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Blog

Daily Actions for Climate Change 



DAILY ACTIONS 
FOR CLIMATE CHANGE
As we all become aware of the urgency of taking action to address climate change and global warming, people are asking what can I DO practically to help the planet. Here's a list of things that not only help the environment but also save time, money and energy.


Click here to download this article as a PDF


General Principles of Eco-Friendly Actions

·      Do What You Can Do – we all have unique individual circumstances and are subject to different socio-economic systems depending on our locality eg: rural areas are less likely to be well served by public transport than cities.  Some eco-friendly options are not yet widely available and/or affordable.  It’s more important to focus on what we can do than what we can’t. If we each choose just a few achievable daily actions, together it adds up and makes a difference.

·      We’re all in it together - it’s a waste of time and energy to compete and make divisive judgements about lifestyle choices.  Better rather to be the change, encourage each other and remember that we are all doing our best to make changes whilst living in a society that is currently running unsustainably.

·      Make Do and Mend – it’s often more creative and less costly to our purses and the planet to make or mend something – eg A big home-made pot of soup can feed a family for several days, and will cost less in money and packaging than individual portions.

·      Recycle & Reuse - many items can be cost effectively reused or recycled either via schemes or amongst our own social networks.

·      Share & Circulate – keeping objects and energy moving makes social and economic sense – eg swop books with a friend, offer a neighbour a lift.

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·      Consume Mindfully – regularly asking the question do I really need this? can really help cut consumption. As the song goes, we may not get what we want (short term gratification) but we get what we need (a healthier self, society, planet)




“The one thing we all have to do is simply not to waste.

 Don’t waste plastic. Don’t waste food. Don’t waste power.

Live within our means without inflicting damage on our planet.”Sir David Attenborough



Energy Supply Facts
·      C02 makes up 82% of greenhouse gases emissions in the UK

·      Energy supply and power stations are the largest cause of C02 emissions.

·      In 2018 the total UK C02 emissions was 43.5% less than 1990 and 2.5% less than 2017. This is due to the decline in emissions from power stations (9.9% less than 2017) and the movement away from coal and towards renewables.

·      C02 emissions from the use of fossil fuels has fallen by 38% since 1990 and consumption by 22%. 

·      Use of coal for energy generation has dropped by 65% since 1990.  Emissions for electricity generated by coal are nearly twice as high as electricity generated by gas. 

·      Nuclear and renewable forms (low carbon usage) generated 47% of electricity generation in 2018, an increase of 20% since 1990.

·      There was also a 2.6% decrease between 2017 and 2018 in transport emission due to changes in traffic volume or improvement in fuel efficiency

·      In 2018 there was increase in residential emissions due to colder winters. The residential sector accounted for 18% of carbon emissions which is mainly the use of gas for heating and cooking.

Ideas to reduce househould energy consumption

·      Support campaigns to increase renewables and devolve away from fossil fuels, nuclear power and fracking.

·      Use sustainable energy providers eg - Ecotricity

·      Make sure your home is well insulated to keep fuel usage and bills down*

·      Make sure your boiler is running efficiently and has good heating controls *

·      Avoid heating empty spaces – eg corridors/ spare rooms.*

·      Make use of your council’s energy advice service or organisations like Heat London * which offer grants to help make your home more energy efficient.

·      Use a smart thermostat

·      Choose energy-efficient appliances – eg check your fridge / freezer uses environmentally friendly refrigerant.

·      Check out the ethics of brands and suppliers at The Good Shopping Guide

·      Turn off radios, TVs, lights, computers, plug sockets when not in use.

·      Use LED and energy saving lightbulbs and use natural light wherever possible.

·      Let hair dry naturally instead of using a drier.

·      Install solar panels / a wind farm!

·      Wash laundry on eco settings - uses less time, water and energy.

·      Dry washing on a line not in the drier.

·      Repair electronic appliances before you bin

·      Recycle electronic appliances via friends, online schemes or local waste depots

·      Don't upgrade your phone until necessary

·      Switch off/ put your phone on airplane when not in use

·      Recycle/ recharge batteries

·      Refill print cartridges

·      Unplug and go for a walk

*Thanks to Malcolm Bell, Energy Officer at Croydon Council for these ideas


Money

Money is energy and investing in green suppliers and financers helps grow a more sustainable economy - thanks to Rebecca Trevalyan at Library of Things for these ideas:

·      Move your money to a bank that invests in businesses with environmental/ community impact eg. Triodos, Ecology Building Society

·      Try your hand at green investment through platforms like Abundance, Ethex

·      Switch your pension to a green scheme recommended by ShareAction
·      Look up your local council / university - if they don’t have a fossil fuel divestment commitment, write to them or join a campaign





Transport

·      In 2018, the transport sector accounted for 33% of UK C02 emissions.  The largest contributor is road transport. 

