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Lizz Roe – An Introduction…


Over the coming year we will be following the challenge’s of Lizz Roe, a local Quaker and Faith and Climate Change volunteer. We hope you enjoy this monthly feature and keep coming back for more of the highs and lows of her adventures. Over to Lizz……

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It’s January, i’ve settled into the year and have been thinking about this whole 2010 climate change stuff. I already have a pretty low footprint – no multi planet needed for me! I think – at least not a few years ago – I better check! but I know there’s more I could do. Like so many people I need something to motivate myself.

Monthly Challenges

A few years ago I was part of a group where each month we set ourselves a challenge and would try and change our habits over the next 30 days or so. We’d then meet again, review progress have a good laugh and set ourselves a new challenge (whilst sometimes keeping the old challenge going too!) some of the group made big changes to their lives over that year and some just some little ones. It did really help knowing that others were up for it too!

Friends of the Earth Challenge

I had an interesting conversation with someone from ‘foe’ which prompted me to remember the oomph I’d felt when doing this, and other similar challenges, so that’s what I propose to do this year – each month I’ll take on a suggested challenge and then let you know how I get on!

For Starters – Who I am…..

Here’s some starter info though just so no-one asks the impossible, (or illegal)

I live in birmingham, I don’t have a car, I’m a veggie/vegan, I work full time, I don’t have a mobile phone or the internet at home, I once gave up spending for a year (I paid my bills and public transport fares), I gave up flying for 9 years and then succumbed to a free trip to the US, I don’t smoke, I like knitting, I have a bicycle and trailer, I live in a very small flat on my own, I visit my elderly dad who lives near Watford three times a month, I sometimes travel for work, I have two trips overseas booked for this year (I already think I will give up flying again after that – it really is too bad, I am so in denial – and have you read ‘the man in seat 61’ (all about train travel – book or website – mark smith I loveyou), I’m a quaker, I like films, and I like books. I also like a good challenge!

Suggestions of Friends and Colleagues

When I started to talk to friends and colleagues about this it was something that definitely had appeal for quite a diverse bunch of people. When I started to ask for ideas of things to do people came up with all sorts of things, so here we go – here are some ideas suggested by friends and friends of friends and some people I think might not like me at all – the idea was that I’d do at least one thing for each of the months ahead:-

  • Halve your domestic energy use
  • Live on a £ a day
  • Buy nothing
  • Triple offset all energy
  • Don’t buy anything in plastic packaging
  • Put nothing into landfill
  • Wear something you’ve made every day
  • Tithe your time and your income (that’s 10% to a worth-while cause)
  • Eat something you have grown every day
  • Don’t get in a car at all
  • Sort out everything at home – change all your lightbulbs, put in loft insulation and put up curtains or blinds in every room, insulate the walls, find out about decent windows
  • Make sure all your utilities etc are ethical, renewable etc
  • Make all your cards and presents for christmas, birthdays or eid or whatever
  • Got to something free in the city at least three times a week or even better every other day
  • Find a free class, club or group and go to it.

Some of these make me think – eek how will I do that, I don’t want to do that, how could I do that, that’s impossible! But I do know that since I started to think about doing this I’ve felt more lively and chipper than I have for a while.

Previous experience and work

Let me explain – I’ve been involved in green stuff for more than 20 years, I’ve worked for some big campaigning organisations for much of that time, and I think I’m a bit burnt out. Whilst doing campaigning I’ve also had a strand in my life of working in education – either teaching or organising and running courses.

Currently I work in the adult end of education – but I’ve done every kind of teaching there is, or at least it feels like it. I got very burnt out about 10 years ago and my then partner and I did quite a radical rethink. However not all of that worked out as expected and after a period of downshifting to mid wales I came back to Birmingham via oxford – both places I’d lived before and liked a lot. so here I am in Birmingham again and I now live about ten minutes from where I lived nearly 20 years ago.

