In your own words, tell us about your project.
My initial plan had been to deliver vision board/creativity and empowerment focused workshops to womens groups and organisations based in Longford. These are half day workshops I have designed myself, based on Feminism, Veganism and Sustainability - The Global Goals. On approaching the direct provision centre in Longford to work with women I found that while the Longford centre had only male residents they were very eager to engage so I decided to base my entire SDG project around their work. I visited the centre over about 6 - 8 weeks, discussed the Global Goals with them and discussed their ideas, their hopes for the future, their desires, their life goals and what kind of change they would like to see happen in the world. I provided all the art materials to them, and then they created art works based on their interpretation of the current situation around the world and the possibilities the Global Goals offer for transformative change. We then selected a number of the creative pieces and had mugs as well as T-Shirts created promoting the SDGs via the art work. To highlight the project, I held an Art exhibition in Longford County Library where many of the local agencies including Longford County Council, Longford Environmental Alliance, Longford Tidy Towns, the PPN and a number of the secondary schools came together, along with several of the residents, to speak about their experience and additional work currently being completed in the county which tie into the objectives of the Global Goals. To complete the project, a large street art mural, which includes elements of all the art work, is to be completed in Longford town by local Artist Phil Atkinson. I am currently researching funding possibilities to cover the cover the cost of this art work.
Why did you do this work?
I have a particular interest in the social justice issue of animal rights. As a Vegan Feminist I’m horrified not only by the abuse of women, indeed all humans, but also the other sentient beings we share this world with. I’m deeply concerned about the desensitization of humans in relation to animal abuse, the impact of animal agriculture on our environment, the impact of climate change on womens’ lives and the connections between the violence inherent in all of these issues. It is inspiring to me that many of those creating great change around the world are women activists, led by their heart and nonviolent communication. I see creativity as a means of leading from the heart and a powerful mechanism for change in our communities using nonviolent methods. I felt a profound desire to assist/work with women living in direct provision centres as the situations they are dealing with both here in Ireland and abroad are infuriating to me. Rather than feeling powerless to assist them I thought this project could offer some hope to them for the future, while helping give them a voice through creativity. For this project I did however work with a group of men who have been no less inspiring to me and are of course now my friends.
What was the impact or outcome of your project?
The most rewarding outcome of the project for me has been that I have now made new fiends from around the world. More importantly for the participants has been that they have now become involved in a number of other creative activities in the community. They have gained new skills and made new connections. The project offered them a platform to present their work, discuss their experience of the project, their ideas for the future, and the possibilities the global goals present for creating a better kinder world.
Art work created during the project was used in the design of mugs and T-shirts highlighting the Global Goals and the SDG Challenge. These items along with other eco friendly and cruelty products will go on sale shortly via my website www.brileith.ie (currently under development)
Additionally, we are hoping to secure funding to create an SDG themed street art mural in Longford town, based on the artwork of the participants. Longford based artist Phil Atkinson https://www.facebook.com/PhilakinsonArt/ has agreed to deliver this element of the project.
Lastly, I can say that my project raised awareness within the professional community here in Longford. As a result of my activism I have been elected to the secretariat of the PPN where I will be putting my knowledge of the Global Goals to use in assisting with the implementation of the Community Well Being Statements.
Do you have any tips or advice for similar projects?
I think the most important thing is to know that no matter how small you may feel your idea/ project is, it can have an impact. You just need to believe in what you are doing and tell people about it. Don’t be afraid to ask for their help if you need to. I think it would be wise to research funding possibilities beforehand from your local Council, Municipal District or elsewhere. I bore the costs of my project and while it was very rewarding it also meant a strain on my own financial situation, especially as an unemployed person. I think involving local organisations, schools, theatre groups and especially the Arts Office, the Environmental Department of your local Council and the PPNs are a great way to get support for your project. Tie it into things that are already happening in your community, for example host a workshop or the exhibition as part of a festival. Other than all this I think just go with your heart and try to do your best. That’s all any of us can do. Every little action to help make the world a better place counts !
Location of Project