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The rebellion begins

Needless to say, every big day takes preparation by many people. I can’t completely imagine the preparation that has gone into the thousands of people who have joined the Extinction Rebellion and converged on London, blockading streets and bridges in an effort to compel their government to act on climate change and ecological breakdown. In our relatively little place, though, I can say some of what’s been happening behind the scenes.

As high vis vests continue to trickle in, (for marshals to use in keeping people safe on the streets or when doing banner drops) and patches emerge from the screen printing (and stitching) rebel, I’ve been stitching them on to keep our collection growing.

Then there was doing a quiet recce at parliament house, where I can highly recommend the tour. It is informative and there are some beautiful things to be seen as well as some evidence of the corruption that featured in the colonial period to be heard of!  Above, some of the suffragists responsible for our state granting women the right to vote (after Aotearoa/New Zealand led the way) as well as the right to stand for parliament (included in the Bill as an amendment, expected to sink the Bill and defeat the suffrage–there has to be comeuppance sometimes!)  The women’s suffrage centenary tapestries in the lower house of parliament were woven by local weavers as a community arts project and there are many members of my Guild listed as weavers.

Here, the red line in the carpet over which a white gentleman (Indigenous people not even recognised as citizens in this period, let alone as able to stand for parliament or vote) must not step with a sword.  Yes, a throwback to English history.  Then  there was the preparation of a rebel outfit for a certain poster child, at the request of her mother.

And then came the big day.  Inspired by Scottish rebels, 13 of us who had trained and prepared for the role went on a tour of parliament and then declined to leave the lower chamber, where we formed our own citizens’ assembly and each delivered a speech about our fears for future generations if our governments do not begin to tell the truth and act on it by taking emergency level action on climate change and the ecological crisis. Here our police liaisons explain the situation to our charming and very informative guide. He was astounded that we would pass up the opportunity to see the upper house!

Here one of us is on the phone to the Premier’s office.

A lighthearted moment with a possum who survived two boys’ childhoods and told me “if we don’t get action on climate change, and soon, we’re all STUFFED” at which I had to point out I thought the possum was (just barely) stuffed already.

I suggested rebels bring a pack of cards or their knitting just in case of a long wait.  Then I left my knitting at home–oops–but others were better prepared!

And then eventually we were, as the TV news put it, “forcibly removed” with our suffrage foremothers looking down on us.  I think they would have understood. And Joyce Steele (in blue on the wall in the image below) the first female MP in the state, elected in the 1950s–she was looking down on us too. I have a soft spot for her, having encountered her reading Hansard. She spoke to the Bill that eventually decriminalised abortion in our state in 1975, the first time in the history of the state that a woman had been able to speak to this matter in parliament in the period since English criminal law was imposed over Indigenous law through colonisation. Though clearly not a big fan of abortion, Joyce Steele was equally clearly unable to remain silent.  She had heard the terrible stories of the women in her electorate who had come to see her on this issue over her life as an MP, as well as being prepared to speak to the lack of sexuality education and access to contraception in her time.

With Joyce looking down, we were removed from the chamber and taken out to the stairs where our fellow rebels and some media and my beloveds were waiting. And may others join us as a result.  ABC TV coverage from 8.05 here.  Local news here.  More at xrsa.com.au.

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Boomerang Bags

The most recent stack of Boomerang Bags were made over a considerable period. Here are some in progress–straps being interfaced with shaggy leftovers of flanellette sheet well past last use on a bed, and a shirt being turned into a bag lining.

I made linings out of all manner of bits and pieces. The Remakery had a sale and I went in and bought upholstery samples and scraps of cotton fabrics. Here are some of them being pieced together for linings.

And eventually, there were bags–spot the upholstery samples!

And more bags…

Still more bags…

And yet more.

And in due course, I handed them over and the amazing BB volunteer I see most often exchanged them for more labels!

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Where was I?

