Waterford Harbour

Waterford Harbour
Cheekpoint village 1940's

Saturday, 31 March 2012

thinking towards a community plan

Some notes on areas for an action plan

Possibility of using an electronic survey - survey monkey to do some initial information gathering via current email addresses of mine, the community alliance group and via the village facebook page.

Need to explore the potential of a community enterprise structure - >http://alternativeeconomicorganising.wordpress.com/

Need to consider a decision making and governance structure.

Need to explore potential funding for many of the activities.

Possible structure

People – Early years – youth – families – elderly:  Audit of needs

Services – what we have and what’s required for the area into the future

Employment – audit of what we have, the potential, the needs, the future needs – River –Fishing- Farming- Tourism – Heritage- Services -

Educational – Early years – Primary – Secondary – Tertiary – Adult – Community

Environmental – Transport – Housing – The river, The land – drinking water

Energy – future issues and how to meet these

Health – prevention – alternatives – access

Volunteer section - Human Resources to implement a plan

Possible methodology

·         Questionnaire based on key areas as above

·         Community meeting with stakeholders – representative of all groups in the community

Community Association

Parish Council

Development Group

Thursday Club

Primary School

Credit Union


Irish Country Woman’s Association

Book Club

Fisherman’s Association

Gaultier Historical group

Environmental Alliance

Friends of Cheekpoint Quay

St Vincent De Paul

·         A public consultation highlighting areas of interest, ideas generated, further input/critique

·         Write up of main plan followed by further consultation

·         Publication

Should we look for outside expertise to oversee the plan, bring some objectivity

Should we look for funding, and if so from where?

Need for a template around implementing the plan, needs to be SMART at a minimum

Need to initiate discussion, generate ideas, bring some critical analysis to getting peoples ideas around current/future issues ; environmental, social, economic

Need to identify some people to support this based on their current critical analysis and vision for a better future


Saturday, 24 March 2012

should we show tolerance to our neighbours

“We see people and things not as they are, but as we are” Anthony De Mello

These last few weeks of revisiting previous musings and re writing them in a reflective way has helped to refine some thoughts, but also to stimulate new ideas and directions.  A colleague has offered some critique of my views, that I tend towards pessimism, the glass half empty.  Rightly or wrongly it’s a perspective.  She also offered some new avenues for exploration which I have added to the fb page and which I can also explore as time comes to me. 

Two elements of my thinking are becoming clearer about my community.  That the ideas, initiatives, projects being discussed are disconnected from each other and as such are just reactions to opportunities, rather than a specific direction, or a clearly defined strategy.  Also that to engage with all in the community may be a struggle, as there is so much new blood, so many different lifestyles, so many different perspectives on life, community, work and play.

How do we encourage and engage with those new people.  Do we?

Some time back, while still studying I introduced a word into a workshop on defining community that once it was out of my mouth I felt it was like a snake in the room.  The word was tolerance.  Tolerance is a word that has been going around in my head a long time.  In speaking it out that night it was a revelation to me.  Not the discussion, or reactions or perspectives on the word but my own reflections on the word.  It offered an opportunity to reflect on my own community and the tolerance shown to new comers or blow ins. 

This notion of speaking out is a concept I learned many years ago, the value of speaking your mind in a safe place and even the hearing of the words allows us to rephrase it, reshape it or clear it out of our system. So tolerance.  not really a nice phrase.  consider - I show tolerance to my children, or I tolerate them, I tolerate my neighbours, I tolerate my friends.  Tolerance is a word often used by politicians or religious leaders etc to reflect an attitude to others opinions or beliefes.  But at the back of it in my opinion is a view that I/we are right, but we acknowledge your right to another view.

