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Convergence 2015

The Sustainable Ireland Co-operative Society Ltd, who trade as Cultivate, are working with a number of agencies and co-operatives to host a series of events in the last 2 weeks of October 2015. These events aim to inspire and progress a co-operative response to the issues affecting our local areas.

This Convergence is based on the need for local jobs, sustainability and the provision of services, through community led, or for community benefit, cooperatives. This two week long series of events will build on the momentum and current interest in; community ownership; co-housing; community share options; renewable energy co-operatives; co-working; community owned pubs and shops; buyers clubs; artist and food co-ops; and the emerging collaborative economy.
Convergence is a sustainable living festival that Cultivate have curated at least once a year since 2000. For this, the 20th Convergence, 20 workshops, facilitated conversations, film screenings, field trips and conferences are being planned across the island. 
The co-operative model now, as much as ever, could play a significant role in the economic recovery of this country as well as fostering innovation, providing sustainable livelihoods, contributing to the regeneration of local areas and helping to strengthen the resilience of our communities.

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if you want to get involved.

Full Schedule

Monday October 19th
Students for Co-operation
The Centre for Co-operative Studies, UCC, Cork – 11am
Student co-operatives in housing, food, and transport among others in the UK have been noted as one of the leading lights of the UK co-operative movement. The purpose of the workshop is to stimulate interest in the idea of student co-operatives in UCC and CIT. To book or for further information contact Noreen Byrne at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tuesday October 20th
Study tour of Belfast Co-ops, 1-5pm
Starting and ending at Lunasa cafe, 44 King Street Belfast BT1 6AD.
Join us to celebrate and learn with several co-ops in one afternoon. The study tour program includes Co-operative Alternatives, the only body in Northern Ireland entirely devoted to developing successful co-operatives; Boundary Brewing at their brewery, owned by 450 members who bought £100,000 worth of community shares in ten days; Belfast Cleaning Co-op at Trademark, cross community workers co-op founded in 2012, now employing 7 worker-owners; Northern Ireland Community Energy (NICE) solar panels featured on roof of the Ashton Centre; Belfast Teachers Credit Union, with news about the global conference of credit unions to be held in Belfast, 17-20 July 2016; and the Creative Workers Co-op. Pre-booking on the Study Tour is essential.
Tuesday October 20th
Beyond Grants - Financing Social Enterprise and Co-operatives
Institute for Lifecourse and Society, NUI Galway - 10am to 1pm   
Galway City Partnership in association with Collaborative Ways and Galway Transition, are hosting this workshop to help local enterprise, co-operatives and communities consider more sustainable financing models and approaches to raise capital.  More details to be announced see  or contact Margaret Leahy at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information.
Tuesday October 20th   -
ICOS workshop on Co-operative Legal Structures
Plunkett House, 84 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, 2pm to 5pm
This workshop will give an introduction to legal structures for community and rural enterprise groups in Ireland. After an introduction to various legal forms and appropriate governance structures for collaborative projects, participants will have an opportunity to discuss in detail their own proposed projects and get advice on the appropriate structures for them and ongoing considerations to keep in mind while developing their projects. Community and Businesses that are interested in co-operating and collaboration in order to help their businesses and communities grow should attend. Places are limited; contact Siobhán Mehigan, ICOS Co-operative Development Executive, to reserve your place or to answer any queries you might have regarding your proposed co-operative. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  01-6131310
Tuesday October 20th
Co-operative Refreshments
Lunasa cafe, 44 King Street Belfast BT1 6AD, 5pm – 6pm
Lunasa will provide optional but wonderful food and drink, over the counter. To assist with catering numbers, each person pays for their own refreshments, please book your place.
Tuesday October 20th
Co-operative Responses to Austerity
Lunasa cafe, 44 King Street Belfast BT1 6AD, 6pm to 8pm. 
We have much to learn from co-operative and popular responses to austerity from countries like Greece, Spain, Italy and Argentina. Co-operators there have a lot of experience in responses such as alternative currencies, food distribution, recovered factories etc. Speakers will join us online, with interactive questions, answers and discussion.
More details and booking
Tuesday October 20th
Transforming Power - Community Energy and Cooperative Successes
Galway – Venue To Be Confirmed - 7.30- 9.30pm
Empowering community conversations and co-operative stories from Dara Molloy, of the Aran Island Co Operative, Eimhin David Callahan, founder of the Birr Growery, Prof Terrence McDonagh, Galway City Community Network and NUI Galway, amongst others
Organised by Transition Galway and Collaborative Ways Forward, for more details contact Kieran Cunnane at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or see
