Offaly Local Development Company and the Technological University of the Shannon plan to embark on a new development project to address the challenges and opportunities facing the County, and the wider Shannon area, as the region faces the next phase in its transformation. This project will be base within a larger Global movement we are currently calling the Communiversity movement, initiated by our partner Trans4m Communiversity Associates (TCA), in Africa, Europe and the Americas. In Ireland the project will be led by TUS Thurles, in collaboration with OLDC. The TUS Thurles campus – and the Technological University as a whole - is on a distributed campus stretching from Limerick to Athlone with a hinterland traversed in its entirety by the River Shannon. The region is predominantly rural; is the primary locale of Ireland’s peatlands; has a higher than average dependency on agriculture; lower participation rates in higher education and substantial pockets of socio-economic disadvantage.
TUS and the OLDC together propose to address this region as an action-research laboratory in forging an approach to development which is neither primarily market based or state based, but as a citizen’s initiative, aligned with the Integral Green citizen’s initiatives in Southern Africa - Zimbabwe and Central Europe - Slovenia befitting and co-evolving our “emerald green isle”. Thereby, drawing on Ireland’s rich history of cooperative development and addressing a latter day context of ecological and cultural degradation, limited social and economic opportunities and the economic transformation necessitated by the transition from the fossil fuels, the project will attempt to reshape the debate and the approach to rural development, in such integral green guise. In this regard, the project will draw heavily on the thinking and approaches referred to as Integral Green guise as developed by TCA in a particular societal context. This approach accentuates a development framework and a matrix of interventions which simultaneously addresses the socio-cultural; the economic and the environmental as equally significant and symbiotically connected elements of developmental approach focused primarily on wellbeing, personal agency and the healing and regeneration of the biosphere.