Sunday, February 28, 2016

Living sustainably, sustaining life

I was really pleased to get to see the minute from the World Plenary of FWCC in Peru on Living sustainably and sustaining life on earth, and just as pleased to see Charlotte's name in the opening paragraph. There is an article in the about to be published Friends Newsletter here that says because of climate change Friends should stop flying people to events like the World Plenary. Unsurprisingly I disagree. No matter how good electronic communication is (and not to mention the environmental impact of keeping servers cool etc), nothing can replace the synergy of being kanohi ki te kanohi, face to face, and without that it is hard to bring about real change.

If everyone went home from Peru untouched by what they were part of, and took no further action to combat climate change and we all totally ignored the minute, then yes there were possibly better ways to 'spend' our carbon footprint, not to mention money, although I am positive there will be many other benefits of the event for individuals and Meetings. But I find it hard to believe that the ripple effect from this won't be huge. Sure some would be making such changes in their own lives, and their Meetings, already but far from all. To go away with a real fire in your belly to be a catalyst for change, and to have a minute like this to back your concern is very empowering.

Sure the list of practical actions will not seem especially challenging for many, especially those who have been campaigning long and hard for change, but imagine if every single person from within the FWCC affiliated YMs, MMs, and international members etc did one extra thing on the list, or stepped things up a level if they felt that they already did them all, and all Worship Groups, MMs and YMs corporately took on the challenge too. That is a huge impact worldwide. And then if we were bold and said we're doing this because we're Quakers and we believe we have a calling to protect the world, to steward it wisely and restore it on behalf of those who are yet to be born, what an outreach message that would be.

It is time to step out of our comfort zones and make those changes as individuals and as faith communities; to justify the investment in sending our representatives to Peru and honor the wero (challenge) they have sent out for us to act, and to do so now.

For me that has meant taking on a bigger role this year with our local EcoCentre which basically covers the entire list for MMs etc, and as three of our small Worship Group are actively involved with it (and we're starting work on encouraging the others!) it does double duty as individual and Worship Group action.

So what will you be doing?

Thursday, February 25, 2016

rights and responsibilities

Well I've finally made it, I've got my citizenship of Aotearoa New Zealand. It has taken a few months over ten years since I moved here and I really don't want to think about how many dollars the Depts of Immigration, and Internal Affairs have had out of me between them along the way, and there's still a passport to pay for! However no matter what happens to the rules and regulations about permanent residents I know I'm safely ensconced here and I can come and go (once I've obtained aforementioned passport) whenever I like.

It was a strange experience going to the ceremony and affirming my loyalty to Queen and country (Queen Elizabeth II of New Zealand that is, quite who they think QEI was I don't know). For some there it was a obviously a very emotional event. I'm not really one for ceremony and dignitaries etc, and I probably have a rather cynical view of such proceedings, I would've been quite happy just getting a letter in the post. But it was nice to be able to go through the ceremony in the atrium at Te Ahu which I'm rather fond of, and to be able to have Phyllis and William with me in support.

In many ways though it felt like rubber stamping; transferring my Quaker membership here felt like it had far more significance to me emotionally, and spiritually. Getting citizenship has been the legal side of things. As we were about to head over I said to Phyllis that I felt like I was dressed for a wedding; something old (my brooches), something new (my shawl), something borrowed (Nancy's shoes) and something blue (the shawl again). I've known a few folk who've got the legal side of their weddings done separately from the more meaningful (to them) celebration of their relationship and commitment and it does all feel rather similar, albeit lacking any kind of party 8yrs or so ago when I was formally handed over from the care of South East Scotland MM (or no doubt Area Meeting by then) of Britain YM to Waitemata North MM of the YM of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The way many Kiwis have become second class citizens in Australia in recent years, with limited or no rights to citizenship, benefits, education grants for them or their children etc etc etc has certainly been an extra incentive to ensure I did get my citizenship here. Thankfully our Government hasn't stooped to playing the same game against the Aussies, or those from any other country, yet, but to be quite honest I wouldn't put it past them. Especially now Britain has started removing rights Kiwis have previously had to health care whilst in the UK. When folk jokingly or otherwise had suggested in the past that I take the 'green card' route to residency I'd pointed out that aside from the dearth of eligible options I wouldn't want my ability to stay in the country to hang on my ability to stay in a relationship. Nor would I want it to hang on my ability to stay healthy! I don't exactly have an outstanding track record on either front, and yes the two have certainly been related at times.

