I was really delighted and surprised to have my talk in Hollywood so enthusiastically received last Saturday during the 1st Blackstairs Rural Film Festival. I was expecting 15 but we were a group of 24 in the end!
Gathering under the trees at Hollywood, South Carlow, Ireland, during the 1st Rural Blackstairs Film festival. I was delighted to hold a space for conversation about why transforming conifer plantations is such a rich and valuable means to relate and act more sustainably to our environments. Photo: Gwen Wilkinson.
What made the event special was the diversity of interests and experience in the people attending: a forester, a local forest owner, a 4th generation woodworker, arts officers, artists, curators, gardeners, a teacher, a former local councillor and just the very curious. This mirrors the cross-disciplinary aim of my project, that we need to hold spaces for many perspectives, other than just science, to advance learnings for eco-social change.
However, it was a real challenge for me to plan a talk through Hollywood as this project has been developing along many different strands since 2008 and I knew my audience would be varied. I decided to stop in several places in Hollywood (it has several distinct areas of forest transformation) to discuss some of the insights from ‘chapters’ in my draft audiovisual ebook and I shared a couple of the short films too. Martin gave a lot of wonderful support as always and “Kiwi Sean” Hoskins (our forest contractor) also gave practical insights about how he transforms conifer plantations such as Hollywood. All in all, it was a lot of fun and great to begin to share the Hollywood ‘story’ with my local community, right in Hollywood (with Holly in charge of course!).
Many thanks again to Orla Ryan for seeing the potential of my sharing my short films (embedded in my ebook) during the Blackstairs Rural film festival (which was a great success). Its truly been the most meaningful presentation I have made of the Hollywood project so far. Hope you like the photos below – my special thanks to local photographer Gwen Wilkinson who took them at short notice.
Any comments welcome!
Live at Hollywood – part of the successful 1st Rural Blackstairs Film Festival (in South Carlow, Ireland)
“Welcome to Hollywood”
To keep everyone warm (the talk was 40 min. long) we offered 3 different kinds of schnapps from Eastern Europe and elderflower cordial (the schnapps proved very popular).
Holly tearing into young Ash beneath the conifers that are growing in Hollywood
“Holly” gave her name to the Hollywood project – its now recorded on the local map of the area!
Introductions to the ‘Hollywood” project – Eileen MacDonagh said a few words to introduce me and I introduced Hollywood and Holly.
The sun came out!! Some historians say the ‘black’ of the Blackstairs mountains referred to the dark oak forests that previously clad these mountains several hundred years ago. South Carlow is also known as where the last wolf in Ireland was killed.
White Mountain behind me, part of the beautiful Blackstairs Mountain range; 300 years ago there was a ‘commonage’ forest on this site and adjoining fields.
Describing my developing audiovisual ebook of the Hollywood artful forest transformation project, begun in 2008. I talked about my early work with my friend Jan Alexander, Crann founder and past-Chair of ProSilva Ireland and how Jan has been a big influence on the project.
I had this image in case it was misty as visitors may have not known that Hollywood is right under Mt Leinster, the 3rd highest mountain in Ireland.
Holly was leaning against me when I was talking, making sure I reminded everyone it was “her” project originally
Martin held my small bluetooth soundbox for the short films I shared – I was able to share the birdsong from Hollywood and sounds from NZ forests that have long inspired my work.
Martin talking about the history of the site and how his father had the conifers planted in the mid-1980s. Mass planting of conifers were introduced in the 1950s to alleviate rural poverty – we now need to change to more permanent, mixed species, mixed age forestry approaches. Hollywood is managed following the new-to-Ireland ‘Close to Nature’ continuous cover forestry approach practised for many decades in Eastern Europe (see more info at http://www.prosilvaireland.org
“Kiwi Sean” Hoskins is known to many in the area as a musician but he is also Hollywood’s forester – he talked about he works to ‘mark’ and thin conifer plantations to transform plantations into ‘Close to Nature’ continuous cover forests.
Former local Green councillor Alan Price (left) has helped me advance national Green forest policy for non-clearfell continuous cover forestry and also supported my motion for ecocide awareness, both of which evolved from the Hollywood project.
I talked about the interconnecting ecological problems facing the environment; how science has helped us realise the predicament we are in and the very necessary complementary role the arts has in helping us move toward change.