Politics – To become actively involved – or not…

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? . . . And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

MARIANNE WILLIAMSON

This post has been prompted by a comment on the previous post. Thanks Sean for getting me to put my thoughts down in words.

Yes, I agree that the situation with the Green party is sad. A lot of people have given of themselves over the years to create a party which was to have the care and responsibility for a healthy earth as it’s prime motivator.

I have never been a party member however I know many who are or have been very actively involved in the party and I know that many of them are really feeling the disappointment now.

Some of them feel that the compromise that is happening at government level is worth it, others don’t agree.

I am now considering joining the party and encouraging all the alternative minded people that I know to do the same in an effort to reclaim the party from Dublin intellectuals and career politicians.

I do like the fact that party members actually do have a say in what happens. If I do become a party member and if I am unhappy with what is happening then I would have the chance to try and shape new policy. It does require some serious consideration.

I have never been a party person, never had unwavering allegiance to one party, preferring instead to choose individual candidates in my local area. I used to be quite involved in local politics at one time because of the campaigns that I was involved and I saw the local politicians in light that most of the electorate do not.

Most Irish people have never attended a local council meeting in their own area. It is an interesting thing to do because you see the politicians behave in a way which you don’t see when you watch them through the public lens. It is particularly interesting when a really important decision is to be made as sometimes national politicians turn up to oversee from the public gallery and ensure that the locals do as they have been instructed.

I have distanced myself from involvement in politics and campaigning as a thoughtful action, not passively or because of apathy. It does take a certain level of energy to maintain an active and thoughtful interest in both active campaigning and politics and I decided some years ago that enough was enough.

I became tired of trying to change things from the top down and instead I have concentrated on working from the ground up. I now prefer to quietly just get on with my own business, trying my best to live as sustainably as possible. I have always loved the quote – And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

I guess that is what I have been doing for the last few years. Change that comes from the ground up is very rooted. It is well tried and tested by the time that change becomes the norm.  It may seem as though nothing is changing then slowly you may start to notice a change in attitude or habits of people a long way from your sphere of influence – so to speak.

I have some thinking to do on this, whether or not to become more actively involved again.

All input is gratefully received, please comment if you feel moved…

Building Dreams

We had good weather to work on our house building project today after I got back from getting some building supplies.

The first floor joists were put in this afternoon and it is really satisfying to see them sitting on the beams that span the “stilt” style foundations. We have a very sloping site and so the southern face of the house will be close to six foot off the ground on sturdy stilts which are on concrete pads. The concrete pads are set about three foot into the very solid clay subsoil.

We really would have liked to avoid using concrete however we really could not afford the alternative of cut stone and there is no stone naturally occurring on our site. There are some compromises which we find we are making, mainly due to budget constraints – our budget actually being almost non-existent!

Our floor design will be a little unconventional – quelle surprise! We are fixing galvanised chicken wire between the tops of the sturdy beams and on top of this we will spread a breathable fabric which will in turn be fastened to the tops of the beams. The floor joists will then sit on top of this fabric, nailed to the top of the beams and the spaces created will in time be filled with insulation and the floor boards screwed down to the joists.

We will not be adding the insulation just yet for two very good reasons – firstly we need to get the roof on in order to keep the insulation dry and secondly at the moment we do not know what sort of insulation we will use.

The second consideration will depend on budget – if we win the national lottery – highly unlikely but not impossible – if only we remembered to buy tickets!! I digress – if our budget changes we would love to use sheep’s wool or something similar.

What is more likely is that we will source some local timber and use our free electricity and an electric planer to create wood chips which we could mix with lime and maybe some hemp hurds and a little water to create a sort of woodchip insulation.

Any suggestions about alternative, easily sourced, environmental insulation will be most welcome 🙂

Beautiful Blackthorn

I have put up some mileage over the last ten days and seen blackthorns in all their beauty. Blackthorns and whitethorns, known as hawthorns in other countries, abound in our hedges and brighten up this time of year so much.

The blackthorn flowers before it comes into leaf and the whitethorn comes into leaf before it flowers, so the whitethorn flowers later in the spring. Every year I look forward to seeing the thorny dark hedge bushes of the blackthorn brighten with a foamy creamy blush.

A few weeks ago I saw them flower in the west of Ireland and in Wicklow and slowly the foamy tide has moved northwards. Last week the thorn bushes were flowering at the bottom of the hill and and over the last few days the flowers have opened up along the hill road, still they haven’t reached our track yet.

It’s lovely to drive along the road into town every few days and see the difference that those few days have made to the colour in the hedges. The whitethorns have been coming into leaf as the blackthorn has come into flower, up on our hilltop the whitethorn leaves have opened from gentle green buds to beautiful fresh green leaves. We are still waiting for the balckthorns to flower up here and I think that it won’t be long now.

Meanwhile we have the birdsong and the green opening buds of the whitethorns to distract while we wait…

St Patricks Day

Happy St Patrick’s Day! Whatever that means to you…. Maybe green rivers in Chicago, trade deals in New York, for some binge drinking in Ireland and for others putting face paint on the excited kids of the local children’s playschool class. It is a very odd mix of activities isn’t it?

I loved St Patricks Day when I was a child, for starters we had a day off school which was always a cause for celebration in my book! Secondly, even thought we were in the middle of Lent we were allowed a free day – we could eat the things we had given up for lent such as Tayto crisps, sweets and ice-cream. Thirdly, we lived near a city which always had an exciting parade and it was fun to go watch it with our family and to meet friends there too.

Drinking alcohol was not a big thing in my family so my childhood memories of the day do not involve seeing people drink to excess and as I grew older it was not something that I associated with the day.

I found it a little boring when my college friends got “rat-arsed” on paddys day, although I was a party goer most other days of the year, I never could see the whole “it’s paddys day, we have to get extremely drunk” thing.

I am looking forward to the parade in one of the towns that I live near. It will be a lovely simple affair with tractors, both new and vintage, hopefully the fire brigade truck, the playschool kids in colourful costumes, brownies and cub scouts looking so proud. How do I know what to expect? Because it has been the same for the years that I have lived here and I really do enjoy it!

As I said, when I grew up we had access to quite sophisticated parades and they were great fun and very colourful and noisy with all sorts of marching bands, big fancy floats and often American bands with cheerleaders.

There is something really lovely for me in the simplicity of the local small town parade, it seems more real, more rooted in the community, not trying to be something that it is not.

Many people are happy to go and watch their local parade and then have a pint or two with their friends and neighbours and I do enjoy that sort of socialising and may well do that very thing today.

However I will leave early so as not to be in town this evening when it becomes messy and also because I want to cook a lovely meal of bacon and cabbage! – Yeah, I know, it’s a little cliché but I do love bacon and cabbage and today is a really good day for it!

What does St Patick’s Day mean to you? Whatever it represents I do hope that you have a lovely day and enjoy some fun with your family, friends and neighbours this week.