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Summer Time: New Mini Series for August

July 27, 2015

summer-time

Summer is here (or has it been and gone already?) and for many this means the opportunity to take a break, have a change of scene, maybe a change of pace and taking time to rest and relax. Maybe you are going to a festival or going camping/hiring a place to take a well earned rest. Wherever you go and whatever you do we hope you have a great break and get the chance to ‘Breathe’ and ‘be’ this Summer.

To hopefully fuel and inspire you this summer we are going to do a 4 week mini series in August. Each Tuesday (4, 11, 18 and 25) we will post a short reflection and a link to 3 resources/ideas/people/stories that have inspired us and we hope inspire you.

We will begin next Tuesday 4 August with 3 experiences that we hope might inspire you to ‘Breathe’ this summer.

The (growing) Food Revolution and Movement

July 24, 2015

Food_Glorious_Food

It’s summer and with that its also BBQ Season! I absolutely love Food and all of the possibilities and delights that sharing a good meal bring. Just this week alone I’ve had a community BBQ on Monday evening and then shared in an amazing meal at one of my favourite local eateries with a group of friends. I love food and I confess that whilst I am seeking to eat less meat and eat more sustainably it does not always happen!

Food at it’s very best is a wonderful thing. The enjoyment of tastes and flavours, the opportunity for creativity and for me the most important; the shared experience and community that is created and cherished from eating together. It’s a thing of beauty.

However we have to face the fact that as beautiful as food is at its best we also have a big problem. These food waste facts speak volumes about the challenges and complexities of our Global food system. A system, whether we like it or not, we are all very much a part of. This is in addition to the stark reality that in the UK we face into a growing problem of food poverty with the significant increase in Foodbanks. Whilst the response of organisations like The Trussell Trust is deeply admirable, I long for the day when Foodbanks go into decline and then stop operating, not because of a lack of volunteers or desire to support them, but because no-one is in need any longer. These are long term challenges and require us all to play a part, but on the horizon I see some signs of hope.

b030_incredible_edible_todmorden_food_to_share_w10241

In the midst of this complexity I am inspired, heartened and humbled by a growing food movement and revolution that is taking place. Here are 3 inspiring examples of how food is being reimagined and how people are being creative in their response to bring hope, change and transformation in how we eat and think about food.

  • Last year I went to visit the Incredible Edible project in Todmorden. Meeting people who started this food revolution in a small town and seeing how it has transformed the landscape and the mindsets of the community was deeply inspiring. From the seed that was (literally) planted in Todmorden there is now a growing Incredible Edible Network in the UK and Beyond. Its a great example of creating fun, education and possibility with food.

real junk food

  • I’ve also been really inspired by The Real Junk Food Project. It’s a growing food movement where food that would otherwise go to waste is ‘intercepted’ and used to cook meals in a cafe/canteen. People are encouraged to Pay as you feel for the food. My work has enabled me to make a link with one of these growing numbers of PAYF Cafe’s called The Saltaire Canteen. This recent Guardian article is well worth a read.

feedback

  • The final initiative that has inspired me is a called Feedback. Feedback is an  organisation that campaigns to end food waste at every level of the food system. Feedback catalyse action on eliminating food waste globally, working with governments, international institutions, businesses, NGOs, grassroots organisations and the public to change society’s attitude toward wasting food. They have a brilliant campaign at the moment #StopDumping which is challenging Supermarkets to stop dumping their unwanted (and wasted) food orders onto farmers to have to deal with, as well as losing out on a means to get their products to market.

These initiatives highlight that local, national and international initiatives are all vital and that we need creative community as well as political solutions.

What can we do? I would encourage you to sign up to Feedback and join the growing movement. Perhaps next time you are out for a meal, could you see if there is an option of going to a PAYF Cafe. Or could you get growing food at home, via an Incredible Edible Project or a local community allotment?

Food is good and we should celebrate the joys and delights of eating, especially when we do it together with others. But as we tuck into our favourite meals this summer, could we also explore ways to reimagine how we eat, share, waste less and grow our food? 

Baked Alaska and The Green Project

July 16, 2015

baked-alaska_poster-Final

This Autumn there is not only one, but two opportunities to engage creatively in issues relating to Climate Change through Drama and Dance in the lead up to the Paris Summit in December.

Baked Alaska – Riding Lights in association with Diocese of Lichfield, Christian Aid and Operation Noah

An island in the South Pacific has a problem. It’s hollow. Anxiety levels are rising in a North American boardroom. Eve’s garden is bursting with next door’s rubbish. Even the ducks have relocated… they’re in Bangladesh.

From the four corners of the earth come colourful, inter-connecting stories of humanity living with the wild, unpredictable effects of climate change. Scientists, farmers, oil magnates, climate warriors, prophets, mothers, journalists and others just like you and me – we’re all in the mix and hungry for a recipe of hope. In the struggle over power, some sound the warming bell, some blow hot and cold, while others make a pudding of the planet.

