“Every crisis contains in itself an opportunity”

Dear Pat,                                          (Wednesday 21 January, 2009)

Strange times indeed!

Yesterday Martin Luther King’s dream was realised with Barack Obama becoming the first black president of the united States. Today sees Ireland celebrating, after much movement building based on Hope and Bold-ness of vision, the 90th anniversary since the first meeting of Dail Éireann.

But strangest of all is that we are living in times of such climate catastrophe, which threatens our collective existence regardless of nation and race, and in Ireland this fact is neither sufficiently recognised, nor is sufficient assistance given to those with visions for sustainable change.

Since time immemorial, the Chinese symbol for “crisis” has been expressed by the combination of the two words “danger” and “opportunity.” There-in lies not only a sentiment for Ireland’s present woes, but also a notion that these days could lead to something truly positive: an opportunity for our “Green Isle” to become a model sustainable community for both Europe, and indeed the world…

We must re-evaluate our understanding and use of the words Progress and Health. We must move from the idea of GDP (gross domestic product) to EPI (environmental performance index). That being, moving from how much stuff we move around the planet and at what cost, to what is the environmental impact of these actions and how they can be improved upon. In short, we need to stop burning tonnes of oil to import tonnes of New Zealand apples to Ireland, and seek ways to develop local food production zones and markets, like Seedsavers or Dolphins Barn community garden, which re-establish community and tradition, while not costing the earth.

What we are calling a “global financial crisis” is the first inevitable problem arising from a faulty economic system, built on the absurd idea that infinite economic growth is possible, fuelled by the endless supply of cheap oil. Apart from the disastrous CO2 emissions of this approach, a direct cause of Irelands recent summers rains?, scientists have made it clear; World Oil demand has peaked, we are running out of it and need to quickly build alternatives to survive. Thankfully some exist:

The Cradle to Cradle approach, which is based on the observation that in nature “Waste equals food” uses smart eco design powered by the sun, and is developing and building clean eco processes and buildings. The Netherlands is firmly embracing the concept and US architect, Bill Mc Donagh, has been asked to design 12 new eco cities in China. Can we imagine what a Cradle to Cradle island of Ireland might look like?

The Transition Town movement, originally developed out of ideas from Kinsale permaculture college, has expanded rapidly in only 2 years and sees communities coming together to imagine how they will exist with less oil dependence. Recently Sommerset county council in the UK embraced this practical philosophy.

I am an architect and eco-urbanist who left Ireland 2 years ago and now live, work and learn in the Catalan city of Barcelona. Prior to that I was involved with a group seeking to make the Botanic Spine, that being an 18km eco corridor, bikeway and linked route of food gardens joining Dublin’s 2 canals, the Phoenix park and the derelict train line that splits Cabra in two. With a bit of vision and support from the government, this ring could be a major catalyst for change that might help Ireland realise her opportunity, and take another BOLD and Visionary step, in these troubled times: to attempt to become Europe’s “Green Isle”.


Duncan O`Cruadhlaoich, architect, EIG (eco intelligent growth), Barcelona


The above letter was sent to Pat Kenny, after a request on his show last Monday for people to send in ideas for a “Brainstorming session to try to get us (Ireland) out of this (economic) mess”, in light of the current economic crisis that has gripped the country, for Fridays show which will be a 2 hour discussion resulting from such inputs. Email Pat if you want to add your views.

Today With Pat Kenny –
Email Pat Kenny at todaypk@rte.ie

(This post was first published on Indymedia Ireland)

Related links

Martin Luther King + Barack Obama

90th anniversary since the first meeting of Dail Éireann.

climate catastrophe

Chinese symbol for “crisis”

Progress and Health.

GDP (gross domestic product)

EPI (environmental performance index).

New Zealand apples to Ireland

local food production zones and markets


Dolphins Barn community garden

“global financial crisis”

CO2 emissions

Irelands recent summers rains?

Scientists have made it clear; World Oil demand has peaked,

Cradle to Cradle
“Waste equals food”
watch film in English: http://www.vpro.nl/programma/tegenlicht/afleveringen/36…1824/

The Netherlands is firmly embracing the concept

US architect, Bill Mc Donagh, has been asked to design 12 new eco cities in China.

The Transition Town movement,

Kinsale permaculture college,

Sommerset county council in the UK embraced this practical philosophy.

architect eco-urbanist Barcelona

Botanic Spine,
Online thesis: http://www.wiserearth.org/file/view/ee418f0d85252453f94…42161


4 Responses to “Every crisis contains in itself an opportunity”

  1. fuspey says:

    Mail to SPIRIT OF IRELAND: http://spiritofireland.org/

    Great Great stuff, I just heard your interview for Spirit of Ireland on the Pat Kenny radio show and am very excited about how Ireland might go from 98% energy importer (along with massive associated CO2 emissions) to becoming a possible 100% island wide Green Energy producer.

    My name is Duncan Crowley, I am an Irish eco architect living and working with an eco consultancy firm Eco Intelligent Growth in Barcelona and will soon write about this great great idea to further let more people know about the project and soon sign up to be part of it. We are members of USGBC, offer LEED certification and are involved with trying to spread more “green energy”, amongst other eco effective issues here in Spain, and indeed the World.

    I have been involved with eco thinking, activism, design, architecture etc for over 10 years and feel that (y)our project is the “opportunity” within the “crisis” which now exists, and in which Ireland is feeling more than most in Europe. (I previously wrote about this topic in a letter to the Pat Kenny show, “Every crisis contains in itself an opportunity”)

    I am a passionate Irishman, who has been disappointed how Ireland squandered so much over recent “Tiger” years, but now there is a re-awakening on the “Green Isle”. As a dreamer, and do-er, I think this fantastic is only the first step in generating the wider discussion about turning Ireland into a sustainable model for Europe and the World. That is my dream, and Im sure we can get there, to make a truly “Green Isle”, in the true sense of the word, as I think things were for a long time, as my understanding of the ideas behind Newgrange.

    Good luck to you, I believe in it fully, and will be soon putting my money where my mouth is.

    Duncan O`Craudhlaoch

  2. fuspey says:

    nearly 3 years since i posted this… and how things have changed…

    #OccupyIreland, 6 camps and building… Dublin, Cork, Galway, Belfast, Waterford…Letterkenny..

    OccupyIreland network is giving hope where previously there was none.

    The Occupy movement has grown steadily in the past 4 weeks in Ireland. It is part of the global Occupy movement. As to what it is about is best summed up by the OccupyGalway statement:

    Occupy Galway is part of the international movement against austerity measures imposed on ordinary people around the world. We are all part of the 99% who, so far, have been subject to economic inequality and social injustice from the 1% who control the world’s resources. We, the 99% demand:
    1 – The removal of the IMF and ECB from all Irish financial affairs;
    2 – That the national debt imposed on Irish people from the bank bailouts be lifted;
    3 – The return of Irish resources (gas, oil, forestry) to the people of Ireland;
    4 – Real particpatory democracy.


  3. […] crisis“ (pity in english we only see the negative side of that important word; crisis) things began to change. Oil prices going up (again the transitionistas had been telling us all […]

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