Belonging (workshop debrief)

I’ve had the most amazing weekend. On Friday I performed at Mother Tongue, a women’s spoken word evening. On Saturday mrA had his last circus class of the year and we hung out with some new friends. Then on Sunday I ran Our Earth Our Self.

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It was a weekend of belonging, of being in community with other people, being held and holding space for meaningful conversation. Listening and being heard. The poem I performed at Mother Tongue was about the feeling of being called, of having a spiritual epiphany and then being overtaken by ‘ordinary’ life. It was also a fairly grand statement of my purpose in life. I was nervous beforehand not in fear of the audience response (it is an incredibly supportive crowd) but of making such a strong statement about myself. It paid off, the audience responded warmly and I had this incredible feeling of liberation.

It felt like that was perfect preparation for Sunday’s workshop, it left me feeling whole and strong and replete. I was able to bring that sense of myself as part of something greater to the workshop and it helped me hold the space. The workshop was small but lovely. It, too, left me feeling connected and alive. Most humbling was the fact that my parents chose to come. I never would have thought they would be interested but they were excellent contributors, whole hearted and authentic.

This time the numbers were touch and go right to the end, it was only my determination (and my parent’s decision to come) that meant it went ahead. A number of people dropped out at the last minute all for very valid reasons but I’m left wondering what more I can do. I’ve asked some questions in the evaluation about how people would describe the workshop and its benefits to see if I can improve the way I’m marketing it. Although the work that reconnects is designed to inspire and sustain action for social change, I can’t help but feel that it could have a much broader appeal. Don’t we all need safe spaces to feel our pain?

Craft is cool

I’ve been on a craft spree over the last month or so. I’ve made a journal, a dress and some wall art. I lost my phone for three days (which was unnerving and liberating) and was inspired to do a bit of crochet on the train. It has made me think about the value of working with my hands.

girl holds origami butterflies on strings

I once taught someone to crochet and jokingly said “It’s good to have a practical skill come the environmental apocalypse.” Of course I don’t know if that’s where we are headed but it certainly seems like things need to change, (this post articulates it beautifully). One of the things that would have to change is the value of manual labour.

I find it strange sometimes that sitting at a desk pushing paper is valued so much more highly than my ability to create books or clothes. To the point where it’s just not worth trying to sell the fruits of my labour even though I love it. Our economy values the thoughts in my head much more highly than the skills in my hands.

Handbound coptic stitch journal with postcard covers

I admit I find the thought of a reevaluation of this hierarchy … delicious. ‘Craft’ is overlayed with political and cultural connotations that become particularly apparent when one considers its distinction from ‘art‘. According to one scholar “what white European men make is dignified by the label “art”, while what everyone else makes counts only as craft.” I hope for a more socially just world as well as an Earth-caring one and this seems to be one of places where those passions combine.

Nature in the city

Yesterday I made it out into the bush. It was awesome, the smell, the sounds, the largeness of it all.

Creek photo

It caused me to reflect on the limitations of ‘connecting with nature’ in urban environments. When you are in the bush you are overwhelmed by the non-human, you don’t have to look for it, you don’t have to try, it’s just there. Continue reading

Rewild challenge: day 6

The rewild your life challenge got off to a good start but illness kept me indoors through the middle of the week. My ‘half hour in nature’ involved lying in a hammock staring at the tree in our front yard, to be fair the tree in question is magnificent and is home to a pair of red wattlebirds. Continue reading