Food for thought: Free cakes banish budget day blues


CAFE AND restaurant owners handed out free cakes to shoppers in Skibbereen, Co Cork, yesterday as part of a morale-boosting event for the community to encourage self-reliance and optimism.

The Let Them Eat Cake event aimed to banish budget blues while boosting footfall in the shops with businesses offering discounts of up to 20 per cent.

Organiser Anne Crossey, an acupuncturist, felt compelled to act as more clients presented with finance-related stress.

“It’s easy for people to get caught up in the doom and gloom. The media has a hypnotic effect and the negativity affects people’s reality. This is about building community spirit and local business, but primarily it’s about fun,” she said.

Matt Mills, of the West Cork Development Partnership and Transition Ireland, advised greater self-reliance to ride out the storm.

“International governments are not going to pull us out of this mess so let’s start doing it for ourselves,” he said.

In his presentation, Co-operate to Regenerate, he outlined initiatives such as car pooling, local currency options and the localisation of trade systems.

“Co-ops can have a huge benefit from a community perspective, encouraging interaction between neighbours. For example, residents of an estate can band together to purchase winter fuel in bulk and phone different providers for a cheaper rate. Ireland’s strong tradition in co-operatives needs to be tapped into now,” he said.

The Transition Ireland movement – a network for communities building local resilience – can be adapted to suit the needs of any local community, Mr Mills said.

He advised preparing homes by stockpiling a week’s worth of dry goods in case of a collapse of the euro.

Bafta award-winning actor turned writer Rob Heyland sparked curiosity with his presentation on Why the Economic Crisis is a Good Thing. “Austerity is required, because of a ridiculous appetite for consumption, but it’s the people that don’t need the diet being forced not to eat,” he said.

The economic crash and the fall of capitalism is good, he said, because the Copenhagen Earth Summit of 2008 found that three Earths will be required by 2100 to meet predicted world consumption levels.