Town's assessment critieria;

  • Community involvement and planning,

  • Wildlife habitats and natural amenities

  • Sustainable waste and resource management

These areas align well with CoDesRes's focus on the SDG goals 11, 14 and 15 have enabled us to develop good working relationships and contribute to the local tidy town's activities as well as increasing group membership. Since January the team have contributed to the Tidy Town's events e.g. the Wild Flower planting and clean up days. As part of developing an awareness of the sustainable development goals and developing practical actions, CoDesRes wanted to have a weekend of activities that brought people together in ways that contribute to the four SDGs we are working with.

In collaboration with Tidy Towns, Asana School of English and other local residents we initiated and co-organised the first Cahersiveen Clean Coasts beach clean and the town's first Street Feast, with Tidy towns. We also worked with Tidy Town's chair, Lisa O'Shea and new member James McCarthy, a landscape architect to collate and submit this year's Tidy Town's application and we look forward to hearing the results.

We also began to plan some of next year's activities and will be starting the Waste to Taste project in Aug. 2018, to develop and co-create the Cahersiveen edible-medicinal sculpture trail, supported by additional funding from Kerry County Council and Creative Ireland with funding pending from Local Agenda 21.

We are very excited to be working with Coláiste na Sceilge, a co-educational community college with an enrolment of 550 students and we will be offering the CoDesRes curriculum within the 2018 / 19 Transition Year.

The Transition Year Programme (TYP) is a unique one year programme that promotes the personal, social, vocational and educational development of students beginning to prepare them for their role as autonomous, participative and responsible members of society. As a bridge the TYP supports students to make the transition from the more dependent type of learning associated with Junior Cycle to the more independent learning environment associated with Senior Cycle.

The CoDesRes programme has been developed by the team to encourages the development of a wide range of transferable skills based around the 4-cs; Critical thinking, Communication, Creativity and Collaboration. Delivered over three modules that align to the SDGs we are working with and two of the CoDesRes projects; Waste to Taste and Net-Reuse the aim of the curriculum is to develop critical thinking and creative problem-finding and solving skills.

We will be sharing updates and resources from the curriculum as we go.

CoDesRes are very excited to be working with Portmagee Development Group and are very lucky to have a commitment to staffing for one day a week from PDG.

The main aim of Portmagee Development Group (PDG) is to establish, promote and operate a community development program, which will act as a focus and catalyst for the community of Portmagee and surrounding areas, with a focus on promoting their personal, social,education and cultural welfare. To empower specific disadvantage groups to effectively participate in programmes.

We began working with PDG back in April are now working with them on Storybank and hope to work with them on the net-reuse project in collaboration with SeaSynergy.


"Naisc" is the Irish word for "Connections or Links" and the NAISC SKellig Kerry Diaspora network is a virtual diverse group of people who live all over the world, of different circumstances, expertise and backgrounds connected to the communities on the Iveragh Peninsula from Kells across to Castlecove, the geographic region that CoDesRes is focused on.

NAISC provides two fellowships for CoDesRes, Dr Anita McKeown, Artist in Residence and Seán O'Laoghaire, Seanachai in Residence, enabling the team to benefit from additional capacity. This also offers high-level expertise as a peer-2-peer network sharing skills, local knowledge and their connections with the project. This is invaluable for consolidating the resilience and skills that already exists in the region.

Sea Synergy

SeaSynergy is a specialised marine awareness centre offering a unique interactive marine wildlife and heritage exhibition and a variety of meaningful activities, workshops and adventures that empower all ages.

MISSION: To create meaningful experiences in nature for individuals or groups tailored to their needs that enable them to discover the rich diversity of Ireland’s environment and Wild Atlantic Way in a fun and memorable way.

Two of the CoDesRes team are also integral to Sea Synergy, Lucy Hunt, Sea Synergy Founder and Eleanor Turner, Sea Synergy manager and educator means we can work closely together and collaborate to support each other by exchanging our field-specific knowledge to reaching our shared aims. This is most visible in the projects we are working on - Net Re-use, Sensing the Cummeragh Catchment and the upcoming CoDesRes curriculum.

Members of CoDesRes attended a meeting in Dromid in Dec 2017, organised by Waters and Communities and our community water officer, Blaithin Ní Áinin and arranged a meeting in Jan 2018 early in the project.