·      Across Europe, transport accounts for about 25% emissions and is the main cause of air pollution in cities, road transport accounts for 70% of this. 


Ideas for Reducing Road Transport Usage

·      Walk, run, cycle instead of using transport

·      Walk to pick up shopping or take-aways instead of getting deliveries.

·      Write to your council and ask for more safe cycle/walking routes

·      Use public transport instead of driving

·      Lift share

·      Use a car-pool service – such as Street Car.

·      Use an electric car

·      Use biofuels or fuel additives in the car

·      Drive efficiently - combine multiple errands into one trip

·      Shopping online – can decrease the number of shoppers on the road because items are delivered in bulk.  Ordering multiple items from one place and opting for standard rather than next day delivery reduces transportation and costs.


Aviation

·      European flight rose by 80% between 1990-2014 and are anticipated to rise by a further 45% from 2014-2035, resulting in the same rises in percentages of C02 emissions.

·      Due to technological advances, fleet renewal, increased Air Traffic Management efficiency and the 2008 economic downturn, the number of flights, emissions and noise exposure in 2014 are at the same levels as 2005.
·      Fuel – aviation accounts for 2% of global carbon emissions and 20% of global oil consumption. The first flight on Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) – the use of biofuels- took place in 2008 and was approved for commercial flights in 2011.  NASA estimates use of 50% aviation biofuel use could cut air pollution by 50-70%
·      In addition to C02, aviation emits air pollutants which are damaging to human health, agriculture and wildlife.

·      Exposure to noise pollution has been shown to impact sleep, cardiac health and stress levels. Technological developments and noise pollution regulation can help reduce airplane noise pollution.

Ways to make air travel more eco-friendly

·      Take a train or a boat instead of a plane where possible - eg internal or intercity flights.

·      Fly with an airline with a transparent environmental policy including - using SAF, recycling waste, limiting single use plastics, carbon offsetting and reducing noise pollution.

·      Carry less luggage - this reduces the weight of the plane and the fuel used.



Domestic & Household Waste Facts
·      Household waste accounts for 12% of the UK’s waste.

·      By 2016, 48.5% of household waste was recycled and 24.4% was disposed in landfill.

·      In 2017, 70% of packaging waste was recycled or recovered – this includes metal, paper, cardboard, glass, plastic and wood.

·      Biodegradable municipal waste (BMW) is waste that decomposes in landfill, emitting methane gases, including food and green waste, paper and cardboard.

·      In 1950, the global population 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic.  In 2016 more than 7 billion people produced over 320 million tons of plastic. This is expected to double by 2034.


Ideas for Reducing Household Waste

·      Recycle using your councils recycling scheme

·      Repair items before binning

·      Refill food, cleaning products and toiletry containers at local reuse stores / health shops – my local favourites include The Store Cupboard & Roots & Cycles in Crystal Palace Food Market. A UK wide list is available here: -https://thezerowaster.com/zero-waste-near-you/

·      Give your jam jars to people who make jam
·      Share/ borrow items that are seldom used rather than buying new - eg garden equipment etc.  Use or create a local Library of Things.

·      Make agreements about gift giving with family at birthdays and Christmas to avoid buying more stuff that no one wants.

Ideas for Reducing Plastic Waste

·      Carry a cloth/ recyclable bag instead of using plastic bags

·      Reuse plastic bags multiple times and recycle them at your supermarket

·      Pick up, bin and recycle plastic litter - do a community litter pick

·      Carry a portable water bottle, cup & cutlery to avoid using single use takeaways

·      Avoid single-use / disposable items - eg razors, nappies etc

·      Boycott/ lobby the leading brands in plastic packaging – a Greenpeace & Break Free From Plastic audit of a plastic cleanup of 187,000 items across 42 countries found that Coca Cola, Pepsi and Nestle are the top 3 and generate 14% of ocean litter. 


Toiletries

·      Use soap/ shampoo bars instead of products in plastic bottles – available from Lush or your local health shop.

