Our goal at the Green Roots Project is to encourage people -children, teens, & adults to get involved in green/eco-activities around the celebration of our National feast day in ways that will produce lasting positive impacts on people & local communities & the environment. It is an invitation to get back to your green roots & celebrate sustainably
Stage of the project
Why was this project started?
In line with our Citizens Assembly’s goal to become leaders in climate action, we want Ireland to fulfill its potential as a green island. We are already world-famous for our ‘40-shades-of-green’. We want to update this image to a future-focused vision of what it means to be green. We want Ireland to be a leader in sustainability and environmental innovation.
An obvious starting point for sharing this message is St. Patrick's Day March 17th, Ireland's National Feast day and the ‘Greenest’ day of the year, when the global spotlight is on Ireland and people all over the world celebrate this holiday with us.
In 2020/2021 the Covid pandemic provided us with an opportunity to do something different and environmentally meaningful for St. Patrick’s Day, and to reimagine the way we do things.
We put out a call to action, inviting individuals, community groups, and businesses to ‘Do something green’ ,to kickstart a change in attitudes that would encourage people to become positive agents of change in their communities.
Our national emblem for St. Patrick's Day, the Shamrock, has been mass produced on plastic flags, and single-use festive items, that litter the streets after the parades. The Shamrock has become synonymous with consumerism. We are asking people to rediscover it as a living thing with its roots in the soil, to see it as a symbol of the depth of our connection to the earth, its people and our communities.
By examining the ways that we express our national pride, we can forge a more meaningful connection between St. Patrick’s celebrations and the local environment, and create new sustainable and eco traditions.
The Green Roots Project is an invitation to recycle your plastic shamrocks for real ones.
The results of the project so far
In 2020 we put out a call on social media to 'Do something green to celebrate St. Patrick's Day'. This was a spin on the tradition of wearing something green on St. Patrick's Day.
At a time when normal celebrations had been postponed, our goal was to inspire green actions, and to create new traditions that would lead to measurable positive impacts on the environment.
Championing SDG 13: Climate Action
In Year One we counted 50 individual, and group activities, from tree, potato, and community garden planting projects to community clean-ups and switching to solar power.
In Year Two: 2021 more than 90% of those who participated in the first campaign joined us for a second time. Showing early signs that people could form new habits, and adopt new traditions.
We logged just over 1000 interactions, across Ireland , Europe, and as far away as New Zealand. We collaborated with Eat the Streets, Dublin City’s Food Waste Festival.
We ran a series of campaigns:
‘How will you go green?’,
‘Show us your shamrocks! ‘,
And ‘All 32 Counties let's go green!’
We also ran a visual campaign around the Sustainable Development Goals designed for presentation to a youth audience.
A class of junior school children grew shamrocks from seeds. We were featured on ‘St. Patrick's Festival TV’, in The Irish Times, and The Epic Museum's round-up of creative celebrations.
We presented with ‘Young Digital Social Innovators’, and were mentioned for this year's ‘Climate Change Communication Award’ (Rebecca Ballestra).
As we prepare for Year Three, we have expanded our network and are championing SDG 17: Partnership for the goals. We are running our campaign from February 1st, St. Brigids Day, to March 17th St. Patrick's Day. We are in discussion with parade committees, galleries, schools and local businesses to create sustainability touch points within their festivities.
Essentially, we aim to align the sustainability sector with St. Patrick's Day by bringing two existing audiences together.
This project is also relevant to other cities as it promotes celebrating public festivities in a more sustainable way.
Our greater idea is to plant the seed of sustainability and eco-awareness in people's psyche in line with the natural awakening and blossoming of Springtime, so that they alter their attitudes and lifestyles accordingly into the future and inspire and encourage others
What are specific, distinctive, strong elements in this project?
The Green Roots Project envisions March 2022 as a wonderful chance to really engage people around the concept of a greener Ireland by reimagining the iconic St. Patrick's Day as a symbol of change. A green reset of our national day to help us reconnect with our fading greener roots.
This project’s strength is in it’s simplicity 'Do something green' is an open call allowing people from all strata of society to participate, and bring their imagination and creativity to the project. By adopting simple behavior changes and cultivating awareness we can reduce the impact of our festivities.
We have the whole world's attention around St. Patrick's week every year. Our aim is to use this powerful global platform to promote a positive green message, both at home and abroad. It will show the world that people in Ireland are serious about climate change by aligning a very strong sustainability message with our national day.
The Green Roots Project encourages collaboration by connecting disparate peoples and groups under one common goal.
While Covid continues to create uncertainty around future celebrations, we have guidelines, and suggestions, for solo, group, team, work, community, and school projects and activities that will also work virtually. As well as a catalog of creative themes, suggestions, and guidelines for full-scale sustainable celebrations and parades.
Which specific lessons, do's and don'ts would you like to share? What would be suggestions for others when preparing or implementing the project in their own city?
1. Building Communities - Builds Resilience
Climate change is a difficult topic, it can be daunting and overwhelming. Bridging sustainability with public celebrations creates a positive outlet for people to
take tangible action and be involved in positive public discourse that results in measurable impact.
The enthusiasm and positivity that public celebrations create can be harnessed to increase goodwill, strong communities, and positive networks. Strong communities are resilient communities.
2. Championing collaboration
There is no one solution for climate change, rather there are multiple solutions that must run in tandem. Collaboration is king. When we bridge existing communities (St. Patrick's Day celebrants, sustainability enthusiasts) we encourage innovation and knowledge sharing which foster new possibilities and solutions.
3 Keep It Simple - Be Inclusive
An open call allows for participation across age groups, varied communities, and areas of expertise. Thus allowing people access to it from wherever they are in terms of understanding, achievement, and ability. It is inclusive and allows for diverse interpretations and spin-offs from one project. Ensure there is space at the table for new participants with new ideas, be welcoming to new collaborators, be prepared to listen to all voices.
Take time to celebrate the successes! Acknowledge the achievements of all your team and participants
Have others adopted, or shown interest in adopting, your idea in their own area?
Since its inception in 2020, the idea has grown, and we are now a team of five UCD Innovation Academy Graduates representing five Irish counties.
We have an open invitation for businesses to collaborate with us and share their ideas and innovations in this area.
We collaborated with Dublin City’s Eat the Streets Food waste Festival
We are currently working with two Town Councils to reduce the impact of their St. Patrick's Day Parades.
We have designed programs for action for multiple age groups including Junior and Senior Schools, and third-level education departments, which will run in different schools across Ireland.
In 2022 we are collaborating with environmentalists, activists, and bloggers, in the UK, Italy, and here at home.
We endeavor to develop a network for sustainability artists and creatives to work together and are currently collaborating with galleries in two towns to promote this idea
This idea has the potential to reach the millions of people who currently celebrate St. Patrick's Day, and to create a framework for all public celebrations to include sustainability in its planning, procurement, production, realisation, and wind down.
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