Here’s the space for our STORIES . Story-telling: the time-honoured way to explain ones-self to the “other”.

Each tale started insubstantially… ” I’ve got this idea!”…… ” Go on then. Let’s be hearing ya”… Someone ventures to speak. Another stills, to listen….

 

Wells for India Thirty Years On

Sir Mark Tully writes the Preface to the book ‘ Thirsting for Water’ –

One of the most interesting books on development I have read recently is called ‘Poor Economics’ written by two Development Economists from MIT, Abhijit. V. Bannerjee and Esther Duflo. The book is based on fifteen years of field work, many of them in India. What is particularly interesting about the book is the authors’ finding that even when solutions to shortages of food or water, causes of illnesses, and economic distress are available the poor often do not want to make use of them. The authors say ‘The ladders to get out of the poverty trap exist but they are not always in the right place, and people do not seem to know how to step onto them, or even want to do so’.

For thirty years now Wells for India has been providing ladders by demonstrating effective means of increasing water supply, storing water through small-scale water harvesting works, and distributing it. From the start emphasis has been laid on working with villagers, collaborating with them, learning from them too so that the ladders the villagers need are put in place and they are ladders they want to climb up.

TO CONTINUE READING SIR MARK TULLY'S PREFACE ..... - CLICK HERE +

On my visits to villages where Wells for India has been working I have seen that this is no easy task. Villages are not united communities. Developments which benefit the poorest can cause resentment among more prosperous and traditionally powerful castes. Sharing water supplies can mean breaking a centuries old taboo. Constructing small dams, creating water bodies, planting forests all involve changing land use so even if the land is common there will be objections from those who are occupying or using it.

Wells for India works over a large area with different terrains, the Aravali mountains and the Rajasthan desert, agricultural land and scrubland. To ensure that the developments it introduces are appropriate to the different regions it works with local NGO’s. I remember the pride and enthusiasm of Laxmi Singhe from the Gram Vikas Navyuvak Mandal for the forest which he persuaded villagers to grow, not without difficulty. He had to free community lands from encroachment before constructing low bunds, or dams, to collect water. Within seven years the community land had become a forest. By freeing the community lands and water bodies from encroachments Laxmi Singhe has made many other villages drought proof.

Because Wells for India collaborates with villagers, it is Gandhian. It believes in development by the villagers for the villagers, in other words bottom-up rather than top-down development as so much of India’s development has been. This has meant that Wells for India has learnt from the villagers as well as introducing them to new possibilities. It has revived the village wisdom of the past too – traditional water harvesting works which were forgotten or on the verge of disappearing.

Gandhi said ‘Independence must begin at the bottom’. He envisaged an India where every village would be a republic. That dream was not realised nor will it ever be realised but there is much wisdom in the concept. If it had not been rejected outright as romantic nonsense, those who ruled India after Independence would have realised that it can never be strong unless its villages are strong.  The villagers realising that Gandhi believed they had the capacity to govern themselves might have made more effort to do so instead of falling back on the government to provide all their needs and make all their decisions. To counter this trend Wells for India has been successful in persuading villagers to collaborate with each other and work with Panchayats so that they can implement the development schemes which are in their best interests and set an example which spreads into other villages.

NGO’s like Wells for India magnify their impact when they act as catalysts creating examples which others follow. The greatest impact is created by acting as a catalyst which has an impact on the government because the government has by far and away the largest resources. Under the Prime Minister’s Swatch Bharat Mission or Clean India Campaign the government has now launched a massive drive to improve sanitation in villages by installing lavatories. Wells for India with its partner NGO’s in Udaipur District is providing a crucial input to this government programme by dissuading villagers from defecating in the open and persuading them to use lavatories. Their success is a reflection of Wells for India’s many years of collaborating with villagers and persuading them to adopt new customs and technologies.

Over the last thirty years Wells for India has brought water to more than 1,500 villages with a combined population of 1.2 million. It’s pioneered improved traditional small-scale methods of storing water which now harvest about 1.6 billion litres of water every year. Forgotten methods of water harvesting have been revived and improved, and invaluable support provided for Indian partners. It’s worked and is still working with government acting as a catalyst. It’s brought villagers together for their mutual benefit. Wells for India has shown the crucial role of water in empowering women. When water is made easily available they no longer have to spend much of their time walking long distances to collect it. The time they then have they often use for generating income, or education, or social activities. The social activities include women’s self-help groups which have spread widely. Clean water obviously also reduces health risks for all villagers. It improves the health of livestock too.

The achievements of Wells for India are an answer to those who ask why aid from governments or voluntary societies should be given to India which, with its rapid economic growth is slated to become one of the world’s largest economies. Wells for India has shown that Indian villagers still need to be provided with ladders to escape from the poverty trap and still need to be persuaded to step on them

 

Sir Mark Tully, Patron

Wells for India

 

 

Sir Mark Tully KBE – Bureau Chief BBC , New Delhi 1964 for 30 years. Covered all major events during that time including India Pakistan conflicts, Bhopal tragedy, assassination Rajiv Gandhi.

Presents BBC Radio 4 ‘ Something Understood’ : ethical & religious discussion that examines some of the larger questions of life…through music, prose, poetry.

WIKIPEDIA – Mark Tully

 

WHOEVER’S KILLING INSECTS ……. DON’T !!!

WKID: INSECT ARMAGGEDON.

This Story is a fantasy letter which was inspired by a conversation with Hannah, 13 years of age.

Her commitment to animals (particularly her Guineapig) extended to all living creatures; all of Nature.

I told her about the INSECT ARMAGEDDON NEWS.

To Hannah there is no question about Insect  importance; no wobbling about on ACTION.

THE STRATEGY outlined in the bit “WKID IS BORN” would work. I know it …..

TO READ ABOUT HOW WIKD COULD MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE ..... - CLICK HERE +

WKID!

A letter from ‘Elsewhere’

Dear Readers of Great Grandma Anne’s web site,

I’m Hannah from Elsewhere. Not born to your Earth as yet…prob. ten years’ on in your time… awaiting my Mum. Mean, out – of – time – while, I chat with GGAnne. She appreciates my ‘ain’t got  a view’ point of view !!! Needs it to keep fired up since Earth’s rather jimble – jumbled at YOUR mo’.

At your mo’, GGAnne’s experienced an unfamiliar emptiness in her guts .. Serious. DEADLY SERIOUS.

GGA has AWOKEN to the plight of INSECTS.

She awoken to Insects GONE… or almost !

When GGA and GGDAVID first came to their 120 year old house 60 years ago, the attics were filled with Wasps nests. Nests were always in the Tool Shed.

August tea- time with friends outside meant lots of squeaks and swiping from those who feared Wasps.

And the two clumps of Golden Rod nearby the chairs, throbbed with myriad Insects. Honey, Bumble, Solitary Bees, Wasps, Hover flies, teeny flies, burnished green flies…

GGA & GGD  said this August, supping tea whilst munching Digestive Biscuits..

” Haven’t seen many wasps this year… and where are the insects on the Golden Rod” …. but they were just chatting…not AWAKE.

THEN GGA read reports of a survey in Germany. 75% decrease in Insect population.

The hole in her GUT gulped in what the 75% means.

The wail reached me in Elsewhere

 

 

“WHOEVER’S KILLING INSECTS …… DON’T ! “

WKID is born !        

The UK press reports that the decline in Insect population in last three decades means “the world is on course for an environmental ARMAGEDDON”. Insects are the pollinators and food source for other species, worldwide.

So sharing all of this stuff with GGA, I sense her twitching thoughts about ACTION.

GGA is great at inspiring and coordinating action. It’s just that she’s sworn not to do it anymore!!

 

The idea – abubble is :- set up local vol. bod –  “WHOEVER’S KILLING SECTS- DON’T”  ……  WKID 

Reading GGAnne’s secret thoughts…

Strategy:-

*discuss with small number known environmentalist in 10 year established local group ASCENT Ascot Environment Network , also local Horticultural Societies ,Local Authority Environment projects and Habitats , contact established national organisations  (see below) 

*educate ourselves on the whys & how’s of the crisis

* call public meeting addressed by Damsel Flies & equally beautiful Entomologist

* plan action in form of enrolling interest of Junior School teachers.

 

 

 

*schedule visits to Turf Managers  of local Golf Courses, Ascot Authority, Windsor Great Park , local Highway Authorities and two Borough Councils.

 

* compose advice for future policy in relation to herbicide, fungicide avoidance, Wild- flower protection & cultivation.

 

* encourage children to speak with family & neighbours

 

REPORT TO PUBLIC MEETING ON RESULTS OF ACTIVITY ONE YEAR ON.

Chatting with Anne’s Imagination, I suggested enroll young children.. 5 years and younger.

Get idea into their HABITAT modules at school.( rather pleased with my intangible self thinking so HOOMAN LY!!

Our further way of being in all of this Stuff is speaking with, LISTENING TO the NON- human. Ear on the ground listening to Earth. Ear to tree trunks. Quietly watching and LISTENING TO BIRDS & ANIMALS ,INSECTS

Very small children are the guides here.

Here in Elsewhere , I know that human communication mostly ignores the rest of Creation ..other voices. Other wisdoms.

David Attenborough’s BLUE PLANET , SUNDAY TV 29/10 will show you the way to wrench yourselves at the last moment from many Armaggedons. This means awakening to the grimmest facts, whilst opening eyes, ears, senses, minds to the Awe and Wonderment that still Blesses you.  TAKING ACTION .

More info – The Guardian – HERE

Comments welcomed hugely via email..

Hugs abounding and rolling around laughter from Hannah in ‘Elsewhere’ and love xxx

Antonia Rolls – Artist and Soul Midwife

I work as both an artist and a soul midwife, sometimes at the same time, sometimes separately. Part of being an artist is the joy of expression, and this takes the form of painting, writing, performing and public speaking. I express how I am affected by the work I do, what it teaches me, and the stories of the people that I meet.

As a painter my work is colourful and figurative. I work in oils and in acrylics and my work includes portraits of both individuals and families, quirky sideways looks at our Christian story (see The Male Madonna, the God’s Life series, Jesus on the Tube), whimsical paintings exploring the True Fairy at middle age, and some book illustration which I have loved doing, you can view my work in the gallery.

My writing includes published articles on end of life matters, and my blog.

A soul midwife is a compassionate friend, an end of life companion, for anyone preparing for and going through the dying process, and this includes families and friends. This work is varied and profound; it involves visits, support, deep listening, and publicly raising end of life awareness through the A Graceful Death exhibition and various workshops in the community, read more about soul midwifery.

The A Graceful Death exhibition is a wonderful combination of both soul midwifery and art. It is a collection of more than 50 paintings, including portraits of and interviews with people who are facing the end of their life. I worked with the dying for over six years to paint their portraits and ask them to speak about what was happening to them. I asked two questions, Who are you and What do you want to say? A Graceful Death tours the country promoting end of life awareness and hosting workshops, talks and discussions within the exhibition, you can view images from the exhibitions here.

TO READ ANTONIA'S STORY - CLICK HERE +

And I Can Still Pull The Birds…

This morning I sat with a man and asked him, Mike, who are you? Because Mike can’t speak, he has a computer key board. He tapped out the words, “Before my illness I had a dry sense of humour and told outrageous lies, but now I am a gibbering wreck.” And then he giggled so hard at my surprise, that he had to hold a handkerchief to his mouth. “And,” he tapped out on his keyboard, “I can still pull the birds”. He clicked immediately to a photograph of himself in his wheelchair at a bird sanctuary, lovingly watching birds sitting on his hands and arms.

Mike has Motor Neuron Disease, and I was meeting him for the first time today. He has agreed to work on a project where I will paint his portrait and ask him what it is like to be living with this progressive and terminal condition. It is part of the work I do for my exhibition called A Graceful Death, of paintings and interviews with people who have life limiting illnesses. I knew Mike was in a wheelchair, I knew he couldn’t talk, but what I was not expecting was his dry wit and his self deprecating sense of humour.

“I have a power point prepared,” he wrote on his computer, “it will help you to understand what I have and how I live my life. Would you like to see it?” I said that I would, and with the help of a nurse, the power point was loaded onto a computer and Mike guided me through it. The power point showed me a man who made a choice to live with his cup half full, not half empty. “I could have given up and waited to die,” he wrote, “but I decided that I needed to spend more time with my children and my wife.” And so, he and his wife met the disease head on. He now has help with his breathing, his feeding, his drinking, his movement (he cannot do any of these things all the time without help) and he has adapted his home, his garden and the family car so that he can carry on as normally as possible. “It is amazing how invisible a wheelchair makes you”, he wrote on his pad. “But my mind works just as well as it ever did. Some of my friends no longer come and see me. They cannot cope with me like this, but I am still here. And,” he said fluttering his eyelashes at me, “I am such a flirt!”