Wednesday October 21st
Community Energy Co-ops
Dublin Food Co-op, Newmarket, Dublin 8 – 10.30am– 4.30pm, €15 (Lunch and Refreshments available for purchase at the Food Co-op Café)
How do we get more community energy projects up and running? What are the obstacles and how can these be overcome? How can we build capacity in community organisations to commence planning to establish local sustainable energy projects? What are the economic, environmental and social benefits of community owned renewable energy? These are the questions that this workshop will address through talks, panel discussions, case studies and facilitated conversations. Speakers include Dara Molloy, Chairman of the Aran Islands Energy Co-op, who will give examples of what they have learned in their journey towards sustainable energy, Brendan Halligan, the former chair of Chairman of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland and Bord na Móna, who will outline the policy developments in this area. Other examples and stories of community energy projects across the island will be shared by local projects. The event is being held by the Society for Cooperative Studies in Ireland, Energy Co-operatives Ireland, Third Systems Approaches and Cultivate, with support from SEAI and Friends of the Earth. For more information and to book contact Davie on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Wednesday October 21st
Feeding Ourselves Co-operatively
Fumbly Stables, Dublin 8
Do you have an interest in co-operative projects? Davie Philip will introduce how a cooperative approach can strengthen and build more resilient and sustainable food systems, while at the same time supporting our communities and local economies. He will tell the Cloughjordan Ecovillage story as well as introducing CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture), Community Kitchens, Food Hubs, and other emerging collaborative food systems. The evening will include a facilitated conversation on the potential of feeding ourselves. Davie will be bringing some of the home-grown produce from Cloughjordan to provide a light bite for participants. Please feel free to bring along something yourself to share with the group, if you want. This is a free event, but if you feel like contributing a donation of €5-10 (or whatever you feel) would be much appreciated.
Thursday October 22nd
Urban Cooperatives
Old Esso Station, Mulgrave St., Limerick. 1pm
This is a field trip to find out more about Limerick's first co-operative community grocery, winners of the national Get Involved contest in 2014.  The Urban Co-op is contributing to a more sustainable and fairer world, and serves as a model for the development of urban co-operatives in the mid-west and further afield. This is a great place for people to meet others who care about keeping food local and building local and sustainable initiatives. Make your own way there for 1pm, for directions see
October 24th  
A Co-operative Harvest Festival
East Clare Community Co op, Main St. Scariff. Co. Clare. 1pm to 5pm
Visit the Community Kitchen, Garden and Cafe at East Clare Community Co-op for the annual showcase of locally produced food and 'Golden Spoon Awards' competition. East Clare Community Co-operative has been in existence for 28 years and has been the starting point for a number of educational, community, social and entrepreneurial activities in the area. For directions and further info see
Monday October 26th
A Co-operative Fair
Dublin Food Co-op, 12 Newmarket, Dublin 8. 11am – 4pm
A family friendly day of activity: networking, stalls, talks, workshops and facilitated conversations on the topic of a co-operative approach to meeting our needs. Speakers include Hannah Barrett, a Frontline Project Officer with the Plunkett Foundation and many others to be announced.
October 27th - 31st
Kerry's Sustainable Energy Co-operative
Kerry County Library, Tralee, Co. Kerry
A week of events, public speakers, information and displays about Kerry's Sustainable Energy Co-op and Transition Kerry's Sustainable Energy Community Roadmap.
For more information see  or contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call Niamh at 086 7247066
Wednesday October 28th
Better Business, Better Living: Community Enterprise and the Co-operative Approach
WeCreate, Cloughjordan Ecovillage, Tipperary – 10am – 5pm - €20 (a locally produced lunch can be booked for an additional €10)
Could the co-operative model, with appropriate support and greater recognition, play a role in the economic recovery of this country by fostering innovation, securing livelihoods, and contributing to the regeneration of our local places?
Through talks and facilitated conversations this event aims to bring together national and county enterprise offices, social enterprise networks, local development agencies and community finance organisations with community groups and people interested in doing business in a more collaborative and sustainable way.  Speakers include Peter Couchman, the Chief Executive of the Plunkett Foundation in the UK, who will introduce how rural communities can take control of the issues that matter to them, such as saving their shop, pub or supporting local food. Another speaker is Jo Bird of Cooperative Alternatives the only body in Northern Ireland entirely devoted to developing successful co-operatives and community benefit societies. Jo will be outlining different ways co-operatives and community organisations can raise capital. For full details and booking see

