Sunday, January 31, 2010

Enough - Poverty and Homelessness Action Week

Today is Homelessness Sunday, the start of Poverty and Homelessness Action Week.

The theme for this year is Enough, quoting Gandhi's statement'
'There is enough for everybody's need, but not enough for anybody's greed'.
The website's resources include a couple of powerpoint presentations, one of which we played before the service began this morning.

In Exclaimers we've been looking at a range of famous people this term so we began with Dr Barnardo but then moved on to homelessness today. The children were already pretty clued up about child homelessness here and abroad, although most were less conscious of adult homelessness here in Reading.

Picking up on the PHAW theme of finding ways to share the resources we have, I thought it might be time to resurrect the idea of a sharing book. This was first initated after our very first Eco Worship Together service. The idea is to help us consume less and use our resources more effectively by offering to share possessions that we don't need on a daily basis - paint strippers, jam pans, DVDs etc. While many people put generous offers in the initial book, few seemed to look through it or be aware of what was in there and somewhere during the upheaval of rebuilding the refectory it disappeared. So, we began today with a little washing line of postcards to demonstrate to the congregation (one Exclaimer offered to share 'cudderly toys') but the cards have now been transferred to the Eco-congregation board. For the next few weeks the board will be devoted to these cards in the hope that people will notice and remember potentially useful items. Then I'll punch holes in them and hang them all together from the board, with still a small space reserved for 'new offers'. It may also function as an in-church freecycle as we've already got an offer of lots of glass jars up there.

My decision to illustrate this with a squirrel was inspired by a guest who overstayed his welcome this afternoon. I had advertised the RSPB's great garden birdwatch at church and this afternoon was trying to make my contribution. Normally I am very happy to support squirrels as well as birds. However, our resident squirrel hogged the bird table for so much of today that I'm sure he contributed to my disappointing count.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Year plans

We've just had the first Green Team meeting of the year, and the first since we officially set up our Eco-congregation plaque. So, a time for thinking where we're heading next.

The emphasis has been on opportunities to enjoy Creation together: plans include a church cycle ride along the canal and digging up the vicarage front garden to grow vegetables together. Hopefully we'll get some sort of veggie recipe book off the ground before Lent - maybe on the church website.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Making bird feeders (and hospitality for a heron)

The snow has all but gone and happily all the bike racks were full again this sunny morning.

This term at Exclaimers we're looking at some very different Christian figures from the past. I'd volunteered to do St Columba this week. Looking through his story I was struck by the tale in which he prophesied the arrival of a 'guest': a storm tossed heron which would need care and feeding for three days. Among today's other activities, consequently, we made bird feeders - not that herons will be interested in these, but we've been encouraged on Radio 4 to help the birds through the cold and at the end of the month it will be the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch.

I've usually read that the lard in bird cakes needs to be heated but actually mashing with your hands works fine and avoids all the health and safety concerns of heating it. We stirred in a seed mix with meal worms plus some raisins and filled old yoghurt and cream cheese pots (we put plasticine under them and then pierced a hole through so we could poke in string to hang them from). These will need to go in the fridge for a while to set. Then we made strings of monkey nuts too. With my own, younger, kids later we made some more and found for them it made sense to pierce holes through the shells and then let them use plastic tapestry needles to pull the string through. We also made feeders with pine cones - squashing lard in and then rolling them in the seed (in the past I've done a veggie version of this with peanut butter but it isn't easy to track down unsalted peanut butter at short notice).

Since I stopped going to Oasis during the week I've been lousy at keeping an eye on the bird feeder at church. It appeared to be in the office one week and I don't know where it is now - an instance where I need to get round to delegating. The recycling seems to be happening most of the time which is great. I've stopped taking coffee grounds home due to spillages and disorganisation but these are now going into the green cone (although I think I need to put up some guidance on using the green cone as many people do not realise that the waste should only fill the sunken basket, not the cone itself).

Friday, January 8, 2010

Copenhagen consequences

Outside the snow lies too deep for school for a third day, making it hard to contemplate rising global temperatures. As the dust settled after the Copenhagen Climate Change summit last month so life became rather busy with pre-Christmas events and I didn't get round to blogging. The mood at church on the Sunday after the Copenhagen Accord was announced was 'better no deal than a stitch up'. By the time the conference happened I think we were all resigned to not expecting great things, but still feeling we needed to stand up for what we believe in, for the integrity of our relationship with God and our neighbours.

Now the development agencies are focussing on what can be achieved in 2010. At first I found my heart sinking - I can't keep thinking 'everything hangs on . . .' every year, in the way we initially did about Copenhagen. The way campaigning works is to have short term goals to work for, but the response to the threat of climate change is going to be 'an issue' for the rest of my life and beyond. While still engaging in the short term campaigning as much as possible; for sanity's sake, we need to find a framework for acting and thinking that isn't 'we have x months to save the planet'. I've been wrestling with Alistair McIntosh's concept of 'living in a dying time' (Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition) which is very persuasive but isn't a space I can think in yet. I do want to hang onto something our vicar mentioned in a sermon just before Christmas - apparently Martin Luther said that even if he knew Christ would come tomorrow he would still plant an apple tree.

Meanwhile, the robin pictured above is giving me accusing looks from the bird table because we've run out of bird food, so it's time for an expedition through the snow to the greengrocer's for more seed.