These last couple of weeks in Ireland have been constructive, both on a personal level and in regards to my internship. Let’s start with the internship news and save the fun stuff for last 😉
A couple of weeks ago, I helped man a booth at a local farmer’s market type event to help Energy Action acquire some pledges. Although we were not very successful, we definitely made some fantastic contacts that could prove to be very beneficial in the future. Also, this even was very beneficial to me because I found my new favorite market :). There is one booth that has the most delicious raspberry tart I have ever tasted and walking to this market to shop and grab a raspberry tart has become a Saturday ritual. In addition to this event, I also found out I will be attending an event in Co. Kildare called The Marigold Festival Series. Apparently this event has been a success for Energy Action in the past and they are hoping to spread the word about SPIRIT at the event this year. I am really looking forward to it! The past week was probably the most exciting for me though, because I was given the opportunity to propose some ideas I have for the project as they directly relate to my research. I began by explaining that I was aware of the issues we were facing in terms of engaging religious communities in the project and that I had some suggestions. My main suggestion was to start by determining the values of the communities being approached, rather than just trying to give the communities information on the program and hoping they will be interested enough to get involved. Determining the values of these communities will help in properly communicating the value of the project and the value of energy conservation to the individual communities. If the ultimate goal is to energize faith-based communities to influence individual behavior change, simply providing them information is not always going to encourage action. A project like this takes a lot of work on the part of the religious leaders and the individual community members themselves; it is important to illustrate the true benefits in a way that is meaningful, which varies based on the audience. Another one of my ideas was to email the Executive Director of an organization called GreenFaith, whose mission is similar to that of the SPIRIT program, to see if he could offer any insight. The feedback was more than I could have hoped for – my boss was impressed and inspired by my ideas. Since my boss liked the idea of emailing the Executive Director of GreenFaith so much, he allowed me to be the point of contact and I was able to arrange a Skype conference with the Executive Director that will take place next week.
Now, for the fun stuff. I live in a house full of wonderful roommates that love to go out and explore, even if that just means taking a walk down the canal behind our house and stopping at some place new. We have been to dinner a couple of times, we have been to a few local pubs, we have gone shopping on Grafton Street and down by the River Liffey and we are always thinking of new places to see and things to do. A couple of nights ago, we took about a 40-minute walk along the canal down to the Docklands, got some ice cream and sat at the dock with the Bord Gais Energy Theater behind us and the water in front of us. Yesterday evening, we attended a science gallery at Trinity College and I was ecstatic to find out that the theme was sustainability. Unfortunately, it was quite packed so I couldn’t take many pictures but some of the exhibits were so interesting. A lot of the ideas had to do with converting everyday waste from consumer products into new, environmentally friendly and even edible products. Tomorrow we are planning to take a hike up the Dublin mountains and I am planning a weekend trip to Phoenix Park, one of the largest parks in Europe. Most of my countryside exploring, however, will happen during my last week here in Ireland.