One of the central features of our Spring 2021 issue was an interview with Alan McGrath of Health Stores Ireland. We engaged in a wonderful conversation about the pivotal role health stores are playing in communities at this time, helping us all to stay connected. Read on to enjoy the article.
In this sneak peek of Davie Philip’s article from our Spring issue, he talks about the hidden gifts that introverts have to offer to the world, and how they can learn to embrace and express them. The full article is available in our new magazine, which can be obtained at your local stockist or through a subscription.
By Davie Philip
“Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamp lit desk.”
“David was a quiet wee laddie,” according to someone I went to school with whom my mother met recently in the Scottish town where I grew up. Although I now intentionally live in community and work as a group facilitator, I definitely have introvert tendencies. In an extrovert-dominated culture that appreciates the loudest and most outgoing, how do we ensure that the voices and contributions of people who are not as comfortable putting themselves out there are valued?
Over the years I have managed my social awkwardness and overcome a fear of public speaking and am now very comfortable addressing and working with large groups. That is, as long as the focus is on sustainable community or another topic that I am passionate about. Outside of my bubble I can lose my flow, be very quiet and sometimes be severely inhibited.
It was Carl Jung who first coined the terms introvert and extrovert, to describe his observations that people tend to be energised either by going inward in quiet reflection, or outward and are invigorated through interactions with people. Of course, it is a spectrum and our personalities and ways of navigating the world are a lot more complex. It is commonly perceived that all introverts are reserved, constantly quiet, and unsocial, however they are actually a very diverse group with a lot to offer the world.
I recommend reading Susan Cain’s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking. It outlines the advantages and disadvantages of each temperament and the positive aspects of being an introvert. Cain cites research in biology, psychology, neuroscience and culture to explain that introversion is both common and normal, and notes that many of humankind’s most creative individuals and leaders throughout history were introverts.
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The Art of Co-Operation
By Davie Philip
I spent my summer commoning, practising the forgotten art of co-operation. I am most alive when I am collaborating with others, and I believe change only happens as networks of relationships form between people working together on a common endeavour. As a business model, co-operatives are fundamentally different to conventional profit-driven companies. They are founded on the values of self-help, participation, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. They are the original social enterprises and more awareness of their benefits may be incredibly beneficial to all of us.
Recently I moved back into the Ecovillage, the sustainable neighbourhood in Cloughjordan, which is now home to 130 people, 15 businesses, a communitysupported farm, Ireland’s largest community-owned, renewable-energy heating system and an enterprise centre. The biggest challenge we have is working out how we work together to ensure everyone’s needs are met. Through Cultivate, the co-op that I have worked through since 2000, I co-facilitated a number of events this summer on the topic of community ownership and resilience.
These included the Art of Commoning, a three-day summer school that brought people together to discuss the question: What becomes possible when we harness our collective capacity in service of the commons? Following this, we co-curated the Global Green pop-up ecovillage, the sustainability area of the Electric Picnic festival where commoners from 40 community-led initiatives demonstrated the art of commoning to 45,000 revellers.
From these events it has become clear to me that a commons and co-operative approach could enable us all to play a greater part in the provision of our food and energy, our housing and many of the services on which we depend. I’m convinced that this could be a powerful force for change that could provide a healthier way of working and living together while driving sustainability.
Could the co-operative model play a significant role in the economic recovery of this country by fostering innovation, providing sustainable livelihoods, and contributing to the regeneration of local places? Of course it’s not just the legal structure of the model that holds this promise, but the art of co-operating itself and new community-owned social enterprises are emerging that provide meaningful livelihoods rooted in and benefitting local areas. In Cloughjordan, these include a co-housing co-operative that is developing a shared model for low-cost, low-impact housing and a co-operative food incubator that will add value through shared processing and marketing of what is grown and produced there. But we’re taking it outside the village too.
At the end of October, we’ll host a programme of events called a ‘Co-operative Convergence’ across the country. These workshops, fairs, facilitated conversations, and field trips are planned as a way to inspire and progress a co-operative response to the issues facing us all and to involve, educate and engage a broader audience. In particular we’d hope to bring greater awareness to young people and opinion leaders.
For details on the Art of Commoning and information on the Co-operative Convergence see cultivate.ie
Davie Philip is a group facilitator and trainer who manages the Community Resilience programme at Cultivate Living and Learning. He is based at the Cloughjordan Ecovillage and is a board member of Grow It Yourself International. Davie is collecting stories of transformational community led projects; if you know of something in your area, send him an e-mail. firstname.lastname@example.org | thevillage.ie
This is taken from our autumn 2015 issue, out now. Subscribe to have the next four issues delivered in print.