I sat with Mike for three hours and I learned about Motor Neuron Disease. I also learned that you cannot know another person by looking at them. You really cannot do that. If I had met Mike at a bus stop, I would never have given his quick mind and wonderful sense of humour a second thought. He would have been, if I had even seen him, a man in a wheelchair. Mike is tough, wise, and living. Mike knows I don’t know him, and that to have any idea of who he is, I have to sit and wait for him to start to tell me. And that takes time with Mike. In my busy world, I cannot hope to have any idea of his story if I am in a hurry. I wondered, is this the same for all of us? Do we give each other the time we need to say who we are? How much attention do we give each other? And when we talk, do we really hear what the other person is saying? I can walk, and I can talk. I can make excuses and I can make you think I am listening. I can do all manner of things to prevent myself from engaging. Sitting with Mike made me think. There was no running away. There was no making excuses, and there was no choice but to engage. And Mike couldn’t even talk. Or move. After three hours, I had only just begun to meet him. As I stood to leave I said, “You are a teacher. You are teaching me about your Motor Neuron, and you are telling me about yourself. But for the exhibition, though we will use the power point, I want to know what it is here.” And I put my hand on his heart.

Mike just giggled and spelt out on his keyboard, ” Before you go, put my brandy on the table”

Mike has since died of his illness.  Rest in peace, Mike and thank you.

 

Antonia Rolls

To know more – click HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Villagers decided to build the school. It was completed in the night.

The international politics of the Palestinian Israeli conflict has a lengthy history. ( see our current Wake-Up). It demands study and our attention.

Alongside, are the daily lives of both peoples. They demand our imagination’s attention: ” If that was me ? My children’s education ? ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

TO READ THE VILLAGERS' STORY - CLICK HERE +

The village of Jubbet Al-Dibh lies between Jerusalem and Bethlehem on the side of the Herodian hill. This Palestinian community urgently needed a new school. Friends tell us that they saw the proposed site last December, levelled and with a water supply in place in the customary blue plastic hosepipe, snaking across the hillside.

In June an Israeli NGO, CometMe erected a solar array of 93 panels. For the first time the villagers had electricity.  Within weeks the Israel Army stole the panels and trashed the infrastructure.

Despite this serious blow, the villagers felt that they must go ahead with the school. Five class rooms were being built. The Israeli Army aimed to stop the work. They took tools and materials and the contractor’s vehicles.

But the villagers decided to finsh the school. It was finished in the night.

The troops destroyed the lot, next morning.

The village women determined to continue…during the night. The men stood up to the Army. The Class rooms were built. The Palestinian Authority were present at the hastily arranged inauguration and provided teachers.

In the meantime, it transpired that fortunately the Dutch government had donated the solar panels, and was not prepared to accept the situation.  The Dutch government’s objections got a response.  CometMe has now re-erected the 93 panels.

So the village of Jubbet Al-Dibh now has electricity and a school, and the next aim, to create a medical facility, is under way.

 

Acknowledgement for Story – from a supporter of ICHAD: Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
The Story image fronted our successful Crowd-Funding for Jennifer Leach’s play TAKE TWO. See Previous Tales – HERE

Sitting amidst AWE & WONDERMENT everywhere, are CREATIVE PEOPLE 

Two such people living in this part of England are Mike & Jennifer.

A Development Engineer from the USA, for 18 years Mike has been at the heart of ASCENT: our local environment network. He taught many of us about energy technology. This week, he and his wife returned home. Glad for them. Sad indeed for us. 

As with all such radical groups worldwide, we are all energised to act together…and then we drift apart.

BUT THE COMMITMENT TO CHANGE & AND THE EXPERIENCE OF ACTIVISM , REMAINS. IT COMPOSTS AWAY.

( see Naomi Klein , International Speaker at this year’s Labour Party conference)

Mike met today’s other hero Jennifer Leach, two years ago when he acted in TAKE TWO , Jennifer’s Palestinian Play (see previous Tales). 

Today’s Story tells us more about that DAZZLE of a FESTIVAL OF THE DARK which she and colleagues in Reading are unveiling.  (see previous Story for Launch)

Ref. Naomi Klein’s books include:-  This Changes Everything, The Shock Doctrine, No Logo. 

TO READ THE FESTIVAL OF THE DARK'S HIGHLIGHTS - CLICK HERE +

Festival of the Dark continues apace in Reading, with the last ten days a feast of community, theatre, music, and many thought-provoking discussions on various aspects of darkness. This mini-fest within a festival was entitled DazZle and was the start to the much-needed conversation Outrider Anthems has wished to have with ‘the Church’. The churches in Reading have been conspicuous in their desire not to have to engage with us on talking about The Dark. With the exception of these two wonderful, brave, bold vicars Vincent Gardener and Gary Collins (both artists – ah, that explains everything!) at St John & St Stephen’s Church, Newtown, Reading. With them, and within community, we embarked with extraordinary speed on an intensely immersive series of events, beginning with Outrider Anthems’ Song of Crow and ending with the abundance of riches presented to us on DazZle Thinking Day.

Highlights

Song of Crow, a wild theatrical tale at South Street Arts Centre Reading. It asks that vital question – With our wounded Earth and wounded community, how do we heal, and where do we go from here? Like many elements of shadow, this was not easy, yet there was great beauty in it and a message of hope. Feedback was very positive. Still reeling from seeing ‘The Song of Crow’ last night: a creation myth brought to flesh, blood & bone…my humanness today is all alive with a sense of storyfulness and craving to keep connected to the non-human world.’

Kate Raworth’s talk on Doughnut Economics. A radical new approach to economics, moving away from the exponential curve of capitalism to the hearth-centred economy of circle and sharing. Kate’s energy, optimism and knowledge were heartening and inspiring. We can shift!

Music, song and storytelling down at the two local pubs. A wonderfully community-centred Open Mic night with outstanding musicians, and a Music & Storytelling night with the powerful medicine songs of Ruth Blake facebook.com/ruth.blake.75, and stories of metamorphoses and parallel universes from Jennifer Leach. Centring on mystery – the dark soft underbelly of the hidden world, and all things unseen and unknown.

The Tale of Seven Coats with Charlotte du Cann and Mark Watson led us through a remarkable story of autobiographical travel and transformation, to a point of deep commitment to ‘divesting’. As Inanna in the Underworld had to divest herself of all her garments, so we too were challenged to divest ourselves of all that is extraneous, and thereby to learn how to live in re-connection with the Earth.

DazZle Thinking – a series of excellent speakers challenging us to engage on issues of Other: Sexually Other (Alison Webster), Piratically Other (Kester Brewin), Educationally Other (Professor Helen Bilton), Energetically Other (Magda Koc) and Permaculturally Other (Dave Richards). A beautifully contemplative consideration of Absence and Presence by Gary, and the hilarious tale of Picasso’s mistresses and Guernica by Vincent. Humour, coffee and cake, good wine, and wonderful food – all cooked by Vincent – strung the various elements together with congenial continuity.

What came out of the entire series of events was an optimism, a gathering confidence that change may be possible, that a community can work together to provoke great change. That we no longer need to wait for permission to act; nor do we need to wait until our political, economic and environmental systems break down entirely. Personally, the concept of civil disobedience in the context of environmental action was the extreme possibility I took away from all that we were led to consider. And today someone I met during DazZle reminded me of Bernadette Devlin who began a movement during the Irish ‘Troubles’ to knock on every individual door in the neighbourhood asking ‘Where are the women?’ She activated and motivated them to act in a very powerful way. I am considering whether this might be a fruitful path to consider…

I am so proud of the courage of all those who spoke, who danced, who sang, who acted, who engaged, these past ten days. I am proud of the way we – disparate fellow beings from various disciplines and walks of life – worked together to empower ourselves and our community. I am particularly proud of Vincent and Gary for their courage. I am proud to sail, with them all, in the Dark Waters of Loving Piracy.

The Festival continues until 21 December 2017. Please connect with us via www.outrideranthems.com. Support of this venture is so important, that we may strengthen the growing resolve and confidence of those in Reading who wish to live differently.

Jennifer Leach

Director, Outrider Anthems

 

 

 

 

Photo acknowledgements –

  • Story photo at the top  – Creator Crow, Gary Peinke
  • Photo in text – Gong Player from Song of Crow, Paul Dane

Also acknowledge – Mother Crow & Child Kathleen Thompson & Lauren Leach Scrivener

 

 THIRTY YEARS OF THE CIRCLE WORKS

”For me Circle Work is very important because it’s a time to trust people to listen to you”.

”The turning point was a shopping trip to Greenwich and the discovery of a precious object that came with its own story. The salt crystal from deep inside the Himalayan Mountains would belong to everyone, and be a symbol of our community. Through the use of objects I was able to share power with the children through creating a sense of ritual within our circle times. In this way special objects came to represent the collective power of the group, which could be borrowed, shared and then returned, not to me, but to the group as a whole – placed back in the middle of our circle.”

Laura Rogers, class teacher, writing about the Circle Work that gives our organisation its name.

The Story’s Image is of The Tondo

These pieces of broken pot were gathered by a child who in her short life has already faced unimaginable challenges. Learning that she was soon to be separated from her siblings, she dug the fragments out of the school garden, and after carefully washing each one, brought them to her counsellor.

Every piece was held, examined, talked about, wondered over, wrapped in tissue, and given to The Circle Works to look after.

Welcome to this celebration of The Circle Works’ thirtieth birthday.

Honorary Director: Geoffrey Court Hon B.Ed

TO READ THE CELEBRATION OF THE CIRCLE WORKS' 30TH BIRTHDAY - CLICK HERE +

Welcome

to this celebration of The Circle Works’ thirtieth birthday.

September 1985: no internet, no laptops, no social media. The first mobile phones, the size of house bricks, had just appeared. The miners’ strike was coming to its weary end, but urban riots, especially on Broadwater Farm, were in the news. The BBC had just drawn our attention, shockingly, to the Ethiopian famine, and the first Live Aid concert had taken place in July: but the Berlin Wall was still standing, and 9/11 and its aftermath were still sixteen years away.

The world has changed since 1985, and so has The Circle Works. What began as a support project for adults and children in primary schools has broadened into ‘a thinking space for people who work in the service of the community’. It has been in turn a project of the Urban Studies Centre, an urban outpost of Commonwork, and a free-standing charity. In 2007 its world was shattered for a while by the death of its co-founder Jeannette Weaver. Jeannette’s total and unconditional attentiveness, and her gift for creating places where that attentiveness could flourish, define The Circle Works to this day. Fortunately, before Jeannette became ill we had invited Heather Goodman to share our space, and Heather brought new ideas and new depths, expressed most clearly through the regular meditation days she has called ‘Coming to Stillness’ – The Circle Works, distilled.

On the surface our activities have taken many different forms, but looking back through the archive, we find that the themes running beneath our work have been constant and consistent: the water changes, but it’s still the same river.

In the TALES section of TIA we have illustrated these themes with some glimpses of the past thirty years.

Geoffrey Court, Honorary Director of The Circle Works

 

A STORY COMMON TO CAMPAIGNING GROUPS, WORLDWIDE – ‘HOW COME WE DIDN’T KNOW’ ? …..

 Which is a common response to changes that surround us, often unseen until they bounce right in to our sight.

Changes to funding of everyday, crucial services… schools, health provision…

Changes to bus timetables. Changes to fuel costs. Shops close overnight…

The change is just THERE one day. Nothing to be done. Muttering into thin air.

And I write of conditions in rich parts of the globe where change can appear of only relative significance.

CHANGE CREEPS 

 So today’s STORY is of one group determined to keep awake about local changes. It fits into this website’s commitment to WATCHING how an idea sustains itself, through to fruition.

 In Tales you can read about the hospital campaign group’s success over 23 years. Success to KEEP the local Hospital.

 Now we aim to ALERT the local community to fundamental health provision changes.

These are eroding a guiding post WW2 principle of collective care for everyone.

In our local Jazz pub, we look forward to listening to other voices which see things differently.

 BE AWARE & TAKE RESPONSIBILITY TO COUNTER THE UNACCEPTABLE 

 

TO READ MORE ABOUT THE EXHIBITION FROM 18th - 22nd SEPTEMBER - CLICK HERE +

 

 

‘HOW COME WE DIDN’T KNOW’

The Save Heatherwood Hospital campaign (S.H.H.) and Defend Our Community Services (DOCS) have joined forces to run a Photography Exhibition at Jagz in Ascot in mid-September.

The exhibition shows the work of Marion Macalpine, a Hackney resident and member of Hackney Keep Our NHS Public. It highlights the many different ways that healthcare corporations are taking over the NHS – an increasingly relevant issue for all of us who care passionately about our NHS .

Come and see for yourself during the week of September 18th – 22nd.

We start with a LAUNCH (Guest speaker – Tony O’Sullivan, Co-Chair, ‘Keep Our NHS Public’) in the evening of Monday 18th . The photos are all on display throughout the week from Monday – Friday from 12 noon until 8pm.