·      Make home-made toiletries from natural products

·      Avoid products containing harmful, polluting chemicals such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate & Parabens

·      Choose fairtrade/ organic/ human friendly brands which don't test on animals


Menstruation

·      The average woman uses 11,000 menstrual products in a lifetime - approx 200kg of products which are thrown away.

·      Most pads are 90% plastic and the average packet of sanitary pads contains the equivalent of 4 plastic bags.

·      Many sanitary products contain harmful, pollutant perfumes and chemicals.

·      Menstrual products are the 5th most common piece of litter found on European beaches.



Eco-Friendly Menstruation

·      Bin, don’t flush menstrual products.

·      Use reusable sanitary products - cloth pads or menstrual cups

·      Use cotton, plastic free options like Natracare


Ideas for Eco-Friendly Household Chemicals/ Maintenance

·      Use eco-friendly cleaning products such as white vinegar or bicarb

·      When decorating or making home improvements use eco-friendly materials - eg paint, cement etc

·      Re-use and share materials

·      Ask DIY stores for off-cuts or products that are being rebranded but are still usable.



Trees and Forest Facts

·      Forests cover 31% of the planet – providing important habitats for wildlife and people and helping to prevent flooding and soil erosion.

·      Forests absorb C02, using the sugars from carbon for growth and releasing 02 back into the air.  A young tree eats 13lb C02 per year growing to 48lbs aged 10 years. Every tree produces enough oxygen for 3 people to breathe.

·      Sustainable use of wood can be an alternative energy source to fossil fuels.

·      13.2 million people are employed in the forest sector and another 41 million have jobs in related sectors.

·      Over half the world’s forests have been cleared over 10,000 years, mostly within the last 50 years.

·      The planet loses 18.7 million hectares of forest per year which is about the size of Panama and the equivalent of 27 football fields per minute.

·      About 17% of the Amazon Forest has been lost in the last 50 years.

·      20% of greenhouse gas emissions come from deforestation.

·      Wildlife is being destroyed at the rate of 137 animal, plant and insect species per day, 50,000 per year.

·      Causes of deforestation include mining, paper production, urban and housing development, agriculture, logging, cattle ranching.

·      Deforestation causes increased C02 emissions, loss of species, acidic oceans, flooding, erosion, loss of habitat and employment.

·      The Environmental Paper Network say 640 million trees worth of paper is thrown away annually.  If we recycled we would save 27.5 million tonnes of C02 emissions.

·      Recycling 1 ton of paper saves around 682.5 gallons of oil, 26,500 litres of water and 17 trees.

·      Scientistshave found that global reforestation of 11% of all land (1.7bn hectares of treeless land) could remove two-thirds of all the emissions from human activity.  It would take 50-100 years of tree growth for this to become fully effective.


Ideas for reducing your paper footprint

·      Only print/ photocopy when necessary

·      Use email for paperwork

·      Use phone apps for tickets/ loyalty schemes,

·      Opt for paper-free online bank statements, utility bills, newsletters, catalogues.

·      Save and reuse envelopes and Jiffy bags

·      Shred and recycle paperwork

·      Reuse scrap paper for shopping lists, notes, journaling, children’s drawing.

·      Return junk mail to senders requesting they stop sending unsolicited mail and save trees.

·      Use recycled paper, envelopes, cardboard and loo roll.

·      Read books, magazines and newspapers online or at the library.

·      Buy books second hand from charity shops or swop with friends.

·      Use recycled boxes from supermarkets when moving house

·      Recycle and reuse cards and gift wrap.


Ideas for Boosting Tree Life and Green Spaces

·      Plant a tree or support tree planting charities

·      Dedicate a tree/s to a loved one via the Woodland Trust

·      A tree is for life not just for Christmas - decorate the real tree in your garden / street or make a Christmas tree from fallen branches instead of chopping one down.  Buy a tree with roots and plant it after Christmas.

·      Garden - cultivate your own, join a community garden, become a guerrilla gardener

·      Plant wildflowers to encourage bees and butterflies

·      Plant more bamboo - it's a superstar carbon muncher

·      Put a bird feeder/ bee/ insect house in your garden

·      Grow your own food and share the goodies.

·      Grow a garden on your roof/ balcony/ drive/ verge

·      Avoid use of harmful pesticides and insecticides

·      Visit, protect and act mindfully towards local green spaces and parks (don't litter)

·      Turn into a tree when you die - there are lots of eco-friendly funeral options including using your ashes to grow a tree!




