Who We Are
Green Spaces for Health is a city-wide, community led initiative. We are an Eco Social Group; one of the most important aspects of our work is fostering a reverence for nature. When we reconnect with the natural world we reconnect with something deep within ourselves, this reconnection has profound benefits for our physical and mental health. We further recognise the transformative power of coming together with others to build a resilient, inclusive community. This informs all the work we do.
Through our work we maintain existing green spaces and seek out new greening opportunities. We extend our understanding of greening to encompass deep ecology, protecting biodiversity, creating new habitats, supporting green energy initiatives in our homes and businesses, recycling and up-cycling, harnessing permaculture principals, encouraging city dwellers to become citizen scientists, we record and map aspects of our natural world to help inform our future decisions and we collaborate with as many individuals and organisations as possible to realise a greener city.
Humans are intrinsically part of the natural world, not external to it. Let us open our eyes and see what is around us.
What We Do
Here’s a list of our initiatives! Click on one to go straight to it’s section, or just scroll down the page.
- Eco Social Approach
- Bee Hives
- Reconnecting With Nature
- St. Finbarr’s South Chapel Eco Congregation
- Paper Recycling
- South Parish Tree Audit
- Re-Imagining South Parish
To see our partners, or find out how to get involved, click on one of the options here, or just scroll to the bottom!
Eco Social Approach
One of the most important aspects of the work of Green Spaces for Health is fostering a reverence for nature. We recognise the profound benefits to our physical and mental health when we reconnect with the natural world. We further recognise the transformative power of coming together with others to build a resilient, inclusive community. This informs all the work we do.
Parkowen, a former cemetery (St John’s Cemetery), is now a public park in South Parish and it was quite neglected before we took over! Since then, we have worked hard to make this green space an attractive destination in Cork City both for people and wildlife. We’ve achieved this by:
- Planting a twenty metre long native hedgerow and thirteen trees (ten native) around the park. Native species of plant and trees are important for our wildlife and this promotes biodiversity!
- We’ve dedicated the lower third of the park to re-wilding which is the process of allowing the space return to its natural state. We have partnered with Cork Nature Network on this work and are observing the site to see what plant and grass species emerge.
- We established four separate flower and herb beds in the southern side of the park to attract and support pollinating insects. All of this is really important in providing refuge for the animals, insects and birds of the area.
- We work with Cork City Council to ensure that no harmful chemicals are sprayed in the park (we hand weed instead!) and to reduce the number of times the grass is cut every year and how the grass is cut, for example we leave corridors of grass where the trees are so the base of the tree trunks are protected. We think you’ll agree, it looks beautiful.
- Once a week a group of volunteers meet to garden in the park.
- We hold public events in the park such as mindfulness workshops, urban ecology tours and talks, pollinating workshops, Tai Chi classes and more!
With all of this we’ve transformed Parkowen into a green oasis for all species in the heart of South Parish. Our future plans include supporting specific types of endangered bees, installing bird boxes, and starting a citizen scientist movement in the park to encourage people to take out their magnifying glasses and do some detective work on the identification of species.
Working together with St. John’s Central College and Hive Mind we were instrumental in the setting up of bee hives on the roof top of St. John’s. Bees are vitally important for our ecosystem because they are pollinators which is great for biodiversity.
The initiative has been very successful so far with the bee population growing so that there is now a second hive, demonstrating that there is plenty of forage in the city centre area.
St John’s College has utilised the hive in all sorts of creative ways involving various modules from their many courses including the environmental science, woodwork, marketing and film modules. They also started running a very popular evening course in bee keeping.
Through this initiative Green Spaces for Health formed a strong relationship with St.John’s and have hosted students for work experience, held public talks and film screenings at the college, organised a waste management workshop, donated trees, vines and seeds to the college gardeners.
Also the community at large has benefitted, everyone in South Parish now knows about the bees and it has become a talking point, people are beginning to grow flowers specifically for the bees thus they are also catering for other types of bees and insects, it has got the conversation going on how we share our space with so many fellow creatures.
All this thanks to the bees!
Reconnecting with Nature
Green Spaces for Health runs a six week course on The Work that Reconnects. The work helps people experience their innate connections with each other and the self-healing powers of the web of life, transforming despair and overwhelm into inspired, collaborative action. The Work That Reconnects, based on the teachings of Ecophilosopher Joanna Macy, follows a Spiral of practices: Gratitude, Honoring Our Pain for the World, Seeing with New/Ancient Eyes, and Going Forth. Learn about the Spiral and how this Work can support you in facing the crises of our time.
Email us for dates and details, this course is free of charge.
St. Finbarr’s South Chapel Eco Congregation
Green Spaces for Health founded the Eco Congregation at St Finbarr’s South in January 2019. The Eco Congregation is a movement that is multi denominational and promotes the greening of congregations through all sorts of initiatives. There is a growing Eco Congregational movement in Cork and South Parish are now part of this. Thus far here are the projects St Finbarr’s South Eco Congregation started:
- Piloted a three month successful paper recycling project that collected paper from the residents of three specific streets in the parish and delivered it to Ecocel in the Marina, a company that converts paper into green insulation material. The project was very successful and demonstrated people’s desire and willingness to recycle when the opportunity to do so is user friendly and convenient.