Enjoy the delights of Jagz and the Exhibition all at the same time!

For any additional info. now, please contact Margery Thorogood, on behalf of S.H.H., by emailing margery.thorogood@hotmail.co.uk

(Exhibition sponsored by Hackney Keep Our NHS Public)

Acknowledgement for Poster – to Lesley Hunter, SHH member

Set up of the Exhibition – see video  HERE

CLIMATE CHANGE –  ASCENT’s Legacy : Ascot & the Sunnings Community Environment Network 

Here’s another Story about a small group of people shouting as loud as they could, about a BIG ISSUE.

Describing it afresh for you, I’m describing a time but a few years back, which felt very different from today. Around 2014 there was a visible popular consensus on Climate Change action.

Then, London demos echoed the voices from vast marches worldwide, calling Governments, the Fossil Fuel Industry and all Consumers to take seriously the scientific facts about Climate Change. DANGER & OPPORTUNITY.

2017 UK General Election… scarcely a mention of Climate Change.

French President Macron places it amidst essential policy action.

President Trump is a denier. UK’s PM May is mute. 

So…do minority voices, within their social & cultural settings, only summon boldness when they can snatch the moment of wider voiced concern ?

Are we all to SPEAK UP & SPEAK OUT today, about Social Housing injustice? 

OR…have we the energy, tenacity, vision…to continue TO SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER, across the myriad manifestations of injustice, battered to a burning shell ? 

 

TO READ MORE ABOUT ASCENT'S TIMELINE - CLICK HERE +

ASCENT’S TIMELINE

2003  Invasion of Iraq. Triggered the start of community organising by group of women & men around current political issues, in the Ascot area of Berkshire.

Small group, mostly from All Saints church Ascot Heath, called public meeting to examine background to the invasion. Saw crucial need for making space in schools for education about conflict & its resolution.

Set up ASPEN Ascot Peace Education Network, in response to deep distress about Iraq. Built The Light House: a perspex yurt designed & constructed by a group member. Painted children in local  schools and youth clubs, who from the start felt ownership of the beautiful “house”

2003  Next five years we ran Programmes using The Light House, which explored causes of conflict and ways to resolve difficulties in the young peoples’ lives.

Team 8 facilitators. Ran self-training. Developed teaching programme.  Strong emphasis on quiet reflection and self awareness .

 

2005  Call by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, Bishop of Reading, to parishes in Bracknell Deanery to vigorously educate on Climate Change within own churches.

All Saints set up Eco Explorers and the Eco Prayer group. Monthly meetings. Public education events primarily for AS congregation. Ongoing local leadership: courses on Climate Change and Christian responsibility, dialogue with local MP, at forefront in Disinvestment in Fossil  Fuel campaign in C of E locally & nationally.

At same time Sunningdale Parish Council starting education programme on Climate Change. Ongoing environmental champions encouraging tree planting, solid fuel boiler in Parish office.

Four men & women from these two initiatives combined to plan and launch Ascent.

2010  Autumn Public Launch of ASCENT: Ascot & the Sunnings Community Environment Network. 40 reps. local groups and individuals. 6 person Steering group volunteered. Sustained the initiative. No expansion because all busy people. Insufficient time & energy for extending the embryo project.

2012  First Ascent AGM  – Charters School rallied the project. Established as Voluntary Organisation. Purpose to educate on Climate Change. Volunteer coordinating group 7 people. One retired educator undertook major part of project coordination.

2013- 2014  Network-building: Web-site, quarterly newsletters using mail-chimp circulation, regular Core group meetings, maintaining contacts with local and national campaigns on Climate Change, tree preservation & land use. Developing key messages, including Living Simply, Resilience at time of Transition, questioning Austerity , privatisation of NHS, challenging power of undemocratic decision-making in 4 specific Network projects.

2013  Second AGM All Saints hall. Talk by Carolyn Hayman Director Peace Direct illustrating leadership from small number of committed men and women, in most hazardous settings internationally.Reporting participation in local public events illustrating the theme ”Living Simply so that others can Simply Live” e.g. Charters Community Fun day, first public workshop on Resilience.

2014  Third AGM: Network evolving its current primary focus for action in land usage, national energy policy, local flora & fauna protection. 12 Core Group. First Environment Festival in the Ascot was proposed. September through to November. 9 events  covering wide range of environmental interests. Extensive publicity in local press and social media.

2015  Fourth AGM.  Network well established. Increased collective work practice. Sense of membership of national & international Transition movement. Increasingly involved in radical political & economic analysis of causation and maintenance of environmental crisis.

ASCENT 2016

Start of transition time, common to all such small-scale innovatory projects.

Through 2016 two achievements impacted locally.

Two detailed Reports on the 2014 First Community Environment Festival in the Ascot area were widely circulated… and the 2016 play TAKE TWO, was an outstanding success. 170 guests watched it in Ascot and Reading. Its creation demonstrated ASCENT’s capacity for fund-raising and engaging local individuals and organisations in a key international crisis; a theme central to ASCENT’s commitment to SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER.

The Festival ‘Resilience & Empowerment in a time of Transition’ is reported on two websites –

https://sites.google.com/site/ascentascot  and  theimaginationacts.org.uk

TAKE TWO and subsequent community creativity are likewise on theimaginationacts.org.uk

2017   The organisation is being adequately held together by termly Core Group meetings and Newsletters. Where next is the question? In this time of political turmoil, what has an established radical Network got to offer?

 

Please have a look at TALES which provides details of the ASCENT Festival and its coverage on Climate Change

                      …….  and GALLERY which shows pix of the Festival’s meditation sessions

 

Ascent’s Timeline complied by Margery Thorogood ( Meetings Convenor) and Anne Yarwood (Ascent Co-founder)

 

 

 

 

 

Margery Thorogood

How to encourage Spirituality in schools : the Story of  VALUES AND VISION

The story of Values and Visions began in 1989 when two things happened ……

 

 

 

 

 

TO READ MORE - CLICK HERE +

The story of Values and Visions began in 1989 when two things happened. Firstly, I watched as teachers in the UK were being put under great pressure to comply to externally imposed demands from an ideologically driven government. Teachers were being pulled to fill in tick boxes at the expense of their own professional integrity and the values they held dear. I noticed that some teachers got through these pressures very creatively and emerged stronger than ever and others became stressed, went off sick, took early retirement or simply left the profession. I wanted to understand what was happening and why some were crushed and others got through safely. The second thing that happened was that in an act of unprecedented unanimity, all the many denominations in the church agreed, at the  World Council of Churches 1989 gathering, to the need for metanoia, a radical internal shift of consciousness, and they called for educators to respond to this by bringing peace education and spiritual awareness into schools.

I remember realising as I sat on a train coming down from Aberdeen August 1989 that I needed to get on and do this, respond to the challenge – find ways enable spiritual awareness work in education, find ways to prevent life in school from becoming soul-destroying for teachers or children. I knew it was possible to transform problems into positive unlimited change because I had seen teachers do it.  I just needed to understand what the process was and how to make it available to others.

I had no idea how to do this but just knew I was going to do it. When I shared the idea with people all, bar three or four, told me it simply was not possible. Anne was one of the few who believed it was possible.  I re-mortgaged my house and took a three-month sabbatical to just stop doing what I had been doing, to stop and empty out and see if I could understand what I now needed to do.

I was a single Mum with two children so it was not so easy since there was zero funding for the work and all attempts to try to get funding seemed to hit brick walls for the first 18 months. I had no theological background and no qualifications to do this work, but somehow it was clear that I needed to do it and would do it even if I did not know how. During my sabbatical I met Paul, a priest, who led me through a very demanding Ignation home-based retreat which immersed me in the practice of healthy introversion, focus and discernment.

Gradually the right people emerged. About a dozen of us came together, without my looking for them, to reflect on what was going on for teachers and why it was it some were able to create fabulous change when external constraints seemed to block them. What we discovered was to form the framework for transformation that for the last 25 years has been used in countless schools and organisations, including multinationals, small and medium sized businesses, public services such as hospitals, to help them become happy, thriving, effective places for us to learn, to work and to be fully alive.

We started with the assumption that there was a largely unseen spiritual foundation to this phenomenon of successful change and all our experience has shown this to be the case. We discovered that the starting point  is always the here and now and your values and vision – what is actually happening right now and how do my values shape what I am to do with it . So, for example, one very experienced and gifted teacher was being hammered by an inspectorate for not having a strong enough maths programme. Instead of reacting and stressing about improving her maths, she stopped and thought and passed this current demand through her highest vision for the children she taught and her core values of equality, fairness, respect. The work that emerged was remarkable and delivered far more than just the maths.

We learnt over and over again that, whatever crisis we are facing, spiritual tools will provide some of the most vital resources we will have. We came up with eight spiritual tools, that have been used universally for millennia to transform situations. They are very simple, practical  tools that V&V brings to life in many vibrant activities – stillness, listening, story, encounter, celebration, grieving, visioning and journalling.

Now over 25 years later spirituality is still a word that is controversial and that many shy away from but the need for spiritual tools is greater than ever if we are to find peace in a peaceless, consumerist world, if we are to be effective in a violent chaotic world, if we are to be happy in a world based on a materialism that fosters discontent and stress and that threatens our survival.

Because of this urgent need, two years ago Sally Burns and I set out to rework Values and Visions for today’s world. It is much more global, it is for a wider age range 8-15, so that we are able to reach those teenagers troubled or concerned by what they see in the world, and it addresses full on how do we find meaning and purpose in an uncertain and volatile world.

The new book uses the framework for transformation we all came up with long ago and which has been tried and tested in rough terrains, and we are now looking to get it published and out there in the world to help build the inner strength and hope, the deep understanding of ourselves and our values that will see us together get safely through these troubled times.

We are a community of educators and we would love you to join us in helping let this way of learning and living flow into schools and organisations. At the moment we are just completing the hard copy book but shortly hope to have a website and electronic copy of resources and a dynamic exchange of ideas, materials and training that will equip young people and their educators for the future they are facing.

If you would like to know more or be part of this in any way, we would love to hear from you.

Please contact me georgeanne@iname.com  or ring 07765 045939

Georgeanne Lamont

 

Georgeanne Lamont

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Art Class

The mornings in Malaysia were bliss. The light, the clear air and the cool.

Days which called you out. Calling half a dozen young European women to their passion for painting.

We had created The International Art Class. 100 children; toddlers to teenagers, meeting every Saturday in the capital Kuala Lumpur and the new suburb Petaling Jaya.

 

 

 

 

TO READ MORE - CLICK HERE +

Whilst our friend Barbara ran the KL groups with friends, Shirley, Anne and myself went weekly to a small local school in PJ.

Imagine the scene… a wooden building, open on all sides… easels and tables being dragged outside. Water pots, brushes, wads of newspapers. Then, Shirley appears with the day’s inspiration. Photos of Fern Trees shot from high in the canopy, fish fresh from the local market, to be painted on newspaper.

There were a few White English, American and Dutch children together with the majority painters from local Indian, Malay & Chinese families; unknowingly bringing colour and design influences from their traditions.I always thought that the glorious riot of their paint, reflected little childrens’ closeness to their Indian mother’s saris, Chinese cheong sams , Malay sarong kabayas.

Around 10 o’ clock it was hotting up. Everyone put the place in order. Paintings taken back to nearby home. An armful coming back with me to be laid out across the front, tiled verandah, to dry. I’d sit amongst them for ages, thrilled by the colour and forms and revisiting in the happiness of my mind, images of children having so much fun, mostly in silent absorption.

Every year we mounted an extensive exhibition in a prestigious, air-conditional office in central KL or in an old wooden Malay house down the Ampang Road. Pale blue paint,inside and out.  My heart right now, trembles at the memory of such simple beauty.  Rambling, rickety place on stilts. Underneath, the usual melee of chickens, sarong clad Malays preparing food, hand – bowl washing. Clumps of six foot Canna Lilies surrounding the house. Upstairs, little rooms without doors, running into one another. Shutters wide open. No glass.

It amazed me the hours spent by my artist friends, positioning the paintings.

Learnt SO MUCH about SEEING the relationship between the pictures and within the rooms’ space.

Three friends were gifted artists. That fact gifted more, and deep learning for me. I began to paint weekly in another of those Malay houses down Ampang Road with an older woman, Lilian, who had lived for many years in Sri Lanka. I was 28. Knew nothing of the “outside world”. David, me and 3 small children had been jettisoned with but 6 weeks’ notice… jettisoned into this life of VIBRANT COLOUR! ..of heat, humidity, minimally furnished bungalow, “barang” still at sea (such as it was…mostly potties and Lego).

Then, I know not how, met Shirley Mossman Nisbet.

She paints vast abstracts. I’d go up to her bungalow near the University campus.Sit in the cool, watching Ian’s elaborate coffee ceremony. Supped from Chinese porcelain bowls. And delighting, as did Shirley, in the wealth of crafts so readily at hand… in tiny wooden shops and road- side stalls.Chinese cooking pots, worthy of Leach; bamboo furniture from Pudu Jail workshops, still in use in our home today; dresses ready in a couple of days made from the myriad rolls of fabrics tossed open across the counters in  the dim caverns of the Batu Road emporiums.