I have had a big problem with new comers to my small traditional fishing community.  I have stereotypes that pop into my head; labelling people as yuppies, SUV drivers, smart dressers, posh talkers, new money or “mortgaged to the hilt”.  I realise now that my images are determined by the experience of living where I do.  I don’t have issues with emigrants, refugees or asylum seekers for example.  They will never have access to my village.  The property prices are too high, the rent to exorbitant.  My connection with these will be secondary, through media, through services, through work as a community worker.

I come in contact with my new neighbours at the school, in the shop or church, walking on the road or at parties where we are invited by mutual friends or at our kids birthdays.  But the opportunities are rare and sometimes awkward.  For example the evening we christened our nephew over seven years ago.  Another child was being christened at the same time.  He was of a new family, developers and business people originally from Dublin.  We were at opposite sides of the church, or side was full, loud with children and casually dressed.  There’s was a small crowd, no children save the baby and as memory serves (though perhaps a value laden reflection!) all well groomed, men in collar, and if not tie, at least jackets.  But it was the priest that poured oil on the flames.  From the moment he started to speak the stereotypes abounded.  They were aimed at our family however, how he had christened so many (as if we bred like rabbits) or how the village could be called Dohertyland there were so many of us.

Perhaps the worst feeling towards the newcomers is that they are not locals.  The locals that I grew up with but who hadn’t land to build on or who weren’t lucky enough to inherit as I was are now living in Waterford city or elsewhere, generally because they can’t afford a site or a house in their own village.  The market has ruled, and it has ruled in favour of the well off.  This will be the reality for my children in years to come.  Where will they live, where will my grandchildren (if any) be raised?

 The reality is however, that locals have refused to sell to locals.  They have opted for the big money, they have held onto land in the hope of a big earner.  The new arrivals are not to blame, but it is easier to blame them than look at the reality of the housing market, government policy, how developers operate or the changes that are impacting on farmers.

 Another reality is that there have always been new people coming into the village.  My great, great grand father Bill Malone rowed to the village during the famine (1847) in his boat in the hope of finding food.  My fathers side came to Waterford as sail makers during the ship building period sometime during the early 18th Century.  People have married in also, including my wife, brother in law, sister in law.  So what is my problem.

Whats the difference now to the past, whats the difference to my wife and those building from outside.  I guess my wife is invited in, the other invites themselves.  Or is it that my wife has an introduction.  She is with a local, she fits in to an instant family, has sisters in law to talk to, visit or socialise with.  A thought for me is that what has changed in Ireland particularly in my generation is the opportunities for new comers to integrate.  In the past people who moved here, most usually worked here also, as farm labourers or as fishermen.  The kids went to school, they all went to church together, the pub was the central point.  Transport was poor, people had to get on with each other there was no escape. 

Essentially one of the biggest problems is that the changes that affected the country through the modernisation period we have experienced are having a significant impact on the ability of people to enter into community.  Not all children attend the local school, church attendance is low, despite the downturn people still work long hours outside the village (or abroad) and we now socialise more in our own homes than in the local pub.

The net effect of all that is that it is easier to sneer or ignore the new comers rather than as locals seeing ways to welcome them in.  It’s not that it would be too easy.  We are surrounded by messages about keeping to ourselves.  But in essence humans are social beings, we want to be part of, we want to get along, it’s important for us to be included.  What is a community if it is not united in some ways, comfortable with each other, mindful of our neighbours needs and at least open to understanding each other and respecting each other.

As a community worker I feel I should be looking at ways of welcoming people, providing opportunities to hear each other, to get to know each other to begin a process of building trust.  In essence its about breaking down barriers, starting with my own, my immediate family and beyond.  I don’t underestimate this however. 

I think there is a strong tendency in all of us to yearn for a gilded past, whether Tonnies Gemeinschaft, or a rural idyll, or Thomas Hardys “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” an innocent thrown to the mercy of the industrial age.  I have a strong urge towards both.

Yet if I am to have any clarity around what this community can be, how it will look in 100 years time, what direction it needs to go in, it will be a vision clarified, planned and driven by a mixture of old and new residents.