Eve of the Famine Walk Event in Castlebar

Michael McCaughan leads the afternoon session

Over 40 people attended Lón Intinne / Food for Thought at GMIT Castlebar on Friday May 17 2019, on the eve of the Afri Famine Walk. This event, a follow-up from last year’s, is a unique collaboration between Afri and Feasta with input from Teacht Aniar who have a special perspective on the Irish language.

John Hoban and Emer Mayock provided music to ground, enliven, entertain and provoke reflection throughout the day.

In the morning, after some words of welcome from Anne Ryan, Joe Murray of Afri introduced Hanny Van Geel of Via Campesina, who emphasised that 70% of the world’s food is produced by small producers, the majority of them women. The food sovereignty movement needs maximum participation from members of society: growing, cooking, writing, educating and advocating for small producers. The big question for the future is:  who is going to be producing our food – small-scale, sovereign grassroots producers or big companies?

After a discussion with Hanny in which all took part, Joss and Ború Douthwaite facilitated a session in which all participants reflected on instances of transformation in which they had taken part or witnessed.

Participants brought delicious food to share at lunchtime, which highlighted the value of sharing as a way of being in the world. 

After lunch, Anne Ryan picked out some themes from the morning’s work. In spite of barriers imposed by our State and the EU, thousands of people are already engaged in enterprises that are the seeds of a new socially just and ecologically sound economy. Anne suggested that one of the ways that the state could demonstrate support for these people in the avant garde is to give everyone a universal basic income. This would put a floor of basic financial security under everyone and allow creativity and diversity in the ways people approach solutions to our crises. The State also needs to put legislation, grants and other institutional supports in place to help the pioneers get their enterprises off the ground.

John Hoban started the afternoon with a new song about the four mountains of Mayo, which he sang for the first time in the outdoor space after lunch. He was inspired by two well-known hills in Leitrim – Sí Beag and Sí Mór, and included a theme of circular time, encapsulated in the refrain ‘I’m facing east but heading west’. Anne pointed out that there are many ways of looking at time that help us to understand its circular or counterflow aspects. It is possible to break out of the strong flow of the dominant ideology about what constitutes progress, especially if we work together to support each other in doing so.

Seán Ó Conláin introduced the second guest speaker, Michael McCaughan. Michael emphasised the value of multilingualism as a help to seeing the world and acting in it in diverse ways. Speaking in Irish, Spanish and English he emphasised the importance of minority languages and cultures in today’s mono-cultural world, and particularly the link with local resilience.

Baineadh cuid mhaith úsáid den Ghaeilge – i ngach slí – le linn an lae – mar ar deineadh anuraidh.

After a discussion with Michael, the group took part in an open space session, which is outlined in bullet points in the full report on the Feasta website here.

Go mbeirimid beo ar an am seo arís!

Thanks to Caroline Whyte and Séan Ó Conláin for this report.

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