By Ginger Aarons.
In our narcissistic society, we are slowly starting to see how the ‘I’ has affected the ‘We’. As we become increasingly aware of each other in the group setting, what we can accomplish together becomes real and takes over, giving us a new way to relate to our rapidly changing world. Our need to be part of something bigger than ourselves is the way of our future. In fact, our future depends on it.
Exploration of this topic is based on a new endeavour in crowdfunding, creating new avenues to preserving history and in that, building communities for a better quality of life.
When I first came up with the concept to crowdfund for historic projects in built heritage, I wasn’t thinking about community in the larger context, I was thinking about what I could do for the historic house owner, the ones that seemed to have inherited their troubles through the handing down of historic buildings with no way to sustain them due to the loss of land to run a working farm that provided income to keep them, to those that were doing their best to keep it all going through running a hotel business from their homes. Some have made huge successes out of the endeavors and others, mostly very large homes, seem to struggle even more due to upkeep and other requirements imposed from having more footfall and traffic.
When I first heard about Bantry House’s peril from inheritance tax, I cringed, knowing the family for years through my tourism business and I remember thinking, this is a huge draw for the local economy and we’re about to lose it entirely. The same with Russborough House … with Westport House … then a historic bridge in Moycullen. I realized that if we lost this built heritage and we didn’t work together we would lose a very big part of Ireland’s draw to the common tourist as well as the diaspora. With the economy still in recovery mode, I thought and discussed with colleagues in the business of saving built heritage, that if we based projects on community, then it would serve even a broader use for each community that has something to save. One example of this type of philanthropy is Claregalway Castle. It is such a blessing to have this in our community and the use for the greater good, bringing our communities together with Galway city and all the outter lying towns.
So, in my future, my ‘I’ is becoming the ‘we’ that feels passionate about our heritage, buildings, bridges, clock towers, cottages, and whatever else needs saving. Our heritage, all parts of our heritage, need to be saved in a manner that brings us together as local communities and as collective, worldwide communities. A place where architects, visionaries, stone masons, builders, marketers and every day people get together to ‘make the difference we want to see’. In my future, I see a pooling of resources that circumvent the need for government funding to save heritage in any country, not just Ireland. I see a future built with every hand, no matter how small and with whatever one can give as it takes everyone to build communities that last and that mean something for our future generations whilst creating jobs, forging new peace intiatives through knowledge and the sharing of experiences and by spurring creativity.
I hope my future is just around the corner and I hope that you’ll join me.
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