Since then we have kept in touch to see how we can work together and will be delivering our first event, Sensing the Cummeragh Catchment, with Waterville Lakes and Rivers Trust and supported by Water and Communities and as part of Water Heritage Day, Sunday 26th August, 2018.

The theme for Heritage week this year is Share a story and make a connection and we thought this would be an ideal opportunity to explore the natural heritage of our local lakes, rivers and coastal areas. This will take the form of a sensory conversation and you can read a short article in July's South Kerry Advertiser, on our publication's page. To read please click on the link and scroll down to the press features and click on our team member, Eleanor Turner's beautiful image of Lough Derriana, and the starting point of our sensory conversation.

The Waterville Lakes & Rivers Trust (WLRT), formed by concerned volunteers in 2016, is one of the new Rivers Trusts to be set up in Ireland and is currently aspiring to Charitable Status. Its remit is to protect the fresh and coastal waters of the Iveragh Peninsula.

WLRT is currently running three programmes, to try to mitigate against the marine threats to the Atlantic Salmon and local sea trout, which are initially aimed at conserving the lakes, rivers and streams of both the Cummeragh and Inny Catchments in the Waterville area. CoDesRes will be working with WRLT to on education programs to help raise awareness within the Iveragh communities on the value and importance of these species and our freshwater ecosystems.

Supported by Water and Communities, Sensing the Cummeragh Catchment will be our first collaborative event and we hope to develop this into a range of educational resources.

Transition Iveragh / Transition Skellig Coast (TSC)

Having been involved in the Transition Movement in the U.K. and a founding member of Transition New Cross Gate, CoDesRes PI, Anita McKeown, was keen to connect with the local movement. The Transition Town's movement began in Kinsale, Ireland in 2006 by Rob Hopkins, Peter Lipman and Ben Brangwyn.

The terms, transition town, transition initiative and transition model referred to grassroot community projects that aim to increase self-sufficiency to reduce the potential effects of peak oil, climate destruction, and economic instability. Now known as the Transition Network, there are groups of people all over the world who are committed to making positive change happen locally.

In Nov 2017, Anita McKeown, Adi Vickers, and Seán O'Laoghaire went to the Transition Kerry hub Community Climate event. Inspired by the day but feeling Tralee was a long way to go for regular meet-ups, they decided to start and umbrella group, Transition Iveragh for the Iveragh Peninsula and a local group, Transition Skellig Coast. Transition Skellig Coast's first meeting included, Adi Vickers, James McCarthy, Liz Scattergood, Oonagh Walsh, Seán O'Laoghaire and Anita McKeown, since then we have added three members to the group Rachel Rae, Lisa O'Shea and Colm Breathnach.

A number of things were discussed including the history of various initiatives in the area, including pitfalls and obstacles as well as potential future members. It was decided that we would host an event that would launch both groups and begin to build a local network that could help move towards sustainability and resilience. The group launched publicly 10th February with Hedge school, an initiative of the Asana School Garden and was very well attended. The event included tree planting, creating a living willow hedge, making bird-feeders and storytelling, as well as inviting a number of local groups and organisations to share information To see more images from the Hedge School and Transition Skellig Coast Launch - click here Images by Rachel Rae and Anita McKeown

In March, the group hosted a Climate Action Workshop, run by Transition Kerry and delivered by Michael O'Coileain, Kerry County Council Environmental Awareness Officer. The workshop looked at issues relating to climate change and how to climate proof a community. Focusing on our patterns of consumption and how this impacts on climate and community resilience, the workshops encouraged practical discussions on how local communities can find solutions in their own homes, schools, places of work and community spaces relating to the impacts and challenges posed by a changing climate.

TSC targeted members of local groups from across the peninsula as we were limited to 20 places and as part of CoDesRes's development of a peer-2-peer network, we hoped that this would seed the knowledge across the peninsula, even though we only had 20 places. Since then members of the group have been involved in various Tidy Town's activities, planting trees at Coláiste na Sceilge, getting involved in the St Patrick's day parade, Beach Clean and the Street Feast. The group's activities will begin again in the Autumn and is looking forward to a busy year. You can keep up to date with TSCs activities here

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