Twenty Fifteen is a series of books produced by transition year secondary school students from around Ireland. Each book focusses on one of the eight Millennium Development Goals, as set out by the United Nations in its 2002 Millennium Project. With the guidance and support of development agency Self Help Africa, each group of students invited a range of submissions in the form of poems, essays, artworks and reflections on each theme. Submissions were received from the students themselves, their families and friends, and a number of well known public figures, including the late Seamus Heaney, Mary Robinson, Sebastian Barry, Anne Enright, Joseph O'Connor, Pauline McLynn, Alan Rickman and John Lonergan. Cover artworks were kindly supplied by artists and photographers including Alice Maher, Perry Ogden and Rita Duffy. As project designer, I proposed to bring the submissions together in the form of a collection of books, with one book responding to each Millennium Development Goal. The key challenge was to present the chosen submissions equally and democratically, without giving priority to any one over another, regardless of who had contributed it. Written submissions and artworks were laid out according to a design template, and submissions were presented in a random order throughout the book, with artworks being presented in a colour section at the centre of each book. To date three books of the full set have been published, and are available to purchase through the Self Help Africa website. The first Twenty Fifteen book was presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon when he met with students of Coláiste Bhríde, Carnew and Saint Peters College Dunboyne in 2009.
The MDG book series has been a great learning experience for me and that is directly due to the relationship with Alan during the process. I came to Alan with an educational project and he has turned it into a wonderful book publishing journey. Alan helped shape the concept of a series of books that existed as distinct publications, but were also held together as a longer 5 / 6 year project. His work was hands-on at all times, meeting with the young contributors, their teachers and our own development education staff. While we focused on the educational process and the MDG submissions, Alan kept his focus on deadlines, content balance, design and the long term project design. Always a pleasure and a learning experience working with him.