Help us celebrate Humanism in 2018

Our regular 21 June meeting in 2018 coincides with World Humanist Day. We would like to recognise this in an appropriate way.

We have provisionally booked the Square in Shrewsbury between 9 am and 5pm on 21 June for an event highlighting humanism.

We welcome artists, musicians, poets, dancers, craft workers, photographers and any others who wish to display their talents in keeping with the spirit of humanism.

Please note we are not allowed to sell goods, unless the profits go to charity.

If you would like to help, please contact Mal Brown or Margaret Cann, or inform any member of the committee.

 

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Some local events of interest to humanists in Shropshire

Some events that may be of interest to Shropshire humanists. Please note that SHG is not organising these, so we can take no responsibility for the accuracy of this information.

Weds 15 November, 7.30 pm: Birmingham Humanists, Atheism versus Humanism, Moseley Exchange, 149-153 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8JP

Mon 20 November, 7.30 pm: South Shropshire Interfaith Forum, Religion and Medicine in Conflict, United Reformed Church, 73 High Street, Church Stretton, SY6 6BY

Thurs 7 December, 10 am: U3A Philosophy Group, Socratic Dialogue on Humanism, University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ.

Do have a look what is happening at the Ludlow and Marches Humanist Group in Ludlow (email) and Engaging Issues in Church Stretton (Lesley Richards, 01694 722068).

Next meeting: 16 November, The big change in religion and belief – how might a Humanist respond?

Jeremy Rodell, Dialogue Officer of Humanists UK

Britain is currently going through what’s been called the biggest change in religion and belief landscape since the Reformation, 500 years ago. 53% of the population now say they belong to no religion, while the figure for 18-24 year olds is 71%.

But what’s really going on? What are the facts? And what are the practical implications? Can the non-religious help make it work? Jeremy Rodell is Humanists UK volunteer Dialogue Officer, and a former Trustee.

Thursday 16 November at 7.30 pm, University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ. All welcome, but voluntary donations requested.

Next meeting: 19 October, AGM and discussion on Charity. A great two years!

Painting by Carol Seager

Painting by Carol Seager

In October, the Shropshire Humanist Group holds its Annual General Meeting. We do not have a speaker after the AGM, but we shall have a discussion to which all members and guests can contribute. This year the planned topic is on charity and related issues, following our September talk on “The ups and downs of ‘doing good’”, about a local children’s charity operating in a part of Uganda. Possible matters to discuss include the effects of charity (which Gill Castle talked about at our meeting), distributive justice, unfair inequality and the basic economics of charity.

All are welcome (voluntary donations are requested), and we shall be glad to have new people and ideas involved in our activities. Thursday 19 October at 7.30 pm, University Centre Shrewsbury, Guildhall, Frankwell Quay, Shrewsbury SY3 8HQ.

SHG has made enormous progress in the last 2 years. Following the move to the University Centre as our regular venue, we have much increased our attendance at meetings and have been able to be involved in new events. We have had more chances to introduce Humanism to the local public and enable people to say, ‘I’m a humanist but I didn’t know that I was’.

We have held public meetings to explain humanism in both Shrewsbury and Telford, followed by courses on humanism in both places. We have also been represented at a number of cultural diversity events in Shropshire. We must not forget the wonderful and creative garden by our member Carol Seager at the Shrewsbury Flower Show, which placed Humanism in front of many thousands of people and won two top awards as well!

Our increased membership has enabled us to support worthy causes, including the fund of the International Humanist and Ethical Union to help people persecuted for their non-belief, and our member Noel Conway’s court case concerning the law on assisted dying.

We shall continue to arrange social events as well as our speaker and discussion meetings. Social events enable humanists and non-religious people to get together, chat and make friends. The latest British Social Attitudes survey shows that 53% of the UK population say they belong to no religion, and that rises to 71% of 18-24 year olds.

So, if you are a humanist or you think that humanism represents your beliefs, or you are just interested in what we are doing, please come along!

We won! Humanist garden triumphs at Shrewsbury Flower Show

Joe Swift presenting award certificates to Carol Seager

Joe Swift presenting award certificates to Carol Seager

Wonderful news! “Sundance”, the Humanist garden in the Shrewsbury Flower Show, received a Large Gold Medal (the highest award), and — even better — was awarded the Mike Hough Memorial Trophy for best outdoor show garden. The garden was sponsored by the Shropshire Humanist Group, with contributions from Birmingham Humanists and Humanists UK. As it was surrounded by gardens created at huge expense by teams of professionals, it was also a triumph for amateurs and volunteers.

Carol Seager — a member of Shropshire Humanist Group — conceived, designed and created this wonderful garden with a strong humanist theme which is explained below. The photographs don’t really do justice to the beautiful and complex design. Not only did Carol create a fascinating interesting horticultural exhibit, but she herself also made all the additional features, such as the wood fencing and shelter, canopy, batik hangings and painted ceramics – often subtly incorporating the Happy Humanist sign or the new Humanists UK logo.

We had a small humanism stand next to the garden.  Many visitors to the flower shop stopped to view the garden and to talk to Carol, Mal Brown, Sue Falder and Simon Nightingale about the ethos of the garden and also the nature of humanism. The garden certainly helped to raise the profile of humanism for the general public.