Taken from our Winter 2014 issue. Subscribe here to have our Spring issue delivered direct to your door.
The word ‘community’ can be understood in two ways; a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common. The loveliest feeling of community however must be when both of these things are combined, when the common characteristics are kindness and empathy and it’s something you get to share with those nearby. It creates a feeling of inclusion and safety.
Information published on This Emotional Life noted how important these connections are for our overall happiness. “Relationships create psychological space and safety so that we can explore and learn. When we feel safe and supported, we don’t have to narrow in on survival tasks like responding to danger or finding our next meal. We are able to explore our world, which builds resources for times of stress and adversity.”
In the US, there’s been a number of initiatives within communities to help build these positive, supportive feelings by taking practical steps to help each other out. ‘Community Solutions’ launched a volunteer run campaign called ‘100,000’ homes to help people get housing faster. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in housing people and the process can be long, slow and difficult. So to boost the scheme, teams of volunteers headed out to meet with locals in need of homes and help speed up the assessment and actual housing. The results were brilliant and the positive effects on the new residents numerous. There’s also a group called ‘Buy Nothing’ who help neighbours in local areas find, gift and swap items needed and say part of what they love about it is getting to know their neighbours and learning that everyone has something to give.
Taken from our Winter 2014 issue. Subscribe here to have our Spring issue delivered direct to your door.
By Davie Philip
“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” Dostoyevsky
So here we are at the threshold of another new year, traditionally the time we make resolutions and reflect on how we are doing. I want to explore here why a strong sense of purpose is important in living a good life and playing our part in making the world flourish. I want to look at what we might do to find and maintain purpose and meaning, and really live our lives by our principles and values.
If you haven’t heard the news, the world has a few problems to solve. We urgently need to rethink how we do almost everything and if we want to cultivate a good life – one in which we thrive, not just survive – it will be crucial to have a clear sense of purpose. Without it, our lives will lack meaning, we won’t get to do what we are passionate about and we may not get the opportunity to share the unique gifts we have to share.
Let’s begin by defining what we mean by purpose. A simple definition might be: the reason for which we exist or why we do what we do. Discovering the reason we are doing what we are doing is an active, values-driven pursuit, it is not just about discovering what we should do, it is about why you do what you love to do. In many ways you could say the purpose of life is living a life of purpose.
Philosophers have grappled with this subject for millennia. Purpose, and how it can bring meaning to one’s life, is related to the deepest existential questions we ask ourselves like, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What should I do?’ Science has now discovered that a strong sense of purpose is associated with a revitalised sense of wellbeing as well as physical and mental resilience. We are at our healthiest and happiest when we have a purpose and the energy to pursue it.
Your purpose is your North Star, an invisible guide helping you navigate through the most challenging of times. In no particular order here are some steps to find your purpose and discover how it might align with the changes that are needed in the world.
- Slow down, sense the need
- Identify the bigger context; from the need springs the purpose
- Let go of fear and begrudgery
- When we stop finger-pointing and blaming others everything changes.
- Discover what feels important to you
- Appreciate what you are good at and ask yourself what makes you come alive.
- With yourself, your family, your community and the environment around you.
- Use systems thinking and move from the I to the We
- We become less self-centred when we take a wider perspective.
- Nurture self-transcending values rather than self-enhancing ones
- Cultivate values such as relationship, empathy, community and things bigger than yourself, rather than fame, power, status and wealth.
- Find common purpose
This is the key to the transformation that is needed in the world. Cooperate, collaborate and build community.
Davie Philip is a group facilitator and trainer who manages the Community Resilience programme at Cultivate Living and Learning. He is based at the Cloughjordan Ecovillage and is a board member of GIY Ireland. email@example.com
A Sangha for our times.
By Davie Philip
Sangha is a word in Pali and Sanskrit meaning association, assembly, company or community and often refers to the monastic community of ordained Buddhist monks or nuns. When Buddha’s disciples asked him, “Isn’t Sangha half of the path to awakening?” the Buddha responded, “No, it is the entire path.” To realise our fullest potential we don’t have to join a monastery but I think we do need to live closer to one anther and to collaborate in meaningful ways.
We have sustained ourselves in ‘communities’ of one form or another for millennia. Sharing resources and creating a supportive environment to live in is at the heart of what it is to be human. Since we emerged from the caves, we have lived in large extended families, tribal networks or small villages where we were deeply connected with each other and to nature.
Considering our basic needs for shelter and community, is there an alternative to just buying a home and hoping that you might get to know your neighbours?
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Davie Philip is a facilitator and trainer who manages the Community Resilience programme at Cultivate Living and Learning. He is based at the Cloughjordan Ecovillage and is a board member of GI Y (Grow it Yourself!) Ireland.
