A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Social Entrepreneur Elected as First Black Mayor in Ireland

Rotimi Adebari, one on the social entrepreneurs I interviewed on the Irish leg of my journey has today been elected as the first black mayor in Ireland. Congrats Rotimi!

Here is the RTE news article about him. My photo of Rotimi was used on their news site.

A Nigerian man who came to Ireland seven years ago to seek asylum here has made history this afternoon by becoming Ireland's first black mayor.

43-year-old Councillor Rotimi Adebari was elected the Mayor of Portlaoise Town Council this afternoon by a vote of six to three and with the support of Fine Gael, Sinn Féin and Independent members of the council.

At a meeting attended by officials from the Nigerian, South African and the United States embassies, the new mayor said his election was proof that Ireland is not just a country of a thousand welcomes but it is a country of equal opportunity.

Councillor Adebari said Portlaoise is a town that looks beyond colour, creed and religion, but he said integration is a two-way process and involving or engaging members of the ethnic communities in local activities is the way to go.

The election was attended by a crowd of over 100 people drawn from the Nigerian community all over Ireland.

Elected as a councillor in 2004, Mr Adebari has a Masters degree in Intercultural Studies from Dublin City University and works with the local authority in Co Laois co-ordinating an integration projects for immigrants.

The father of four fled Nigeria with his wife and two children in 2000.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Simple and Solutions

The best social change solutions are often the simplest. I have only just discovered this fantastic example recently through Worldchanging.com (I wish I had seen it in action on my travels through Africa). But this image has been on my mind for weeks, so I wanted to post. It is called qdrum

Water, meet drum, meet wheel, meet rope. There you have it. A few simple introductions later, one of the best pieces of design for development that I have come across emerges from the party.


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Monday, June 11, 2007

Stop Climate Chaos- Umbrellas Take a Stand

Following on from my travels, I will be keeping this blog alive with articles and escapades from my encounters with social entrepreneurs and change initiatives in Ireland.

Yesterday, I took to one of Dublin's strand, to join the Stop Climate Chaos group in their Umbrella Action Day against climate here. Here is my article below and a few colourful photos from the event;

Umbrellas Take a Stand.

It rains in Ireland, a lot. So it seems somewhat fitting that the umbrella has been co-opted as a symbol again climate change by a coalition of development, environmental, humanitarian, youth and faith groups called Stop Climate Chaos (www.stopclimatechaos.ie). Today the group was calling upon the Irish people to press the newly elected incoming government to legislate against climate change; and to do it urgently.

Donned with colourfully umbrellas, and against the backdrop of one of Dublin’s power stations, representatives of the coalition together with concerned citizens, took to one of Dublin’s coastal strands, literally dancing out their concerns. Choreographer, Muirne Bloomer, led participants in a brolly dance performance, young and old alike.

But it wasn’t all singing and dancing. The message for the day was clear; that Ireland needs to act, and act fast, if we are to collectively tackle climate change.

‘We have three core asks’, explained Gavin Davy, a spokesperson for Stop Climate Chaos, ‘We are looking for legislation on climate change, whereby Ireland introduces a budget to reduce its emissions by 3% year on year.
We also want to see that the legislation internationally surrounding the Kyoto protocol is carried, and that temperatures don’t go above 2 degrees.
Finally, we are looking for the developed world to carry its fair share of costs in helping developing countries to adapt to climate change’.

When it comes to development statistics Ireland has a mixed record. Currently, it is the sixth largest donor of overseas development assistance (ODA) among OECD countries. By 2012, Ireland is set to reach the UN target of 0.7% GDP for aid, and will be one of only a handful of countries to do so. However, somewhat ironically, 2012 is also the year in which Ireland is set to overshoot our Kyoto targets.

‘We are the worst carbon emitters’ explained Davy, ‘what we are giving on the on hand we are taking with the other’.

As it stands, Ireland is emitting 17 tonnes of greenhouse gases per person per year (2003, 2004, 2005). It makes us the second worst polluter in the European Union after Luxembourg and compares to an EU average of 11 tonnes.

As Oisin Coghlan from Stop Climate Chaos has indicated, taking carbon emissions alone, Ireland emitted over 10 tonnes per person in 2003.

Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda, four of Ireland’s priority aid countries in Africa, each produced 0.1 tonne per person. So every Irish person is responsible for 100 times the carbon pollution of the average Ethiopian or Ugandan.

They are statistics which are not commonly voiced in the Irish media, another trend which Stop Climate Chaos is trying to reverse. If today was anything to go by, they are at least a step closer.

It seems somewhat ironic however, that on a warm, sultry June day in Dublin (something which the Irish people are not accustomed to), the umbrella was used, not to ward off the rain drops, but to keep of the sun at bay. An eerie indicator of what is ahead perhaps, unless of course, the dancing coalition can put a sto(m)p to it.

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