All this 40 years ago.

As you will understand, I am reliving the days that I describe. Tears in my eyes.. less sorrow, more tender honouring of those young womens’ beauty. Beauty painted in the land of our youth.

Anne Yarwood

 

Acknowledgements :-

Painting of the Fish, fresh from the market – by Sally Yarwood, age 7

Photo of Shirley Mossman Nisbet on a visit to Ascot from her home in Boston, USA

For information about Shirley’s art – http://www.shirleymossmannisbet.com/artist.html

 

 

 

 

The greening grace of a Garden

The original vision for Quiet Gardens was developed by Philip Roderick 25 years ago in the early 1990’s.

It was a simple idea of hospitality and prayer with no need for expensive premises, it would use what was already there ….. a home and a garden.

TO READ ABOUT PHILIP'S REFLECTIONS ON THE VISION OF THE QUIET GARDEN MOVEMENT - CLICK HERE +

ON ENTERING the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus told his dis­ciples: “Watch and pray.”

A garden is an integral element in God’s landscape. Whether they are attached to a home, church, retreat centre, monastery, school, hospice, or hospital, gardens of all shapes and sizes continue to offer solace and a place to step aside and per­haps encounter God.

In a garden, the local is dis­covered to be a microcosm of the global. An appreciation of a spider’s web still bedewed in the early-morning sun can sensitise us to the majestic reality of the cosmos, and to the network of all species. A prayer for a friend who is sick or facing other difficult circumstances opens our hearts to our wider human family. In a garden, we can travel from the “small” to the “all” easily.

The spiritual importance of gar­dens struck me 25 years ago when, after a sabbatical spent visit­ing Christian retreat houses and mon­asteries in India and North America, I was sitting with my wife in our back garden in High Wy­­combe on a sunny May day.

As a nature-lover, I had become aware that, often during his minis­try, Jesus withdrew — alone, or with two or three of his closest disciples — from the towns and villages into the countryside, to rest in the presence of God either before or after significant moments of heal­ing, preaching, teaching, or travel­ling.

My sabbatical quest led to an awareness that Jesus wanted his disciples to follow his lead, as they, too, were usually caught up in the demands of the day. “Come away to a quiet place by yourselves and rest for a while,” he says in Mark 6.32. That was the invitation and the im­­perative that impressed themselves upon me in my garden that day in 1992.

                       The first Quiet Garden at Stokes Poges, Buckinghamshire

As the vision clarified, I called a small discernment group together to weigh up the practical and theo­logical implications of seeking to make available simple and yet trans­forming open-air spaces where cur­rent generations of dis­ciples could replicate Christ’s re­­peated drawing apart to solitary places away from centres of popula­tion.

I made it known that there was a need for the first home and garden to be offered for a few hours weekly, monthly, or even just quarterly. Mir­aculously, by the September of that year, we opened the first Quiet Gar­den in Stoke Poges, a stone’s throw from where Thomas Gray com­­posed his “Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard”. This was thanks to the generous offer of Noreen and Geoffrey Cooper to make available their garden and part of their home twice a week. Today, there are more than 300 Quiet Gardens around the world.

In your own garden, it is all too easy to become consumed by the weeds and the quiet chaos. One of the gifts from visiting a Quiet Garden is that you do not have to be chore-conscious while you are there. If a group meets in a host’s house for a welcome, a prayer, a coffee, or some input before spending time in the garden, neither do they have to worry about the dust or the washing up.

This was appreciated by others of the early generation of Quiet Garden hosts: a couple from Van­couver Island, who had heard about the move­­­ment at a conference for spir­itual accompaniers. On their first day as hosts, Mike found himself sitting on a bench that he had built himself, look­­ing at a tree that he had planted 15 years earlier. A tear trickled down his face as he realised that this was the first time that he had stopped and looked at the tree. He had been so busy in the design and shaping of their home and garden that he had not given himself any time to watch and wonder.

                           A visitor in Mill Dene Garden, Gloucestershire

AT EASTERTIDE — at least in the western hemisphere — a garden in springtime can prompt the watcher into a “wonderstruck beholding”: a contemplative discipleship.

The larger story of the seasons re­­minds us of equally significant times for weeding and seeding, test­ing and pruning, dying and rising, fruiting and harvesting. A place of retreat may offer, even in a day, a Holy Week in miniature. Opportunity is always present for every emotion to be expressed or interiorised, from the gift of tears to the song of joy — all in the mystery of God’s journey in Christ.

God’s invitation to each of us to participate in the divine (2 Peter 1.4) is linked in a simple and yet pro­found way to Jesus’s invitation to “abide in my love” (John 15.9). If truth is Trinitarian, in the greening grace of a Quiet Garden, the life, light, and love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit may become a felt sense, an intimate reality. Our ex­­perience of God can be deepened if, consciously, we dedicate time to spend with each person of the  Trinity.

This is where a reflective time amid natural beauty can offer such potential. In what way is God the Father the source of all life? In what way is Jesus, the Son, the light of the world? In what way is the Holy Spirit the comforter? We have time and space to ponder and to experi­ence an encounter.

The sights and sounds of a garden — birdsong, the scent of blossom, the breath or the boldness of a breeze in the trees — can be a solace and delight. In the context of Easter and the paschal mystery, in mo­­­ments of reflection we find our­­selves incorporated into Jesus’s temptation and his trial, his betrayal and brutalising at the hands of those who conspired against him. The raw agony of innocent dying by grace releases us into a new conscious­ness: “Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!”

We apprehend that Good Friday, and all that precedes it; that Holy Saturday; and the life that breaks open the tomb in the garden. Noth­ing like this ever happened before. All is utterly new. The spring­­time of faith, of new and abundant life in Christ, can become radically and graciously present.

QUIET Gardens can be tiny or large, well-maintained or with wild edges. In many ways, Quiet Gardens attached to private homes — open, perhaps, for just a few hours a week, or even a month — are a halfway house between a retreat centre and a church, and thus sometimes more accessible, though less permanent.

                                  Ascot Quiet Garden in Berkshire, UK

Churches, retreat centres, or or­­gan­­isational settings that host Quiet Gardens in their grounds offer these more permanently; but all Quiet Garden hosts open their doors to people, offering something of God’s love and shalom.

But the essence of this ministry, in the garden of a home or an organisation, is to honour Christ’s pattern of withdrawal and engage­ment, stillness and story­telling, hospitality and healing. This is a time to nurture the human need to “be still and know”, to experience something of the interconnected­ness of heaven and earth, of mutu­ality and restfulness.

The Quiet Garden Movement celebrates the freedom to wrestle with, and to rest in wisdom from, the great spiritual tradition that is “in Christ”. We welcome those who are longing to find meaning and direction in their lives.

In our resource-gathering for the journey of knowing and unknow­ing, we celebrate insights from Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Pro­­test­ants, from Eastern and Western Christians, from poetry, and from the prophetic tradition. Scripture, sacraments, and saints provide illu­minating signposts along the way. Accompanied by stillness, the cycle of the Christian year turns.

Participants may become more fully awake to the sacrament of the present moment. They may also become attuned to the fruitfulness, and yet also the fragility, of the earth and her species. Whether at the edges of faith, or at its centre, we hope that all who visit will discover a new under­­standing of the intricacies of environment, quietude, and com­munity.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Revd Philip Roderick, Founder of the Quiet Garden Movement

 

To mark its anniversary, the Quiet Garden Movement has produced its new resource on stillness, Quiet25, with notes for leaders (www.quiet­garden.org/2017/quiet25-course/).

On 20 May, there is an open invi­tation to join “God is in the Garden” at St John’s, Waterloo, London, from 10.30 a.m. until 5 p.m., with the Revd Lucy Winkett, the Revd And­rew Walker, and the Quiet Garden founder the Revd Philip Roderick, among others, to give thanks for the past, walk in the garden, and look to the future (www.quietgarden.org/event/annual-gathering-2017/).

To explore the possibility of be­­com­ing a Quiet Garden host, visit www.quietgarden.org/join/hosting.

 


This article was first published in The Church Times on 13 Apr 2017

THE JUST WALK : ”a big crazy stunt : crazier than the Wall”

One man who decided several years back, to ACT,  is Justin Butcher.

We met him in  Ascot as the Director of Jennifer Leach’s play about the Palestinian conflict: TAKE TWO ( see Tales archive).   Justin and friends were “brewing” the idea of a pilgrimage to Palestine; a walk across Europe to mark a number of significant anniversaries in the history of the Palestine.

2017 marks three major anniversaries in the Palestinian struggle:

10 years of the blockade of Gaza ; 50 years of Occupation and 100 years since the Balfour Declaration.

LATEST UPDATE FROM JUSTIN BUTCHER –‘WE’RE HERE” !!    THEY’VE COMPLETED THEIR PILGRIMAGE AND ARRIVED IN PALESTINE – READ HERE

ALSO  – Video of their meeting at the Jordan border HERE

TO READ JUSTIN'S STORY - CLICK HERE +

Justin’s story is about a bold and exciting human rights initiative, two years in planning, about to launch: the Just Walk to Jerusalem. A pilgrimage and a book, which he is planning to walk and write.

2017 marks three major anniversaries in the Palestinian struggle:

10 years of the blockade of Gaza –

Israel’s land, sea and air blockade of Gaza began in June 2007. The inhabitants have suffered untold humanitarian consequences, including three major wars, and today 80% are dependent on food aid, while 30% of children in Gaza suffer acute anaemia;

50 years of Occupation –

Fifty years after the Six Day War of June 1967, Israel’s military occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank, Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Golan Heights continues. With more than 700,000 illegal settlers colonising the West Bank and East Jerusalem, hope for a political settlement recedes, while the frustration and despair of young Palestinians deepens;

100 years since the Balfour Declaration –

On 2nd November 1917, as British & Ottoman forces battled for Palestine, foreign secretary Arthur Balfour penned the now-infamous declaration which has led to a century of conflict: “His Majesty’s Government views with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use our best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.” (By “existing non-Jewish communities”, he meant the Palestinians, 90% of the population.) Hungarian-Jewish author Arthur Koestler later described the Balfour Declaration as “one of the most improbable political documents of all time, in which one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.”

Just Walk to Jerusalem    www.amostrust.org/just-walk

Europeans have been travelling to the Holy Land for nearly 2,000 years, as pilgrims, penitents, scholars, crusaders, conquerors and colonialists. Reflecting on this history, and Britain’s complicity in the ongoing conflict, I conceived the idea of a pilgrimage, a “Just Walk” to Jerusalem. Over the course of two years’ planning, in partnership with Amos Trust, the Just Walk to Jerusalem has become a reality: 100 years on, 100 days of walking, 2000 miles to Jerusalem. Following the ancient pilgrimage routes across Europe, tracing in reverse the migrant route from the Syrian civil war, walking the refugee road, enacting symbolically the Palestinians’ right of return, which is denied, gathering and travelling with fellow activists and faith communities along the way.

We will do this –

– in penance for Britain’s colonial history, giving away a land we had no right to give away;

– in solidarity with the Palestinian people, in their ongoing suffering;

– in hope & determination, inviting people across Europe to join the call for full equal rights for everyone who calls the Holy Land home, as there will never be peace in the Middle East until there is a just peace in Israel/Palestine.

Just Walk to Jerusalem will:

– depart London 10th June, the 50th anniversary of the Occupation, walking across Europe for 100 days, to arrive in Jerusalem 2nd November, the Balfour centenary;

– include more than 100 walkers, taking part in different sections of the Walk, and a core group of ten participants who have committed themselves to walk the entire route, travelling in 100-mile sections through Europe to Istanbul, where we fly to Amman, Jordan, and walk into the West Bank across the Allenby Bridge;

– walk through the West Bank, where we will receive a new “Declaration” from Palestinian schoolchildren, which we will deliver back to the Foreign Office in London;

– end with a symbolic entry into Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate, where we will be joined by Palestinian and Israeli peace activists for an act of commemoration, to acknowledge our collective responsibility for past injustices, the plight of the Palestinians today and the on-going conflict in the Middle East.

We are planning a series of meetings, encounters and acts of remembrance with faith communities and campaigning groups along the route. We’re also planning a number of visits to refugee camps across Europe, where we will share meals, conduct workshops with refugee-residents and devise performances, exhibitions and installations enabling participants to express and honour their stories of home.

Several publishers have expressed serious interest, with Hodders the frontrunner; my book proposal is attached, fyi. Out of the eventual book, I plan also to create a shorter storytelling performance piece, part theatre/part documentary, to tour in 2018.

For all details of the route, see www.amostrust.org/just-walk.

