Ben Whelan is a founder and the Managing Director of Sustainable Ireland Cooperative Society Ltd. which initiated the Cultivate Centre in Temple Bar. He was the lead promoter and instigator behind the Greenhouse Centre in Dublin. Ben has developed and overseen Cultivate’s programmes and activities over its 12 years of operation. He has taught and published in many areas of sustainability including permaculture, bioregionalism and local economics. He holds a BA from Trinity College Dublin in Theology and Ancient History and an MA in Liberal Arts from Naropa College, Colorado.
Ben is a founding member of North Tipperary Green Enterprise Park and a current board member, a founding member of the Environmental and Sustainable Construction Association (Éasca) and current board member, a Director of Re-Dress (the Better Fashion Initiative), on the governance committee member for the Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development in Ireland. Previously he has worked as the Coordinator for the Asset Development group at the Cloughjordan Ecovillage and in the development of the overall Strategic and Land Plan for the Eco-Village.
Aaron joined the Cultivate team in early 2015 following an interest in facilitation and group dynamics. Alongside Philippa, he co-coordinated the Permaculture Design Course (PDC) for several years, and, loving the social side of Cultivate, worked closely with Davie designing and facilitating regular courses and events. After supporting many facets of the Cultivate work programme over the years Aaron sought to bring them all together with the community-focused festival ‘Elements of Change’. Since it’s launch in Ireland, Aaron was active with Extinction Rebellion to passionately ring the alarm bell for transformative change; particularly focusing on how XR activists and any community can self-organise and best collaborate – ‘system change not climate change’. Aaron and Mel researched how digitalisation is impacting the rural area with the Horizon 2020 project DESIRA, culminating in 2 reports and 4 videos outlining current drivers of change and plausible future scenarios. Currently Aaron co-coordinates the ESC volunteer programme with Mel to welcome young adults into the cooperative and Cloughjordan community, and together they deliver NonViolent Communication sessions on the ESC and PDC programmes. Continuously interested in how critical issues and all these topics come together, Aaron hosts the talk tent Voices Rising in Global Green. Very importantly, he can also regularly be found DJing (listen on MixCloud) and dancing at events!
Living a diverse lifestyle in community, Aaron’s other livelihoods include teaching the Youth Mindfulness programme to primary school students, co-coaching the Cloughjordan Li Ching Wu kung fu/kickboxing club, and coordinating a wholefoods buyers club.
Mel first joined Cultivate as artistic director of Global Green at Electric Picnic, which she’s now been involved in for over 10 years, decorating venues and featuring her installations made from materials reclaimed from landfill sites.
She is also an award-winning spoken word artist, and is known both for performing dynamic poetry at sustainability events, and for bringing social and environmental issues to literary events, in both cases inviting her audience to engage on a personal and emotional level with the subject material.
Mel works as a project coordinator, as a researcher, and as a facilitator and trainer in transformative learning methods, including NonViolent Communication and Restorative Circles. She was Living Lab coordinator for the Horizon 2020 research project, DESIRA, and is taking a similar role in the current CODECS project. She also coordinates the North Tipperary Online Farmers Market, co-coordinates the European Solidarity Corps volunteer programme with Aaron, is engaged in the Community Climate Coach programme, and teaches Social Permaculture on the Permaculture Design Course.
Mel is a resident of Cloughjordan EcoVillage, where she’s involved with the Community Farm and the Process group (which is responsible for the collaborative decision making processes in the EcoVillage). She is constantly trying to find a balance between the things that are important to her, including connection and authenticity, autonomy and collaboration, creativity, lifelong learning, and creating a culture that aspires to meet the needs of all within planetary boundaries.
Davie Philip is a sustainable community development expert with over 25 years of experience. He is currently a project manager and facilitator at Cultivate, the Sustainable Ireland Cooperative, where he leads the development of its Community Climate Coaching program. He was a co-founder of the ecovillage project in Cloughjordan, an award-winning community-led housing initiative where he is active in the Community Farm. He is also a director of Cloughjordan Co-Housing, a company that is developing a model low-impact co-housing neighbourhood.
Davie has made significant contributions to the sustainable community movement in Ireland. He was an original catalyst of the Transition Towns process in 2005, served on the board of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland from 2009 to 2011 and was a director of Grow It Yourself Ireland from 2010 to 2013. From 2015 to 2021 he sat on the Council of ECOLISE, the European network for community-led initiatives on climate change and sustainability, and from 2019 to 2021 he was a co-president of the network.
Oliver Moore (Ollie) wears a number of hats – many of them fluffy, others more serious. With Cultivate, Ollie heads up our rural theme, where he helps us imagine and strategise how another rural is possible – in Ireland, Europe and beyond. In this capacity Ollie works on our EU projects (currently DESIRA and CODECS) which are all about how our living labs can animate rural areas. The WeCreate workspace is in fact a living lab for these projects, containing as it does co-working, food hub and café, fab lab and event space.
Ollie brings Cloughjordan to Europe as editor-in-chief and communications director with ARC2020. ARC2020 is focused on policy research and communications on agri-food and rural issues in Europe, at both EU institutional and member state level. ARC’s rural work synergises with Cultivate’s work on building resilient territorial food systems, based on mutual aid/solidarity.
Events are close to the midlander’s heart, in the ecovillage and sometimes at festivals. These include the annual Feeding Ourselves community food and farming event, which focuses on the policies and practices of food sovereignty. He also works on the great-fun SpeakEATsy events in Cloughjordan, and the talks area at Global Green at the Electric Picnic.
In Cloughjordan, he is also a Director of the community-owned farm. Ollie is a member of the Irish Food Writers Guild and lecturers in the Centre for Cooperative Studies in UCC, on the MSc in Cooperatives, Agri-Food and Sustainable Development. Check out the float notes DJ series on mixcloud. Follow him on twitter if you like using twitter.
Philippa Robinson has worked as part of the Cultivate team since 2005. Philippa is the information hub of Cultivate, dealing with all things administrative, human resources and financial, along with managing the room bookings and coworking space in our ecovillage based enterprise centre.
Philippa co-cordinates and is the ‘people care’ person for the annual Permaculture Design Course in Cloughjordan – herself a student of permaculture for the past 17 years providinga good depth of knowledge in this area.. She also manages the team for Cultivate at the Electric Picnic. Each year bringing together a team of 250 people including everyone from carpenters,builders and tradesmen to performers, artists and caterers who build and create the Global Green space at Ireland’s biggest music festival.
Prior to her work with Cultivate, Philippa had established a career as a programme coordinator and researcher in television production, including 5 years at BBC Bristol.
Philippa is an active member of Cloughjordan Eco-Village community, acting as allotment coordinator for many years, and now currently serving on the board of directors for the communities Service Company.