As the Troubles have petered out, Irish-American groups find themselves in a difficult new landscape. Funds for cross-Atlantic programs have dried up, the Walsh Visa program has reached its end, and the groups have to redefine their missions to match the new political reality of Northern Ireland.
The Ireland Institute of Pittsburgh, with its president Jim Lamb, is taking this transition in stride. It remains one of the most active Irish-American groups in sponsoring exchange programs, and it’s expanding its focus to include new ventures to promote links between Pittsburgh and Ireland. The Institute aims to contribute to community developmenton both sides of the sectarian divide, and to export the lessons it has learned to other deeply divided societies.
Sam Ruscica, the ‘Mother Teresa of Broken Bikes’ in Belfast, talks about his shop “I Fix Bikes” in the Smithfield Market, as well as his plans for the future. He’d like to move from rescuing all the abandoned and abused bikes in town to managing a community bike shop, teaching people how to build and fix bikes for themselves. Sam also talks about Bike Pirates of Toronto, the abuse and flying objects he encounters while riding through the city, and the DIY Wednesdays he hosts at his shop.
Then Austin Brown of Belfast Bicycle Workshop talks about his work repairing and selling bicycles, as well as leading bike tours of the city. He is located in ‘The Workshops’ on Lawrence Street in the Holylands, after having run Lifecycles down in the Smithfield Markets for many years. Austin explains why there’s not a critical mass in Belfast & how he’s trying to generate a bike culture here. He can be reached at 028 9043 9959, or at email@example.com.
The ‘Bicycle Repair Man’ skit from Monty Python, from which Sam derives his job title.
Episode 20 goes to Derry, to the Museum of Free Derry, to hear from John Kelly.He works meeting and greeting visitors to the Museum, and speaks about his job as well as his personal experiences of Bloody Sunday.He lost his brother Michael Kelly that day and has been involved in many efforts to find redress for the victims – including acting as a Family Liaison Officer for the Bloody Sunday Commission.
The second half of the show returns to Belfast to talk with Robert Herdman at the Belfast Hypnosis Centre.He’s the main hypnotist at the centre, where he uses a technique of Five Path Hypnosis, which he’s brought from California to Northern Ireland.He recommends hypnosis as a means to lose weight, stop smoking, and overcome other fears.In the interview, he explains how hypnosis works, what he does during a session, and how people in Northern Ireland react to it.
Quilts meet politics as Roberta Bacic takes on us a tour of Chilean wall hangings made during women under the Pinochet dictatorship. The quilts are not typical ones – they show village life in all its complications, including the violence, activism, and family life during the 1970s and 80s. The arpilleras have travelled around the world, having been sold and exported in order to raise money for women in Chilean villages and also to tell their stories to the outside world.
Episode 4 starts off with Colin Wililams, an executive producer of Sesame Tree, the new local version of Sesame Street. Then it turns to politics, with a conversation with Mary Alice Clancy about the international dimension of post-agreement politics, and the Bush administration’s involvement here. Finally, Aidan McGarry speaks about his research on the situation of ethnic minorities in Northern Ireland and his activism within the lesbian/gay community here.