Based in the School of Applied Social Studies in University College Cork, along with Rosie Meade Órla is one of the Community Development Journal’s reviews editors. She is interested in the search for radically alternative ways of living, beyond the alienations of patriarchy and consumer capitalism. Motivated by that basic question – what is the good life? – Órla has a longstanding interest in social movements, especially those mobilised around health concerns. Of particular interest to her are the understandings of progress and development, the new forms of sociality, and the new ways of knowing these movement can generate.
In recent years this has led Órla to explore the promises of the commons movement as a route to the good life. Working on the 2014 supplement to the journal, “Commons Sense, New Thinking about an Old Idea” (co-edited with Mary McDermott and Tom O’Connell) opened up profoundly challenging ideas about the commons to her, and brought her into contact with committed and questioning commoners. Together with the co-editors of that publication, Órla organised two Thinkeries on the Commons that took place in 2014 and 2015. An interview she conducted with the Mexican commoner and post-development theorist Gustavo Esteva as part of the first of these Thinkeries can be viewed here. Recordings from the second Thinkery, Commons Against and Beyond Capitalism, which involved commoners Silvia Federici, George Caffentzis and Anne B. Ryan, can be accessed here.
Órla has recently begun thinking about and researching the idea of the dead body as a commons. Furthermore, through her involvement with the Public Water Forum she hopes to explore with others the implications of thinking of water as a commons (instead of a commodity or a resource) and what water commoning and water democracy in Ireland might entail.