My costs to walk and write over 5 months are £30k. Contributions from Amos Trust, my church, sponsorship and publisher’s advance will total around £20k. I’m now seeking pledges of support to raise the final £10k. I’d be extremely grateful if you would consider supporting me in the Just Walk to Jerusalem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Justin Butcher

Justin Butcher is a writer, director, producer, actor and musician. His best known works include the award-winning solo play Scaramouche Jones, starring Pete Postlethwaite and directed by Rupert Goold, the hit anti-war satire The Madness Of George Dubya and its sequels, A Weapons Inspector Calls and Guantanamo Baywatch and the controversially-acclaimed Go To Gaza, Drink The Sea, as well as five plays for BBC Radio 4. He holds BA and MA Honours degrees in Classics Greats from Oxford University and is an Honours Graduate of Drama Studio London. He lives in London and has worked all over Europe, in Russia, the Middle East, Africa, Australasia, Canada, the USA and Mexico. His work is produced and studied all over the English-speaking world, and has been translated into Albanian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Spanish and Turkish. He reads and translates Ancient Greek and Latin. He is artistic director of Passion Pit Theatre, which has produced 13 acclaimed professional theatre productions in the UK, USA, Mexico, Malta and Australia since 1994. He is also founder and director of the acclaimed London choir Vox Holloway and works extensively as a conductor, MD, organist, pianist and singer. Alongside his work in the arts, he works regularly as creative consultant, speaker, trainer, comedy writer and event producer in the corporate, government and charitable sectors.

Contact: Justin Butcher

Literary agent: Charles Walker , United Agents   +44 (0)20 3214 0874

Acting agent: Jo Hole Associates +44 (0)20 8758 8420 or +44 (0)7889 534 833

A Fascinating Relationship with Pain

Instead of writing about an aspect of his Environmental work,as anticipated, Andrea shares unusually personal writing about his life- challenge.

He links the Story of one ‘activist’ and academic with the PAIN OF THE EARTH.

TO READ ANDREA'S STORY - CLICK HERE +

I have a fascinating relationship with pain. I was officially diagnosed in July 2005 with Myofascial Pain Syndrome. It’s a condition that gives you chronic muscle pain and constant fatigue, and whose cause(s) are very difficult to identify.

This is how it all started …In 2001 I started developing pains in my arms while undertaking computer work – being an academic, I wouldn’t be able to work if I couldn’t use a computer. By 2002 my GP gave me a diagnosis for Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). By 2005, muscle pain progressively worsened and I was only able to undertake computer work through the use of voice recognition software. During this period, muscular spasms spread from my arms and upper torso to my neck. Extensive physiotherapy and posture work were ineffective.  By January 2005, the RSI symptoms in both arms became increasingly severe with stabbing pains, burning sensation and prolonged stiffness in arms, back and neck. It became almost impossible to use a computer and even the use of voice recognition was constrained by pain in the neck and back.  By June 2005, although all repetitive activities using arms had been stopped, muscular pain spread to the jaw. This resulted in severe difficulty in eating and sleeping due to chronic muscle spasms in the jaw. Severe exhaustion developed with associated psychological effects (depressions, insomnia, anxiety, etc). The world was basically caving in on me. By then, I was unable to drive, unable to use my arms (I was dropping everything! ) and unable to carry out prolonged activity such as reading a book, or even washing. Medical tests during this period (blood and urine tests,  magnetic resonance, x-rays and countless consultations with rheumatologists, neurologists, etc) identified no major cause of the pain.  In July 2005, at a loss with identifying the cause of my condition, it was given a ‘Myofascial Pain Syndrome’ diagnosis. Resigned to the fact that all the tests have not identified a clear cause, and therefore, that I may never be able to get rid of this thing, I adopted a different strategy to simply waiting for a doctor to tell me what to do. My instinct told me that I needed to fight fire with fire: muscle pain with muscle pain! So I initiated a rigorous regime of physical activity: swimming twice a week, yoga twice a week and Pilates once a week.

By December 2005, the pain in my torso subsided so that sleep became possible, but the severe pain in arms intensified so that even handwriting was no longer an option. Pain in my neck also became worse.  By June 2007, the situation became stabilised in that pain in my torso became manageable through extensive aerobic physical activity. By August 2009, the level of physical activity (yoga, swimming) and strict management of any activities that trigger the onset of muscle pain (keyboard/mouse manipulations; driving; being stationary for too long, stress, lack of sleep, etc) meant that the condition was under control. However, sensitivity seemed to have increased, so that lower thresholds triggered the onset of pain, and physical exercises and associated work pacing, required to keep the pain at bay, had to be gradually increased. The exercise regime increased to 1 hour of yoga every morning, stretching breaks every hour, and 45 minutes of swimming in the late afternoon. Driving long distances was limited to about once a month. The pain that these exceptional events resulted in, would take about one week to subside. By August 2010, on-going chronic pain resulted in a referral by my GP to undertake an intensive pain management course at my local NHS hospital. The course emphasises the need for activity pacing and assertive workload management.

All the time I upped my exercise regime. By the summer of 2015 I was able to run long distances (more than 20 miles a week). However, both my Achilles tendons gave way in the summer of 2016, so I was clearly pushing myself too much. I now can’t run, but I hope to get back to it soon. Cycling is okay, and my ultimate dream is to complete a triathlon!

My present condition is as follows: I apply a strict adherence to appropriate work/life balance and exercise/stretching routines. This means that the condition is under control (I now do yoga and swimming every day, and try to stay outdoors being ‘physical’ every weekend). Work productivity as a result of advances in assistive technologies (voice recognition software, head motion activated mouse pointer) has significantly improved with levels comparable to able-bodied colleagues when symptoms are fully under control. Occasionally, there are flareups, but I manage these through the temporary use of painkillers. However, new ‘permanent’ symptoms are emerging with inflammation to joints in my neck, wrists, knees, ankles, back an almost constant sinusitis. This has occasionally resulted in difficulties in undertaking my exercise/stretching routine, with consequent relapses into chronic pain.

So, my battle with pain continues: it’s an ‘arms race’ between the pain developing new ways of affecting me, and my ability to figure out ways of keeping it under control. I have no ability to predict how I will be affected in the next few weeks, months or years: will I be able to continue interacting positively with my children, my wife and my friends ? Will I be able to continue with my work ? Will I be able to continue with swimming ? Will I be able to look after my allotments ? I’m pretty much on a knife edge: any worsening of the condition which affect my exercise regime could result in a downward spiral where I would be completely consumed by chronic pain just as I was back in 2005.

This gives me a constant urge to try to achieve as much as I can, while I can, just in case I am devoured by the pain. I do sometimes wonder whether I would have the same drive to achieve things and to have such a crazy exercise regime if it wasn’t for this imminent catastrophe ?

To me, this also reflects the wider predicament humanity faces as a whole with regards to climate change. Our planet is in pain, and if we resign ourselves to this condition, then the planet and ourselves with it will be consumed by it. Instead, it’s time that we got into a new ‘exercise regime’ – throwing all of our energies into keeping our ‘planetary pain’ at bay. So the pain that I share with planet Earth is also an incentive for me to do all that I can to avert the climate change catastrophe.

 

 

 

 

 

Andrea Beradi, Jay Mistry, Manu, Anju

 

Andrea Berardi has more than 20 years experience in teaching, researching and building capacity for enabling sustainable communities. After achieving a number of qualifications in ecology (BSc), nature conservation (MSc) and ecology/environmental science (PhD), he has taught at the London School of Economics, University College London, Royal Holloway, and The Open University. His work has engaged communities from the Borneo and Amazonian rainforests; the floodplains of the Mekong and the Guianas; the savannas of East Africa and Latin America; and the coastal regions of southern Italy and Wales.

His main interests lie in facilitating grass roots approaches to ecological sustainability and social justice using an action learning process. The aim is to enable communities to collaboratively learn from their own practical experiences using local resources (rather than being told what to do from “experts” or relying on external support).

Apart from working full-time as a lecturer for the Open University, he also tries to walk his talk through cultivating several allotments, keeping hens, managing a woodland, having a low consumption lifestyle and participating in a range of activities locally and in support of the UK Green Party, CND, Amnesty International, and Greenpeace.

Andrea was a co-investigator on Project COBRA (September 2011-February 2015), a €1.9 million research project funded by the European Union. COBRA researched ways to integrate community solutions within policies addressing escalating social, economic and environmental crises, through accessible information and communication technologies. He co-authored the Project COBRA Practitioner Handbook in order to allow other facilitators to build capacity within communities so that communities members themselves can identify and share their own solutions to current and emerging challenges. For a pdf copy of the handbook, and other Project COBRA outputs, go tohttp://projectcobra.org/

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/andreaberardiou

27/5/17

 

The Natural Bee Keeping Trust and The World’s Mantra

“It is fabled that we slowly lose the gift of speech with animals, that birds no longer visit our windowsills to converse. As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armour themselves against wonder.”    — Leonard Cohen

 

 

 

 

 

This week's Story is from The Natural Beekeeping Trust - it is powerful and beautiful PLEASE READ MORE - CLICK HERE +

I want to tell you what I know about honeybees and their inclinations and purpose as much as I have gleaned from keeping their company, for many years, and intensely so, this summer just gone.  And should I succeed in giving you a sense of who they are, and also of what they are not, please do seek them out in the woods or wherever you find them,  and tell it to them because it will affirm them greatly to be told that you know who they are.

  The bees and us, we both have a sting, but theirs dispenses healing and even helps to loosen us a little from the fetters of earthbound thinking, whereas that of humankind spells death and disaster in the heart of the biosphere, the bees and all our pollinators. Fear not the bees’ venom and don’t ever approach them in heavy armour, they dispense their precious venom judiciously and only for healing. We can be at peace with one another, the bees and us, so bear with me if I refrain from discussing beekeeping, since for that I have neither qualification nor certainty. I was a beekeeper once, and the bees have forgiven it.  Should a time come when they call you I fancy that you will heed them and invite them into your life. They might arrive as a swarm since they are very capable of divining your soul’s inclinations, and then they might change your life and you will never look back and dwell in the joy of it. I’d say it is probable, and wish it greatly for you.

 Bee people, a tribe somewhat distinct from beekeepers,  have something in common, perhaps more than one thing, but this for certain: they all grapple with the bees’ language. They speak foreign, the bees. Foreign to all our mother tongues, except Lithuanian, maybe, where you still meet folks who tell you that the bees need to live high up in trees, the higher the better, so as to be close to their gods. It’s fair to say that to most of us the bees speak as if in code. So to converse with them well we need to employ faculties beyond our day awake consciousness. They will develop over time, and I’ve met people to whom they come naturally, but some effort is usually involved. Time spent on patient observation is very helpful, as is meditation. It takes good will and times of silence and quiet surrender to understand anything about the bees, anything at all, so time you must take. As for the bees’ language, that foreign language, Carol Ann Duffy captures it utterly:

 ...the hive is love, what we serve, preserve, avowed in Latin murmurs, as we come and go, skydive, freighted with light ….  The world’s mantra us ….

 That world’s mantra resounded  for many thousands of years, inspiring  bee love and worship, and the bees were sacred to people. One might say they were a totem, not just in the symbolic sense, but in the actual sense of a creature through which access is gained to a spiritual connection with all of nature and the cosmos and through which the human tribe can determine appropriate actions vis a vis those worlds.

 This was a long time ago, and gradually, over time,  human beings began to banish the spirits from nature and take dominion over the animals and every living creature and finally, even the sacred bees fell victim to the laws of the production line. Now, as we all know, they’re dying in their millions for our follies. In times of stillness we can still hear it, the world’s mantra, in places where the bees are, and pray and hope that the bees will not give up on us, that they will prove tougher, more resilient than the Great Barrier Reef, whose demise leaves us stunned with sorrow. The bees are dying and with them all the other insects, and the birds, too. Our time is one of a great diminishing of life, unprecedented in the history of mankind – the tapestry of the living word, once so rich and varied and wildly populated, is threadbare and worn. Nature’s orchestras are losing their players, one by one, and so fast that we hardly have time to mourn each loss.  The honeybees, we cannot afford to ever lose, because we need them badly, for beauty and for solace in times of grief and lament. They are our teachers. They understand that well, and solace they can give in abundance, but there’s nothing they can do for us if we do not love them enough.

 Love for the bees, what does it mean? So much is written and said about bees, but as is the way with celebrity fame, it achieves little,  besides a media barrage on the creature concerned, and the forming of trivial concepts in people’s heads.  Click-activism weakens the will and imparts a false sense of involvement. I’d like to suggest that we desist from saying or thinking, ever again, that the bees are responsible for providing much of  the food we eat. Somewhat absurdly, we’ve been seduced by insidious media coverage of the so-called plight of the bees to worry more about the food we eat than about the food they eat. — So here we are, consuming their honey and feeling a little concerned about their fate, since they are “responsible for three out of four mouthfuls” of the food we eat all the while the food the bees eat is poisoned by the way we grow ours. And all the while their food, their honey is taken from them for us to eat!  This, too, will pass, as we painfully learn the bees’ lesson about the truth and beauty of interdependence, and begin looking to them for the healing of our souls and for learning what love is. For now, what I wish for the honeybee is a beekeeping ceasefire, a time of amnesty to allow at least some of them to return to the trees where they belong, and live on honey and in peace. This would allow us to imagine them truly as creatures in need of protection, of nesting sites, of natural living and put an end to our unfortunate association of honeybees as boxes of insects dependent on man’s essentially self-serving ministrations.