Vivid, sharp and deliciously entertaining, BAKED ALASKA serves up the realities of climate change with flair and clarity about the temperatures involved.

To find out more and to discover where Baked Alaska is being performed and to book tickets CLICK HERE

 

The Green Project – Springs Dance Company and Tearfund 

green project image

Springs Dance Company, in partnership with Tearfund, is now inviting bookings for this invigorating project that will stir up hope and inspire action on climate change.

Springs’ Green Project offers a short dance theatre presentation that can be accompanied by tailor made workshops and / or discussions.

Looking at the way our lives are interconnected with people across the world, The Green Project will encourage people to reflect, speak out and take action to address the damage done to God’s creation.

Ideal for church services, festivals, advocacy events and schools.

To find out more and for booking Information CLICK HERE

 

Plastic (not so) Fantastic – Can we change the way we pack up our shopping?

July 7, 2015

Last Friday it was International Plastic Bag Free Day 

We liked this witty but also insightful take on the day from Tearfund’s Ben Cohen.

 

FACTS

25

ON AVERAGE, PLASTIC BAGS ARE USED FOR 25 MINUTES!

 

500

IT TAKES BETWEEN 100-500 YEARS FOR A PLASTIC BAG TO DISINTEGRATE
(DEPENDING ON THE TYPE OF PLASTIC)

 

1m

1 MILLION PLASTIC BAGS ARE IN USE AROUND THE WORLD/ 1 MINUTE

 

 500b

THE AVERAGE EUROPEAN USES ABOUT 500 PLASTIC BAGS/YEAR
EUROPEANS OVERWHELMINGLY SUPPORT A BAN ON SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAGS.

 

80

80% OF MARINE LITTER IS PLASTIC

 

3m

3.4 MILLION TONES OF PLASTIC CARRIER BAGS ARE PRODUCED IN THE EU EACH YEAR. THIS CORRESPONDS TO THE WEIGHT OF MORE THAN TWO MILLION CARS!

 


SINGLE-USE PLASTIC BAGS ARE…

BAD FOR THE PLANET

They take 100s of years to degrade and they not only pollute the environment but actually directly harm many living organisms

BADLY DESIGNED

It doesn’t make sense to produce something that lasts 100s of years when it is going to be used for a few minutes.  It is a contradiction that in a throw-away society nothing good lasts whilst bad products are forever.

UGLY!

Reusable bags are a lot cooler !

EXPENSIVE

Producers don’t take responsibility for the impact of their
product. Plastic bags are cheap to produce but very expensive
to clean from the environment.

BAD FOR YOUR MIND

They embody the message of the throw-away society that is trashing the planet.

UNFAIR

Future generations will suffer from the pollution caused by plastic bags, without getting any of the benefit.
Future generations don’t vote, but they count.

92% OF THE 95,5 BILLION

carrier bags in the EU in 2010

MADE OF CRUDE OIL

i.e. a finite resource

GET INTO THE FOOD CHAIN

Pulverised plastic waste in the sea gets into the food chain

 

Radical Generosity by Rich Gower

July 3, 2015
generosity3

My wife Sophie and I found ourselves discussing ‘the fruit juice question’ again recently. It’s a question we’ve discussed periodically since driving round Africa with some friends a few years ago. At the time we were collectively reading a book called,The Irresistible Revolution, by Shane Claiborne (which typically involved someone reading out loud at the top of their voice to overcome the rattle of the Land Rover’s engine!). After each chapter we would discuss the contents.

The fruit juice question is this: Given all the poverty and need in the world, what standard of living is it appropriate for me to have?

It’s called the fruit juice question because I think it’s important to boil this sort of issue down to bare practicalities, and at the time, I wanted to know if it was okay for me to buy posh fruit juice, or whether I should buy cheap juice and give the spare cash away!

You might not be so attached to fruit juice, but you probably have a similar dilemma in other areas: is it okay to have an expensive phone for example? Or what about going on an expensive holiday?

Jesus had some pretty radical stuff to say about money and possessions, and I’ve been wrestling with it ever since reading Shane’s book. Jesus commends the widow in Mark 12:41–44 not because of how much she gives in absolute terms, but because what she gives is such a high proportion of her income. He even suggests others give all their money to the poor, and throughout the gospels, he insists that ‘life does not consist in an abundance of possessions’ (Luke 12:15).

It’s easy to discuss these sort of things in the abstract, but I want to know what it means for my life at a very practical level (hence the fruit juice question).

Theologically, I don’t think God wants us to beat ourselves up and live in a hovel. He loves to bless us. But he also loves it when we make sacrifices on behalf of others – just as he did for us.

