In the vibrant community of Ballymun, the Rediscovery Centre (which is the National Centre for the Circular Economy) place events at the heart of what they do. As sustainability and upcycling grow in both popularity and importance, the Rediscovery Centre is committed to teaching the public new skills which will help them to live more sustainably. They are also committed to educating the next generation to help them avoid the mistakes of the past.
We spoke to Centre Director Ed Coleman about the work that they do at the Rediscovery Centre, and he tells us that hosting events at the Rediscovery Centre are a vital way to connect to people and to spread their message.
“People can read about environmental issues but sometimes they need to visit an organisation like ours to see how practical measures can be introduced into their own lives. We make sustainability creative and fun and we create events that inspire people to continue making positive changes in their lives.”
The Centre quickly saw that there was a growing public appetite for hands-on learning and the events in The Boiler House (fittingly an “upcycled” building of sorts with state-of-the-art sustainability features), where the Rediscovery Centre is based, cater for those needs.
“We run events hosted by our own staff in upcycling furniture, fashion, bikes and separate educational workshops for children and, over the past two years, we have also expanded our offering by bringing in experts from outside the Centre to run courses and to offer a more diverse range of workshops.”
Ed says that as well as providing people with the skills they need to be more sustainable, events have the added benefit of making more people aware of the work they do. “Hosting unique events at the Centre attracts new visitors to the venue and it helps to grow our reach.”
Those unique events include thought-leadership conferences that have an international appeal, masterclasses from well-known experts, children’s workshops, circular economy clinics, as well as tours of the Rediscovery Centre.
As Ed explains, the goal for these events always aligns with the purposes of the Centre itself. “We want to host events that teach people real skills or that inspire them to continue living sustainably in their everyday life.
“We inspire change by living the change. Our courses and our products are vetted to ensure that all elements of our events have a minimum impact on the environment. Attendees know that they will learn something new and that their participation will help them gain a new skill that will stay with them for life.”
Education is important – but so too is making sure that people attending events at the Centre get practical help in becoming more sustainable. Ed tells us that while a lot of events for adults are educational, “it often doesn’t feel like learning, but once a workshop is finished they can walk away with a new set of skills.”
Ed’s dos and don’ts of running educational events:
- Dos: Make events fun. Make them unique. Let attendees learn through hands on experience. Be authentic with your content.
- Don’ts: Don’t be preachy. People already know that we are an environmental organisation and we want to work with them to teach them new skills and not to lecture them.
The Rediscovery Centre also benefits from its place in the community, and the buy-in from the local community and the wider sustainability community is vital to the success of their events. “The Rediscovery Centre started from the regeneration of Ballymun. Our community, which is now nationwide, is very important to us.
“They respect the work that we do and they often give us invaluable feedback about new events that we can host.”
Being part of the Eventbrite community of event planners has helped too – as Ed tells us: “People will automatically turn to Eventbrite to find new events that are coming up or to search under a particular category. Our events are easy to find by an audience that we possibly wouldn’t reach on our own.
“The Rediscovery Centre uses Eventbrite for its ease of use and for the customer service that it provides. The event content is easy to upload, the reports are easy to use and Eventbrite integrates into our website.”
Ed has lots of great advice for event planners who are concerned about the environmental impact of their events.
“Ultimately, as event planners, we are responsible for the environmental impact of our events. We hire the venue, we hire the suppliers. Event planners really need to review all elements of their events.
“What are the impacts on their printed promotional materials? What are the impacts on the food they have sourced? What happens to the event materials at the end of the event? Are your suppliers also dedicated to minimising their environmental impact?
“If they are just greenwashing, then your attendees will see that and call you out. If you are committed to making a minimum impact on the environment you need to have suppliers and a team who also share your vision.”
Ed says that being authentic is important when it comes to making events more sustainable, and your attendees will recognise that. “Attendees gravitate towards you because they know the type of events that you run and that you genuinely care.”
With a committed community of staff, locals in Ballymun and beyond, and international experts only too keen to work with the Rediscovery Centre, the authenticity and commitment of the Centre itself to sustainability are a large part of what make their events so successful.