 Concerning the keeping of honeybees in a semi-domestic setting, there is much to recommend it. The life of a honeybee family is a pageant of miracles. Under their tutelage we can learn many things and the more we learn the less we know, and that is an excellent schooling. School ourselves we must to get close to bees, to relate to them for mutual benefit, and those of you who still talk to elves and tree spirits and other such folk may well have an advantage as regards humility and sense-free perception, both desirable attributes for relating to bees, or any living creature, for that matter. For a training in beholding the ineffable in nature, honeybees offer rich opportunity – each facet of their hive life is a challenge to embrace the supersensible in nature. Contemplate, for example, the production of snow white wax in the dark of the hive! The young bees who work this wonder need to be supplied with copious amounts of nectar to perform the task of building the body for the whole, since that is what comb is, the body of the Bee. As soon as the comb builders reach the age of forager bees, they transform the glands needed for wax production into other specialist equipment suited to the tasks ahead, and so forth.  Each single bee undergoes stages of metamorphosis in precise accordance with the needs of the wholeness, the hive. The hive is a continuum of metamorphosis and an ever-transforming wholeness that is potentially infinite.

 Honeybees are the only creatures apart from us human beings who communicate by dancing. They dance in spring, summer and autumn, in the dark of the hive, on selected parts of the comb,  except on special festive occasions. When a bee discovers a wealth of blossoms that promise a good return she will return to her hive and dance so joyously that others will avidly join the dance and the fragrance of the flower will spread throughout the hive and align every worker bee to the great purpose of venturing forth to that benign spot where the flowers are in the process of yielding their nectar. Nectar secretion is time sensitive, it depends on the warmth of the sun and the direction of the wind and the earth’s moisture. Each type of blossom has its own preference as to what conditions are right regarding these dynamic interactions. Bees know this and they never waste time. So directions will be given in the dark of the hive –  the bees use the sun as their compass, and even when it’s not shining, they read the patterns behind the clouds and share all the vital information. They also allow for the time it takes for their nest mates to reach that promising spot, and the altered position of the sun. Whatever they do, each minute action in the hive, the bees’ interests are perfectly aligned. Without fail. When a particularly interesting site opens up, as it were, such as a linden tree or a field of lavender, their dances get very wild and even young bees might be pressed into action. So they dance and dance to the tunes that reflect the world each day.

 Their queen is their mother, and fathers they have many, but not in the hive, the male quality is embedded in the queen bee when she soars from the hive towards the sun for her wedding flight,  pursued by hundreds of drones of which the fittest get to meet her and donate their lives to her and the hive’s perpetuity. The males perish dramatically in the act of mating, and the virgin bee returns a queen with the amazing potential to bring forth baby bees for as long as five years all being well. Every spring, when the bees have responded to the early pollen of crocus, hazel and willow and raised many young,  a great wonder comes to pass. It usually happens between Easter and St. John’s that  the spirit of the hive –  a wisdom-filled emissary of a planetary intelligence called Venus – senses the call to perpetuate the species. Then new males will be raised in the hive to stock the surrounding country with thousands of drones, destined to engage in pursuits of virgin queens when the time comes for the nuptial flight of the bee princesses. And the very fittest of them will be allowed to mate with her, thus ending their physical lives but living on within the queen bee and her progeny for years to come. Such are the faerie tales we may dwell on as we sit in peace with the bees and marvel.

The World’s Mantra

“It is fabled that we slowly lose the gift of speech with animals, that birds no longer visit our windowsills to converse. As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armour themselves against wonder.”    —Leonard Cohen

  Honey is a marvellous medicine for body and soul and the bees would gladly share it. However, they have little to spare nowadays because we have taken all the flowers and trees and much of what is left gets poisoned. All the while the blossoms are poisoned and the trees felled the bees carry on their timeless endeavours, persevering as best they can with their mighty feats of pollination.  Increasingly, what they bring back from nature is making them sick. Our warfare against nature is poisoning the bees’ food and they have no defence against it. The individual bee does not judge the flower or assess its worth.  What is collected in nature is carried into the hive. But now we have scientific evidence that the spirit of the hive gets the big picture. A process sets in at which we cannot but marvel: as the beeing senses that the weal of the community is threatened by toxic overload, its members cover over the stores of pollen with a layer of propolis to protect the nursery, to keep the family safe. Imagine this! The bees are engaging in a hitherto unknown act in direct response to a very great threat, sealing off the food they have collected in thousands of flights! The pollen stores of bee colonies found engaging in this new behaviour contained up to forty different kinds of agricultural pesticides.
 Pollen is a miracle.  Pollen constitutes the protein food of the honeybee, and is essential nourishment for countless other insects, too. We see it coming into the hive in the form of compact balls of many colours carried on the bees’ third pair of legs, packed tightly into a special indentation we call the bees’ pollen baskets. The importance of fresh pollen arriving in late winter for the build-up of the young brood cannot be overestimated; nothing can take the place of pollen for the growing of new bees, and for preparing the highly nutritious bee milk for the queen. Did the discovery of bees sealing themselves off from their essential food supplies send shockwaves through the world? Or the scientific community? Was it on the front page of every national paper to help wake the world up to this catastrophe?  The newly identified behavioural trait of apis mellifera was given a name:  entombment and  described in the familiar language of detachment; the presence of entombing is the biggest single predictor of colony loss. It’s a defence mechanism that has failed.’   —-  Go tell it to the bees that we grow our food crops with neurotoxins. That the wildflowers, too, get poisoned. That their mother, the queen will be the first to succumb, since her cosmic nature has no defence against evil. We need not tell the bees, they know it already.

There are places in the world where the bees are still thriving, where they forage on vast meadows and orchards and  much of the land is untouched and the wind carries the music of a full orchestra of insects and birds. We must fear for them, and create places, too, in the middle of man made deserts where the honeybees are afforded sanctuary. Where they are free to swarm to propagate the species. Where bees and people live together in a prayerful mood and celebrate the seasons and the stories of creation. Whoever plants trees now, or tends a garden in partnership with nature, and mindful of the needs of the insects, is deserving of our deepest gratitude. Such folks are bee people. The bees need them a great deal more than beekeepers who expect the bees to pay for themselves.  Every tree raised, every piece of earth cultivated with flowering plants is a vital step towards stemming the tide of proliferating wastelands devoid of bees and birdsong and trees.  —  As bee people we welcome the bees’ swarming as the high point of the year, indeed we celebrate it with them. ‘Enchanted to meet you’ we say. We aim to live close to the bees and tend to their offspring like farmers to newborn lambs.. Each beeing, each hive is a little universe, completely evolved, perfect like a star. Which brings to mind another thing that bee people have in common, we look up to the bees because we invariably find them superior to ourselves. Frequently we also arrange our hives high up because the bees are naturally high living creatures, tree dwellers. All this may be unknown to you when you first join the bee people, because the beekeepers who write books about beekeeping are mostly silent about such things. So, until one is written by one of the bee people, if I’m asked to recommend which book to read about keeping bees I recommend none.  Do read about the bees, read Tolstoy, Virgil, John Burnside or Mark Winston and Tom Seeley and others besotted with bees, but steer well clear of beekeeping books, especially modern ones, because beekeeping will do the bees no good and you neither. We can be guardians to the bees as well as their students, we can study plant lore, sow seeds for meadows of sunflowers, lavender and thyme, plant orchards and forests, and make gardens of paradise in which to revere the bees and their kind.

 It’s only in more recent times, ever since an American pastor named Lorenzo Langstroth invented the framed hive around 1850 that we have come to associate honeybees with boxes placed on the ground, attended by people in armour and producing honey for the markets of the world. It was a groundbreaking invention, and such was the ground that was broken that Lorenzo fell into a state of melancholy and despair from which he never recovered.  Nor did the bees, since it marked the beginning of their downfall. In the wake of this invention bee colonies were increasingly put in boxes like filing cabinets, to be taken apart at will, their wholeness shattered, sliced and used as spare parts to swap between hives. The invention paved the way for the cold hearted bee engineer who became the model for beekeeping in the whole of the Western world. Edward O. Wilson, the renowned Harvard biologist has referred to bees and other pollinators as the ‘heart of the biosphere’. This heart is ailing. The glorious bees have been degraded to slaves of the insect world. Managed bees, woe betide. It is bitter to gaze at the travailing earth through the multi-faceted eyes of the bees:

 Where the bee sucks/neonicotinoid insecticides in a cowslip bell lie/ in fields purple with lavender/yellow with rape/and on the sunflower’s upturned face/on land monotonous with cereals and grain…

  from where the bee goes to suck she flies no more because her nerves have succumbed to neurotoxins’ diabolical purpose.  So thank God for the saints and poets and mad people who converse with fairies and leprechauns, thank the Poet Laureate for her bee poems, they are beautiful and true.

 Where the bees live, such places are holy places, whole and sound. Look out for them and tell the bees that we love them. Ask them what came first, the banishing of the spirits from the living world or the crushing of our own, they surely will have an answer.  And if you offer them a hive, in summer time, be sure that it is a beautiful hive, in a beautiful place. Let the hive proclaim the beneficence of the being that inhabits it. Let them face the rising sun. Go there often. Go in peace. If that’s not possible because your soul is in turmoil, tell it to them, but don’t breathe on them as you will make them afraid.  Bees will make all things better. Each day we can be born again among the bees;  without the bees we are nothing.

http://www.naturalbeekeepingtrust.org/

http://www.natural beekeeping trust.org/mantra

Poetry: Hive & The Bees, Carol Ann Duffy, Picador

A Crone’s View of May Days

Greeting spring …

Worker solidarity …

International distress signals …

This Story is a ramble through various conversations that have taken place amongst Anne’s friends, during the past days. It offers a glimpse into the myriad influences pouring into our minds…..

TO READ MORE - CLICK HERE +

I used to join in Networking. Now Old’n Creaky, I just muse on Connections. Sit, listen, talk.

The following Story outlines such Cronery days….

Three groups I’ve sat amidst last week are doing a doggy- paddle through the dislocated  ‘values and action’ debates that currently abound in this part of the UK. Aged mid 50s to mid 80s, we ‘re professional educators. Each with 30 or so years of radical activism in education, social services, industry, academia, counselling, local campaigning, engineering.

The feeling in the talk was of no longer seeing an obvious space for this work. Been clear about purpose, IN OUR MINDS  for YEARS.  The aura of the Time is obviously post BREXIT, TRUMP, and now the forthcoming UK General Election. Fear of a right-wing government installed for YEARS is raised. ….and the cartoon poster BREXIT held aloft as an alternative to that old favourite ‘The Day of Judgement in Nigh’.

And, in such convivial circles many of us are gardeners, actively committed to nature.

GLORYING in this year’s Spring. What blossoms ! How fresh the green leaves. How exuberent the birdsong.

So threading the Maypole ribbons through the dog – paddling , we’ve been checking tales of tadpole scarcity, increasing raptor sightings. One friend leads maypole dancing recalling the folk traditions of Germany, England & Sweden. Others celebrate Pentecost. Hoards of cars at local Carboot Sale.

And ‘what about the workers ?’ In our major town Reading, echoing London demos.. there’s a Climate Change alert and two Anti Austerity marches. Worldwide, the streets shout anxiety about jobs: 99% v 1%.  Elections take place in France & Greece. The Occupy Movement promises huge demonstrations on the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco.

And MAY DAY alarms fill the global press .. spotlight shifted from Syria to the Korean Peninsula.  An RT  TV analysis (which I missed because of a dog-paddle meet !) reported the implications of China’s decision to ally with Russia to combat the US dollar market with a new Gold backed trading standard.

No wonder we need a May Day public holiday to barbecue our frazzled minds or lie in daisy strewn  grass, entwined with my beloved XXX

WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITED AT LAST, ENMESHED IN MAY-DAY STREAMERS

Our Animal Friends

Around this home, these days, it’s flashing-by wild creatures who wander the garden. Not animals who have been right close with us, for years; by your feet , under your feet, a foot away to catch the tossed bone, off & away.. over the gate….a go-crazy UP, hurtling the old Apple tree…

Get-togethers with friends includes animals and tales of animals. And when you take time to SEE them , they suddenly come into focus. Their BEING with, but distinct from US.

Co- dependent ? Lotta yanking on leads goes on….all around ?