Working in the voluntary sector or the service professions (nursing, teaching, social work) can be tiring – (if you are one of them you might well be rolling your eyes right now – like tiring really?) you give a lot out, get paid and hopefully get a lot of non fiscal rewards too. In my working life a lot of the time I’ve been able to be part-time too allowing time for other stuff – allotments, campaigning, chillin’. But at the moment I’m full time doing a job I really enjoy, which is pretty secure, and which I’m good at. And yet I’ve also been feeling pretty low over the last few years. Surely not? why? – I’ve read up on this – is it affluenza? (see the book by the same name by Oliver James) do I have too much, am I burnt out, or what?

2 out of 5 things

have a theory that if you have 2 out of 5 particular things in your life than you can get by, if only 1 it’s a strain and if three it’s a bit better than ok and if you’re on 4 or more it’s good – the 5 things:

1. Satisfying job which pays enough to cover expenditure (can be anything as long as you enjoy it – I had a fabulous 9 months selling ice cream in a theatre),

2. Positive personal relationship (which might be a realisation that being single is great, it doesn’t have to involve someone else – basically it’s when whatever state you are in relationship wise you are happy – not just ok with it but actively happy),

3. Secure housing, (I lived for 5 months with nowhere permanent to stay mixing house sitting with sleeping at friends places, staying at the residential college where I work, camping and squatting – it was tiring and stressful, but I lived on a boat for 5 years and that was fine) ,

4. Close relationship with a wider circle (family, friends, people from mosque, synagogue etc)

5. And this is the more nebulous one – a sense of purpose.

Over the last few years I’ve had a happy job – but it only started to meet my financial output 2 years ago (I was part time up till then and had a long commute and expensive rent), I’ve had a relationship develop and then falter badly, I found a flat after two years of trying and £6000 in legal and related fees (very stress-full) but I am very settled now, I have good friends, but my sense of purpose outside of work has got a bit lost.

For me the sense of purpose I locate somewhere in the notion that I making some kind of positive contribution – a friend said ‘well you can at least try to do no harm’, but that’s not quite enough for me.

This Year’s Challenge…

So this year this little challenge – which no one is making me do and which I have no pressing financial reason for – is boosting my sense of purpose. It’s funny because I’d have said that I was doing pretty well and had regained my feet after a tricky few years. But when I realise that it’s been three out of five things outlined above for a while now I start to see that 60% isn’t enough. I also think that if one is particularly bad it offsets some of the positive ones too. So although I had three out of five at any time in the last 7 years one was so bad it countered the positives of the other three, and a fifth was sufficiently bad that it wasn’t neutral. So, overall more like 40% then.. not enough!

Over the year I’ll keep tabs on what I do and do a weekly update to keep people posted too – I recently got a digital camera for the first time so I can even take pictures as well. At the beginning of each month I’ll do a short piece which explains about that month’s challenge and then at the end of each month I’ll do a short reflection on what I learnt (if anything!).

See how Lizz is getting on…

Lizz Roe – January

Lizz Roe – February

Lizz Roe – March

Lizz Roe – April

Lizz Roe – May

Lizz Roe – June

Lizz Roe – Good Book Guide

Lizz Roe – July

7 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/08/2010 10:28 pm

    Interesting intro and FULLY agree with your ‘2 out of 5’ (without any of the others being too negative); very helpful to see some of my struggles over past decade related so succinctly (though of course you were talking about yourself, but agree most of us at one or more times of our lives will ponder the ‘number out of 5’). I’ve found ‘finding faith’ the most unexpected but most positive influence in recent years (even if it came with new challenges in other areas…). In peace, Rianne


  1. Lizz Roe – January « Faith and Climate Change
  2. Lizz Roe – February « Faith and Climate Change
  3. Lizz Roe – March « Faith and Climate Change
  4. Lizz Roe – April « Faith and Climate Change
  5. Lizz Roe – May « Faith and Climate Change
  6. Lizz Roe – July « Faith and Climate Change

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