Carol has become quite a celebrity. She was interviewed for ITV Midland news on Friday and was also interviewed twice by Radio Shropshire; firstly on Sunday 6 August and again just after receiving the awards from celebrity gardener, Joe Swift. To hear the last interview, go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p059xc5r#play and listen on the time line from about 22.00 to 26.00. This is available on “listen-again” only for a limited time.

Well done Carol!


Please click on pictures to see a larger version.

The Mike Hough memorial trophy held by Carol and Chris

The Mike Hough memorial trophy held by Carol and Chris

Sundance Humanist Garden

Sundance Humanist Garden

Shelter in Sundance Humanist Garden

Shelter in Sundance Humanist Garden

Painting by Carol Seager

Painting by Carol Seager


During the 19th century, American Plains Indian tribes, gathered together annually for The Sundance. This was an opportunity to reinforce relationships with the land, animals and fellow tribesmen, through feasting, dancing and sharing. Inspired by The Sundance, the Humanist Garden promotes the values of living cooperatively, sharing abundance, celebrating creativity and reinforcing caring relationships.

With the rapid decline of the buffalo in the 19th century, many Native Americans succumbed to disease and starvation. Southern Plains Indian tribes fared better as they supplemented their diet with subsistence farming.

The planting reflects the “companion method” of planting as practiced by the Southern Plains Indian tribes. Compatible crops, such as maize, beans and squash, are mutually beneficial. Maize provides climbing support for the beans, which in turn fix nitrogen into the soil. Squash provide ground cover and suppress weeds. Tomatoes, chillies and onions are also grown together. Herbs are grown for their culinary, medicinal and soil enrichment qualities. For example, the inclusion of chamomile, marigold and comfrey, provides calcium, potassium, phosphorus, silicon, nitrogen and magnesium. Flowers such as nasturtiums attract black fly away from beans, and sunflowers attract pollinators. Espalier fruit trees (dwarf stock) are ideal for a small space and add to the variety of produce.

The central sculptural structure in the garden is suggestive of a teepee that appears to be collapsing. This reflects the fate of the Native Americans as buffalo numbers fell from 60 million in 1800 to just 750 in 1890. A pebble fountain bubbles beneath the teepee and yellow stone pathways radiate outwards. Between the rays of the path grow the crops, herbs and flowers. A covered decking area provides shelter and a place for cooking, eating, relaxing and socialising. Artisan arts and crafts such as pottery, basketry, textiles and glass, celebrate creativity and diversity.

Sundance, the Humanist Garden, can be viewed as a metaphor for shared human values, despite differing ethnicity or faith, and for the benefits of both cultural diversity and cooperation. The garden illustrates the co-existence of disparate groups working together in peace and harmony, drawn together by their interdependence and their common humanity.

The Final Countdown – 1 Week To Go!

One week to go until construction starts on the Humanist Garden at the Shrewsbury Flower Show.

The birds and the bees.

Wildlife in a garden is as important as the plants. A garden without insects, snails, small mammals and birds would be a very sterile environment. Granted, there are many of these mini beasts I would rather not have in the garden such as, slugs, snails, caterpillars and aphids. But for every pest there is a predator, and so it makes sense to attract these helpful creatures into the garden. One way is to provide a habitat that will help them thrive. As the garden is quite small, piles of rotting logs and weedy patches of nettles and stones was not really an option, so I have opted for insect houses, nesting boxes and bird feeders.

Week1-1

This is an insect house for solitary bees and insects such as lacewings.

Week1-2

This one is specifically for butterflies. So as the butterflies are in no doubt, I have painted the Native American symbol for butterflies on the front! It may seem counterproductive to encourage butterflies when caterpillars can do so much damage. However, butterflies are on the decline,  so with the exception of the voracious cabbage white I am more than happy to provide shelter and food for them.

week1-3

The woven structure in the centre is a nesting box for birds – quite reminiscent of a weaver birds nest.

Well, construction starts in a weeks time. Everything is all set and ready to go. The plants are growing well and the hard landscaping is coming together. I have a man with a van booked for Monday to transport stuff to site.
Does anyone have an old kettle I can borrow – the type that could be used on an open fire?
Also, if anyone wants to come along on Tuesday to rake sand, I can promise they will be rewarded with tea and cake!

Enjoy the week ahead. If you are going to be at the show, come and say hello. 🌻

The Final Countdown – 2 Weeks To Go

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

Fence finally finished!!!

It’s been a tough week but I feel I’ve made good progress. The hard landscaping is the most difficult element of the garden for me. I love the research, designing, artwork, growing and nurturing plants and bringing everything together to create the final garden. However, I find the structural elements rather more challenging. And so, it is not without a little bit of smugness and self satisfaction, that I can say “I did it!”  I have constructed the fence/screening for the garden.

Week2-1

Week2-2

This week I have also hired a Man with Van to transport everything to site and help set up on Monday 7th August.

Tuesday 8th August is sandpit day. If anyone would like to turn up with a rake for some gentle exercise they would receive a very warm welcome – and be rewarded with tea and cake!

This weeks activities include, finishing the decking, creating fabric panels for the screening, writing a brief for the judges and trying to keep the plants alive and healthy looking!

Whether you’re at work or play, enjoy the week ahead.

Carol

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