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Lizz Roe – July

11/08/2010

This month’s challenge is to do something constructive in the local community each week, something nationally oriented each week, to do something positive politically each week, and to tithe my time and money! This means giving away 10% of my time and money. Well I’m already a trustee for two national charities – one to do with independent quaker media (the Friend), and for Quaker Social Action, and I’m on the steering group for the FOE Faith and Climate Change project – so what else can I do?

Looking around locally loads of people want volunteers! But most groups want someone who can commit to regular times – I’ll have to have a think. The local volunteer bureau says that people across birmingham volunteer more than a million hours each year! I think that’s amazing – and those are the people who are recorded in some way – there are probably thousands more volunteering through their gurdwara, temple, mosque, church or school. I’m sure I’ll find some one offs that need help.but I’m pretty sure that giving away money will be easy.

Politically I can do some definite positive things fairly easily – my mp will get a letter each week! I can also do some positive things locally – I think my local councilors need to know about all the things I think they are doing really well!

Because of starting the campaign last month I’ll keep doing some of that too! Because all we need is love.

This month I am in Orkney for two weeks for work – oooh islands. I’m doing a mix of camping and staying with people – when I spent nothing in feb I saved loads of money and have decided to finally upgrade some of my rather tired camping gear. I think of this as an investment in being able to live frugally/lightly UK holiday and trip wise. I can’t think of a holiday I’ve done in the UK over the last 20 years which hasn’t involved camping in some way.

Here’s the triplist

  1. 4 maps – the guy in Waterstone’s let me buy them along with two walk books in two goes so that I maximised the buy two get the third free savings!
  2. 1 and 2 bits of walk/travel books – one came from the deal at Waterstone’s and the bits came from two others out of a charity shop – for the first time ever I have extracted the relevant pages of books because this means not carrying unnecessary weight!
  3. The new tent – it fits in my rucsac or in my bike pannier it’s the biz it weighs less than a kilo
  4. Daysac – one of those tiny silk ones in pink and other bright colours (not very vegan I know but it was a present)
  5. Main Rucsac – now more than 20 years old, 55 litres plus attached pockets, women’s fit, Berghaus before they outsourced manufacture, baggied elastic, with sewn in ‘I’ll know if you’ve pinched stuff when I’m backpacking’ tabs and the worked in grime of more than 50 countries and 6 long distance paths, uncountable camping trips and short stops in the hills
  6. Sleepmat – I got this when thermarest started up, so it is a camping antique, it’s still great and has never leaked, though they now make them lighter and shaped so if I do any long distance walking soon I may buy a new one, because every gram eventually makes a kilo and kilos mean misery!
  7. Sleeping bag – I have a lovely warm 3.5 season synthetic one (only 7 years old) but oh boy is it bulky! and heavy! there’s a very fun website which sells lightweight camping and walking gear, so I investigated a new one and have gone for an ultrlight backless bag, this was tricky because synthetic is best for coping with the wet, but for light-weight and size it’s ‘down’ all the way
  8. Head Torch – hands free light – what’s not to like?
  9. V small pillow – better than the fleece stuffed into a bag
  10. Flannel – hmm clean!
  11. Trek towel – came free with a copy of wanderlust last year and I noticed they were doing it again this year, this is my kind of freebie
  12. Walking sandals – made by keen, coincidentally vegan, very comfortable
  13. Socks – for warm tootsies
  14. Underwear – because it makes sense
  15. Water bottle – the kind that packs flat or rolls up and can take hot water too because trust me once the sun goes down and you’re camping it gets cold and you can’t sleep if your feet are cold (did you know that) so you need something that will serve as a hot water bottle
  16. Swimming Cossie – for sea swimming
  17. Paper and pen – for writing postcards, a travel journal, and nice letters to mps
  18. Knitting – for those long summer evenings
  19. Spork – I love these – a fork, spoon and knife all in one, great for fish and chips without the fish on the beach
  20. 2 bowls with fitted lids one small one big, for washing up, for washing me, for washing socks
  21. Insulated cup – great for take away tea
  22. A lovely tiny stove
  23. Baseball cap – ok, not pretty but it is practical – and in the end it blew away!
  24. Sunglasses – I have proper cycling sunglasses but for this trip it’s going to be my free with a glossy mag pair that way when (not if) I sit on them I wont be too sad
  25. Foam sitting mat – also a freebie from a camping mag
  26. Little tiny tetra packs of soya milk
  27. Washing kit – toothbrush/paste, deodorant, liquid soap (works as shampoo), comb, calamine lotion in a tube, sun stuff
  28. Bird book – a tiny one
  29. Goretex mac
  30. Crocs – for those get up in the middle of the night and find the loo without walking in something nasty moments
  31. Looroll – no need to explain
  32. Camera – also probably no need to explain
  33. Clothes – 3 pairs of walking tights/trousers, 2 homemade silk skirts (that go over the tights/trousers to be a bit smarter or can be worn alone or over the swimming costume), 3 longsleeved shirts, 1shortsleeved shirt, 2 fleeces for when one of them gets gunky or it gets extra cold
  34. Liquid clothes wash – because I like to win friends
  35. Large silk scarf – will also do as a sarong, neck scarf, turban, top, bag, pillowcase, hottie cover
  36. Small silk scarf – for the bad hair days (because when you’re camping there will be, and mostly I don’t care but when I’m teaching too then I think it matters a bit
  37. Stuff for the workshops I’m leading
  38. OK an email that arrived today said jumper, hat and gloves are also needed ! and that it was very cold a couple of days ago – eek!