There have been various occasions over the years when people I know well have risked getting arrested whilst taking part in non-violent direct action. I've never dared take part in case it affected my ability to stay here. As Kiwis are being bundled off to detention camps ready for deportation from Australia for being of 'bad character' or having clocked up a cumulative two years in jail again it is a reality that if the powers that be decide they don't like you they can kick you out if you aren't a citizen. We won't go into the irony of Australia kicking convicts out whilst still considering their convict early settlers to be next to royalty! It doesn't matter why you were in jail either; so clocking up jail time from protesting against weapons trade fairs, or against keeping refugee children in detention camps where there is torture and other human rights abuses going on would have you treated the same way as someone done for fire arms offences or grievous bodily harm. Now I'm not about to rush out and get myself arrested at the next protest march (they can still stop my benefits!), but at least my concerns on that front now are the same as the next Kiwi's, and there is certainly plenty to protest about. I'm not sure if my British citizenship (which I retain) would protect me from being treated like a second class citizen in Australia or not now I'm a Kiwi, but as I have absolutely no desire to live there (too many nasty poisonous bitey things, and that's just the politicians....) it is a moot point.

So yes, I'm proud to be a Kiwi and it is most definitely home, but that means taking the rough with the smooth. Much as we like to describe this country as paradise it is a relative term, and there is much room for improvement. I see part of my responsibilities as a citizen are to challenge the inequalities; to speak truth to power; to be part of kicking up a noisy fuss when things aren't right; especially on behalf of those who, like I was just a few days ago, don't yet have the security of knowing their place here is permanent.

Monday, February 15, 2016

UFOs and Phds....

My name is Anna and I'm a crafter.... mostly sewing, but sewer looks like something the drains empty into and let's not go there! (I don't feel as though I qualify as a seamstress - to me it implies a level of professionalism I don't have)

So why the Alcoholics Anonymous style start? Well if you don't know you're unlikely to be a crafter of any sort! There aren't many who can take up such a past time without a level of addiction creeping in, whether it is collecting the most amazing stash of fabrics, wool, threads, buttons, paper, inkstamps etc. or simply keeping every little last scrap of something 'to use later'. There is no question about whether it might be useful, you already know it will be, and can probably list several examples as to how! Whether you'll ever get round to doing any of them however is an entirely different matter indeed.

I decided ages ago that I wasn't going to buy any new fabric for as long as I could hold out. Re-purposing old clothes etc was fine, but having read a couple of articles about the environmental impact of new cotton I wasn't going to buy anything new when I had such a huge stash already in my cupboards. The theory was this would also help me reduce the size of my stash as I was determined to use what I had already in hand for projects as they came up, another aspect of my downsizing. This was going really well, and I made a plaited rag rug out of a big bag of old clothes for a Christmas present which cleared a considerable amount of space in my cupboard. But then someone saw what I'd made and said longingly how they'd always wanted a rug like that, and they had just the place for it, but they'd prefer different colours.... they'd get around to making one one day. Well when that person is a friend who has done so much for you it is hard to resist the idea of making them one for their birthday, but I don't wear the colours in question very often so don't have the right coloured old t-shirts etc, so a bundle was bought from the Salvation Army 50c box and the gap in my cupboard is full again! At least until I've finished the next rug anyway.

I recently completed my mission to get rid of the plastic in my sewing cupboard - well the boxes and bags the fabric was in anyway, I'm not planning to ditch my quilting ruler and such like in a hurry. The bonus of making fabric bags to hold the stash being I used up some of the aforementioned stash in the process and the bags fit in the cupboard better than boxes etc so I can fit more in. So the pile of material that had been in a bag in front of the cupboard now fit inside it, woo hoo! And that bag could now get repurposed to hold the overlocker which really needed something strong with handles, excellent. But that bag was also my work-in-progress bag, my collection of UnFinished Objects and Projects Half Done which then needed a new home.

One of the PHDs in question was the makings of a fabric basket with a hand pieced patchwork panel that I'd started on just over a year ago. I'd originally intended it to be part of a duvet cover, but then decided the colours didn't really work with what else I had in mind to use. So when various fabric baskets I'd made for presents over the last year or so had proved to be a success I decided I'd incorporate it into one for me. But finishing a project for me has kept falling down the 'to do' list in favour of assorted birthday, Christmas presents etc and had just sat there along with several other similar tasks. So with a new year, and on a mission to clear my backlog of UFOs I got on with it. After all I can't leave a pile of UFOs sitting loose in my room, I'm bound to lose something crucial if that situation lingers!