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Dear Readers, I am sure you’ve noticed my absence. There has been a lot going on behind the scenes at localandbespoke. My partner’s parents have entered a new phase of their lives in which they have required more support.

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The long standing upheaval in my workplace that slowed me down a lot outside work in the last 18 months or so has resulted in my taking a voluntary redundancy in order to spend more of my time on climate activism.

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A small group of us inspired by activists in the UK have set up Extinction Rebellion in our state. Already, we are a very active and much larger group. Thus far, it’s a wild ride.

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My daughter has become a mother and I’ve become a grandmother.

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I am sure it’s not stretching your imagination too much to picture this as a time of emotional and practical upheaval in which I’ve been more than usually buffeted by the tides of life. There has been awe and amazement and joy.  There has been grief and pain and exhaustion. There have been a lot of mixed feelings–complicated situations give rise to complicated reactions. And I’ve spent some time recently feeling profoundly exhausted and with my friends letting me know of their concern for me.

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In situations of difficulty and complexity, I often find myself holding my friends and beloveds in my mind–sometimes asking what they would do; sometimes drawing solace from their love for me, their confidence in me or their preparedness to forgive me; sometimes remembering things they have said or done; mentally sharing an experience that I know they have had before me; drawing on their courage and wisdom or their capacity for integrity and compassion; or simply holding them in my mind as companions in complicated moments. In recent times I’ve found myself mentally writing blog posts and thus holding you in my mind.  Thanks for the company. I hope I might write some of those posts, however belatedly.

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Wasting less while travelling

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The last few months have included some travel for various reasons. I think it’s obvious that air travel raises my carbon footprint and should be avoided when possible. But perhaps I’ve already mentioned that my life is full of contradictions?  I’m trying to do what I can, when I can. When I went to Brisbane I was lucky enough to be able to buy vegetables and fruit at the local farmers’ market.  It was luck!  I had no idea it would be close to where I was staying.  I’d selected accommodation so I’d have less traveling each day I was there, and so I could travel by ferry when I needed public transport. In another spot of luck, I’d been saving my peelings and pits in the fridge for a few days trying to figure out whether my only option was to put them in the bin, when I realised I was walking distance from New Farm community garden.

I was convinced a community garden would have a composting system I could sneak my scraps into, but imagine my delight to discover a community composting hub! I went back a couple of times because it’s mango season and there I was making cold rolls for dinner and eating a mango every day.  And because the community garden was brilliant. My other travelling with less waste discovery was in Melbourne, where the lovely out-laws took us to Coburg Farmer’s market. There was live music, there was delicious food–and there was a no single use policy on cups, plates and utensils.  So there was a serious washing station with clearly explained steps, and lots of people large and small using it.

My other big carbon footprint management strategy is to protest when travelling whenever possible.  Brisbane is the heart of opposition to the Adani coal mine–which is a bad idea on so many fronts–Indigenous owners oppose it, we already know we need to keep existing reserves of coal in the ground to have a hope of keeping climate change to tragic rather than catastrophic levels, the water this mine will take is shocking, coal will be shipped out right by the Great Barrier Reef–you know what I’m saying.  I’m saying Stop Adani!

It’s also good to see what people in other places do–I caught up with an activist I met over 20 years ago and we talked up using music in protest (and did some singing, of course). And it was fun being deputised by my beloved and her parents to be the one going out to save the world while they stayed home providing loving care and being unable to get out much, respectively.  They needed to check that I would make sure I came home again.

I managed to come home both times–and there were some very funny stories of members of the family opposing Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam war, and being arrested during the Premiership of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, when the right to assemble and the right to march were themselves the things people were protesting to achieve, because they were criminalised by Joh.

And in closing… some photos of fabulous Brisbane wildlife!

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Last of the spring guerilla gardening?

The last of autumn’s cuttings went into one of my favourite patches. I now have only correa alba cuttings left and I am not convinced they have established good enough roots to set them out into the wild yet.