OK a quick check in on the whole money thing – I earn a bit under £2000 a month after tax – so that’s just a shade under £200 to tithe – lets say £50 each week to give away. I had a think about constructive consumerism (otherwise known as buycutting) where you spend your money deliberately with a particular sort of producer and then tell them that you are positively endorsing their policies. there’s lots of good things about doing this (I have a whole stack of postcards to help with this) but I think this is about straight forwardly giving away ££,and if I gift aid it it adds value to the gift to the receiver. So now I just have to think about to who.

One of the things that really impresses me about my dad (and my mum when she was alive) is that they gave away quite a bit of money, supported even worse off people in our family and through various local churches, fostered children and regularly supported fund raising both through giving and shaking tins. My dad (in his 80s and not very well) still does house to house collection during christian aid week and for red cross and gives away more than 10% of his pension and he does it all without any sort of fuss. When he and I went through his bank stuff for this year he was even a bit embarrassed that I’d know what he gave away. I’m not embarrassed I’m proud of him, there’s stuff he doesn’t have because he knows there are people way worse off than him and he thinks he has a responsibility to them just as simply part of the same human family.

I’ve been thinking about this – I care about a lot of things – homelessness, kids getting access to outdoors education, good nutrition and people knowing how to cook, disability integration, support for isolated older people, climate change, nonviolent conflict transformation, advocacy for those without power, poverty wherever it is, slavery, I could go on. where do I start? I could split the £200 into lots of different bits or could do it in 4 dollops of £50. this is silly – I never thought that giving money away was that hard!

Time

There are 31 days in this month so tithing my time means just over 3 days this month – I’m taking this to mean 3 working days of 8 hours each – so this works out at 24 hours altogether or 6 hours each week.

Positive Politics

What this mean is that rather then being in touch with councils or govt to have a good moan (sometimes essential) it means being in touch to praise something good that is going on!

Week 1

Money – I turned £100 into fivers and started to give it away.

Time – 6 hours – it’s not much really! I went to a committee meeting, that was an hour and a half, I went on a clean up and that was an hour and half, I stuffed envelopes and that was another hour and a half, and that makes 4.5 hours (so I’ve an extra 1.5 for next week)

Positive Politics

Locally – I wrote to my local council saying how much I appreciated all the effort that was going into the recycling initiatives in my bit of Birmingham.

Nationally – I wrote to the pm saying that I wholeheartedly supported any policy that the government might pursue to bring to a close the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Week 2

Money – I turned the remaining fivers intro £1s and then gave them away as fast as tins, collection boxes, donation plates and sponsorship forms came in front of me. One guy in a shop asked me rather diffidently to support something and when I said yes straightaway he was awfully pleased and seemed rather surprised too.

Time – hey this week I’m in Orkney and Westray for work. I went on a bird count and that took 6 hours! I also went on a beach clear up and that took an hour and half – so, bingo – all the time used – I might borrow some from next week.

