100 years since the Easter Rising, how are you approaching the centenary commemorations and celebrations?
By Samuel Bishop
It’s not easy to make sense of it all and to understand how to get involved. What does it all mean? While one can appreciate and admire the visionary writing of the proclamation and commemorate the bravery of a few in seizing their destinies for the many, it’s not so easy to celebrate an armed rising. It was a tragic time for Ireland, evenmore-so across the continent.
Perhaps it’s easiest to dissect the Proclamation and relate it to our own values. Many of the passages of the proclamation are inspiring; declaring a vision for an equal nation, a nation that would be able to define its own future. Calling for equal rights and equal opportunities, religious and civil liberties, inclusion and equality are fairly common values, and are surely causes that we’d all campaign for!
So at Street Feast, we figured these commemorations should be used to strengthen people’s dedication to a better, more inclusive Ireland. It’s a time to be reminded of, and strive to work towards the revolutionary’s visions of inclusion, empowerment, equality and social justice. It’s certainly an opportunity to write new proclamations and indeed students are doing this in every school across the country on Proclamation Day, this March 15th. This is a chance to envision what values will be important for Ireland over the coming 100 years.
A healthy nation and healthy citizens rely on healthy, inclusive communities. Healthy democracies rely on strong communities. A nation is built of communities, and there is no better example of that than here in Ireland. It’s why I was so pleased that Street Feast was invited to be an official celebration of the 1916 centenary, as it helps to ensure that community is at the heart of the legacy of this centenary.
So, this June we are hosting a Centenary Street Feast; a nationwide day of community gatherings, picnics, parties and barbecues all across Ireland, with the simple aim to improve community spirit and reduce isolation. While we’ve run Street Feast for the past six years with great success (last June almost 20,000 people took part) this year we are inviting participants to ask themselves what their vision for their community is. It’s time to take this conversation to the streets! It’s important that we ask ourselves what our own vision is for where we live. On the centenary of the rising, let’s dream of a better future.
We’ve found that Street Feasts are very often the catalyst that will inspire new forms of positive activism and provide the impetus to kick-start new local projects. You’ll fi nd that once you’ve brought people together, the desire to do more in the community is infectious! A community garden, Coder-Dojo space or Men’s Shed might be the next small step. This is how resilient communities are built. It’s our hope that Street Feast will be the first of many steps towards reclaiming our visionary heritage. Let this be the legacy of this centenary.
On Sunday 12th June we invite you to gather your neighbours and take to the street, your front garden, a footpath, a fi eld or a park to share lunch together as you celebrate your community and create a vision for your neighbourhood. For us it’s not the armed rising of a few, it’s the raising of a glass by many to embrace a future of inclusiveness and belonging. You never know, it may just be the start of something special.
Street feast takes place on Sunday 12th June in communities across Ireland. register for your free street feast pack at streetfeast.ie. Samuel bishop is co-founder and coordinator of street feast. connect with him on twitter at @Samue1