Food Facts

·      It takes large amounts of water to produce food and drink – 100 buckets of water are required to produce just one loaf of bread.

·      The estimated area of land required to produce food thrown away by UK households is 19,000 square kilometres.

·      Reducing food waste would save the equivalent of at least 17m tonnes of carbon dioxide – the environmental equivalent of taking 1:5 cars off UK roads.

·      Recent reports show that 2.2 million people in the UK experience food insecurity and Unicef cite 1:5 youngsters under 15 live in a food insecure home.

·      Whilst on a global scale, the Global Hunger Index indicates gradual progress is being made to reduce hunger. However extreme events including climate disaster means that global hunger has risen.
·      Meat and dairy farming has a high carbon footprint.  Livestock farming generates 18% of greenhouse gas emissions and is a major contributor to water and air pollution.  Industrial agriculture and overfishing are one of the prime drivers of the extinction crisis.  Feeding cattle requires huge amounts of grain and accounts for a third of all arable land. Decline in land quality and soil erosion is caused by overgrazing.  Cattle ranching accounts for 80% of deforestation of the Amazon.

Ways to Eat Eco-Friendly

·      Compost food /green waste in your garden or council waste collection scheme

·      Reduce food waste by meal planning, freezing and reusing left overs

·      Support foodbanks and food waste charities and schemes

·      Use a veg box scheme eg Abel & Cole

·      Make written and verbal requests of supermarkets, shops, restaurants, take-aways to reduce food packaging and waste. 

·      Put packed lunches/ refrigerated food in a box rather than plastic bags/ cling film.

·      Cook at home using good quality fruit and veg, boosting your health and reducing the packaging and transportation of processed and take-away food.

·      Shop fair trade and organic where possible

·      Shop at your local market or greengrocer - to reduce food transportation.

·      Explore vegan/ vegetarian options



Water Facts

·      In 2018, a single member household used an average of 54 cubic meters per year in the UK.  On average each person uses 141 litres of water per day.

·      A bath uses the highest amount of water - 81 litres, compared to a shower - 46 litres.

·      A washing machine cycle takes an average of 56 litres, dishwasher 24 litres and toilet flush 7.5 litres of water.

·      Customers with water meters use on average 133 litres per day compared to 167 litres without a meter.

·      According to WaterAid783 million people in the world do not have access to safe water. This is roughly one in ten of the world's population. 5 billion people in the world do not have access to adequate sanitation, almost two fifths of the world's population. Around 700,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation - that's almost 2,000 children a day.

·      Approx 8 million pieces of plastic pollution enter our oceans daily.

·      Plastics account for 60- 90% of all marine litter.

·      Over 150 plastic bottles litter each mile of UK beaches.

·      100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million sea birds are killed by marine plastic pollution annually. Marine plastic pollution has been found in 100% of marine turtles, 59% of whales, 36% of seals and 40% of seabirds.

·      Oceans have become 30% more acidic due to increased C02 emissions, putting many species at risk.


Ways to be mindful about water usage and pollution:

·      Install a free water meter and save money on your water bills

·      Use free water saving gadgets - eg shower heads - available from Thames Water

·      Take short showers instead of baths

·      Only use dishwashers/ washing machines for a full load

·      Don't leave the tap running whilst brushing teeth/ washing up

·      Don’t run the tap before filling a glass - it’s a myth that it needs to run clean.

·      Only use as much water as needed when filling the kettle or washing up.

·      Use a dual flush / water-saving gadget in the loo

·      Recycle bath/shower water to water the garden

·      Collect and use rain water on the garden

·      Be mindful not to litter the ocean/river/ beach

·      Support ocean/ river cleaning schemes

·      Support WaterAidto help bring lifesaving clean water and sanitation to those in need around the world.



Fashion Industry Facts

·      The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of the global carbon footprint and is the second greatest global polluter after the oil industry.

·      Every year the world consumes 80 billion items of clothing

·      In 2013 of 15.1 million tonnes of textile waste, 12.8 million tonnes was discarded.

·      The fashion industry generates 20% of global waste water

·      Textile clothing that ends up in landfill leaches chemicals into the ground.

·      Synthetic textiles such as polyester are made from fossil fuels and are non-biodegradable.  When washed, these textiles shed microplastics into our water supply and oceans.

