Friday, 20 April 2007

Environment or Creation?

This is my first post on the B'ham FoE blog, a nice new tool. Hopefully over time it'll be clear to readers of this blog that 'treehuggers' come in different shades, flavours, ages and persuasions so if you care about our shared planet (Environment or Creation?), then do consider coming along to our regular meetings and add your 2p (or 2 pounds, or a prayer ...).

Personally I'm most excited about B'ham FoE's campaign on Faith & Climate Change, including a major project on 'Climate Change Ambassadors'. The dream is to get an Ambassador at every place of worship in Birmingham (but who says we have to stop there?) ... Hindu temple, Sikh gurdwara, Jewish synagogue, Christian church, Muslim mosque, etc, etc..., we have it all in diverse Brum. I think it's a great project for the planet (or do we call it Environment, Creation?), a great project for community cohesion (as Ambassadors from different backgrounds exchange experience), and a great new way to help people realign their daily lives with their faith values. We're currently in the process or recruiting someone to coordinate this exciting new development within B'ham FoE (with thanks to BEP funding) and the aim is to start with 10-15 Ambassadors. They'll get all the support possible: latest info on the state of the planet, what is possible to be done in their place of worship without wrecking planet or purse, get togethers to share what works and doesn't to convince a congregation and hopefully along the lines also see that what we share is so much more than what divides us.

I believe everybody wishes generations after them the best on this Earth, but how often do we actually think about what that requires from us? It's not about going 'back to the cave age' and doing without any comforts, but it does take more than a prayer. The science can be complicated (especially when does who want to distract us from the truth get involved!), but you can leave that aside and just do what is good and be happy (waste not, want not; or as I like to be reminded "Eat and drink, but waste not by excess, for God loves not wasters." Qur'an, 7:31). Try it this upcoming 'national downshifting week' starting this Saturday ... just shift down 1 gear at a time, trying to become angelic overnight is the sure way to kill your intention and efforts.

You can make a difference, together we can change the world (or was it Environment, Creation?)! Or as Confucius reminds us: "Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated".

In peace, Rianne

PS: 3 May is local election day. Don't forget to use that opportunity to elect those you think will support implementation of your priorities of a greener, cleaner, more sustainable Brum!

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

On loan from Manchester FoE

First impressions of Birmingham FOE

As everyone knows as a student you have incredibly short I thought I would use mine to do something more interesting and worthwhile than the usual minimum wage office job. I didn't really know what to expect when I made my way here on Monday morning, I knew there was an actual office and that people worked for Birmingham FOE full time. it was an exciting prospect to really devote 7 or 8 hours a day to thinking, reading and commenting about environmental issues something I usually don't have enough time for.

The building was surprising, I'm not sure how I imagined it but it really is a warehouse. so many areas to explore, a child would have great fun playing hide and seek in here...and discover a ghost in a hidden corner. (or a badger costume!)
Chris introduced me to everyone and they all seemed delighted to have me here, definitely made me feel welcome and involved. Margaret's cake also deserves a mention, with real lemon juice and zest! Scrumptious. I have also enjoyed trying all the different herbal/fruit teas, coincides well with my current no-caffeine experiment.
I knew Monday would be a long day, with the meeting in the evening, but it just flew by!

Learning how to write press releases was definitely beneficial and I really enjoyed that. Although I am in Manchester FOE I am quite new to all this, many gaps in my environmental knowledge wanting to be filled. Once again friends of this earth have been more than happy to help me out. Reading the climate change strategy and researching for information on waste and recycling has been demanding but brilliant to be able to understand it, particularly all the % targets/achievements that are so eagerly used. Chris has answered all my questions no matter how ridiculous!

My first week at BFOE has been great, I have been spending time on various different things and generally getting used to how it all works here. There are so many different projects on the go, much to learn but I already feel more 'in the know' and that I am contributing, in some way, to the campaigns. I'm really looking forward to the next two weeks!

Jules Niehoegen (on loan from Manchester FOE)