The Final Countdown – 9 Weeks To Go

Only 9 weeks to go until construction starts on ‘Sundance’ the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

Why ‘Sundance’?

Each year, North American Plains Indian tribes would gather together for the Sundance. This was a time of feasting, dancing and sharing and an opportunity to reinforce their relationships with the environment, the animal kingdom and each other.

These events, which differed somewhat across the Plains, were chronicled by early western observers. More sensationalist reports focused on the Sundance as a rite of passage. Young warriors were attached to a long flexible pole by ropes skewered through the skin on their backs. They would then dance for 24 hours – a bit like a puppet on a string – perhaps a forerunner of reality TV!

Before I am inundated with offers from eager parents nominating their sons for this role; I must stress that this ritual is not a feature of the garden. The Humanist Garden focuses on sharing abundance, celebrating creativity and reinforcing caring relationships.

Using the happy human logo I have created a Humanist Sundance design. Look out for the finished product at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

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Finally, the main focus this week has been on potting up plants and seedlings. Timing is critical for the plants to be at their absolute peak for the show. Some warmer weather would be very welcome. Most plants are doing well, apart from the butternut squash – not too sure what’s going on with them. They’ve been fed, watered and sprayed with insecticide – hopefully they’ll pick up soon.

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As a community garden, the planting is largely fruit and vegetables. The planting scheme is inspired by the South American practices of companion planting. I’ve also been looking at permaculture and how it can be used in a small garden. But more of that next week.

Enjoy the week ahead.
Carol Seager

Telford talk: An introduction to Humanism on 21 July

Shropshire Humanist Group is sponsoring a talk about Humanism on Friday 21st July at 7.30 pm at Meeting Point House at Telford Shopping Centre, Southwater Square, Telford TF3 4HS. It will be presented by Dr Simon Nightingale, Chair of Shropshire Humanist Group.

The talk is an introduction for anyone interested in humanism, whether or not they call themselves a humanist. Humanists are those who believe that it is possible to lead a good life and be a good person without religion, and anyone favouring that view will find areas of common interest. Those with religious faith who are interested in learning more of a rapidly growing, influential non-religious world view are most welcome. Teachers of Religious Education may find the talk helpful and informative. Tea/coffee/biscuits available afterwards.

This talk will be followed by a course on humanism, consisting of six weekly 2-hour sessions beginning on Wednesday 27 September for 6 weeks, also at Meeting Point House. Members of the public are welcome to enrol for the course. There is a limit on numbers and there will be a small charge. Full details are here.

Humanists believe one can lead a good life and be a good person without religion. Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. Dr Nightingale, a retired consultant neurologist from the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, has been working for humanism for some years, conducting humanist funerals and weddings. He is the humanist representative on the Shrewsbury SACRE – the Local Authority committee that oversees Religious Education and Collective Worship in our Shropshire state schools and a member of the Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum. Currently he is chair of the Shropshire Humanist Group, the organisation that has arranged this talk.

Meeting Point House is near Telford Shopping Centre, and 10-15 minutes walk from Train and Bus Stations. Brown Elm car park is nearby. There is wheelchair access.

Celebrating the life of Jo Cox in Much Wenlock

All Humanists are invited to the following event:

We are a group of like minded people who live in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. We wish to celebrate the life of Jo Cox, as part of a national togetherness day, and the values she stood for including community, togetherness, tolerance and diversity – values close to humanism. On Saturday, June 17th from 3-6pm we will be holding a picnic on the Church Green with music, face painting, poetry reading, dancing etc you,your family and friends are most welcome to join us. Your endorsement would be appreciated as well as a humanist input at grass roots level.

The Final Countdown

Only 10 weeks to go until construction starts on ‘Sundance’ the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show. Following several weeks of research and designing, I’m now excited to be bringing the paper drawings to life.

Over the next 10 weeks l will be sharing different aspects of the gardens preparation with you (without revealing the whole scheme). Hopefully, this will give you some insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ activity surrounding the creation of a show garden, while also providing tantalising glimpses of the finished product.