·      The cotton industry uses 24% of global insecticides and 11% of pesticides. Using recycled cotton saves 20,000 litres of water per kg of cotton.

·      15% of fabric ends up on the cutting room floor.

·      The rights and working conditions of garment makers are described as slave labour in manufacturing countries across Asia.  Many workers do not receive a living wage and work 14-16 hour days, 7 days a week. They are exposed to toxic chemicals in unsafe buildings and face verbal and physical abuse.  Workers Unions are forbidden.  80% of workers are women.  Child labour is widespread.

·      The average consumer throws away 70 lbs of clothing and shoes annually.  Only 15% of consumer clothing is recycled, compared to 75% of pre-used manufacturing clothing.

·      Consumers in the UK have an estimated $46.7 billion worth of unworn clothes in their wardrobes. 

·      The average lifespan of a piece of clothing is 3 years. If this was extended by just 3 months per item it would reduce carbon and water footprints by 5-10%.

·      70% of the global population use second hand clothing

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·      Nearly 50% of used clothing is given to charity shops.


Ideas for reducing clothing waste and consumption

·      Avoid putting clothing in landfill

·      Buy/ give clothes to/from charity shops

·      Swap clothes with friends or local clothes swap shop/scheme

·      Use your council clothes, textiles and shoes recycling scheme

·      Upcycle and refashion old clothes and textiles

·      Sew, knit, darn, make and mend clothes
·      Turn old clothes into cleaning rags
·      Reduce use of synthetic textiles

·      Call on fashion brands to act ethically over waste and labour conditions

·      Find ethical brands which have a transparent environmental policy and fair working conditions for labourers - eg: Ethical Superstore

Ideas for Addressing Climate Change in the Workplace

·      Involve everyone in discussing and setting sustainability and CSR goals and policies

·      Calculate the workplace carbon footprint, set a carbon neutral target and invest in carbon offsetting

·      Have a clear recycling policy for all workplace waste

·      Have a no-print policy for paperwork and emails

·      Recycle office furniture and electronics - donate to schools, hospitals or schemes

·      Use human and eco-friendly chemicals

·      Reduce use of product packaging and single use plastics.

·      Encourage everyone to bring their own coffee cup rather than using disposables

·      Sustainable use of transport – eg have a cycle rack at work, encourage lift sharing or carpools, reduce transportation where possible.

·      Create a workplace garden (could be on the roof /side of the building) and/or sponsor a local community garden

·      Run a workplace choir to build a sense of connection and community

·      Contribute to environmental charities and organise workplace fundraisers

·      Turn off lights, appliances, equipment when not in use especially overnight.


Community Action

·      Be neighbourly and share resources - social isolation has more impact on our health than smoking and drinking - so you are helping keep people happy and out of hospital by being friendly!

·      Build community networks - resilient communities are better placed to support each other and be resourceful during climate change

·      Get involved in your local Transition Town Network or local environmental group to tackle community issues together – eg doing a community clean up



Global Actions


Climate Justice


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·      Colonisation, slavery, plunder and industrialisation by white Western patriarchal societies has created gross global socio-economic inequality and lasting environmental damage.  To give just one example, Africa produces 75% of all the cocoa in the world, yet only receives 2% of the $100 billion revenue from the chocolate industry.

·      The brunt of climate change is carried by BAME, women, low income communities and developing countries.  Climate disasters hit harder and with more impact on communities in the Global South.
·      In cities, BAME and low income communities experience higher rates of noise, transport and industrial pollution and are excluded from decisions which impact their living environment.  Poor housing, inadequate healthcare, less access to green spaces and social facilities reduce the ability of these communities to cope with climate change.

·      The territories of indigenous peoples are continually invaded and destroyed by mining, pipelines and deforestation.

·      Slave labour, child labour, violent and unethical working conditions exist in many of the western industries responsible for environmental pollution and damage.

·      Women face exclusion or reduced access to healthcare, education, political power, earning capacity and career opportunities. Two thirds of the worlds illiterate are women. In Africa, women produce 90% of basic foods whilst earning 1% of arable land.  In areas of water scarcity, women are responsible for 70% of water chores.

