Dinner last night with the Committee of Be the Change and lecturer Kerry Cochrane to mark the start of the ‘New Thinking for a New Millennium’ weekend long workshop, at Mates Gully, one of Wagga’s organic café/restaurants.
A good start for what promises to be an interesting and useful weekend, though isn’t it a bit late to be addressing the needs of the new millennium? I am though very interested in its focus on ‘human ecology’, which will introduce participants to ‘ways of thinking that will influence your decision making’.
It is part of Be the Change’s ongoing program, which I am pleased to be part of.
A very busy week, for as well as hosting the Dr. Mona El-Farra (from Gaza) visit on Monday, I’ve also done a lot of volunteer work this week.
On Tuesday the BUGS spiritual program and also the Stage 3 (Upper Primary) Education Program, both at Erin Earth, on Wednesday the Ignite Youth Mentoring program, and on Thursday gardening at Erin Earth. I’ll expand on all in my blog, but I’ll also try to write every day I undertake volunteering activities, as this s such a big part of my life now. I’ll also try to write daily entries every time I do some volunteering, so it doesn’t all come in one hit.
In the meantime, BUGS is the acronym we have adopted for the spiritual program at Erin Earth. It aims to explore spirituality in relation to ‘Big History’ and the 13 billion year history of the universe. Its an antidote to conventional religion and I’m getting a lot out of it in relation to my own spirituality, which has ‘green’ and Gaia links.
The Erin Earth education program is environmental education, covers years K to 6, and I’m working on putting drama activities into the Years 5 & 6 program, so my (former) career is being put to good use. I’m also getting a lot out of the entire program though, which acknowledges that we an integral part of an ever changing universe.
All these Erin Earth activities have grown out of my initial volunteering activity of gardening, which I do up there once a week, on Thursday mornings. It is my little bit to help this very worthwhile project, sand I’m also learning heaps from it, including about the natural environment and, of course, about gardening activities.
I should mention that Erin Earth is an environment education venture started by a former nun, Carmel Wallace, on a barren site she and others remediated.
The Ignite Youth at Risk mentoring program is exactly that. I volunteered some time ago and, after the usual police background checks, it is now underway. I meet with two or three middle high school boys once a week. They tend to wag school a lot, have no or little concentration, and have very limited ambitions, but they are fun and are brutally honest about themselves, both of which are good traits in a sea of negative ones. I’m enjoying it!
This is just a short entry about my retirement life volunteer activities. Now I’m into blogging about them I’ll write an entry each time I do something, as all this activity is very much related to that drive me, starting, of course, with my peace activism, focused on working for a just peace for Palestine
Very busy all day yesterday with two projects that have grown out of my gardening volunteering at Erin Earth.
Firstly a Blessed Unrest Group (BUGS) meeting, which focused on DVDs about ‘Big History’ and then on Bruce Sanguin’s ‘Coming Home to the Cosmos’ reading. I’m very pleased to be part of the BUGS group as it is giving me so much in terms of understanding my spirituality, especially in relationship to my environmental concerns. It isn’t at all about conventional organised religion, and I’m pleased that others know the difference between spirituality and religion. I’ve still got a long way to go on my spirituality journey, but tis is a great start.
I also like the BUGS acronym as it has good environmental connotations, though less keen on the use of the word ‘blessed’, as it has religious references.
Secondly, I’m now part of Erin Earth’s education projects, charged with adding drama activities to their program, Yesterday we worked on putting the finishing touches to the Stage 3 (Upper Primary) program. I’m thrilled to be involved, and that they like my drama input. This is of course drawing on my past professional life, and is, thankfully, putting it to good use as environmental education. It is also exercising my mind! A great way to volunteer!
Monday’s visit by Palestinian Dr Mona El Farra was very successful. A good live interview on local ABC radio, an interview and photo published on Tuesday in the Daily Advertiser, and a very well attended ‘From Gaza with love’ talk at the Historic Council Chambers in the evening. Given the last minute nature of it all given the border crossing being closed and Mona being so tired, having only arrived in Sydney the day before, I’m very pleased I managed to organise it and get such a good response.
I’m a little surprised at how little most people who attended the talk knew about the situation in Palestine, though pleased that they were so keen to learn, of course.
I organised the event at the behest of the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine, which had contacted me out of the blue, I think at the suggestion of Greens colleagues who knew about my interest in a just peace and my trip to Palestine last summer. I’m very pleased to be able to do something to carry out my commitment to being an ‘ambassador for Palestine’ that I promised before we left Palestine.
I must join the Coalition for Peace and Justice in Palestine.
Great news – the Gaza border crossing is now open and Dr El-Farra has been able to get a flight out, and so will be here on time to give her ‘From Gaza with love’ talk at the Old Council Chambers in Wagga on Monday 27 May at 6.00. Phew, that was a close one!
Its free and refreshments are provided. All are welcome, so please spread the word and come along.
I’m very pleased this is happening as it fits very satisfyingly into my commitment to continue working for a ‘Just Peace’ for Palestine on my return home. All very fulfilling, and I’m very much looking forward to the talk.
I’ll post a report on how it went next week.
The from ‘Gaza with love’ talk I am organising by Dr. El-Farra on Monday 27 May at the Historic Council Chambers at 6.00 pm may still have to be cancelled because the checkpoint at the border crossing out of the Gaza strip has been closed for the last 5 days, and she is stuck there. All very frustrating. Tomorrow is the deadline for a decision to be made, and I’ll keep you posted as to whether or not it will happen.