TO READ THE STORIES OF OUR ANIMAL FRIENDS - CLICK HERE +

SADIE

SADIE was given into our care 3 years ago after  we had visited a re-homing centre volunteering to adopt a dog. She is a Golden Cocker spaniel, now 14 years old and was a very mixed up little dog, with lots of behavioural problems, having never being socialised, trained or taught to walk on a lead. She really didn’t like people and other dogs, but proved to have a strong will and determination having had to fend for herself as she was left alone, locked in, for 12 hours a day in her previous life. She is a challenge!. We still have to be one step ahead of her but after a lot of patience and training we have at last gained her trust and she has wormed her way into out hearts.

Sue Yarwood

 

MATILDA

On driving past Pine Ridge dog sanctuary in Ascot, I always knew I would go there one day!

The call to get a dog became so strong this winter that it was impossible to focus on anything else.

We went to Pine Ridge (such a lovely setting for a dog sanctuary) on my birthday in late November. On meeting MATILDA for the first time we all knew she was the most wonderful puppy. She had been rescued and hand reared with her brother in Spain.

She has been a joy and delight and really completes our family. We think she is a Pointer and Labrador cross. We knew her brother Milo was also at Pine Ridge so we went to see him with Matilda. Although he is a wonderful dog we felt two puppies at once would be too much.

The happy outcome is that our next door neighbours saw a picture we had taken of Milo and he now lives next door! Matilda and Milo are ever so happy to see each other and play beautifully together.

Alex Jolly

 

BERTIE

                                          

Everyone thinks their dogs are extra special of course and I am besotted by my lovely Snorkiejack (Schnauzer, Norfolk, Yorkie, Jack Russell cross) called Herbert or ‘BERTIE’ for short.

I realised early on that he was an ‘uplifter’ not just of humans but for other dogs too. When he was 3 months old he went up to a little boy in the street and started frantically licking the boys’ right knee (who had trousers on). His mother told me he had fallen over that morning and badly cut his knee and had a big bandage on his leg under his trousers. The little boy thought this was wonderful.

After a short while of walking with him I also discovered that he has the most wonderful effect on ALL dogs. No matter how techy or snappy the dog he always gets them to play with him much to the owners’ surprise. One day we met a very depressed black Labrador called Jack who had been depressed for the last 3 years since his doggie companion had died. He was very sad, hadn’t played or run since and clung to his owners side resisting all initial attempts at play by Bertie who was jumping up at him and egging him on for a chase. After about 2 minutes as I chatted to the owner, it suddenly picked its head up, barked at Bertie and went on a ‘mad run’ with Bertie in hot pursuit. They had a wonderful play and he has been cheerful ever since.

Right from the start he had this ability, even in puppy school all the trainers wanted him in their class as they said he had a steadying and calming effect on the other dogs! What a joy he is on every level, reminding me to have fun much more often too. For those of you familiar with the lovely New Zealand children’s books he also looks the spitting image of ‘Hairy McClary from Donaldson’s Dairy’.

Sarah Cox

 

PIP, SNUDGEY, BIANCA AND WALLY

                                   

“Come ON, hurry UP. We’re going to Birmingham”. ” What  for?”; shouted back twelve year old me. “To get you a puppy!” Ohhh! I tell you…Bliss. Been ASKING for years!!

Very small, very chilled terrier PIP came home;  sat in the hearth for a week scarcely shifting, to my great disappointment … but then rallied to be my companion all the remaining girlhood.

A second dear creature arrived some twenty years later, SNUDGEY; tiny tabby kitten, in 10″ x 10″ box, huge Remembrance poppy around his neck. A bold cat from the start. Competed for food-attention with three small children by hurtling up and down the stairs, scratching the carpet to shreds.

Next was BIANCA, a Golden Labrador. Her claim to fame was her attachment to the near-by hospital.  “Hello, Cook here! Your lovely doggie’s had her dinner and I gave her a big bone. Could you come and fetch doggie, now ?” Off I’d shoot down main road, around traffic island .. all negotiated efficiently by lone-traveller, Bianca !

Last of our beloveds was WALLY, “named” a Siberian Otter Hound…well! A hugely fluffy being who’d jump and run-away, like the clappers. After many years as ‘side by side’ pal….where I was, there was Wally…. he died. A four year old Grandchild grieved. Calling her Mummy in the middle of the night:- “I fink Wally gone for long walk. I looked for him EVERYWHERE. Wally dis-ap- pear-ead”

Anne Yarwood

‘TAKE TWO’

a play about an aspect of the Palestinian conflict,

Writer Jennifer Leach,  Director Justin Butcher,  Producer Anne Yarwood

 ART IS NOT A MIRROR TO HOLD UP TO SOCIETY, IT IS A HAMMER TO SHAPE IT.  Thomas Merton

 Autumn 2014 attracted 200 into two local Anglican churches to watch a whipped-up-from-nowhere small AmDram group perform this new play. Significant statements in that sentence; 200 is a big audience for around here, for a political play and Anglican churches welcoming contention is uncommon. 

It all began one day when I awoke to a strident imperative – ” MAKE A PLAY” … so 9 months later, “we” DID . I produced, with friends and no starter money ( same old tale) an half hour, six person play which gave voice to Palestinian & Israeli anguish in the long-time impasse.

The following observations will be familiar to all of us who move beyond the inspiration of a GREAT IDEA, into making it happen.

I suggest that some significant STARTER QUESTIONS are... TO READ MORE - CLICK HERE +

I suggest that some significant STARTER QUESTIONS are…

*from which direction did the Lightening strike? A personal investment in a cause? some hurt long sustained ? A recent awakening?

*In Hero’s Journey terms…how did we start? how actually did we move to action from TALK & BROODING?

*Where did the companions come from? Challenging myself and friends with the issue of ACCESS to involvement , as an equality practice…who did we see as comrades ?

*Money! Did we think through the answer to who’s to be paid, who pro-bono.. and why? And how did that decision affect fund-raising decisions?

*If a new acting group, how did we enroll ?

*If a contentious subject, who will welcome us into their space?

TAKE TWO’s ANSWERS include the following:- :-

The INSPIRATION  came from two old friends of my family who visit Israel and the Occupied Territories, returning to detail their witness. It was respect for their commitment, my own reading and facts from ICHAD, Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, which burrowed into my conscience. Then THE DREAM : DO IT ! There was no escape from my genetic Justice credo.

NEXT I talked with a few people whom I knew were concerned about the Palestinian conflict . We were a white middle class huddle. No thought to invite joiners beyond people we knew and trusted.. with the exception of a Jewish friend who added valuable insight to the initial discussions about our Purpose. He left the group after two meetings. We never really found out his specific reasons for departing. An example of limited ENERGY for detailed follow-up.

MONEY. We had none. From the start, fees to Writer & Director were agreed . Everything else was freely given including the rehearsal and performance space in ALL SAINTS, Ascot Heath . We made a donation to ST. BARTS , Reading in accordance with their rules. These costs meant we had to venture CROWDFUNDING together with approaches to local Trusts .By a squeak, the final account balanced through the generosity of close friends and politically aligned groups. That said, there was deliberate intention to use detailed funding applications to engage Ascot charities in particular, in committee discussion about the relevance to Ascot of the play.

THE ACTORS came only from amongst known contacts, try as we did to widen the net’s spread.  This limited response demonstrates the ferocious tenacity to intention, that is needed in the social, cultural & political clime of this part of the UK, to attract participation in radical  political issues. (200 audience from population 104,000 District Windsor/Maidenhead )

SYNCHRONICITY .. Carl Jung’s “meaningful coincidences” carried Take Two to unexpectedly outstanding success.

Finding two superb artists was a miracle. First the highly acclaimed writer, Jennifer Leach, a professional artist who set up her own company in 2010 to create new ground-breaking theatre and art. The convenor of our playreading group had introduced us to Jennifer and her play Where Then Shall We Start?, an anti-war work staged at the Queen’s House, Greenwich 2014 during the centenary year of WWI.

ASCENT Environment network ventured to commission from her Take Two. The script would “SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER”, a key imperative for the environment group. Our second miracle was finding Justin Butcher as our Director. The founding-friend-the-vistor to Israel & Palestine had heard of this outstanding director, actor, writer, musician who actively supported the Palestinian cause. Jennifer and Justin met; THE IMAGINATION ACTED, WONDERFULLY!

ON REFLECTION

As the instigator, I was exhausted within the buoyancy of our brilliant success. ( pix .. spy me floating in an inflated ring across the Greeness of Blue Ascotia).In such pop-up endeavours, WHO SUSTAINS THE MOMENTUM ? 

Heart-lands dig in, to the glory of the faithful. Changes in the Political climate buffet funding security.  The Imagination is summoned  again, as a Mother. She’s given birth, but the babies are yelling. They thirst.

Anne Yarwood

The Imagination Acts

http://theimaginationacts.co.uk/

theimaginationacts@gmail.com

Festival of the Dark –

Festival of the Dark is about to become a micro-festival of small organic events in small spaces, with big soul and big love.

Our beautiful event on 25 March, The Night Breathes Us In, will be the last of its kind in the year.

If you are free and can come, please do. Please also make a conscious effort to engage others, and to bring them with you on this journey.

We have 20 performers, musicians, singers, storytellers, bringing their extraordinary gifts to Reading. TO READ MORE ... CLICK HERE +

It will be a day of creation that has been uniquely devised for our town. This is a rich offering and one that our Festival team would like to be honoured.

We currently have sold too few tickets to make it the full, celebratory event it has been envisaged as. Tickets are £13 for each session. The afternoon session will be made up of three separate opportunities for creative explorations of aspects of darkness. The evening session will be a candlelit procession through Reading, followed by a magical evening around a campfire, with stories, song, music, performance. Led by unparalleled practitioners. The day will end with a grand toast to community, beneath the night skies of a Spring Equinox.

Changing narratives, hearts, minds can only happen if we work together in community. For all of you who are wanting positive change, could you consider supporting this event with your unique presence? Sometimes we have to rest in trust upon the fact that our presence is required. If you are free and can come, please do. Please also make a conscious effort to engage others, and to bring them with you on this journey.

The financial games of any creative event are challenging. Not a game we wish to be playing. If anyone of you wants to come and cannot pay, we would like to welcome you without question, so please let us know.

Let us make it, together, a festivity to remember!

Warm wishes,

Jennifer, Hollie and the team

Please contact Hollie Brader, Project Manager for Festival of the Dark 07583748265 for further details

Outrider Anthems – Find us on Twitter and Instagram @outrideranthems – https://www.facebook.com/OutriderAnthems/

The TALES presents the full script for the ‘Take Two’ Play by Jennifer Leach

Jennifer Leach

HOPI PRAYER

“You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour.  And there are things to be considered . . .

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.”

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, “This could be a good time!”

“There is a river flowing now very fast.  It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid.  They will try to hold on to the shore.   They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.

“Know the river has its destination.  The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water.   And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.  At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves.  For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

“The time for the lone wolf is over.  Gather yourselves!  Banish the word struggle from you attitude and your vocabulary.  All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

— attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder

Hopi Nation

Oraibi, Arizona

To My Best Friend

This week’s Story is Hilary Davis’s memories of Tina Messenger

Memories of Tina - To read ... CLICK HERE +

To My Best Friend,

Tina, you have given me so many memories.

You led me through Colourful Festivals and Quite Forests.

To ‘age old’ places with Sacred Mounds, Burrows and Silent Pools.

Around Standing Stones and Uffington White Horse and Wayland Smithy.

We followed trails of Kings and Monks, Myths and Legends.

We camped below Glastonbury Tor, in the apple orchard.

Where the Mistletoe grew so low on the trees that you could just reach out and touch it. I remember it snowed

But still we looked in ‘ore’ at the ancient Oaks of Gog and Magog.

Tina could read the Stars, the Cards, Stones and even Twigs

and bring them all to a meaningful focus for the here and now.

The evenings I remember best are just sitting around an open fire, drink in hand talking about the things we wanted to do, our hopes and dreams. And at some point, her trusty recorder would come out and we would have music.

Tina was never happier than when she was studying. Although suffering pain for a lot of her life she was a firm believer in the ‘wholeness of a person’.

She became a qualified Therapist, studying Anatomy and Physiology, Massage, Aromatherapy, and Reflexology.

She attended a Counselling course at East Berkshire College and read Theology at Oxford Brooks.

Tina was also a qualified and inspiring dance teacher who taught many genres of dance, Latin. Middle Eastern and even Bollywood.

And as a talented Artist and Designer, she enriched all our lives with her work.

I remember how much she loved nature and animals

and how knowledgeable she was about them.

Tina, you never gave up on anyone. You gave unconditional love.

You were kind and caring and although sometimes complicated and confusing,

You were So Worth It.

Your friend forever

Hilary  xxx

12 March 2017

The GALLERY shows a series of Tina’s drawings, using coloured pencils.