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This patch was my first, and it looks great.  But, there is an invasive grass coming up there that is seeding. So I pulled as much as I could and tried to rogue the rest (yanking off the flowering heads to reduce the seeds that will be produced).  One of the large saltbushes had died so I took that out too, and started to wonder how to remove my pile of green material! I planted rock roses here–cistus–and now I ave looked them up I find they are not actually native (well, they are native to the Mediterranean!)  There were cistus growing here when I first moved into the area but they died long ago.

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My friends close by couldn’t help me out with my pile of weeds this time.  Along came a couple of women, one farewelling the other to a nearby train.  I asked if the fareweller if she lived nearby and if so, whether she would mind if I filled her green waste bin.  I must have been having a bold morning.

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She told me where she lived–not that close!  And then offered to come and pick it up in her car if I’d pull it into a pile.  I checked whether she really wanted to do that and she said she appreciated what I was doing and we are both part of one community.  I love meeting people who feel this way, while I’m out and about doing guerilla gardening.  It helps my hopefulness a good deal.  Twenty minutes later I had broken all the saltbush into small sticks and finished panting, and she arrived in her car and we filled up the back with weeds and dead bush.

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Here is some of the bigger picture–everything apart from the tree planted by my friends and I. And of course, this isn’t really the end of the spring planting, because I’m putting seeds into pots as soon as I can free them up.  A friend gifted me two containers of seed she saved over and above whet she could use to add to my own collection.  So I made some tags from a yoghurt tub… and wrote on them with a pencil, and put some more seed in ready for autumn planting-out…

 

 

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Yet more spring guerilla gardening

Last week I went out and planted in a space where the council has planted and even put in a watering system, but some plants have died and not been replaced. I filled in some gaps…

Earlier in the week I went out and planted these little treasures in a spot where the conditions are harder both because there are still a few big eucalypts–hooray!  and because the train authority is responsible for this patch and clearly doesn’t invest as much as the Council in setting up plants for success. Many of the original plantings could not manage and died so I’ve been planting into the gaps.

While I was working here in a light drizzle, a man came out with his dog and had a chat–there seems to be an artists’ co-operative in an old industrial building here.  He’d been putting on a play at a Burning Man festival (in Australia though–news to me) and spoke enthusiastically about the festival’s gift economy, building community and such.  He clearly approved of my efforts and offered the plants in the raised bed that is the entire front garden of their place as a resource.  There is a plant in there that I’d like to try dyeing with so at last I got to ask about it….

These new plantings are tiny.  But last year’s are coming along…

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And those that have had even more years are growing well, protecting the bigger plants from being parked on and working with the mulch to keep weeds (and poison) down.

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A bit of weeding and rubbish picking, and home again…

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Drawing down the stash, or, more Boomerang Bags

The stash of fabrics that will never become clothing has dwindled very much in the Boomerang Bags period, my friends–this time, some metres of an open weave black fabric became many handles and a few bags. The little ?indigo? patch featured here appeared on the Guild trading table the other night with a little label about how it had been resist dyed with pegs.  Cute as a button!

This fabric was a gift from a person I used to work with many, many years ago.  It had years of use covering a small table and hanging on the wall, but had been tucked away for some years. Now it will be out in the world again in all its glory.

I had evidently patched together leftovers of my last Boomerang Bags episode, (and not only for linings–lots of these bags have jeans pockets from jeans that are no more, patched together with other scraps into linings).  So there are some bags with a black front and a patchwork back, or vice versa.

And then–the motherlode of wide wale corduroy.  This had a $2 tag on it from the Salvos.  I think I had a long period of wistfully looking back to a specific pair of corduroy pants I had near the end of High School and beyond–I remember them as chocolate brown and with a paperbag waist.  I felt like a sensation in them for some years. Eventually someone told me how bold she thought I was I was to wear them–or perhaps the green pair that replaced them in the early 1980s, with, ahem, secondhand suede winklepickers–on a first date with a mutual friend who was stylish and, well, judgmental. At first I was surprised and delighted, if puzzled, to be judged bold. Then I realised I was really being told that I had worn a very unflattering outfit to a first date, and with a style queen.  Sigh.  As it happens the outfit did not kill the date and we went on to have a relationship in which I received quite some instruction on how to dress!

