By Rory Chinn, Aoife Kiernan and Faye Murphy
The second day of Green Week began with a Climate Wellbeing Workshop, organised by the Green Campus Committee. Gary Tyrrell, Climate Action Officer with An Taisce’s Climate Ambassadors spoke to a group of budding and experienced climate activists on addressing eco-anxiety. For reference, eco-anxiety is the feeling of anxiousness and fear that comes with fully embracing the scale of the climate challenge. The committed climate activist is sure to run into this feeling and although some may feel that it is part and parcel of advocating for climate justice, this can lead to burnout. True strength, according to Gary, is about setting boundaries in our own lives and knowing that we can’t do everything.
The highly interactive session was most akin to a tutorial in its comfortable intellectual discourse. This meant that engagement was free and encouraging to those with their ideas. One attendant discussed the relevance of the history behind the climate movement, with a particular focus on the esteemed marine biologist Rachel Carson. He said that the history of humans’ relationship with the earth has been thousands of years of connection, thrown away in the past few hundred.
The session rounded up with a chat on how we take care of our well-being, and those privileged to take part in the workshop shared their outlets.
The final message from Gary should stick with everyone, as a reminder of the optimistic attitude we should have in our approach to climate action and life as a whole, “Failure is not making a mistake- failure is giving up”.
The afternoon continued with a plant market organised by Envirosoc and Botsoc. This market facilitated students and staff in buying and swapping plants, cuttings and seeds. It proved to be a great success, with many members of the college community bringing in plants that they had propagated themselves, and expanding their own plant collections. Several botany students and members of the botanical society were in attendance providing sound advice on the caretaking of the plants. The society set up the market within one of the kiosks in the arts block and managed to gain traction throughout the college. The market was run as a fundraiser for the charity SEED Madagascar, and attendants were extremely generous. In total over €450 was raised. This money will go towards a myriad of projects, mainly in southeast Madagascar, ranging from conservation to food distribution, as Madagascar is currently experiencing a famine caused by drought, to education. Madagascar is commonly referred to as a “biodiversity hotspot” due to the high numbers of endemic species caused by its locations and nature as an island.
The evening finished off with two talks, a discussion with Manchán Magan and a panel on Careers for a Sustainable Future. In a collaboration between the Environmental society and the Cumman Gaelach, Manchán Magan joined his discussion from zoom, which was then streamed into the beautiful surroundings of the Botany Lecture Theatre. The event was bi-lingual and gave insight into the interconnectedness of the Irish language and nature, and the common struggles the Irish language movement and the environmental movement have. Manchan proved to be a very engaging speaker, and his extensive life experiences made for an interesting talk, as he described his worldwide travel, casually dropping in comments like “when I came back from the Himalayas” , and inspired students with talk of his self-build house in county Westmeath.
The Careers for a Sustainable Future panel began with Melanie Allanson, Head of Human Resources at FoodCloud. She discussed how FoodCloud goes about eliminating and distributing food thus addressing the SDGs 2 and 12.3. Allanson stated that there are many ways to get involved in FoodCloud, from technology, data analytics, finance or communications. She mentioned that before joining FoodCloud she wanted to find a purpose and believed joining FoodCloud would achieve this goal.
The next panellist was John Dardis, Senior Vice President of Sustainability at Glanbia.
Dardis discussed how the nutritionist solution business is targeting dairy industry waste and converting it to protein. He mentioned that Glanbia is also developing packaging and partnering with Foodcloud. When looking into future careers, Dardis believes that you “don’t need to decide on a path immediately”, and should “stick with your gut”. You must “be prepared to grow, and see setbacks”. Dardis mentions that he “enjoys helping people with a vision”, and states that “trust with the team is important”. He maintains the outlook that empathy is a skill set, that in order to be in charge you must be able to “give solutions rather than issues”.
Dr Sabrina Dekker, Climate Action Coordinator at Dublin City Council was the final panellist. Dekker discussed her career experience, from originally wanting to be a doctor to becoming involved in DCC.
She gives the advice to “love your space and don’t need to know your path immediately”, as it took her until the age of 25 to decide on a path. Dekker believes that one needs “skill in uncertainty and how to respond and think creatively to give aid and answers where needed”, she mentioned that as students have already suffered through the pandemic they, therefore, have increased resilience.
There are currently graduate programmes at DCC and unpaid internships but with a chance of ending up with a job. There are also Foodcloud internships including a stipend, Allanson mentioned that FloodCloud is waiting on a graduate programme, they just need funding.
Graduate programmes are available within Glanbia, with sustainability entry jobs available in the future. There are also two campaigns for students, in spring and autumn.
Day three of Green Week sees a myriad of events, from a college-wide swap shop, a green lab panel discussion to a flower hammering event by Trinity’s Environmental Society.