This year’s festive season, for some reason feels lighter than last year; when writing this blog in 2016 'Winter Blues', I was feeling a lot more blue than the article suggests and edited out some of my “near death on bike” rage!
Today is a similar day, I can’t see the sky, I was nearly killed on my bike, the stumps of trees stare at me, I can hear Trump and Brexit at the turn of every radio but today, for some reason feels lighter.
Today is solstice, today I saw some bulbs trying to break the soil and today I saw bat boxes on threatened trees.
After a year of heavy heartedness for most of society, in a world that seems to be crumbling around us environmentally, politically and morally, in a place where we see attacks on our youngest gig goers or tourists and police officers going about their day to day, why can I only hear starlings on roof tops and see the sun trying to break through the gloom?
With Winter solstice comes the knowledge that light, spring and lanterns are not far away. With bat boxes comes the knowledge that there is a fight for our community and our trees and with starlings there is the knowledge that we can dance, for no reason other than we like being with our friends and putting on a show.
Above all this my inspiration has been Graham Bell- MBE. A 91 year old veteran who took part in our “What We Remember” British Legion project. This vibrant, fun man stood with his portrait, that students at Handsworth Grange painted, all weekend in the Winter Garden and talked to over 300 people (we didn’t ask him to, but he wanted to talk to new people and tell them about his experiences).
I spoke to him this week and he was: speaking that evening to someone in France to continue his French language practice, looking for a new fundraising venture (but not fire walking as it was easy!), had raised £1000 for charity and had recently run a 10k!
Graham, wrote this on Facebook this week; “77 years ago this week, Sheffield was bombed on 3 successive nights, killing 660 and injuring 1500. I walked through town as a 14yr old and saw trams on fire. Burtons, C&A, Atkinson in flames, marples pub direct hit killing 71...these are my vivid memories as a 14yr old in short trousers.” Perspective, fun and giving are the words that resonate with Graham.
I am holding onto the little things we can do to bring us back to an “us” community. Over the festive period there a few small actions I am taking to try and connect and help protect wider society and my community:
Avoiding glittery and shiny wrapping paper- I love brown paper or newspaper. Eco friendly alternatives.
Make your own screen wash, all you need is washing up liquid and vinegar!
Use your local shops- there is all you need down Sharrow Vale Road, Abbeydale road and Sheffield Market.
Volunteer at a local Christmas event for older people or give a gift. See here for ideas.
Have a veggie Christmas meal - Luxury five nut roast.
Give to one of your local charities by buying your event tickets through Tickets for Good.
Use Give as you Live when doing your online shopping.
Finally, use your local cultural community- in the past 2 weeks we have seen:
Neverland at Theatre Deli (its amazing and very fun)
Food hall- for a vegan buffet (delicious)
And listened to the most amazing singing at the Cathedral
Have an amazing Christmas and New Year and bring on a fun 2018.