- Conducted an energy audit of one particular street in South Parish, this led to two public talks, one given by Conor O’Brien of the SEAI and the second talk given by a local resident who recently carried out building works in her 100 year old house. This demonstrated the challenges of heating old houses with new technologies, informing others living in the area in similar houses who might be considering such work themselves.
- Raised and highlighted the profound affects of climate change on the majority world by fundraising for the victims of storm Idai in Malawi. The funds raised went directly to the building of two houses for victims of the cyclone in 2019.
- St Finbarr’s South raised funds for the Great Green Wall Project a green initiative to plant a mosaic of trees from the West Coast to the East Coast of Africa to reverse the effects of drought and stop the encroachment of desertification.
Working with the Douglas Street Business Association and the Learning Neighbourhoods South Parish Group, Green Spaces for Health set up a paper recycling initiative. Since December 2018 we have been collecting waste paper and transporting it to Ecocel in the Marina where it is converted into green insulation. It has been very successful with many businesses involved contributing collectively tonnes of paper including Southern Sign’s, Bia Blasta, Cork Flower Studio, Langford Row Medical Centre, Education Literacy Centre, St John’s Central College, CB Motorcycles and the Good Day Deli Restaurant. We plan to develop this project further in the near future to incorporate paper waste from residents of the parish.
South Parish Tree Audit
Green Spaces for Health has been working with The School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, facilitated by CARL Research to map the location of every tree in the South Parish area, recording tree species and tree measurements.
The audit is almost complete and has provided useful information such as:
- The percentage of native versus non native trees in the area
- The percentage of deciduous versus evergreen varieties
- What kind of the trees are located at pollution hotspots
- Locations of beautiful heritage trees
- Discovery of apple trees from once existing orchards
- Also the work highlighted areas that have a deficit of trees. We are liaising with staff from Cork City Council to identify potential sites for new trees.
The data generated from this audit is being used to determine how much carbon is being stored and sequestered by certain species in the parish and the Helliwell System is being applied to the findings
We hope to have the audit completed by autumn/winter 2020 and plan to launch an interactive map and a publication on the trees of the parish with the assistance of our partners at CARL Research and the School of BEES.
Re-Imagining South Parish
What if people who live and work in South Parish came together to re-imagine from their unique perspective how this parish could evolve with environmental, inclusivity and health practices at the centre of their deliberations? This was a question Green Spaces for Health posed and it has led to the Re-Imagining South Parish Project.
South Parish is home to the City Hall, the School of Architecture, the School of Art, three main Christian Churches, a large hospital, a central Garda Station, primary and secondary schools, the biggest housing hostel in Ireland, probation services, historic buildings, Learning Neighbourhood and so much more. So many resources in one area!
Green Spaces for Health and the Centre for the Integration of Research, Training and Learning UCC came together on this project that seeks to harness all the multi talented, multi disciplined groups, institutions, residents, individuals across the parish with the aim of taking a fresh look at how we could collectively change the parish for the better through experiential based discussion, planning and action. Of four sessions planned we completed two before Covid-19 interrupted our progress but we fully intend picking up where we left off in the near future and are very excited about the results! It has been an enriching experience bringing so many people with fresh perspectives together to share and dream. Our thanks to the CIRTL team at UCC for facilitating this work. Watch this space!
Green Spaces for Health is served by a steering committee made up of representatives from Cork Healthy Cities, Cork Environmental Forum, the Lantern Project and Nano Nagle Place.
Other partnerships in their work in the city include Cork Nature Network, CARL UCC, The School of Bees UCC, CIRTL UCC, St John’s Central College, Eco Congregations Ireland, Cork City Council, Cork Food Policy Council, Learning Neighbourhoods Network South Parish, Kinsale Permaculture College, Men’s Shed Ballyphehane, Lough Community Centre, Community Gardai.
Almost all of our work depends on volunteers:
- If you would like to help us to maintain our outdoor garden work at Parkowen, the Food Forest and assist us to grow food at our new site at the Lough Community Centre we would be delighted to hear from you! We meet once a week, sometimes twice, no experience is needed. Just email or drop us a text.
- If you would like to get involved with the Tree Audit in South Parish let us know, we are mapping, identifying and measuring all trees in the area.
- If you have ideas for starting a greening project, no matter how small or large and need help please contact us and we will see what we can do together.
- If you are available sign up for the six week Reconnect with Nature course, free of charge the course is usually held twice a year at the Lantern project, Nano Nagle Place. Email for details of dates.
- If you would like to help develop ideas for the collection and recycling of more paper in the parish we would love to hear from you. We wish to move to the next phase of this project but need your help.
- If you have particular skills that you think we could benefit from please let us know, we would love to hear from you!
If you have any other ideas, thoughts or just want to be part of a community that seeks to green our city simply pick up the phone or email.
Get in touch through one fo the following channels – we’d be delighted to hear from you!