Culture to me, is about our surroundings, the ways in which things are done in a particular area, the essence of the immediate world and how people connect to that world. I feel culture is effected by what is acceptable and available in any particular area and how people think about life there. Culture to me is shaped by everything from the arts to customs to wildlife to buildings in a particular area. Culture is how the world around you is shaped and moves.
During the time working with Dublin City Council Culture Company (former Dublin’s Culture Connects) I have learned a lot about just how open the process here is. This way of working ensures that ideas for local culture and new cultural projects come from local groups in communities themselves and are not just decided for them. There is a lot of strength in this much needed undertaking and a lot of realities, truth and hopes of today are becoming visible in Dublin because of it.
My perception of culture has somewhat changed over my life, I think it means something different for everyone at the different stages of life, it is a transient thing, non-tangible, yet somewhat visual, audible, palpable. I think if the importance and the magic of culture can be understood and recognised through initiatives such as this then perhaps eventually all of our surroundings will become something to be proud of. For me, growing up, my family always showed me this magic and opened my eyes to what gems the world around us holds. My mother spent time pushing my buggy around all manner of galleries and museums and always brought us back to our roots. My father made sure it was possible for us to see other places around the world, while my sisters encouraged whatever creativity lay inside me waiting to be explored.
Culture has heart and is not limited to people, culture includes the rest of the living world around us…
In Southern Africa, a man rescued a group of destructive elephants who had been harmed by poachers and were in danger of being killed. For many months, he kept them in a safe area near to where he lived, feeding them and rehabilitating them until they were well enough to leave. The man died during that time. On the night of his wake, the elephants arrived outside the man’s house, standing there in a line until dawn. Each year, the elephants travel for days to do this on the same day of the year, in honour of their friend.
Culture is something outside of us, but is also that which includes us, in every sense.
Laura Larkin has been working as a Project Manager on Dublin City Council Culture Company’s The National Neighbourhood programme since 2017. During her time with us Laura managed such projects as Willow Zen Garden with Marino Art Class and Ballybough Craft Group in Fairview, Sea Songs on the Sea Shore with Clontarf Cub Scouts, The Big Walk involving communities of Coolock, Clontarf and Raheny, Kilbarrack Mural Project with the Reach Out Programme at Kilbarrack Coast Community Programme, and more…
With these projects now completed, we look back on what she said when asked “What Does Culture Mean to You?”.
The National Neighbourhood is a Dublin City Council cultural programme run by Dublin City Council Culture Company. It spans the Dublin City Council region, and brings together the Public Libraries, the area offices, the City Arts Office and Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, in partnership with National Cultural Institutions, connecting Dubliners in significant ways on projects that are relevant to their expressed concerns. Each project has evolved from a series of conversations and are harnessing the appetites of particular groups for cultural engagement.