"Diversity, it seems, is becoming more and more challenged across the world."
In what feels like an increasingly divided global society, the gains made in building respect for our many differences is under threat.
If people define their relationship with each other by how they are different, rather than by what they share, the rights of those in the minority, of the poor, of the voiceless and of the oppressed are further weakened.
As distrust and fear set in, barriers – both physical and pyschological – take root.
In recent years, driven by fear, new border walls and fences have materialised across the world. In total, there are now 63 borders where walls or fences separate neighbouring countries. Most of them have been constructed within the European Union.
At this year’s Bloom festival, Oxfam Ireland and GOAL are pushing back against the border wall. As humanitarian and development organisations with decades of experience working with people who live on the margins of society, we believe strongly that the world would be a better, healthier place if all members of society embrace our differences, promote diversity and work together to tear down the walls that separate us.
At Bloom, we are asking you to stand with us.
One voice can make a difference; together we can be heard.
In the words of an old African proverb: ‘Many small people, who in many small places do many small things, can alter the face of the world’.
GOAL and Oxfam Ireland derive strength from diversity. It is prevalent in our geographical reach, in our staff and, most of all, in the people in crisis and in poverty whom we support across more than 90 countries. Diversity is part of who we both are.
This year at Bloom, Oxfam and GOAL are taking a stand against fear, against division, against disrespect, against intolerance, and against inequality.
Our Bloom Garden will open a window into A World Beyond Walls.
Designed by Niall Maxwell, the Oxfam Ireland and GOAL Garden will be a vibrant, community space at the location of a former border wall.
Some of the brutal concrete-like slabs will have been removed from the structure and placed in front of the old wall to create the form and function of a garden, or social space, to be enjoyed by all.
What were once parts of an oppressive obstruction will become communal seating areas where the weary can rest, where children can play, where families can picnic, and where artists can perform.
Through a grit-gravel surface, a diverse planting scheme will soften the harsh concrete angles of the garden, and a light airy canopy of trees will provide shelter and shade.
‘The Oxfam Ireland and GOAL Garden – A World Beyond Walls’ will be a space for all members of society to enjoy in a spirit of harmony and unity.