The Final Countdown – 6 Weeks To Go

6 weeks to go until construction starts on the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

Celebrating creativity
As part of the ethos of the garden is the celebration of creativity, there will be many elements of artisan art and crafts included in the garden. For example, pottery, basketry, weaving, textiles, art glass and sculpture.

One aspect of textile will be batik. This is the technique of wax-resist dyeing applied to cloth. Hot liquid wax is applied to the cloth using a tjanting tool, a small copper reservoir with a spout and a wooden handle. The areas of applied wax then resist the dye. Repeated layers can be built up to create colourful patterns.

Batik is an ancient art form dating back to the 4th century BC, where the fabric was used to wrap Egyptian mummies. The technique is widely practised in China, India, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia and sub Saharan Africa. However, Indonesian Batik is probably the best know.

The following images show the build up of wax layers and colour. The final image shows the completed fabric, but before the wax has been removed by ironing between sheets of paper – it’s just been too hot to iron!

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The different areas practising batik developed their own recognisable styles and patterns – many with symbolic meanings. For this reason I have incorporated the Happy Human motif into my designs.

The fabric will be made into cushions for the seating area of the garden and should provide a vibrant splash of colour against all the green of the vegetables.

Enjoy the week ahead.
Carol

SHG members at Dying Matters Awareness Week

Shropshire Humanist Group members took part in the Dying Matters Awareness Week in May.

Dying Matters Awareness Week is organised to encourage people to think and talk openly about death and dying and about being prepared for their own deaths.

This year in Telford the Community Health Team and in Shrewsbury the local Hospice organised stalls in shopping areas with information on various subjects: the work of the Samaritans, the making of wills, making a bucket list, palliative care options, and the stalls were manned by volunteers from various organisations.

Sue Falder and Simon Nightingale, both celebrants belonging to the Shropshire Humanist Group, displayed information about humanist funerals and talked to passers-by about the aims of the week. Some people superstitiously felt that to talk about death was to bring it on. Others were well ahead with their preparations, wills written, funeral instructions done. Still others spoke movingly about their own experience of illness and dying in members of their family.

The picture shows some of those at the Telford stall on 12 May. Sue Falder is on the right.

IHEU: Help us protect humanists at risk

The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) has started up a fund to defend humanists under threat.

Over the last 5 years, the IHEU has led the way in providing advocacy and support for humanists at risk around the world.

The IHEU is at the forefront of identifying and raising awareness of a disturbing new trend:

— growing violence and discrimination targeted at non-religious individuals and groups around the world.

We want to continue highlighting and campaigning on this topic and defending individual humanists at risk. And we need your help.

Here are just some of the ways your gift may help:

•  £20 would cover the cost of producing a letter of support for someone whom IHEU has verified is at risk and who is claiming asylum
• £100 could fund direct personal advisory support between IHEU officers and individuals at risk
• £400 could support a high-level meeting between IHEU and representatives at international institutions such as the United Nations
• £700 could fund one of our Member Organizations from a hostile country to be represented as part of our delegation at the UN Human Rights Council
•  £2,000 could support someone whom IHEU has verified as at risk to their life to get to safety

In countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and the Maldives, humanist bloggers and activists have been repeatedly targeted by Islamist militants, and even murdered for their work. These are humanists, championing human rights, equality, and bravely daring to confront fundamentalism, even when surrounded by hostile groups.

And in thirteen countries around the world, the non-religious can be put to death under laws against ‘apostasy’ and ‘blasphemy’. In Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Mauritania this is a very real threat, with multiple people currently accused of ‘apostasy’ and facing possible death sentences.

We need your support to help humanists at risk.

We work on this issue in three main ways:

• Through the publication of our annual Freedom of Thought Report, the IHEU provides a detailed overview of areas where the law, policy and practice of states discriminates against the non-religious. The report advances human rights by 1) leveraging criticism against countries where the human rights of the non-religious are infringed, 2) highlighting individual case studies of violence and discrimination, and 3) opening up a new discussion at the international level around the targeted persecution of non-religious people specifically. With an innovative rating system, a new fully online edition, and the data openly published under a Creative Commons license, the IHEU publication sets a class-leading standard for civil society reports on novel human rights topics.

(Map showing aggregated data from the Freedom of Thought Report on the level of legal discrimination and persecution against the non-reilgious around the world. More info.)

• In our advocacy and campaigns work we champion human rights. At the United Nations we highlight persecution of the non-religious and raise individual cases at the highest level. For example, last week we gave voice to Ensaf Haidar, whose husband Raif Badawi has been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for five years, for advocating liberalism and secluarism. In her statement, delivered by IHEU’s representative, Ensaf said: “The peaceful expression of opinion and thought is a non-negotiable human right. It is the right of all human beings with no exception. I call on the very Council charged with the protection and promotion of human rights to do more to pressure its member Saudi Arabia to release my husband and all others like him, jailed and mistreated for standing up for the human rights of all.” The IHEU also provides coordination for the End Blasphemy Laws campaign, an international coalition of organisations which seeks to highlight the discriminatory nature of blasphemy laws, in-line with the policy of the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.

(The IHEU co-founded the International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws which runs the End Blasphemy Laws campaign.)

