Social

FacebookTwitter

Phibsboro: A community seeking climate-change improvements for everyone

The Northside neighbourhood was recently chosen to take part in a pilot project for community-based action that aims to build upon local knowledge and expertise – including at Bohemian FC. 

“Well to be honest, I am stuck in a cave all day but if I venture down to my garden I can see ‘Phibsoro Cathedral’ – slightly.”   

Sean McCabe, an executive manager at Think-tank for Action on Social Change (TASC), may joke about his work-from-home set-up, but he has been busy developing a pilot scheme aiming to tackle climate change and inequality through community-based projects.  

“Community is amazingly powerful and it has the potential to drive change in way that top-down policy never will,” said McCabe, in a recent Zoom call.  

“Community is amazingly powerful and it has the potential to drive change in way that top-down policy never will”

Sean McCabe, executive manager at Think-tank for Action on Social Change (TASC)

Supported by AIB, the ‘Peoples Transition’ pilot projects will take place in urban Phibsboro in Dublin and rural Ardara in Donegal throughout the next six months. Primary dialogue between ‘stakeholders’ will take place in April and May.  

The ‘Peoples Transition’ report published, last year by TASC, outlined how engagements would consist of citizen’s assemblies at local level. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, it remains to be seen what the engagement will look like but the pilot programme is trying to reach everyone.  

“Seventeen per cent of people in the boundary of Phibsboro do not have access to the internet. That’s almost one in five people, so we have to design a response that understands where people are at and makes it easy for them to give their opinion,” McCabe says. 

Image of Phibsboro village provided by ‘Phibsboro Sustainable Energy Community’

‘Phibsboro Going Green’ 

McCabe, a resident of the area, has been at the forefront of green projects in Phibsboro over the last couple of years.  

In 2019, whilst running as an independent candidate for a seat on Dublin City Council, he led a community workshop called a “design sprint”. Running for six weeks, it allowed local residents to identify waste issues and devise alternatives.  

Looking at three main areas, the workshop aimed to strengthen the community, support biodiversity and reduce waste. Speaking to the Dublin Inquirer in 2019, McCabe said “the waste project turned into Phibsboro Going Green – it’s really a reflection of the community’s interest in general.” 

The Phibsboro Going Green initiative committed local retailers to goals like reducing waste or cutting the air miles on what they sell.  

McCabe, a Bohemian F.C fan himself, recently joined the Phibsboro club as its climate-justice officer. The progressive Dublin club have begun to examine how they can lessen their carbon footprint.  

“Bohs has been a community fan-owned club since 1890. Using the club’s reach we can help explain the issue of climate change more broadly that typically is and to an audience that maybe do not engage with climate,” McCabe says.  

“It’s about learning how the club can give back to the community whilst mobilising the area towards climate action,” he adds. 

“There’s an incredible array of experts within a community. Once you start putting out a net, the number of specialised people that can contribute to that area’s development is quite spectacular”

SEAN MCCABE, EXECUTIVE MANAGER AT THINK-TANK FOR ACTION ON SOCIAL CHANGE (TASC)

Throughout the community workshop “design sprint” and Phibsboro Going Green pledge, locals were at the core of both initiatives. They are the experts, says McCabe. “There’s an incredible array of experts within a community. Once you start putting out a net in the community the number of specialised people that can contribute to that area’s development is quite spectacular,” McCabe said.  

“It is about creating opportunity for the knowledge that exists within the community.”

Building trust in the community  

“This is an effort to demonstrate how allowing communities to co-own climate actions can build trust and empower the community, which is only great if it gets resourced,” McCabe says. “We are really hoping that we can bring local and national politicians on the journey.”

The co-creation of solutions in the community could look like a retrofitting co-operative to help people improve building energy use. The Phibsboro Sustainable Energy Community is a local network of residents and businesses examining how to improve energy efficiency in the area, says Gerard Meaney.  

Meaney, a local resident and marketing professional with experience in the energy industry is the head of the group and echoes the sentiments of the ‘Peoples Transition’. “We are communicating with residents, small businesses, municipal services and transport services in hope of transferring the ownership of energy in the area,” Meaney said. “Community buy-in is hugely important – some of the best ideas come from locals who are the strength of our project.”  

Change for all 

Great developmental plans may be in vain if the solutions are not inclusive, says McCabe. “If inequality isn’t addressed at local level, people will be left behind and may resist change. It’s about designing a process that makes life easier for everyone.”   

+ posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

three × 4 =