But first a little about the concept behind the garden. The floral theme for this years show is Buffalo Bill and the Wild West. An interesting and challenging brief, especially when trying to reflect the ethics and values of humanism. Using the buffalo as a starting point l discovered some interesting facts:

  • The nomadic American Plains Indian tribes relied almost exclusively on the buffalo to provide food, shelter, clothing, tools and fuel.
  • In the 19th century the buffalo population fell from 60,000,000 in 1800 to only 750 in 1890.
  • Many Plains Indian Tribes faced starvation and were forced onto reserves.
    Southern Plains Indian tribes fared better as they supplemented their diet with subsistence farming.

It was from this that the idea of a community garden began to take shape. Providing food, water and shelter, the garden emphasises the basic necessities for life and promotes the values of human welfare, happiness and fulfilment, and is a celebration of the joy of sharing, companionship and creativity.

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On the subject of creativity; using a limited palette of yellow ochre, red iron oxide, turquoise and black and inspired by Native American textile patterns ( with a happy human or two thrown in) l have been busy transforming a rather large gourd.

More next week!
Carol Seager

Featured Blog – Carol Seager

For the next 10 weeks until the Shrewsbury Flower Show, we will be featuring a special weekly blog by Carol Seager who is creating a “Humanist Garden”. The blog will give you weekly updates on the progress Carol is making with preparations for the show.

We really hope you enjoy this guest blog – please feel free to get in contact if you have any questions about the Flower Show or the Humanist Show Garden. For more information about our involvement with the Flower Show and how you can help us finance the Garden, please see the attached leaflet. Thank you as ever for your continued support!

SHG news, 29 May

CULTURAL DIVERSITY DAY, SATURDAY 22 JULY

We were part of this last year and have been asked to come again. We shall be manning a Humanist stall in the Square. Help from members is welcome.

MULTI-CULTURAL FUN DAY, SATURDAY 9 SEPTEMBER

We were part of this Shrewsbury Interfaith Forum (SIF) initiative last year and it was great fun. We shall need members to run the Humanist stall in the Square.

HUMANIST GARDEN AT THE SHREWSBURY FLOWER SHOW

We have had donations, including private donations and one from the national organisation, Humanists UK, and plans are going ahead. Please watch this space for further news. Donations and offers of help in setting it up are welcome.

British Humanist Association (BHA) becomes Humanists UK

The British Humanist Association (BHA), the national charity representing non-religious people in the United Kingdom and the Crown dependencies, has become Humanists UK. The new name, along with a revised new look and feel for the charity, will help the organisation to support more of the millions of non-religious people in the UK to be happier, more confident, and more fulfilled in the one life we have.

In an email to members today, Chief Executive Andrew Copson said:

A long, evidence-driven process with focus groups of non-religious people across the UK and research involving over 4,000 of our supporters has helped us arrive at the best possible vehicle for our movement for a fairer world. Humanists UK represents not just a new logo, but a totally new, friendly look that captures the essence of humanism: open, inclusive, energetic, and modern, with people and their stories placed first and foremost in all our broad and varied work.

In our proud 120-year history, we’ve regenerated like this more than once. From a collection of 19th century ethical societies, we became the Ethical Union and then, in the 1960s, the British Humanist Association. The ideas and values we represent have an even prouder and still longer history than this: the thinking and doing of humanists stretches back to the European Enlightenment and has its antecedents in the ancient cultures of Europe, China, India, and many other places. Today this way of thinking is the basic worldview of millions of people in the UK and globally.

The Ethical Union and then the British Humanist Association have helped change Britain, and Humanists UK will continue to be a growing movement at the forefront of social change. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, we ran soup kitchens and housing centres while fighting for the right to air non-religious views in public, chipping away at a censorious Victorian culture. In the mid-twentieth century, we were at the centre of movements to reform the law on homosexuality, abortion, and the death penalty. And since then, we have fought to challenge creationism in our classrooms, guarantee protections for minorities in the workplace, oppose harmful blasphemy laws, and so much else besides.

Over that time, we also pioneered the concept of non-religious funerals and weddings, allowing people to mark life’s turning points with authenticity. We offer the same services today, along with new services like non-religious pastoral support, and our celebrants are still the very best you’ll find anywhere.

The charity has unveiled its new look this week, across its website and social media channels. The first Humanists UK event will be the Humanists UK Convention in Cambridge over 9-11 June 2017, which will bring together nearly 600 humanists for a weekend of comedy, arts, and science, in celebration of the charity’s varied work for a tolerant world where rational thinking and kindness prevail.

Notes

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

For media enquiries, please contact Humanists UK Communications Manager Liam Whitton .

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