Better Business, Better Living. Community Enterprise and the Co-operative Approach (PDF Schedule)

Book your ticket for Better Business, Better Living:


Wednesday October 28th 
Cohousing Potential in Northern Ireland
Agape Centre, 238 Lisburn Rd, Belfast - 7-9pm
Presentation and discussion led by Stephen Hill, on the potential of Cohousing in NI, the only region of the UK without an active Cohousing group. Stephen will put in context the development of Cohousing in the EU/GB and the opportunities for new cohousing developments in NI.
For more info contact Andrew McMurray on 0044 (0) 790 9900 883 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Thursday October 29th
Housing Ourselves Co-operatively
WeCreate, Cloughjordan Ecovillage, Tipperary – 10am – 5pm - €20 (a locally produced lunch can be booked for an additional €10)
The idea of 'Co-Housing' was developed in Scandinavia in the 1980’s and is growing in popularity around the world. A cohousing project is composed of private homes with many shared facilities. A co-housing community is planned, owned and managed by the residents, who also share activities, which may include cooking, dining, child care, gardening, and governance of the community.  As well as being affordable these co-operatives can provide a greater sense of wellbeing and sustainability.  Speakers include Joe Atkinson a resident of LILAC, the UK's first affordable ecological cohousing project, a community of 20 households and a common house in Leeds; Stephen Hill, chair of the UK Cohousing Network, the promotional body for independent groups of residents wishing to provide their own group housing solutions based on cooperative and sustainable lifestyles; Rosie Lynch, a curator with Commonage, who will present the ideas for a co-housing project in her area; and Dermot Sellars the Policy and Communications Manager of NABCO, who will give an introduction and overview of co-operative housing. The event aims to bring together people interested in setting up a co-housing project, local authorirty representatives, community development agencies, planners, architects and social finance organisations to look at the barriers of a co-housing and how we overcome them.
Book your ticket for Housing Ourselves Co-operatively:

Friday October 30th  
Emerging Futures - ‘A Cultural Vision for Galway’
Galway 2020 Community Hub, Unit 15 The Cornstore, Middle Street, Galway - 11.00am- 5.00pm
Conversations, films, art, food and drinks with a focus on collaboration, culture and civil society networks. How can Galway embrace participatory co-operative politics and approaches in developing and supporting strategies going forward.  Throughout the day we aim to create a space from which to  explore the existing structures of participation and cooperation and actively produce new ones,  presenting artist Seoidin O’Sullivan’s installation ‘Seating System’ on the Commons, as a central public platform and interactive site to experience and explore.  For further information contact Martina on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Friday October 30th  
A Co-operative Salon -  A community harvest dinner and social.
Galway 2020 Community Hub, Unit 15 The Cornstore, Middle Street, Galway -  6.00 - 9.00pm  
A harvest dinner showcasing Galway’s culinary produce from local farms and community gardens and cooked by some of Galway's finest artisan establishments. This event will be a convivial opportunity to network and celebrate Galway’s local food, co-operative and community culture. For further information contact Martina on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   For full details on all Galway events visit
Saturday October 31st
Community Owned Shops
The Cottage, Loughmore, Co. Tipperary
A field trip to Community Tea Rooms and Shop in Loughmore. Make your own way there for 1pm where Mary Fogerty will tell the story of this cooperative business that aims to counter the decline in services in the local community and also to combat the even bigger problem of rural isolation. 

Saturday October 31st
Cooperative Halloween Party
Dublin Food Co-op, Newmarket, Dublin 8, 8pm-2am
The Convergence closing party for DFC members and Convergence Attendees, Live Music and DJs for full details contact Joe Zefran at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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