Permaculture :Catch and store energy

Continuing on into our exploration of Permaculture and what it might offer to the ‘Cool Clon’ conversation, last month we had a great meet up and brainstorm with Permaculture expert Istvan Markuly, who will continue to guide this journey over the next 11 months. Istvan highlighted the importance of the system’s method of starting at the ‘macro’ level and working down to the details, or micro level. Often when designing we work in the opposite manner, focusing on the detail more than the overall purpose – focusing on the new kitchen cabinets rather than the purpose of the kitchen, if that makes sense. So, the starting point for all Permaculture projects is to define the purpose, or the function, the vision for the space in question. I have been asking people about their vision for Clonakilty, and the one answer that keeps coming is the need to celebrate the uniqueness of the town, all the individual small businesses, the landscape and festivals while growing in a sustainable way that encourages community, keeping the main street a friendly place where people can meet and congregate. This vision, one of sustainable growth, people-friendly towns and the celebration of all that is unique will be what we continue to use as the baseline during this project.

On to observations: I have spent the last month gazing differently around our town, observing. Following from last month’s article ‘Observe and Interact’ I have been surprised to find myself seeing things for the first time while asking others what they are seeing. I have seen how people sit and eat lunches in Emmet Square and mobility-limited members of our community taking rest on the street furniture, I saw corners of the town sitting unused that I had not contemplated before, like the bridge at the back of the Courtyard and some of the parish halls and buildings sitting empty in the evenings. I have seen younger members of our community looking lost for places to go, often congregating in the one covered space we have, the picnic tables in Spiller’s Lane and in the few trees and bushes around the periphery of town. I observed traffic in a new way, foot traffic, with people crossing everywhere, especially across the junction around Asna square where the markings are unclear, and as a cyclist, the lack of contra-flow lanes to help us navigate the town. Other observations that have been submitted for discussion come from Cycle-Sense in Skibbereen – we all can observe the waste we are generating today. Waste being the things we don’t want anymore but also waste of resources. We can all observe the pollution and change in our climate. Based on these observations and as a member of the Circular Economy Academy, Cycle Sense is looking to initiate upcycling and waste reduction projects in Skibbereen and West Cork, as well as on projects to increase the uptake of cycling as a form of transportation, including a Cycling Bus and last mile delivery by bike. Which leads us to this month’s Permaculture Principal, Catch and Store Energy.

Catch and store energy, the second Permaculture principal, directs us to work with nature and with what we have, minimising the need to seek resources from outside the system, instead making excellent use of those we do have.  Easily applicable and essential to apply to south facing slopes for solar, rainwater storage and such I would like to delve into applying this second principal to people and townscapes. Clonakilty (and West Cork!) is full of human resources, and in order to catch and store that resource/energy what should we do? I love that the signs in Clonakilty are mostly crafted by our own local sign-maker – we have so many talented people locally. Developing on from our vision, we have this amazing resource of individuals, often volunteers who run festivals, charity events and community groups. How can we best ‘catch and store’ this energy? To encourage and promote? What do you think?  We have the Clonakilty Voucher – a great initiative to keep money circulating locally, but again how can we promote this? Another big part of this principal is to develop systems to catch and store resources when they are abundant. Did you know Clonakilty has a community apple press? What other ‘clubs’ could we form to make use of what we have already? Perhaps ways of using waste when it is abundant or rainfall, or enthusiasm during festivals? I would love to hear your ideas! We also catch and store energy simply by planting trees, a movement that is underway in Clonakilty already, keep an eye out for tree planting events. If you want to come and delve deeper into this principal and join us in finding Permaculture solutions for Clonakilty we will be meeting at the Bike Circus Wednesday, February 12 at 5pm, Istvan will be there to guide us – please rsvp by text 085 7574338. Over the next month I will be mulling over ways to ’Catch and Store Energy’ and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. 

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Allison Roberts

Allison Roberts is the Founder and Head Chocolatier at Clonakilty Chocolate.

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