That pic shows one of the UpStart crews getting ready for postering on Merrion Square this evening. I like their ideas about using creative election posters to spark a debate about creativity and the value of arts in public life.
It's also all about jobs. Many of the new jobs created in last few years have stemmed from the green policies that we've introduced in Government, and we can further if we're returned to the next Dáil.
I'm told that over 6,000 contractors have registered with the Home Energy Savings Scheme. That's real jobs, right now. Much of the money taken in in the carbon levy goes right back the people through grant aid and direct support for upgrading social housing.
It makes perfect sense to do this - to tackle climate change and to reduce our dependency on the €6 Billion of oil and gas that we import every year, particularly when oil has touched $100 a barrel again. Sure, that price goes up and down, but the direction has been upward, and the more we can wean ourselves off fossil fuels, the better.
Renewable energy is another plank of the green jobs strategy. It's about more than wind, it's about ocean energy: waves, tides and currents. It's about willow and other forestry crops that can provide fuels, and an income for farmers. It's about retrofitting office-blocks, homes and schools to cut down on energy use and create jobs in doing so. Energy efficiency and insulation is at the core of all this.
It's about the digital revolution - jobs in cloud computing, and in start-ups like the Media Cube on the campus of Dún Laoghaire's Institute of Art Design and Technology. You can see it in the presence of new media firms in Ireland like Facebook, and in new initiatives in cloud computing like the work of Salesforce over in Sandyford Business Park.
It's about design - Encouraging innovation and good design can spawn innovation, creativity and new employment. That's what happened when the Kilkenny Design Workshops were set up in the 1960's. Design has contributed to Denmark's economy and identity for over a century, and it's something we should be mainstreaming as part of our economic revival. There's signs of this happening through the Government Policy on Architecture and through Dublin's bid for World Design Capital 2014. I'm also enthused by groups like Upstart that are promoting creativity through their innovative posters that we'll be seeing more of over the next few weeks. I bumped into them at Merrion Square this afternoon and they're full of ideas. Arts, culture, design and creativity are all interlinked, and my hunch is that they've a lot to offer to Ireland's recovery.
Meanwhile back in the Dáil it was a whirlwind of a day. The Taoiseach gave a speech that was suprisingly statesmanlike, and quoted some great lines from the Poet John O’Donohue that are worth repeating:
"May you be hospitable to criticism. May you never put yourself at the centre of things. May you act not from arrogance but out of service. May you work on yourself, Building up and refining the ways of your mind. May those who work for you know you see and respect them. May you learn to cultivate the art of presence In order to engage with those who meet you… May you have a mind that loves frontiers so that you can evoke the bright fields that lie beyond the view of the regular eye. May you have good friends to mirror your blind spots."
It's good advice to anyone who aspires to public life.
Enda's speech lacked gravitas, and while at pains to respect Cowen's family, failed to rise beyond the usual point-scoring. Gilmore spoke about one Ireland with some well-written words. John Gormley made a strong plea for electoral form and looked towards a reduction in the number of TDs with half being elected from a list system, which seems to work well in the New Zealand system.
After a quick coffee with Senator Mark Dearey I headed out the Rock Road to Blackrock and on towards Dún Laoghaire, getting used to a new ladder and stopping to climb a few lamp-posts, posters in hand and cable-ties between my teeth. I grabbed a slice of pizza in the office, met some of our poster crews, and headed off for a few hours canvassing, some more postering and then back home to write this.
These are busy times. Let's pace ourselves between now and the 25th February.