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Maximising Beneficial Relationships

by Davie Philip

Our summer issue is out now!

Davie Philip, a community catalyst and facilitator at Cultivate.ie, shares his thoughts on the importance of community. He talks about how joining together creates a healthy domino effect into many areas of life. 

Dive on in to learn more…


Maximising Beneficial Relationships:

by Davie Philip


“… We wanna be free, we wanna be free to do what we wanna do
And we wanna get loaded and we wanna have a good time…”

Primal Scream, Loaded


The key to a good life is the quality of our relationships, not the accumulation of material possessions or the pursuit of personal status and wealth. As social beings, we have an innate desire for connection and belonging. However, at a time when we need to come together, we find ourselves feeling isolated, disconnected and struggling to make sense of what is unfolding.

Our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing depends on the health of our relationships. As we confront increasingly complex challenges, it is the strength of our connections with others and the
natural world that will provide us with the resilience we need to overcome them.

When author and activist Bill McKibben was asked what the most important thing an individual can do about the climate crises, he said, “Stop acting as individuals”. Collaborative efforts and larger movements are crucial in addressing climate breakdown and moving towards regenerative cultures. Local community initiatives that provide for our basic needs of food, energy, housing and care can greatly reduce emissions and increase resilience, but they require strongrelationships and connected communities to succeed.

A prevailing individualistic worldview that prioritises self-interest, competition and growth impedes our ability to nurture these connections. This perspective serves the extractive economy that we rely on, but it fails to acknowledge the intricate web of relationships that sustain us.

The Irish proverb “Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine,” translated as “It is in each other’s shadow that people live,” serves as a powerful reminder of our interdependence and highlights the
significance of beneficial relationships.

Permaculture design, which is one of the courses Cultivate hosts at Cloughjordan Ecovillage, is often referred to as the art of designing beneficial relationships. The ecological approach aims to create self-sufficient and resilient human systems by replicating the patterns and interconnections observed in natural ecosystems.

Nature provides us with countless examples of how beneficial relationships can maximise the health and resilience of an ecosystem. However, maintaining harmonious relationships between people is more challenging. Our individual needs, politics and personal histories can clash. Community takes work, relationships are tough.

Eating together is a convivial act that has the power to forge deep connections between individuals. By sharing a meal, people have the opportunity to build trust and overcome barriers that may have stood in the way of building strong relationships. The Cloughjordan Community Farm hosts several occasions to eat together, such as their weekly soup cafés and monthly Eats and Beats sessions, which combine food, music and dancing. Street Feast, now a national event held across Ireland, brings neighbours together around food with the aim of building community spirit and tackling isolation. It is a powerful way to develop new connections, enhance existing
relationships and regenerate our communities.

In today’s fragile and interconnected world, the key to our survival lies in nurturing and maintaining strong connections. By nurturing mutually beneficial relationships, we can collaboratively transition towards a wellbeing economy based on love, care, community, meaningful work, purposeful lives and prosperity for all.

Davie Philip is a community catalyst and facilitator at Cultivate.ie, the sustainability cooperative
based in Cloughjordan Ecovillage.

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