The Convergence Symposium : Skilling Up For Powerdown

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Saturday 5th April 9.30–17.00 & Sunday 6th April  11.00-17.00 

€120 (Includes a light lunch on both days)

Talks, workshops and World Café discussions on how we communicate and accelerate community responses to oil depletion and climate change

With: John Gormley (Minister for the Environment), Daniel Lerch (Post Carbon Institute, USA), Megan Quinn (Community Solution USA), Ben Brangwyn (Transition Network UK), Paul Allen (Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales), Jonathan Dawson (Global Eco Village Network), Anne B Ryan (Maynooth University), Graham Strouts (Zone 5), Professor Peadar Kirby (University of Limerick),  Davie Philip (Cultivate Centre), Tim Helwig Larson (Public Interest Research Centre, UK), Seamus Hoyne (Tipperary Institute), Adam de Eyto (IT Carlow), Magnus Wolfe-Murray, RESET, UK), Bruce Darrell (FEASTA), Dave Yaffey (UK), Pat Fleming (Ireland), Chris Chapman (Ireland), Oisín Coghlan (Friends of the Earth) and David Korowicz (FEASTA)




09.30 Opening

John Gormley, Minister for Environment, Heritage and Local Government opens the 2008 Convergence symposium.

09.40 – 10.10 Setting the scene

Davie Philip, Cultivate, Daniel Lerch, Post Carbon Institute, Megan Quinn, Community Solution, Ben Brangwyn, Transition Network and Jonathan Dawson, Global Eco-Village Network, outline the challenge and the objectives of the weekend.

10.10 – 11.40  Session 1 (choose one of the following five workshops)

1. Post Carbon Cities, Transition Towns and Eco Villages

Megan Quinn Bachman, Community Solutions, Ben Brangwyn, Transition Network, Daniel Lerch Post Carbon Cities and Jonathan Dawson, Global Eco-Village Network Europe introduce these three different approaches and an exploration into the synergies between them.

2. Working with a philosophy of enough in our personal lives

Anne B Ryan, NUI Maynooth, leads this workshop which takes as its theme the philosophy of enough, and proposes that it is capable of helping individuals, and family groups to work out a vision and practice for balanced and sustainable lifestyles.

3. Permaculture and Education

Graham Strouts, Zone 5. Permaculture is a system of sustainable design based on natural eco-systems. In this workshop Graham will give a brief introduction to permaculture and then discuss how to bring the concepts and principles more into education.

4. Beyond Industrial Society: Transformation from Global to Local

Professor Peadar Kirby, University of Limerick, will lead this workshop which will examine the extent to which the transition will require a move beyond industrial society and its inherent globalising logic. It will look at how such a move might be made and the challenges ahead for building new economic, political and social structures more embedded in local resources, needs and capabilities.

5. Zero Carbon Stratagies

Paul Allen, director of development at the Centre for Alternative Technology (Wales) and Tim Hedwig-Larsen, Public Interest Research Centre (UK), co-authors of ‘Zero Carbon Britain’ will guide us through a set of strategies using an integrative approach to the problem of climate change. Zero Carbon Britain tackles the root cause of each challenge facing decision-makers and, in understanding the system’s dynamics, explores systems-based solutions to show how a nation can realistically cut its fossil fuel bill to zero.

11.40 – 12.00  Break

12.00 – 13.00  Café Discussion

Sharing and furthering the ideas discussed during the workshops

13.00 – 14.00  Network Lunch

14.00 – 15.30  Session 2 (choose one of the following five workshops)

1. Sustainable Energy in Rural Village Environments

Seamus Hoyne, Tipperary Energy Agency, outlines SERVE (Sustainable Energy in Rural Village Environments) SERVE will create a region in North Tipperary which is a leader in the implementation of sustainable energy actions and reduce the energy consumption in 500 existing buildings by improving their energy performance through insulation and heating control measures. The eco-village with 132 houses in Cloughjordan will be supplied by a renewable energy district heating system,

showcasing energy efficient design.

2. Effective Design Strategies for Transition

Adam de Eyto, Industrial Design Lecturer, IT Carlow, leads an exploration into energy efficient product design that can help us to reduce carbon emissions. This workshop looks at the design process and collaborative solutions to local transition challenges.

3. Applying Transition Principles in Developing Countries

Magnus Wolfe Murray RESET (UK), introduces how international development agencies are unprepared for the dual impacts of climate change and peak oil, despite the potentially devastating consequences of these crises for vulnerable communities.  


4. Ideas to Meet the Carbon Challenge – ‘Bio Char’

Bruce Darrell, FEASTA, introduces the benefits of an ancient technology to increase soil fertility, carbon negative energy, manage waste and sequester carbon.  

5. Consciousness in Transition: Exploring Values for Changing Times

Dave Yaffey, Graham Strouts, and Chris Chapman introduce the questions: Why dont more people care about the environmental crisis? and what values do we need to carry forward with us into this period of transition?

15.30 – 16.00 Break

16.00 – 17.00  Café Discussion

Sharing and furthering the ideas discussed during the workshops

17.00 Close of Day One





11.00 – 11.15 Opening of the Second Day

11.15 – 12.45  Session 3  (choose one of the following five workshops)

1. Community Solutions
Megan Quinn, Community Solutions (USA) leads this workshop exploring how low-energy systems and cooperative living could be a solution to peak oil and climate change.

2. Changing Our Thinking
Pat Fleming leads an exploration on how working from the interior, can radically change the way we think and how we can then manifest, ” the real change in the exterior ‘real world’ that we want to see”.

3. Learning from the Eco-Village Movement
Jonathan Dawson, GEN Europe, leads an exploration on how eco-villages can best support and strengthen the wider sustainability movement. In recent years, eco-villages - local communities that aim to minimise their ecological impact but maximise human wellbeing and happiness - have proliferated worldwide.  They incorporate a wealth of radical ideas and approaches that can be traced back to Schumacher, Gandhi, eco-feminism, and the alternative education movement.

4. National Frameworks to Underpin Carbon Reduction
Oisín Coghlan, Friends of the Earth, David Korowicz FEASTA and Tim Helweg Larson PIRC (UK). In this workshop Cap and Share, the Climate Protection Bill and Tradable Energy Quotas are outlined and discussed as strategies to reduce our fossil energy use and guarantee our reduction of carbon emissions.

5. Skilling Up For Powerdown
Davie Philip Cultivate, introduces and leads a discussion on Cultivate’s learning programme which supports a strategic shift towards ecological thinking and sustainable development at the grassroots level.

12.45 - 13.15 – Café Discussion
Sharing and furthering the ideas discussed during the workshops
13.15 – 14.00 Network Lunch

14.00 – 17.00  World Café
‘World Café’ is an innovative yet simple methodology for hosting conversations about questions that matter. These conversations will link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross-pollinate ideas, and discover new insights into the questions:

“In the face of oil depletion and climate change how will we best reduce carbon emissions and build local resilience?”

“How do we communicate these responses to the widest possible audience?”