Review of Transition Galway’s latest policy document

by Bronwyn Slater

It has to be said that Transition Galway’s latest document ‘A Vision for Galway 2030’ is truly inspirational. This document, as well as the 8 accompanying short videos, outline the group’s proposals for sustainability over the next 15 years. The document and videos were produced as a result of public consultations and discussions organised by the group in 2013 and 2014.  The discussions centred around 8 main topics:

Energy, Food and Water, Infrastructure, Community and Education, Arts and Culture, Economics, Waste, and Inner Transition. The public were invited to put forward their ideas for a sustainable future for Galway, and the document which was compiled as a result is planned to be distributed to local politicians, schools, libraries and the City Council.

Here are just some of their main proposals:

Food and Water:
  • More mixed farms and smallholdings:- this helps to create biodiversity and creates less of a demand for fossil fuels.
  • Urban gardening, allotments and garden sharing schemes. School and hospital garden facilitator jobs.
  • Gardens in public buildings and public spaces.
  • foodLocal food processing and a strong local food distribution  system where producers and retailers are connected.
  • Buy local organic food.
  • Eat less meat (though we recommend eliminating meat.)
  • Wild food foraging. Eat less process food.
  • Encourage the growing of hemp and flax. Encourage agroforestry.
  • End fluoridation. Rainwater harvesting. Greywater recycling.
Community and Education:
  • School garden facilitators.
  • Situate classes in an outdoor setting.
  • More physical movement.
  • Valuing co-operation over competition.
  • A 4-day work week, with the fifth day reserved for community activities.
  • Emphasis on education for practical skills:- there is currently too much emphasis on academic subjects.
  • Environmental and sustainability issues should feature more in broadcasting.
  • Inter-generational learning:-  older people can pass on their knowledge and skills to younger people.
  • More lifelong education.
  • Create a vibrant local democracy. Community celebrations.
  • Create a vibrant voluntary sector.
Energy:
  • Low-energy lifestyles.wind
  • Local is best when choosing the products we buy.
  • Less air travel.
  • Living closer to work. Electric vehicles.
  • Energy efficiency:- building insulation, energy-efficient housing design. Stoves instead of open fireplaces.
  • Fuel poverty alleviation. Energy-producing  gyms. An oil-free Galway by 2030.
  • Single wind turbines in the city.
  • Bioenergy:- biogas from anaerobic waste digestion, biofuel crops. A Centre for Practical Sustainability in Galway.
Economics:
  • Divestment from fossil fuels and dirty industries. More fair-trade products.
  • Establishment of a local currency.
  • Alternative methods of trading – LETS schemes, bartering and time-banking.
  • A sharing economy – car sharing, job sharing, open source, shared childminding, skill-sharing, house-shares.
  • Ensure that ecological considerations are central to decision making. Green taxes and grants.
  • A strong ethical banking sector – ethical banks give loans and services to businesses and organisations that are judged to be of social or ecological benefit.
  • Green products and services –‘cradle to cradle’ model where waste is eliminated and the product can be reused or recycled.
  • An eco-rating system for all manufactured products.
Infrastructure:
  • A walking-friendly and cycling-friendly city. Expand the Galway bike scheme.
  • Improve existing rail services – electrify the rail system, increase train speeds, increase the volume of rail freight and introduce a light rail system.
  • Create a world-class bus service.
  • Greener motoring – car pooling, car sharing, year-round ‘park and ride’.
  • Revitalise the canals.
  • Create bio-diverse landscaping with native trees, flowers and protection for wildlife, and create quality green public spaces.
  • Green building design.
  • Good planning, mixed use planning and suburban centres ensure that people have a sense of community.
  • Ruralisation – reverse the trend of urbanisation and bring people back to the land.
  • Rural regeneration – bring people back to the small rural villages, re-invigorate them along the lines of Cloughjordan Eco-Village, and create rural co-operatives.
Arts and Culture:
  • Create a Galway craft gallery.
  • Commission environmental TV documentaries and screen environmental films. Make festivals and events greener.
  • An environmental festival for Galway.
  • Neighbourhood festivals to create a sense of community. Create a vibrant local media.
  • Creative citizens, men’s sheds, story-telling, open music sessions, DIY and crafts classes.
  • Promote local artistic talent.
  • Ethical design and eco-fashion.
Waste
  • Encourage less materialism.
  • Greater producer and retailer responsibility – they need to ensure that the products they sell can be recycled safely and properly.
  • Less packaging and compostable packaging, taxes on packaging. Refundable deposits on beverage containers.
  • More refillable containers. More bring-bank centres. A resource recovery park.
  • Flea markets and car boot sales. Used goods websites.
  • Fab lab and ‘maker spaces’ for Galway where people can create, innovate and collaborate on new projects and ideas.
  • A Rediscovery Centre where furniture, bicycles and textiles are recovered and reused. More fixing and repair cafes.
  • Zero waste and ‘cradle to cradle’ – aims to create designs in which there is no waste.
  • Environmental footprint rating of products. Ecological cleaning products.
  • Waste segregation in fast food outlets.
  • Continued education of the public and creating awareness. Compost toilets.
  • Composting and wormeries.
  • Recycle and reuse construction and demolition waste.
  • Plant-based wastewater treatment using reed-beds with gravel.
  • Anaerobic digestion –waste material is fed into a digester which produces biogas with the aid of bacteria.
parkInner Transition:
  • Balancing mental and physical wellbeing. Taking care of our health.
  • Spending time in nature.
  • Having quiet spaces for reflection, yoga and meditation.
  • Reducing stress and busyness. Improving the overall quality of our lives.

 

If any or all  of this  has  inspired  you,  then check out  Transition Galway’s Facebook group here.

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