Resilience Revisited – Spring Forward
“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Confucius
By Davie Philip
In this column, I’ve been exploring how, in the face of adversity, we might flourish as individuals and communities. Over the years I have introduced a number of emerging initiatives and cooperative approaches that might enhance connection between ourselves and our environment, while at the same time creating livelihoods and developing more sustainable communities.
Underpinning the all of the different initiatives I have covered is the concept of resilience. This is a common word and many of us have a sense that being resilient is a good thing, but what does it actually mean? How might developing our resiliency increase our effectiveness and wellbeing, as well as benefitting the health of our communities?
The word resilience comes from the Latin word ‘resalire’, which means springing back, or rebounding. This captures the essence of resilience from an individual’s perspective; an ability to recover quickly. But being resilient is more than just bouncing back to where we were before. If we are resilient we stretch ourselves, spring forward and, because of the challenges we face, emerge stronger.
This transformational view of resilience emphasises renewal, regeneration and re-organisation, it is not just about recovering or preparing for shock, it’s about human agency and the power to learn to navigate effectively through life. I recommend watching a short animation we made on YouTube called ‘Surfing the Waves of Change’. It explores how we can nurture our personal and community resilience to surf the most powerful waves of change with confidence and optimism. I like the metaphor of surfing.
Healthy communities naturally build resilience as a part of their ongoing development. An objective of the Cloughjordan Ecovillage, where I live, is the building of better relationships with our neighbours and working together on projects of common interest. Building resilience can help communities develop the ability to face challenges in ways that strengthen their social bonds, better steward resources, enhance our capacity to cope with change and allow us to spring forward strengthened and more resourceful.
Resilience is a skill anyone can learn and improve at. At Cultivate Living and Learning we offer workshops and training on developing this important attribute. We have just begun a three-year project with a number of European partners to develop a learning resource called ‘Schools for Resilience’. This programme, aimed at teenagers, will use a place-based learning methodology to build the competences of resilience and transform communities.
Cultivate also host Permaculture courses on how we live more sustainably, grow food intensively and strengthen the resilience of our communities. Keep a look out for ‘Summer of Resilience’, a dynamic series of events in August and September at the new WeCreate Workspace at Cloughjordan Ecovillage. These will explore the role of community organisations and social enterprise as catalysts for resilience and enhanced collaboration.
When resilience is framed as transformation, challenges don’t define us, they refine us. The healthier, more buoyant and flexible we are as citizens, the more resilient our communities will be. So stretch, bounce back and spring forward.
Davie Philip is a facilitator and trainer who manages the Community Resilience programme at Cultivate Living and Learning. He is based at the Cloughjordan Ecovillage and is a board member of GIY Ireland. firstname.lastname@example.org
Friendliness Campaigns & Helping Neighbours
By Elva Carri
Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Programmes, now running all over Ireland and the world, are providing supportive environments that enable young teens to become their own local heroes; delving into the arts, sciences, sports, spiritual concepts and service projects.
A group in Oliver Bond House in Dublin 8 showed how open their eyes have become to being a positive impact in their community with a small, but thoughtful gesture. Knowing a neighbour was in hospital and returning home soon, the kids made a quick decision to clean up his front yard and make his homecoming more beautiful! Groups have also been busy planting, upcycling and organising a local friendliness campaign!
Finding Your True Inner Manliness
By Jonno Kinsella
EmpowerMENt and BetterMENt
An amazing phenomenon is rising in Ireland these days. Many great men’s organisations are springing up with the goal of the empowerment and betterment of men, men’s health, stability and maturity.
One such organisation is The ManKind Project (MKP), who host an initiatory experience called the New Warrior Training Adventure once a year, and maintain circles for self-exploration and healing throughout the year. MKP responds to our current system’s failure to effectively prevent many issues related to men in our culture and sets about “Changing the world, one man at a time” with their initiation and subsequent support within their circles. They’ve been building a community in Ireland since 2004 and are enjoying an upsurge of activity now.
In MKP culture, men practice expressing emotions, communicating, resolving conflict, deep introspection, having a purpose and creating healthy relationships. It provides an opportunity and space to gain an understanding of a healthy male role in society, and of male sexuality. Men attend and reclaim integrity and accountability. Best of all, they may enter enduring, fully autonomous communities of men and gain the support to live the skills listed above; and an abiding, accessible forum to tell their Truth.
There are MKP Men’s groups in Dublin, Belfast and Galway and an introductory, initiatory training weekend will take place this October in County Clare, along with preparing the ground for new groups in Cork and elsewhere.