Maya Angelou

”History, despite its wrenching pain, cannot be unlived, but if faced with courage need not be lived again”
 
This week’s Story is Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Still I Rise’
 
Maya Angelou died May 28th. 2014 in Winston Salem, North Carolina, aged 86. She was an American poet, memoirist and Civil Rights Activist. She wrote and declaimed the poem, On the Pulse of the Morning , at President Clinton’s Inauguration.

 

To read ' Still I Rise' ... CLICK HERE +

Still I Rise

 

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

From And Still I Rise by Maya Angelou. Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou.

BBC iPlayer  Documentaries “Imagine” . Maya Angelou  BBC ONE  28/2/17 

Image result for pic of maya angelou

Steve, Man of the Woods

Steve joined the growing band of local people concerned to Speak Up & Speak Out about the environment during the past ten years. Part of the myriad community groups world-wide , galvanised by the challenge of Climate Change. In Steve we had a man of the woods, as strong and friendly as the mighty Oak with a deep connection to nature.

This reflection has been generously written for the website by his widow Christina and son David

For Christina and David's personal perspective ... READ MORE +

Steve’s dad was a forester for the Forestry Commission and it was a very proud day for him when Steve decided that to become a Forest Manager would be his chosen route too.  Following a lively study period at Newton Rigg he went to Thetford and from there to Windsor Great Park.

When I met him in 1982 he was living in an idyllic cottage in Ascot, racing around the forest areas in his Renault van, peering upwards to spot overhead birds, binoculars round his neck, sleeveless jerkin on and more often than not, the familiar cigarette in his hand.

31 years later, my description would have many similarities, although significantly he had retired through ill health which meant that things were not ‘quite’ the same for him and his family and friends.

For 27 or so years though, Steve was, the man of the woods; as strong and friendly as the mighty Oak with a deep connection to nature – through his work with trees, his love of conservation and birds and his affable nature – remembered by many.  He often said his hobby was also his work.  He has left me six sets of binoculars of various sizes…they aided him in his birdwatching particularly at various ponds in the Park.  The bookshelves are still full of wildlife books – a love of nature programmes reflected in the many Christmas and birthday gifts he received.  I remember how useful he found one in particular – animal droppings identified!  This would help him solve many puzzles of what had been in the garden or nearby area overnight.  Steve monitored bats for conservation reports, and garden birdlife for the RSPB.  He knew a lot about a lot.  This extended to cars, rock music and to rugby.  I will restrict this reflection to the nature and forests.

As Steve travelled round the Crown Estate areas he recorded a lot in photos.  Often quiet and reserved in his inner thoughts, the 40 or so annotated photo albums he compiled over the years, reflect his interest and love of trees.  I hope the attached selection helps you accompany him on some of his travels.

When Steve died suddenly, David wanted to speak at his funeral.  He reflected on the time Steve had for him, as both a child and a man, and the time he had for others.  It seems that time is such a scarcity in this current age.  Through Steve’s eyes; eyes that saw the world very differently from the way mine did for some time, I am now able to enjoy so much of nature that I would not have seen, had it not been for him.  David works with creating natural sets in otherwise sterile spaces in the film industry, something that brings him great pleasure and is a direct influence from Steve and his love of nature.  To be in touch with the strength of nature is a wonderful experience and we thank Steve for introducing us to it in such a significant way.

Christina and David Searle

 

Autumn Leaf

Suspended so delicately,

So tenuously,

Barely visible.

A thread joining the autumn falling leaf to the powerful oak.

How long will it glisten and catch the light?

Tremor to the forces that batter and billow from side to side?

It twizzles

And slowly rewinds to its former state

How many times?

For how long?

Before it drops…

Silently failing and fading, joining the many leaves that cover the track.

Leaf upon leaf;

Autumn shades blending, shuffling, separating,

Getting closer and closer, more and more compact,

Weathered and covered;

Hard to discern.

Yet in the moments of suspension, in transition

It is the only one visible.

Seen as never seen before,

A leaf of beauty, delicate, vulnerable;

Seen from many different aspects,

Different angles of light and shade, looking up to, looking down from…

Still one leaf.

Living, transitioning and fading

Part of the ground, the cover, the strength, the soil

A unique fertility

A special leaf

The one that caught my attention and from which I learned to stop and see.

Christina Searle

19 February 2017

The GALLERY shows a series of photos taken by either Christina or Steve that show his love of forestry  in all its guises and of his immediate family, from David as a youngster on the woodpile to their last time all together in Sydney in March 2013.

 

Steve, Christina and David, Sydney Harbour, Australia – March 2013

Reports and Updates

This website opened in June 2016. Its aim is to report personal and group Stories about Imaginative Action.

So here’s the first Update giving hot news which illustrates some of the Action swirling around : swirling around Indra’s Net.

– FESTIVAL of the DARK

– SUPPORT for the charity CALM

– NEWS from a local HOMELESS project

– ENVIRONMENT group on AFFORDABLE HOUSING

– LOCAL demo : NHS funding crisis

PIX GALLERIES to anticipate :- Trees in The Great Park ; Our Animal Friends ; Painting from Meditation ; The Light House Project ; Chairs and Resting Places ; Handmade stuff, around the Home

We're delighted to give you updates on these ACTIONS ... READ MORE +

Let There Be Dark!  FESTIVAL of the DARK Launch – Jennifer Leach reports :-

The day before the launch of our Festival of the Dark, on winter solstice (21 December 2016), we received the good news that we had been successful in our Arts Council funding bid; our act of faith in launching an unfunded festival had paid off.

The launch, Let There Be Dark! was a magical evening, and an act of courage on the part of all those who attended. Volunteers and helpers spent most of the day preparing the space, clearing the energy, investing the Olympia Ballroom with incense, greenery, beautiful drapes to mark space, and good intentions. Supporters travelled from Cumbria, Cambridge, Bristol, Winchester, London and Southend, in order to hold space and focus spirit.

The night began with a meal in the dark, and interestingly, I think all there would have wished that the darkness of the room was more complete. Finding deep darkness is clearly going to be a challenge in the coming year.

The room was filled initially with a great deal of chatter, polite ‘wedding-reception’ conversations overriding the polyrhythmic wonders of Eddie Chilvers’ sublime piano playing. There was very much a sense that the challenge of the situation was being parried. Immediate intervention did not, however, seem appropriate – we need collectively to decide how we want to move forward on this journey.

At the end of the meal quiet was requested, people settled on cushions, or lay down on the carpet, and the piano brought, at last, a sense of presence to the room. This was maintained throughout Dancing in the Dark, my spoken word piece performed with Racquel Jory-Phelps – the Baba Yaga moment of the night, the tough exploration of fear in the dark woods. We all came through it intact, led gently back by the Bwiti harp, the sacred acoustic instrument of Gabon. The night ended with an immersion in the riches of Padimi Healing Sounds’ instrumental and vocal ‘sound bath’.

The pathway that has opened up for us following this event has been clear. There is no need, I believe, to disguise events as mainstream. They are not, people are keen that they are not; we can progress with the spiritual wraps off, as it were. Since my last blog, we have received the full support of Reading Buses and their farsighted CEO. Buses will be used as pop-up theatres and for a drive-in film screening, and our events will be publicised across their onboard network. There is also a resistance within certain institutions in Reading – the old patriarchal structures are struggling with our presence. A Festival of the Dark is bad enough, but run by two women to boot…!

Our next event marks the cross-quarter ceremony of Imbolc on the Celtic Wheel of the Year – a Dark Renga communal poetry workshop (11 February), to be held in a fire-warmed yurt in an area of ancient woodland. The Spring Equinox follows with The Night Draws Us In (25 March), a day of workshops, an evening procession through Reading, and a night of performance, sound, singing and community around a bonfire on a wild island in the Thames. Beyond that, endless suggestions and dreams shaping up into realities.

More support is needed to enable this all to happen in a fertile and stressfree fashion. If anyone reading this feels they could contribute in any way, please contact me on jennifer@outrideranthems.com. If you would like to be updated on events, please visit www.outrideranthems.com and subscribe to our newsletter.

It’s going to be a powerful festival, and a remarkable year!

SUPPORT for the charity CALM – REACHING THEIR GOAL – Anne Yarwood reports :-

Three 11 year old boys, on their own initiative, raised £1000 for the national charity CALM: Action Against Living Miserably. This is Reading Bus Company’s charity of the year which raises awareness, whilst offering support to men who feel suicidal.

The boys got small audiences to join them, singing Christmas Carols.

NEWS from our local WINDSOR HOMELESS PROJECT – Sally Wright reports :-

14 guests housed.

8 guests off Heroin and onto Methadone Script and engaging with Smart (Drug and alcohol Team based in Slough.

I guest into full time work.

After much consultation by Murphy the manager with the Council at RBWM the Housing options team will stay in Windsor rather than relocate to Maidenhead.

Great recruitment drive for volunteers so we now have over 60 volunteers.

New Developments on the horizon :-

Setting up a buddy system so that our vulnerable, often lonely, adults who have just been housed can have on going support as they take small steps to regain their self esteem and help them on their next step to reintegrate into “society” ( What ever that mean!!!)

Setting up a prescribing centre in Windsor for our guests who at the moment have to go to Maidenhead to receive their script for Methadone.

Ongoing need to fund raise so we are Planning our 3rd Sleep Out on Friday March 10th At the Alma Rd Youth and Community Centre. Please see our web site for Further details www.windsorhomelessproject.org

ENVIRONMENT group on AFFORDABLE HOUSING – ASCENT’s Response to District Council’s Planning Consultation : –

Dear Colleagues,

The aim of ASCENT (Ascot and Sunnings Community Environment Network) is to help catalyse our local community for an historic push to make where we live more resilient, healthier and bursting with strong local livelihoods, while also reducing our collective ecological footprint. ​

​ASCENT’s Core Group this evening discussed the issues raised in the Consultation. We wish to restrict our comments to a single issue, namely absence of commitment to low-cost sustainable​ housing.

​RBWM’s proposals, for which we are being consulted on, seem to be catering almost exclusively for transforming our community further into the preserve of elite sectors of society, with a strong focus on high-value, low occupancy housing.

Many of us are aware of the considerable difficulties in recruiting staff from a lower income band, such as new s​chool teachers and hospital staff. We are aware that requisite  provision by Developers of this category of housing is primarily ” dealt with” by transferring such property development to areas outside our Parish boundaries, where land values are lower.

It is absolutely UNACCEPTABLE for Local Authority Planning Authorities to FAIL TO PROVIDE HOUSING for lower paid ESSENTIAL WORKERS. This not only exacerbates​ geographical inequalities, with our area increasingly becoming the preserve of the rich and powerful, but is also clearly socially, economically and environmentally unsustainable. Key workers will have to commute long distances in order to cater for the crucial services needed in our area, while large mansions with low-density occupation significantly contributes to increases in per capita resource consumption and carbon emissions.

Our children’s education, the health care of us all, and the sustainability of society and the wider environment, deserves the respect of us all, but especially, respect from the decision-makers that are supposed to forward the interests of the community as a whole rather than​ select interest groups, such as profit maximising developers.

This needs to be demonstrated by the RESOURCE ALLOCATION PRIORITIES FOR OUR WHOLE COMMUNITY.  It is a question of EQUITY.  It is one of the issues, nationwide which Brexit h​ighlighted.

WHO GET​S WHAT, HOW, WHEN and WHERE are fundamental political questions in the broad sense of the word.

​We strongly urge RBWM to reconsider its development strategy in order to heal what is clearly an increasingly broken and unsustainable society.​

​S​incerely,

Anne Yarwood, Andrea Berardi on behalf of ASCENT

LOCAL Ascot March on 28 January 2017 – NHS funding crisis – Newspaper coverage :-

Protesters march in Ascot to oppose NHS cuts

Cheers from roadside cafes were heard as protesters marched through Ascot High Street on Saturday to oppose ongoing cuts to the NHS.

Starting off at Ascot Racecourse, about 30 marchers holding banners and chanting ‘save our NHS’ made their way to Heatherwood Hospital.

,kThey were met with applause by people sitting outside a roadside cafe and motorists hooting their horns in support.

The protest was carried out by members of the Save Heatherwood Hospital campaign group and Bracknell’s Defend Our Community Services.

Before they set off, demonstration organiser Margery Thorogood said: “The NHS is in crisis. If we don’t really rally together we are going to lose the NHS.”  She accused the Prime Minister of ‘cosying up’ to US President Donald Trump and said she and the Government is pushing for ‘creeping privatisation’. The campaigner went on to say: “Other marches are taking place across the country, we are not in isolation.”

Margery has fought against NHS cuts for many years and has called for a return of maternity, rehab and minor injuries services to Heatherwood Hospital.

Reported by James Hockaday, 30 Janaury 2017, Slough and South Bucks Express

http://www.sloughexpress.co.uk/gallery/ascot/110574/protestors-march-in-ascot-to-oppose-nhs-cuts.html

 

Anne Yarwood 

6 February 2017

Stories June 2016 – March 2017