Smarter Travel Grant for Limerick

Recently, a joint proposal of Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council acting in partnership with the University of Limerick has been granted funding for the next five years to put in practice a wide range of measures and interventions targeted at encouraging people to use more sustainable modes of transport. This opens the way to reflecting upon our travel habits and their implications for the city we live in, to getting inspired by other modern cities, and to get the voice of citizens heard when it comes to changing the face of the city.

For the purpose of the Smarter Travel bid, four zones in the city have been targeted:

This is a presentation of the strategy found on the Limerick City Council website, together with the text of the successful design and several other documents.

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We love Plassey riverbank – a well spent Sunday

Yesterday, about 20 people showed up for the canal and riverbank cleanup. We were hoping for some sunshine, but it didn’t happen. At least it didn’t rain!

The meeting point was Richmond Rugby Football Club on the canal bank at 12pm. The Munster Junior League final was on at 2:30pm, and we knew the place was going to get very busy.

People continued to arrive between 12 and 12:30. Miriam Lohan had done an audit of the riverbank and had maps for every group – with the severely littered areas marked on it.

Members of the Clancy Strand Street Feast group brought lovely cakes. Mary from Wildroutes showed us how you can build a nice birdhouse of almost any material. Children  were playing around. A fisherman showed up, wearing high boots, and offered us his help with carrying the rubbish back on the river and on the canal.

Shane Hickey and a few other people from the UL Green Campus initiative came to help, and brought materials left after last year’s  spring clean  with them (pickers, plastic bags).

We also had the support of the City Council Environmental officer, Sinead McDonnell, who helped us getting gloves and plastic bags, and made possible the pick-up of the rubbish this morning.

People spread along the canal and the river. We noticed the work that had been done to prepare the side areas for sowing grass. We tried to avoid them. Miriam cycled up and down, making sure everyone had the proper materials and helping various groups.

It was amazing to see how all the various people belonging to groups across Limerick city and from the neighbourhood came together. The “We love Plassey riverbank” Facebook page was the central point, but this blog post, together with the posters that we placed on the riverbank on Friday and the tiny flyers (actually business cards) also did the job.

We encountered mixed reactions from the people who were walking, jogging and cycling. Some avoided eye contact and didn’t answer to friendly hellos. Others stopped and engaged in a conversation. A lady told us it was the first time she walked there in ages – and she was really impressed.

There were people of several nationalities and backgrounds – together with locals, there were Swedish, Romanian, Polish, Hungarian. Not everybody knew the others in the beginning, but we quickly bonded.

The before and after pictures on our Facebook page show impressive transformations. We felt we really made a difference! The problem was that we ended up with 60+ very heavy bags of rubbish, that we had to carry back to Richmond RFC.

Dan O Neill, Plassey fisherman and hero of the day, ferried all he could fit in his boat.Anthony Furlong, of Limerick City Biodiversity Network  took quite a few of these 60 bags down the path on his bike. The problem was that we only had a wheelbarrow. Most of the bags had to be carried  back – and that was probably the toughest job we had! Asia came to our help with her 3 lovely daughters, carrying heavy bags at the back of the buggy.

When all the bags were brought back to the Richmond club – to be collected on Monday morning, we enjoyed the warm hospitality of the club, getting a cup of tea and a cake and planning the next action.

Note: Brian Leddin, who took part  in the clean-up, has a post on his blog on this event as well. There is also a mention of our action on this local blog.

What happened here? Connecting digital traces and physical places

The Limerick Life Long Learning Festival is taking place this year between the 26th of March and the 1st of April.
We’re planning to run a treasure hunt with a difference, in search of little known places in the city centre, on April 1st. Twitter, Foursquare, web sites and Google maps will be involved in the exploration, and we’re investigating a potential link to Open Plaques.

There will be a test run on Sunday, March 3rd – if you’d like to play early and give us your insights, please get in touch.

The photos above belong to a set posted on Flickr by the National Library of Ireland under a Creative Commons license.

Update: the test run had to be postponed. But we’re going on with the main event planned for April 1st 2012. And no, it’s not a joke:)

We love Plassey Riverbank – a call to action

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook happened to be the medium where a conversation about the Plassey Riverbank started. During winter, as the water levels went up, the Shannon has brought downstream a lot of rubbish that is now making its banks look very bad. You can see in these photos how the beautiful sunsets and the first flowers of the spring are coexisting with plastic bottles, containers, car wheels and lots of polistyren.

After that conversation on Facebook, we decided we can do something about it ourselves. A Facebook page was created to try and get other people behind this idea.

This is how the We love Plassey Riverbank Facebook page explains why we, the people who love and use this area of the city should look after the canal and riverbank:

The University of Limerick is situated on the bank of the Shannon at Plassey. The old towpath goes along the bank to the Park Canal, the Abbey River and the city centre. It is in need of love and care, because people litter it and rubbish washed downstream gets caught on the bank and in the trees.

We made the following video two weeks ago and we posted it on Facebook and YouTube, to encourage people to join us:

For Sunday, 12th of February, we have planned a first clean-up operation:

We are meeting at 12pm at the Richmond RFC (by the railway bridge behind Musgraves).See map below!
If you have leaves rakes, fishing nets, wheelbarrows or any other tool you can think of, bring them

We are planning to try and clean up as much as we can of the canal bank and the river bank toward UL between 12:30 and 15:30 pm.

After the clean-up, we will reassemble at Richmond RFC for a soup&home-baked cakes and to watch the second half of the Munster Junior League final match.

Here’s a link to the Facebook event, in case you want to sign up.

The Green Campus Committee at the University of Limerick is supporting the event, and we will get to reuse some of the materials that remained after last year’s spring cleanup.
The Limerick City Council is also providing us with clear plastic bags and gloves, and will ensure the pick up of the rubbish on Monday morning.

Digital media support for community activities

In the last year or so, the use of digital media for supporting local communities became more and more pivotal. Although in a city, people usually meet face-to-face to discuss things, Facebook pages and events, blogs, Twitter and Meetup accounts come to add to the good old-fashioned mailing lists as  awareness maintaining  and coordination mechanisms.

Here are some of the communities we’ve been involved in recently, contributing to their activities and focusing on their online presence and its implications for attracting new members:

We’ll start talking here about some of the insights gained in the process.

Connected Limerick 2011 – what happened

Gabriela Avram opened the event with a short introduction of the ideas behind the project, a review of what happened at Connected Limerick 2010, and an agenda for the 2011 event.

The first part of the event included a series of short talks (5min).
This is the list of speakers we had for the afternoon:

The second part of the event was dedicated to a discussion of the themes included in the presentations.

The event was organised as part of the Design Week 2011 by the Limerick chapter of the IxDA.