But you know how it is, good intentions and all that. Well I got sidetracked. But what I got sidetracked by were all the other UFOs and PHDs, who once they were out in the light of day got new life. So now I finally have that new duvet cover and pillowcase made with the other fabrics that the piecework panel didn't work with! A couple of things waiting to be mended have been, a few projects that had only got as far as being a pile of material and a pattern have been put away again until such time as they are actually needed, a pair of old silk trousers has been repurposed into a summer nightie, and a fabric 'bucket' has been finished and found a use for (the original intended recipient having long since got something different for their birthday!). And now I'm back to my task basket and it is almost completed, with only a couple of UFOs left on the pile to go in it when it is done.

So, my goal is to make those up too before starting anything new, and not to let the pile get so big again. It has been quite rewarding clearing the clutter. A different kind of clutter, but certainly a very visible sort given where the pile usually sits. It has been an insightful process too as I can see how my priorities have changed over the time the UFOs etc had built up, for example several of the projects I simply put away again (having not reached the stage of putting scissors to fabric) were clothes I was planning to make. I probably will make them still, but not until I need them! I've reduced my wardrobe volume considerably in the last 12 months, and I've yet to find myself stuck for something to wear. Others were for 'things' that I don't especially need, but I'd really liked when I'd seen the idea in a magazine or Perhaps they too will get made one day, but not until I have a need for them. It has been reassuring to find I was putting stuff away without feeling as though I was giving anything up or being sacrificial. It just didn't feel like it was important to make those things in the near future, and I probably got just as great a sense of satisfaction in clearing them away as I did from getting the stuff that had been started finished!

It all feels like another step towards proving to myself that Tiny House living is an achievable option. Although when it comes to laying out material to pin on patterns, or pinning the layers of a quilt together I'd still need a big floor space - another reason to live as part of a community with some large communal space!

Saturday, February 06, 2016

making progress

A comment that I've seen made in numerous blog posts and video clips about living in a Tiny House is the need to be tidy. Now hopefully anyone reading this who has lived in the same home as me has not just spluttered their cuppa across their keyboard, or worse down their nose... as I'm not renown for having a tidy room. But I do usually have an organized one! I can normally tell you exactly which pile something is in, a skill I no doubt inherited from my mother. I like the idea of everything having a place to be put away in (I am also my father's daughter after all), and it works in the kitchen, I've just struggled to make it work in my bedroom/living space.

So having done a massive tidy-up before heading off to Summer Gathering so Megan could stay in my room whilst she was Grandma-sitting I was determined, as part of my working up (or should that be 'working down'?) to a Tiny House lifestyle, that I would endeavour to keep my room tidy upon my return.

Now this was going to be no small feat, it would mean putting everything away all the time, and not leaving it there until I have more energy to put it away properly, and not leaving it where I can see it so I remember to take it with me somewhere/finish it/find whatever else I need to complete the project etc. 

Leaving things so I remember to take them with me is usually a waste of effort anyway as I've been known to carefully step over/walk around whatever it was on the floor by the door on my way out only to realize half an hour later that I should've brought it with me, or more common these days come back to see it there and remember that was why I went out in the first place! So, after several months of having lapsed in the habit I've got back to writing things down that I need to do so that I don't need to have them under my nose all the time to remember (or not, as the case may be...).

I inadvertently discovered that my 'to do' piles all neatly lined up across my bedroom floor that I had seen as being organized (which they were...) had become my 'guilt piles' and them being the first thing I saw in the morning, and last thing before I went to sleep probably wasn't doing me any good. I'd got into the habit of leaving projects in progress where I could see them so that I didn't forget to go back to them, given how bad my fibro-brain can be these days it is all too easy to put something away and forget it even existed. But what was happening instead was that I'd keep procrastinating and getting more and more bogged down by the fact that it needed done and I hadn't done it yet. So, back to writing things down in my book... a habit I'd got out of precisely because the fact that some tasks had been written in there so long that it got depressing simply opening the book up to write in it, so I'd stopped. So I gave myself permission (*note to self write another blog post about 'permission' and Tracey's SG workshop!) to cross things off the list, not just when I'd done them, but when they'd started to become millstones round my neck. Usually these were self imposed tasks in the first place and the only person who it made any difference to was me, so why beat myself up about it??? Let it go for now. 

Needing the energy to do things has become less of an issue, well physically anyway. I've figured out that if I spell myself with regular periods of physical activity to break up the mental activity, especially screen work, then I get more done in a day. I aim for an hour on screen followed by an hour off. Which means all those little slightly annoying tasks of putting things away that require a bit more effort (like getting boxes down from the top of the wardrobe) suddenly come in handy as 'things to do' away from the screen - win win! So my room stays tidy/tidier and my head stays clearer, what's not to like?

I've been home almost a month now and so far so good, apparently it takes 21 days to ingrain a habit so I should be on to a winner. Let's see if I can keep it up for the rest of the year, if I can manage that then I'll consider another step towards Tiny House living to be achieved.