Living intentionally

John Wesley – one of the leaders of the Methodist Revival in the 1700s, answered the question by living as follows: ‘When he had thirty pounds a year, he lived on twenty-eight and gave away two. The next year, receiving sixty pounds, he still lived on twenty-eight, and gave away thirty-two. The third year, he received ninety pounds, and gave away sixty-two…’ (The Life of Rev. John Wesley by Richard Watson). No matter how much he earned, he didn’t let his standard of living expand to match his income.

This is the approach Sophie and I try to take. Our aim is to prayerfully decide what an appropriate standard of living is, and then – whatever we earn – to save or give away the excess.

At points this has meant giving a lot of cash away (which felt hard!). But at others, it has meant receiving a lot of money from others – supporting us in ministry work overseas.

It doesn’t always mean we buy the cheapest thing – we buy Fairtrade, go for nice meals out, and invest in hobbies like sailing and painting. On the other hand, we don’t buy much ‘stuff’, eat less meat than we used to and are intentional about sticking to our budget. We also try not to conform to the norms of our culture regarding spending. Although it’s awkward parking our ancient Vauxhall Corsa next to an acquaintance’s £80 grand Range Rover, this is a good awkward.

When we have had little, we have gone to God, budgeted carefully but grace-fully, and normally still felt called to give – largely as a declaration that money was our (God-given) servant and not our master.

Those of us living at home or at uni may feel that we can’t live like this – as it means giving away ‘someone else’s money’. My feeling is that however God provides our cash, we should feel free to work out how to use it with him (and ask for advice from trusted family or friends).

Challenging your normal

When we lived in Zimbabwe, we realised just how much of our attitude to possessions and lifestyle came from our culture and upbringing. In short, our ‘normal’, was not normal to many of our Zim friends. At one point we both had sore necks from bad roads, uncomfortable beds and bad office chairs. Purchasing an expensive pillow seemed to us like a normal response that might make life easier, but to some of our Zim mates it looked like a serious extravagance.

Simply put, their idea of what constituted an appropriate standard of living was very different from our own. This is why it’s important to try and work this stuff out with God (and with friends) rather than on our own – it helps us to identify our own blind spots. Of course even then, if we sit down with God and work out what an appropriate standard of living is for us, we will probably all come up with different budgets. That’s okay – we’re all different, and God loves our individuality. He also meets us where we are.

But the important thing is that we go to him and wrestle with the fruit juice question regularly. It will probably be a different question for you. That’s what I try to do, and my challenge to you, is to set aside a couple of hours to do so too.

This article first appeared on Tearfund’s Rhythms platform. The content is in connection with a campaign Tearfund have launched called ‘Ordinary Heroes’. There is more content in the Ordinary Hero Bronze and Silver rhythms? In them there are loads of actions to help you start to think about living differently, radically and creating a lighter global footprint.

Rich Gower is a Christian economist who works with a number of NGOs and has recently co-written The Restorative Economy report for Tearfund. He lives in Bradford where he tries to make as much time as possible for investing in the local community, windsurfing and generally enjoying the great outdoors. He and his wife Sophie are expecting their first baby in August.

Democracy in Action

July 3, 2015

Originally posted on Ruth Valerio:

lobby-170615-buntingIt was a wonderful sight that greeted me as I entered the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday with the aim of locating my MP and winkling him out to meet me.

Getting inside had been quite fun too. My day started with a photo-call of church leaders and then taking part in one of the big ecumenical services that began the mass lobby of Parliament on climate change. I then walked along the lobby line that stretched along Milbank, over Lambeth Bridge and along the Embankment, looking for where my constituency was placed.

jansmithEven that was entertaining. I happened to walk past my A Rocha UK colleague, Conservation Director Andy Lester, and the Bishop of Salisbury, Nic Holtam (Lead Bishop on the Environment), chatting with the Cornwall contingency and Surfers Against Sewage. A bit further along, I bumped into a friend who I hadn’t seen for about twenty-five years (amazingly…

View original 580 more words

The frequent flyer levy

July 3, 2015
Featured Image -- 1907

Originally posted on Make Wealth History:

As we’ve discussed before, flying is one of the single most damaging things we can in an era of climate change. That’s not a message that’s got through to the government, who persist with airport expansion plans. And it’s not got much traction with the general public either – not when there are such cheap flights available to sunnier parts of the world.

One of the problems with aviation is that it is under-taxed. It is cheaper than it should be, given its contribution to climate change. Jet fuel is untaxed by international agreement – the only fossil fuel that enjoys that benefit. VAT doesn’t apply to air travel either. However, increasing the tax on flights would penalise ordinary people just trying to go on holiday, and that’s never going to be politically attractive.

Here’s a new idea that launched last week with a little explanatory website: a frequent…

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