People Power

Posted on: 9th March, 2018

Category: A West Cork Life

Contributor: Tina Pisco

One of the things I like most about rural living is the ‘can do’ resilience that comes from being far away from the urban support system of 24hr solutions to a problem – whether it’s a lack of croissants, or a leaking pipe.

We’ve come a long way from the days when an avocado was exotic, and everyone walked to school, but living in the countryside for twenty-five years has made me more resilient. It sounds quaint today, but many of us old blow-ins came to live in West Cork because we wanted to be ‘self sufficient’ (that and the fact that property was cheap-imagine that!). It was less about not needing other people, and more about learning to do things for ourselves. I knew very little about fixing or making-do, when I came here. Though my brain was chocka-block with knowledge I was neither handy, nor hardy. I’ve seriously toughened up from the days when my major life skill was hailing a taxi. Some skills, like baking croissants, I learnt. Others were just a question of having no other option than to sort it out myself.

I remember the legendary Chuck Kruger, who lived on Cape Clear, proudly telling me how he fixed his washing machine by fashioning the needed parts using an old wellie and a coat hanger. Life hacks, as they are called, have become an internet sensation. Back in the days before wifi, it was just called ‘getting things sorted’.

Over the years, I have had some proud life hack moments. Most of them involve duct tape, or expanding foam. In fact the house is, at any given point in time, a carefully managed balance between life hacks, and calling in an expert for a big costly job. Sometimes the expert is far away. Sometimes a lack of funds necessitates a more original approach. My proudest life hack came last Christmas when the immersion tank started leaking the day before Christmas Eve. The diagnosis was dire: it needed to be replaced and nothing could be done until after the New Year. The advice I got was to cut of the immersion, drain the tank, and to shut down the Aga. This was sound and reasonable advice, but totally unacceptable with a houseful of family looking forward to hot showers, and a Christmas dinner. I am proud to say that Huggies DRYNITES mattress protectors kept the leak from shutting down the hot water and cooking facilities over Christmas. I highly recommend them for all your seepage needs.

This hands-on attitude to problems permeates our communities from the tremendous Rapid Response initiative to ambulance cutbacks, to the Clonakilty Mayoral council solution to losing the town council, or the compassionate Friends of Aylum seekers and their community garden; to name but a few. Rather than mope about complaining, people have found solutions, taken initiatives and rounded up the troops to sort things out – even if it’s only a partial, or temporary solution. It’s what people do in rural communities. It’s reflected in our young people and our pensioners. It seems to me that living in the countryside is empowering, which is different from just enabling. It reminds people that the power to find a solution is in their hands. The buck stops here when a gale is raging, and the electrics are off. Or as one frazzled mother once put it: It’s amazing what you can get done when you have no choice.

I’m not saying that people in cities are helpless, in fact I detect a changing tide all around the world. 2016 was frightful. 2017 had us down in the dumps. 2018 is starting to look like a lot of people have got themselves up, dusted themselves off and decided to do something – anything, no matter how small – to make things better.

Whether its picking up three pieces of litter on a walk, or avoiding plastic packaging, or getting involved in a grassroots political campaign; I feel the tide of change building. I call it the Rise of the Reasonable.

Power to the People!

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17th October, 2018  ·  

SuperValu and AsIAm host unique exhibition in Clonakilty

SuperValu and will host a unique exhibition which will enable the entire town of Clonakilty to experience what it is like for people with autism to deal with the world around them. The exhibition, which is free to visit, will be hosted in the Clonakilty Parish Hall from 10am to 4pm on Thursday 27th September. The exhibition represents the final part of the four month journey the town has been on to becoming Ireland’s first ever fully accredited Autism Friendly Town and guests are invited to join on a ‘pop-in’ basis.

The exhibition uses an engaging “questions and answers” format as well as a series of activities to answer people’s questions and enable visitors to step into the shoes of those with the condition. This includes using sound, smells, touch and sight experiments to bring neurotypical (those without Autism) people into the world of those with the condition.

“People with autism often experience a sense of being overwhelmed and confused by what others see as normal life, and this exhibition will allow those attending to understand this more than they have done before,” according to the CEO of AsIAm Adam Harris. “Through visiting this exhibition we believe people will be much better equipped to engage with people with autism who they meet regularly in their day-to-day lives.”

Visitors are given an MP3 player which gives them an audio guide through 15 stages which allow them experience different aspects of life with autism.

Under SuperValu and AsIAm’s guidance, the town of Clonakilty has undertaken a commitment to become fully Autism Friendly – a first for anywhere in Ireland. Over the last four months Adam Harris, founder of AsIAm, and his team have been working with the entire community to receive official Autism Friendly Accreditation.

To do this the town as a whole must deliver:

Engagement and training 25% of businesses and voluntary organisations
Engagement and training of 50% of public services
Engagement and training of 50% of school communities
Engagement and training of 50% of healthcare professionals
Engagement of 3 employers
Reaching 25% of the town’s population
The town has almost reached these targets with this exhibition representing the last piece of the journey reaching and educating as many of the community as possible.

The exhibition was developed by the AsIAm Youth Leadership Team, a group of young people with Autism who act as advocates for the organisation. It is part of a larger campaign to engage young people in Autism issues which includes a social media campaign and a website,

Around 1 in 65 people in Ireland live with Autism and are to be found in every community and school in the country. They apply for every type of job but are often misunderstood, excluded or left behind due to a lack of understanding in society.
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25th September, 2018  ·  

Schull Regatta have made some changes to the schedule due to adverse weather. Still lots of fun to be had... ... See MoreSee Less

10th August, 2018  ·  

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