Anyway–I am entirely unsure how I come to have so much wide wale corduroy in my possession, unless it was a wistful longing for my younger self feeling like a million dollars and able even to consider a corduroy paperbag waist as a style statement. But now it is all gone–all the maroon and two different shades of black of it. I do wish I hadn’t given away those suede winklepickers though!

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Waste and avoiding waste at home 1

I tend to think that people who read this blog are already doing whatever they can think of on this issue.  But I find that there are stages, not always in sequence, in the matter of waste.  I learn new things about what I am using and doing. I find out about strategies that had not occurred to me (like those learned in Japan).  I go back to things I used to do. I establish a different level of comfort or dislodge a piece of entitlement. And sometimes a new conversation opens up at home, at work, or more widely–in the case of Australia, The War on Waste has opened new conversations.

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So my best jeans went through in the knee and I decided to patch a bit more thoughtfully, as they are my best jeans, and I have so many fit for the garden already! Here is the patch on the inside.  I had kept my grandma’s pinking shears for well over a decade even though I couldn’t free them up.  I had one more attempt and shazam!  I have mended jeans and functional pinking shears (the new sewing machine oil did it)! So the patch has pinked edges.

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Here is my stitching grid (yes, an ordinary drawing pencil in pale pink).  Since visiting Japan, I’ve read more about sashiko (sometimes called Japanese folk embroidery–but to summarise, running stitch made into a higher art form) and realised the simpler thing would have been to just trace a grid of lines.  This worked though! Much more attractive than my previous utilitarian approach, in fact I had a confusing conversation with a gentleman who thought I’d done this just for decoration recently. I had to break the news it was actually mending, not distressed denim–but we shared some puzzlement bout distressed denim as we clearly both wear our jeans out.

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This morning, I went for a pre-work walk and took some years’ worth of our dead batteries (including rechargeables) to a recycling station at the Clarence Park Community Centre. They also accept electrical goods and mobile phones for recycling.  Community Centres are just SO GOOD. Our local Food Co-op at Clarence Park Community Centre has an excellent range of foods including eggs, honey, flours, seeds, grains, nuts, driend fruits, pulses. It is run by lovely volunteers, and has been running with a view to reducing waste and keeping food affordable for many, many years.  National list of bulk food co-ops here.

On the way back, a friend stopped on their bike and asked what I was doing in that spot–and they said Goodwood library also take batteries for recycling.  We went on our separate ways and I collected dye leaves on the way home, and they passed me again and stopped to say it had improved their day to see me and remember there are other people who also care for the earth. Aww! (That was the trigger for this post).  So there were hugs and there was love and then off they rode and off I walked.

Needless to say there has been more spring guerilla gardening, and I always pick up rubbish while I’m at it.

We already do lots of the simpler things like refusing straws (I started on that in the 1980s); taking our own bags to the shop, packing fruit and vegetables without extra bags, reusing plastic bags, recycling, composting, worm farming and such.  But we’ve stepped up to seeing if we can bring less plastic into the house, difficult as that is given the way industry and commerce are now arranged.  I’ve been stopping off at Drake’s Foodland Panorama which has a huge bulk section and is on my bus route home from work. I take pre-loved ziplock bags from earlier purchases with me and refill them. It’s not especially cheap  but it’s accessible and involves no new packaging. When coming home from my parents’ house, I’ve been doing the same thing with a Coles that has a smaller bulk section (each Coles I’ve seen a bulk section in has a different selection). But in Adelaide, the bulk place to go apart from your local co-op or Farmer’s Market is the Central Market.  Needless to say the Markets sell fruit, vegetables, pre-made foods and all manner of other foods. No one turns a hair when I buy bread with my own bags and this is expected by many stallholders. (Random picture of a rosella peeping out of a nesting box–look carefully!).

