Bringing the Community Back to Port #60 #cong19

Synopsis:

As a busy city centre Dublin Port has changed and evolved over the ages.  However community remains central with its deep history and heritage with the local people who helped to build the port and the community who live in and share the space.

Key Takeaways:

  1. CSR is a lot more than sponsoring the local sports clubs
  2. Heritage, especially in an area such as the Port is really important to communities
  3. Commitment to keep investing in community with 1% of profits going to CSR
  4. We also work and live in this area so the community is shared

About Cormac Kennedy:

Cormac is the Head of Property in Dublin Port Company. Dublin Port control over 300ha of land in Dublin Port and also own a further 44 ha in North Dublin where they are building an Inland Port. The company is in the middle of an ambitious investment programme with an expected investment of €1bn over the next 10 years. Cormac has over 20 years of property experience having previously worked with CBRE, Easons, Tesco and Jones Lang laSalle.

Contacting Cormac Kennedy:

You can reach Cormac by email or check out Dublin Port’s CSR Initiatives.

By Cormac Kennedy

 

“You must never despise the Port you were born in because no matter how small or how bad it is, it is the place you have started sailing to the universe.”

-Mehmet Murat ildan

Every person is defined by the community s/he belongs to and generations of Dubliners identify themselves and their families as Dockers. It isn’t an understatement to say that the community made Dublin Port. Stories on the Dublin Port community have been told in numerous books, plays, films and documentaries. Locals identify themselves as being from Inner city, Dublin Port and more particularly from streets and areas close to the Port such as Ringsend  East Wall and Pearse street.

Having not taken on board the views of our community for many years with ill fated plans to expand eastwards into Dublin Bay, the Port is now working hard to reintegrate itself with Dublin city and her community. We now invest 1% of our pre tax profits into CSR initiatives.

The company works with locals through the more obvious sponsorship of local clubs (Soccer, GAA, Rowing, Sailing and Scout Clubs) and through education initiatives such as supporting training and employment opportunities (St Andrews Resource Centre) and sourcing jobs for graduates along with paying college fees for qualifying students. We sponsor annual Liffey Swim and Tall Ships regattas. These do deliver positive results but it’s some of the more subtle, novel and modern ways of engaging with the community that I want to talk about here.

Recently a new play was commissioned in the Abbey called Last orders at the Dockside. At many showings of this play we had Dubliners laughing at the local jokes and cheering when their street was name checked. Each left with a sense of pride that their people from Dublin Port featured in a main stream play.

This week we will launch a book, through the Roddy Doyle Fighting Words charity called Dublin port Diaries. Last year we sponsored the photographic exhibition called Port Perspectives. This is not simply giving money to an event – we pull the community together to get involved through our Port Heritage and Community Team.

We opened up the Port Centre precinct with gardens, viewing deck of the Port, a refurbished crane and a replica of the time ball, once hosted at Ballast house. These publically oriented changes were designed around encouraging people to visit its Port.

The company commissioned the Binden Blood Stoneys diving bell museum on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay.This was and is a manifestation of Dublin Port Company’s commitment to publicly promote the Port’s unique heritage.

We have been heavily involved in the Rinn Voyager project since 1993. This came about in response to feedback from the community for educational training facilities for the communities around the Port. Liffey Ferry 21, the last remaining ferry of its type was launched in 2019 and now operates a service between Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Custom House Quay and North Wall Quay. DPC paid for its refurbishment and a local crew runs the service. History and community, coming together.

We regularly host groups of local historians including a series of presentations earlier this year to discuss the location of the WW1 ammunitions factory which was located in the Port. When this factory was in operation it was mainly staffed by local women who were very well paid. This resulted in a short lived social change with women becoming the main bread winners. When the war ended the silver lining for the rest of Europe became their cloud in losing their jobs.

In 2020 we will begin work on a 3km greenway cycle route hugging the coastline around the Port. What a better way to invite the local community into its Port.

Our most ambitious project is yet to come when we re purpose the former Odlums quarter into a major Port Heritage development. This will encompass a tourism element, a Port heritage archive, a refurbishment of the light ship, the Kittiwake, amongst other things. The community will be central to the success of this project as it will tell the Dublin Port story in way not yet told.

How you communicate so many messages can be a challenge. In recent years some of these surrounding locals have gentrified resulting in a need to communicate in a different style. These new locals dont necessarily have the same shared history but they do have the same shared interest in their new community.

Dublin Port Company (DPC) has maintained a digital presence since 2001 via its corporate website; however social media was a communications space not entered before. Since 2013 DPC recognised social media as the perfect channel to educate the citizens of Dublin and local communities on its daily activities, with its main goal to set about integrating Dublin Port with Dublin City.

Social media allows ports to build closer relationships with their local community. Online users now expect organisations to respond and engage with them directly, making them feel more important and that their voice is heard. They expect more varied forms of communication including imbedded video content and info graphics. This has enabled Dublin Port to capture a unique insight into real port stories covering a wide range of themes including its rich maritime history, operations and staff perspectives, allowing citizens to experience what really happens day to day, offering a distinct perception of port operations.

Content on the various social media channels highlight projects and events and communicate key operational information on traffic, arrivals, departures and notice to mariners.

Ports have extremely interesting and varied stories to tell and Dublin Port’s online maritime community is intrigued to learn about and engage with these stories. We tell our stories and listen to theirs.

We create linkages between the Port, the local community groups and port citizens by including in our monthly content calendar’s information on local maritime events; boat and yacht club regattas, Port heritage events, employment opportunities, notices to mariners, ship arrivals, Masterplan updates and CSR initiatives. We take a rounded, integrated approach to our content, ensuring that all in our online maritime community are included and informed, resulting in a greater user experience.

What we are trying to achieve is that despite the changes in transportation meaning less workers employed in the port that we want to generate a real sense of pride and ownership with the Dublin community in its Port.

We invest so much time and resources to reflect the commercial and social importance that Dublin Port has in the middle of a very busy (and populated) area. The community we spend time with is the community that work and live in, and beside the Port. We believe that it is  important to also remember the sacrifices that Dockers made in making Dublin Port and Dublin and important to remember and acknowledge the Ports place in history. When we get this right, the community in turn respects what we are doing and also understand that the changes we are trying to implement are being done for the right reasons and in the right manner. At the end of the day we all live and work in the same community.

Comments
  • Bob Kennedy says:

    Interesting, honest story of how enlightenment led to the realization that it is better to engage with those around you before embarking on a major scheme of work. Not sure if DPA is a public body and if the culture up to this enlightenment was a ‘tell them nothing’ approach.
    Practising excellence would have avoided these delays and problems.

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