Monday, 11 May 2015

An interruption to usual programming

So. A few days since the election to collect my thoughts and everything is already going QUITE QUITE HORRIBLY.

It has become rapidly, brutally clear to me (and, it seems, a lot of other people) that I really can't simply sit back and do nothing. I have been pondering at great length what actions I can practically take, and/or what changes to my lifestyle I can make that will help those left most vulnerable under this new government, while also advocating for the change in attitudes needed to ensure that we ONLY have 5 more years of this, and not more. (And not UKIP. Please not UKIP.)

Like it or not, this government was voted in by a terrifyingly huge number of people (although still not as many as it should take to elect a majority government… but the proportional representation rant is a rant for another time)

I’ve seen a lot of people writing about things they’re hoping to do, so I thought I’d share some of my thoughts so far… Some which are being repeated by a lot of people, others which are possibly ridiculous plans made by a tired, upset mind… All of which feel too small, but hopefully many small actions by many people will make a difference.

I thought for a while about quitting buying new clothes entirely for the next 5 years, shopping only at charity shops (and with exceptions made for pants, tights and socks because no one wants charity shop pants), and giving the money saved to appropriate charities… It probably wouldn’t really have any impact on anyone much aside from myself, but it still feels like it might be ‘the right thing’ to withdraw my support from dubious maybe-slave-labour clothes and my general addiction to high street shopping. Plus the vague notion that the Tories want me to go shopping so maybe I should stop.

It might not look it, but this is actually a really flattering top, and only £3 in Shelter!

I thought about joining a union (and may still) despite there not really being one specific to designers, and not really feeling like I need one (but you NEVER KNOW right?)
It's more about a gesture of solidarity to unions than specifically feeling like I need union support, I guess. Unite seems like the logical choice, but can anyone recommend one that might be more relevant?
Today's question: how do you draw the concept of a union...

I’m already vegan in things that I eat (apart from the odd bit of honey, because bees might save us all), but I really need to quit the occasional leather purchase and any non-edible products which aren’t specifically marked as vegan. I know this isn’t really a direct F-U to the current government, but the world needs all the help it can get environmentally now, especially with a government who are unlikely to do their fair share.

I'm not saying you all need to go vegan, but I AM saying vegetables are great.
These are some of my favs, not including kale because kale is hard to draw

In terms of volunteering, I’m weighing up my options here. I’ve been thinking for a lot of years about attempting to undergo the Samaritans training. The main thing holding me back is worries about the impact it may have on my own mental health, but realistically a LOT more people are going to be driven to the brink by this government, or even just need some basic compassion and kind words… I would love to be able to offer that to people. Has anyone had any experience with this?

Might need to work on a less gormless telephone face though

I’m also considering joining Arts Emergency as a Network Contact… this means being willing to talk to/mentor students (16+) from underprivileged backgrounds who are interested in careers in the arts (in my case it would specifically be graphic design). It feels slightly egotistical, but I love what I do and I do feel like I could offer some good advice, or at the very least support and encouragement to students who are considering it. I’m still trying to work out whether I’m a) experienced enough and b) worthwhile enough in terms of the advice I could give to get involved!
This is me, pondering some art, and whether I'm in a suitable
position to encourage other people who want to devote their lives to it.

In terms of protests, I don’t think this is something I am going to get involved with (much though I am ANGRY and like the idea of SHOUTING)… I am too scared (which I know is exactly what ‘they’ want), but I strongly, passionately support everyone I know who is going to get involved with any peaceful protests, and for protests which may require background support (for example in the Balcombe fracking protest where food, tents, camping equipment, sleeping bags etc were required) I will definitely be happy to contribute in any way I can. Alex has got excited in the past about getting more involved with mass-catering for protests (a la Anarchist Teapot Mobile Kitchen), and I could also be down with that. If chopping up hundreds upon hundreds of potatoes can make a difference then goshdarnit I’ll do it.

I am now available for placard design/slogan writing, including other such
passionate messages as 'I might need to have a lie down' and 'can't you be nicer?'

In terms of charitable donations, I am in the fortunate position that I can afford to donate some money each month, and there really is no excuse not to. Currently I do so on a fairly ad-hoc basis, chucking money in the direction of whatever charity catches my eye, but I’m wondering whether now is the time for a couple of direct debits alongside these irregular donations. Homelessness charities, food banks, domestic abuse support, and any charities which offer support/advice to anyone vulnerable due to poverty/mental health issues are particularly high on my priority list. Does anyone have any particular suggestions for charities in these categories that I might have missed?

My hard earned $$$.

I’m also trying to work out whether there’s a practical way I can get food/personal care products to either the Shoreham or the Whitehawk food bank during their opening times, but it may be tricky due to the hours they’re open clashing with the hours I work. Is anyone I know planning on taking donations to either of them on a regular/semi regular basis? If yes, let me know so we can try and work out a way that maybe you could take my contributions as well.

Remember, food banks need things like tampons, pads and cosmetics too!
Also does anyone else wish there was some way to buy and donate
mooncups to those who would like to try them but are put off by the
initial financial outlay? Because I would be so down with that.

I also attend the Quaker church, and the Quaker community has a long history of peaceful dissent and direct action, which particularly appeals to me because it comes from the core belief that they see ‘that of God’ in everyone… I know to non-believers that is probably meaningless, but to me is basically means that everything comes from a core of respect and love for everyone else involved, no matter how reprehensible their beliefs/behaviour. It is incredibly important to me that I hold onto these values: I am VERY CROSS, and find it hard to love/respect people who voted Conservative or UKIP, but I must try. I don’t know yet how I will get involved as I don’t know yet what actions the Brighton Quaker church may take, but whatever they plan, I will try and get on board, be it financially or with my time.

Sorry not sorry if religion freaks you out.

I’ll end with these rather poignant words, from a public statement by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Britain, agreed in session at London Yearly Meeting, 22 – 25 May 1987:

“Quakers in Britain have felt called to issue this statement in order to address a matter of urgent national priority to promote debate and to stimulate action.

We are angered by actions which have knowingly led to the polarisation of our country — into the affluent, who epitomise success according to the values of a materialistic society, and the 'have-leasts', who by the expectations of that same society are oppressed, judged, found wanting, and punished.

We value that of God in each person and affirm the right of everyone to contribute to society and share in life's good things, beyond the basic necessities. We commit ourselves to learning again the spiritual value of each other.

We find ourselves utterly at odds with the priorities in our society which deny the full human potential of millions of people in this country. That denial diminishes us all. There must be no 'them' and 'us'."

I only hope that the passion and motivation that I and so many others are feeling in the wake of the election result can be translated into worthwhile, positive actions.

What are you planning on doing? Do you have any advice/wisdom for me?

1 comment:


Great stuff Emma, thinking of positive things we can do in this rubbish situation really made me feel a bit better!

I am worried that all the advances made in law to protect animals from cruelty may fall by the wayside under this government- so there's another worthy cause to add to the list.

Another thing we can do is become active politically, look at what the different parties are doing in the area and get involved (For example Manchester has a Labour Womens' Forum.) If we don't want another Tory government in 5 years time then we need to work together to build a stronger opposition.

You should definitely do the mentoring thing, you'd be great and I'm sure younger people would benefit from your advice!