23 Aug 2012

"If People Are Unable to Imagine a Positive Future, They Won’t Create It": Emergence Summit: Sept 2012

"And hold fast, all together, unto the bond with God.." [Qur'an 3:103] 
Whatever changes are taking place in the world, the universal heart will be forever present. Can we tune in, to its beat? For its beat is the source of navigation as we traverse waters whether turbulent or still.

Thanks to working within lovely WIN, I have been invited and agreed to participate in what sounds like a kind of ecopilgrimage(!) through Wales this Sept (2012): camping, trekking along lesser travelled routes (partly in silence), and creating with activists, visionaries and artists who recognise that with climate change, peak oil, economic collapse and so on.. humanity has taken a wrong turn. 
 We intend to imagine together the future we do want. The Summit will culminate at the Centre for Alternative Technology for a weekend conference.
More about the Emergence Summit is here:
Below is a six minute video about the idea and how it evolved.
I've been told that the summit will be filmed and daily highlights will be uploaded. It will be possible to follow the Summit on twitter and facebook. The Emergence website should have more info (soon!).
I am also happy to be contacted to speak to groups about the experience. I can be contacted through WIN.

A Lot To Do

I keep wondering how I'm going to put into words the way that I feel about my attempt to change my ways this Ramadan. It's not easy to admit the shameful truth that I've realised I need to do a lot to transform myself and truly move away from consumerism and towards community, sharing and simplicity.

All thanks to God I have benefited from Ramadan as a time to reconnect with a childlike dependence upon God and with a strong desire to please Him. However, I have also seen how much my immature desires to buy things and to have things have taken precedence in my decisions even when I've consciously tried to move away from consumerism. For example, for Eid I chose to move towards community, sharing and simplicity within my household with a shared Eid present for my children, made from sustainably managed wood. But why didn't I move away from consumerism and choose a family activity or trip?

I have become aware of how strong my desire is to cling to my consumer habits and I find it ugly. I feel tempted to ignore my knowledge of it. As if that will make it go away. I'm surely going to have to be more mature than that if I'm going to really move towards simplicity, sharing and community! It's not easy to look ahead to a journey of failures. To transform I'm going to have to try and to fail and to keep trying, time and time again, God willing.

I'm so tempted to conclude this neatly. But since that satisfaction may well lead me to round off my thoughts impatiently and make immature intentions, I'll just stop writing and keeping thinking, God willing.

10 Aug 2012

Running Great Workshops (Oxford) 21-23 Sep 2012

A great opportunity from our friends at Seeds for Change. Note the deadline (Sun 19th Aug).

Fri 21- Sun 23rd September 2012

Friday 21st (7-10pm) Saturday 22nd (10-6pm) Sunday 23rd (10-4pm)

Learning from each another is a building block of successful social movements. By sharing our skills and knowledge we make our groups stronger and healthier.

This weekend course will help you develop the skills and confidence to design and facilitate engaging, participatory and fun workshops. From guerilla gardening to writing a press release, from mass catering to working in affinity groups, if you have a skill that social movements need, come to this workshop to learn how to share it. If you're a grassroots activist and you'd like to run workshops to help others learn, this is for you.
In the workshop you will get the chance to:

* develop skills and confidence to facilitate good learning
* understand how people learn and design a workshop plan
* prepare and facilitate a short workshop session and receive constructive feedback from other participants & the workshop facilitators.
 The workshop is free for grassroots activists. If you're coming from a funded organisation, places cost from £125. Food will be vegan and will cost £20 for the weekend, if you can afford it. We can provide crash space for those who need it.

Places are limited to a maximum of 16 participants. There is an application process and the deadline for applications is Sunday 19th August.

 If you want to find out more or for an application form please contact  oxford AT  or call 01865 403134. Please forward the email onto your contacts.

Hannah, Richard & Kathryn
Seeds for Change Oxford
01865 403134

2 Aug 2012


In my endeavour to reform my consumer-driven ways this Ramadan, I have been using a model I know for activating repentance: knowledge – state – action. I began with the knowledge that I have too much stuff, and that I am wasting it by keeping it from being used by someone else …

I decided to clear out some clothes and children's things that had been so little-used it was clear they were surplus to our needs, and to take them to a charity shop. I've been so grateful that charity shops have offered me things at prices I can afford. And I cherished giving locally. So I lovingly ironed the clothes, investing my time and effort into the act of giving, and hoping to ensure I did not cause anyone a burden due to my donations. I made sure I included items I was very fond of. And soon, off they all went to the charity shop.

Continuing to sort through my cupboards, I discovered a play pen which I used to decorate as a play house for my children. Impatience begged me to take the redundant item to a charity shop as soon as possible. To have shared it as conveniently as possibly. I hesitated. I used to go to charity shops every week. I was delighted to be re-using second-hand things and not wasting. But actually, I made a habit of buying. Realising this about myself, giving the play pen to a charity shop felt like feeding the habit I was trying to break. Couldn't I give the play pen away locally in a way that builds community face-to-face and without charge? I considered Freecycle, but felt too impatient to await a response. So I posted the play pen on a local women's yahoo group, saying it was on its way to a charity shop unless wanted. Thank God, a reply arrived promptly. It was from a mother who had offered to lend me children's clothes. We arranged for her to come around. We swapped things, and she and I chatted while our children played together.

No thanks to my impatience, I have made some headway moving away from my over-consumption of unnecessary things and towards swapping, rather than selling and buying, and towards strengthening friendships. I have gained some experiential knowledge of myself, regarding where I am with my intentions to move away from consumerism and towards simplicity, sharing and community. I am feeling the discomfort of my changing state, thank God. I've started planning our 'Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan and I recognise myself wanting to hold on to making decisions that involve buying things, and resisting simpler alternatives that spring from me thinking about moving away from consumerism. Recognition feels like an achievement.

My impatience and consumer habits almost undermined me even starting to make a shift in my behaviour this Ramadan (for which I made intention, and discussed in my previous blog). Recognising that I am struggling seems to present me with an enormous opportunity to change myself and to change my heart. God willing I hope to continue an inner transition that enables me to move towards a new and better pattern of action, for myself and for society. What better time than Ramadan to slow down and reflect and ask God to change my heart?