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The Honey Shop at the Market sells all kinds of unpackaged soaps, tea herbs, ingredients for making your own cosmetics and massage oils, plus bulk oils, cleansers (dishes, bathrooms, clothing, you), shampoo, conditioner, moisturiser–and of course honey. They’ve been doing it ever since I first went to the markets in about 1983. There is also the upmarket and relatively expensive Goodies and Grains which has a huge selection. (Random picture of home made sourdough with whole barley rising).

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Then there is the much cheaper Tardis of bulk shopping The House of Health (every time I go there I discover more things I thought were not available in Adelaide–like sourdough starter–as well as more things I don’t understand, like freeze dried vegetable powder).  You have to be prepared to dance in a very small space here but I can get virtually everything we use for breadmaking, nuts, seeds, dried fruits, FODMAP friendly granola making and more.

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Then there’s hankies.  I’m one of those who never went over to using paper tissues.  But now I make my own and share the love.  These were a small amount of double gauze I just could not resist, bought new and sized for smaller friends who have smaller pockets (and smaller noses!) And then there is this stack: an entire fitted cotton bedsheet worn through–soft and lovely for hankies–and gifted to me by a friend. Then I made some more from a vintage paisley green lawn from Joyce’s stash but I gifted them away before taking a photo.  And some others from fine lovely cotton from Beautiful Silks’ remnants section. What have you decided to do to reduce waste at your place lately?

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Waste and avoiding waste in Japan 2

The Japanese wrapping cloth or Furoshiki is sold all over Kyoto as a souvenir and there are simply gorgeous prints available all over central Kyoto. Less often, indigo or other plant dyed furoshiki are available.  the furoshiki is the kind of multi purpose staple item surely basic in many cultures where once, having a piece of fabric to use would have been so significant it would have had many uses. The furoshiki is still in use and maybe even having a resurgence in Japan. See one tutorial about how to wrap your lunch box here. I did not see them in use a great deal while in Kyoto, but I did see them being used: most notably one evening when I saw a middle aged man riding his bicycle in a yukata, with two packages the size and shape of framed paintings wrapped in furoshiki in the back basket. I went to one shop several times where the charming and generous  woman who was serving in the shop had an extraordinary show and tell, demonstrating how to use furoshiki. She said she had made YouTube videos and I hope this one is her!

One day my friend was trying to explain something she wanted to buy in a chemist and I spent that time roaming around looking at all the things. Wondering over depictions of Japanese manly attractiveness and womanly attractiveness, for instance. Wondering what it is like to live in a place where cosmetics are advertised with pictures which include the good looking young woman whose appearance is being improved by the advertised product (I’m guessing) playing violin (top right image in the right hand photo below).

Imagine my surprise (because a lifetime living in Australia) to discover that in Japan, cleaning your ears doesn’t necessarily involve cotton buds (Q tips). Here are two different models of ear pick.  My eyes popped out!  But once I knew what they were I realised I was looking at bamboo ear picks as a low price point item in a knife shop. Then I saw them in the museum of traditional arts and crafts, complete with a silky tassel.

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Yes, I brought one home. Yes, I’ll be careful.

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Spring Guerilla gardening 2

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Another early morning foray into the streets. More dianella revoluta to add to a massed planting where so many plants were stolen in three separate events the week they went in.

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Over several years I have planted saltbush into the gaps to keep the weeds down (now the saltbush is mounting a takeover bid!) and progressively propagated new plants to replace the ones that were stolen. This morning they went in like this, barey a spear shaped leaf above ground:

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Some of those planted in the last two years look good:

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And the original plantings are really successful.

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Here is the mound of saltbush removed (half to the chooks and half to composting):

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And at that point I decided it was prudent not to plant anything more and head home to  deal with that pile of saltbush, recycle some rubbish and give the chooks something tastier.  Dandelions, for example!

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