3. Talk to Your Neighbours
One of the biggest hurdles to taking effective action for nature conservation on our own land is that question that hangs over Irish society like a dark cloud, “What will the neighbours think?”
For task number three, I imagined participants offering their neighbours a cup of tea and a guided tour of their new “don’t mow, let it grow” gardens. I encouraged people to create posters explaining to passers-by that their gardens were deliberately wild.
I had grand visions of neighbours forming new connections through the sharing of pollinator-friendly gardening tips and surplus organic courgettes. I saw us uniting against climate change by turning over our lawns to carbon-sequestering vegetation and no-dig vegetable patches.
I quickly realised that we are far from the stage where everyone is ready to really hear my vision. And why should they, when most of the time I’m not really listening to what drives their vision of manicured lawns and orderly flower beds? We need to visit each other where we are, emotionally, economically, culturally, and build a certain level of mutual acceptance, before we can meet halfway on environmental issues.
Ibrahim Roche, a guest speaker at our second Biosphere Challenge webinar, is an Intercultural Ambassador with Dublin City Council, and runs an initiative called Clean Medina. Medina is an Arabic word, it refers to a geographical location, a crossroads where communities and people come together, and live together, in a sustainable manner.
Clean Medina encourages people from different cultural and religious backgrounds to put down roots and get to know their neighbours, by taking part in local environmental projects such as Tidy Towns.
I decided to tone down my frustrated attempts at evangelising about rewilded lawns, and humbled myself to join a local clean-up group. After all, actions speak louder than words, and in working together towards a common goal we begin to really see and hear each other.
Watch Webinar 2: Community Action in the Biosphere by clicking the link below.