Positive Politics – I talked to a group of people about positive politics and then left some little cards in various cafes etc all about encouraging people to really be positive towards their mps, msps, councilors, assembly members or meps about they things they are doing well or the votes etc that they have cast with which you are delighted. I’ve had an email from someone saying they did this and when their mp got in touch they had said it was one of the first times in a long career in politics that someone had been in touch only to say affirming things with no agenda beyond this or so it seemed.

Locally –

I wrote to the council in Orkney just to say how great it was and how I thought the library was especially good – they let visitors borrow books!! Can you believe that?

Nationally

I wrote to the Scottish govt to be very positive about all they are doing to encourage tourism to Scotland within the UK – you want it?- it’s in Scotland!

Week 3

Money – I turned another £100 into fivers, gave some to a collection tin, some to some big issue sellers, some to a collecting box in a wall for the fabric and upkeep of a building, some to a donations plate for a youth outdoor programme – which resulted in me winning a painted wooden canoe paddle.

Time – still in Orkney! I visited a dig site and did some pre-excavation clearing – the main crew arrive in a few week’s time – this was really litter picking! I then picked up food poisoning and spent 4 days in bed – nice.

Positive Politics

Locally – I wrote to the council on Orkney again and said how much I liked the islands and the work of the Orkney island council and all that they were doing to keep the islands up, maintain good community infrastructure and links and to show such pride in the islands (they are fantastic!)

Nationally – I wrote to my mp to say I hoped he was settling in well into opposition politics (again) and meeting all the challenges of the new government.

Week 4

Money – I’ve given away the last bits of money

Time – back at work and I’m teaching all week – however I have managed to go to knitting meditation each day, and do some DVD and book loaning too in the evenings.

Positive Politics – locally – I wrote to my local council about how great it was that they were organising lots of good free things over the summer – especially for kids.

Nationally – I wrote to a big national policy organisation to encourage some of the work they are doing in lobbying the new coalition government.

What I Learnt

Money – there’s an odd paradox here – it’s really easy to give money away but it can be hard to make a decision about where it should go. People have all sorts of things that influence their giving, personal experience of a cause or issue, value led commitment, faith based interest, and so forth. What would you do with £200? Having thought about it hard in advance I decided to mostly just respond to what was in front of me.

Time – 6 hours a week isn’t very much given that most people watch an average of 4 hours of telly a day (I can’t believe that’s true but maybe! – but then 98.4% of the population has a TV, I think I know everyone who doesn’t or it feels like it!) I once served on a Quaker committee that took the equivalent of a day a week for two years, it was pretty tiring on top of full time work but it was also hugely satisfying – actually the other clerk doesn’t have a TV either (and he and his wife are big camping fans too). Maybe this is the secret – TV is the opium of the people! anyway someone asked me if it was waking hours or all hours – good question! I said it wasn’t tithing all hours! just the equivalent of 10% of 4x7x8

Positive Politics – part of our social fabric is to moan! it’s one of the many ways in which the British are characateured by those outside of Britain. And sometimes righteous moaning about what the government or council is doing is absolutely essential, they are, after all, accountable to us – we vote for them. But it is profoundly counter-cultural to affirm what is going right and to actually communicate this to those who have been given power by us.

‘all we need is love’ – still practising!

Next Month

Wear or use something I’ve made every day!

P.S. One of the suggestions for December is to give away something as a gift every day!

Also in the series…

Lizz Roe – An Introduction

Lizz Roe – January

Lizz Roe – February

Lizz Roe – March

Lizz Roe – April

Lizz Roe – May

Lizz Roe – June

Lizz Roe – Good Book Guide

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. 14/08/2010 1:44 pm

    Lovely entry, inspiring & some serious food for thought! Would you have time to come to Organic Iftar and share some of your inspiration/ action with ladies from around Brum – see poster elsewhere on this site? (didn’t write first sentence with hidden agenda BTW…). In peace, Rianne

Trackbacks

  1. Lizz Roe – June « Faith and Climate Change
  2. Lizz Roe – Good Books « Faith and Climate Change
  3. Lizz Roe – May « Faith and Climate Change
  4. Lizz Roe – An Introduction… « Faith and Climate Change
  5. Lizz Roe – February « Faith and Climate Change
  6. Lizz Roe – January « Faith and Climate Change
  7. Lizz Roe – March « Faith and Climate Change
  8. Lizz Roe – April « Faith and Climate Change

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