• On top of all this research, advocacy and campaigning, the IHEU has taken up casework and championed persecuted individuals, advising and supporting people who are living under threat, or seeking asylum or humanitarian assistance. The IHEU has helped numerous individuals to relocate or otherwise find greater security after being targeted for expressing their humanist values or secularist criticisms.

(The threat is a horrible reality! Yameen Rasheed was killed in April by suspected Islamist militants. IHEU had met him in Geneva earlier this year, where he was championing human rights. After his brutal murder, he was described in the media by a friend as a “humanist”, and “a very bright mind”.)

The IHEU has been recognised as a global leader in highlighting the persecution of Humanists, atheists and secularists under the human rights framework. This year the work of IHEU was recognised by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and Belief as the only civil society contribution in their first report to the Human Rights Council. The work of IHEU has transformed the way that human rights for non-religious people are seen, drawing world-wide attention to the targeted violence and systematic discrimination faced in many countries.

Now is the time to support us.

Please give today and help us to defend humanists at risk around the world.

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The International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization incorporated in New York, USA. And registered in England, number FC020642.

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As an alternative to GoFundMe you can give via iheu.org/donate.

Or by bank transfer to:

Account name: “International Humanist and Ethical Union”
Sort code: 20-41-41
Account number: 50958840
SWIFT code: BARCGB22
IBAN number: GB59BARC20414150958840.

Please use “WHD2017” as the payment reference.

Or you can send a cheque / check payable to “International Humanist and Ethical Union” to our office address:

International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
39 Moreland Street
London EC1V 8BB
United Kingdom

We will acknowledge all donations and we can provide a receipt on request.

The Final Countdown – 7 Weeks To Go

Seven weeks to go until construction starts on Sundance, the Humanist show Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

The Trouble with Beans
Well, this week I was going to talk about Indonesian batik, but, after a cold wet spring this glorious weather has kick started the plants into a sudden growth spurt. Well, perhaps not all of the plants. Frustratingly the French beans, which had just poked their heads through the soil and started to grow up alongside the maize, just shrivelled up and died.

Timing is all important, as the maize needs to have reached a sufficient height in order to provide climbing support for the newly emerging beans. A dash around local garden centres provided some rather sorry looking replacement French bean plants.

The central focal point of the garden is a tall sculptural structure which will also double up as a support for runner beans. The structure will be built on site which means that the runner beans need to be grown separately, transported to site and encouraged to climb up the structure.

Calling on all my Blue Peter acquired skills I set about constructing what I hope will be a portable climbing bean frame.

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Using 8ft canes, plastic piping, large pots and string I have cobbled together a framework which I hope will do the job. The plastic piping is there to insert elements of the sculptural structure…..confused?…..come to the show to see how it works.

A big thank you to my sister Jenny who didn’t realise that she would have such a large structure sitting on her patio, which she is also obliged to water for the next seven weeks!

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Have a great week. Enjoy the weather.
Carol

Seven everyday things poor people worry about that rich people never do

It isn’t just poor people’s lives which differ from rich people’s lives – it’s poor people’s thoughts that differ from everyone else’s.  – Carmen Rios, 30 September 2015

Being poor is hard work. And it’s a hell of a mind game.

I grew up with my brother in a working-class home headed up by a single mother. We were rich in love and support and – because of Mom’s passion for baking – cheesecake.

But we were not rich in money.

Watching my mother struggle to make ends meet fundamentally changed my relationship to money, even to this day.

Over the years, I’ve realized that it isn’t just poor people’s lives which differ from rich people’s lives – it’s poor people’s thoughts that differ from everyone else’s.

Read more…

Paul Sturges on radio: Blasphemy and freedom of expression

Paul Sturges, who is speaking to us about blasphemy and freedom of expression, was interviewed on radio on Sunday morning on BBC Radio Shropshire.

To hear it, go to “listen again” at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p054czb5 and listen from 38.30 to 43.30 on the time line.

 

The Final Countdown – 8 Weeks To Go

Eight weeks to go before construction starts on ‘Sundance’ the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

It’s been a busy week, mainly because I moved into my new home in Shrewsbury. All my worldly goods have been in storage for six months so it was quite a surprise to open boxes and discover the contents. Less exciting has been trying to find a home for everything.

As I mentioned last week, the garden uses companion planting. Companion planting and permaculture are an essential part of the ethos of the garden. Permaculture is built on a foundation of ethical principles – caring for the planet, caring for others, sharing abundance. Using techniques from indigenous peoples around the world, permaculture embraces traditional (pre-industrial) agriculture, and influences from other cultures.

Companion planting is the technique of growing compatible crops together such as maize, beans and squash – also known as ‘the three sisters’. The corn provides a climbing frame for the beans. The beans are nitrogen fixers and improve the soil. And the squash provide ground cover and suppress weeds.

In addition to the three sisters the garden will also have tomatoes, chillies and onions growing together. Herbs and flowers are also very beneficial in a variety of ways. For example, between them, camomile, marigold and comfrey enrich the soil by providing calcium, potassium, phosphorus, silicon, nitrogen, and magnesium. Nasturtiums attract black fly away from beans and sunflowers attract pollinators.

In the week ahead, as well as nurturing plants, I hope to get started on the batik panels for the screens. More about batik next week.

Have a lovely week – I think it’s going to warm up a bit!
Carol Seager

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