Ways to take action globally

·      Support environment charities - eg Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace

·      Support schemes that are acting to protect endangered species - eg WWF

·      Support global reforestation NGOs and charities eg those working in the Amazon

·      Support, donate or volunteer on relief schemes/ NGOs and charities working in areas impacted by climate change after natural disasters particularly in the Global South

·      Support the land rights of indigenous peoples

·      Support the movement for climate justice

·      Support the education and empowerment of women worldwide - an increase in education is accompanied by reduced birth rates and less population growth.  Plan International and The Circle are working to empower women and girls worldwide.



Raise your voice

·      Talk and discuss issues with friends, family and colleagues

·      Sign petitions about the environment/ climate change

·      Write to your MP

·      Protest Peacefully – Extinction Rebellion/ Global Climate Strike

·      Use social media to spread the word and share ideas and inspiration.

·      Sing!


Kids and Schools

·      Educate and be educated by your children

·      Encourage and support climate friendly action in schools – eg recycling school waste

·      Encourage outdoor learning and play for yourself and your children - Forest Schools have lots of resources.

·      Encourage children to learn to garden and grow their own food at school

·      Be inspired and moved to take care of the future for our children and grandchildren.





Written by

Katie Rose October 2019

www.therosewindow.org


Links

UK statistics on Greenhouse Emissions

Europe Transport Stats

European Aviation

UK Waste

Environmental Impact of Meat Production

Deforestation

Fashion Industry Waste Statistics

Report on women, gender equality and climate justice

Ghana Business

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These Songs of Freedom 

These Songs of Freedom

Won't you have to sing, These songs of freedom?
- Redemption Song Bob Marley

As I write, XR Rebellion actions are taking place across London and only two weeks ago Greta Thunberg united millions in the #ClimateStrike.  Business as usual is being disrupted to urge our governments to face the greatest emergency of our lifetimes and our species.  Song, chant and voice is at the centre of this movement, as it has been in so many revolutions, marches and protests. For when we claim our voices, whether for our own personal transformation or for that of our communities and global family, freedom dawns.

Personal Rebellion
Even the most subjected person has moments of rage and resentment so intense that they respond, they act against. There is an inner uprising that leads to rebellion, however short lived. It may be only momentary but it takes place. That space within oneself where resistance is possible remains.
- Bell Hooks

 Singing is an amazing force to free our mind, body and spirit from enslavement - liberation comes to the person who by singing reclaims their voice from a teacher who shamed them as a child. In my one to one sessions, I am honoured to witness people owning and releasing the power of their voices from the grip of old stories and writing a new chapter for themselves. It takes courage and commitment to unpeel the layers and claim new levels of empowerment, creative expression and energy in our lives.

Social Rebellion
The supreme task is to organize and unite people so that their anger
becomes a transforming force
. - Martin Luther King

The signature of XR is Love and Rage.  In polite English society we are taught to swallow rage with the result that it lives on in our bodies, emerging as disease or depression.    When we allow ourselves to register that our boundaries have been violated and our freedoms oppressed, the rage that arises, when channelled creatively can open doors to personal and social freedom. 
Singing channels powerful emotions into action - the activism of social change. So much contemporary music - jazz, RnB, soul, gospel, pop - finds its roots in the spirituals of Afro-American slaves who sang as a way of surviving, overcoming and escaping slavery. Songs such as Let Your Little Light Shine were coded messages about the Underground Railroad that allowed slaves to escape via a route of safe houses. 
The photo above is of singers at the Civil Rights Movement, in which SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committees) was a leading organisation.  When one of the leaders Sam Block went to Missippi to start voter registration campaigns the first thing he did was teach people freedom songs, realising that:
 I began to see the music itself as an important organizing tool, not only to bring [people] together but also as an organizational glue to hold them together.

Creative Rebellion
In art, rebellion is consummated and perpetuated in the act of real creation, not in criticism or commentary.  - Alfred Camus
The making, doing, living, breathing act of creation holds immense power.  All oppressive regimes understand this and seek to censor and control artistry.  There are also more subtle forms of oppression that pervade our societies - institutionalised forms of discrimination, prejudice and exclusion of the voices of those labelled 'other.'  However history teaches us that these untruths cannot hold, that the voice of truth will rise up to challenge, rebel and find freedom.  Creative action is at the core of liberation. A song, a poem, a dance can strike a chord that resonates far more powerfully than a multitude of talking heads trolling, carping, critiquing, commenting.  Singing together can unify, harmonise and make a symphony from cacophony, celebrating and liberating the contribution of every voice.



Global Freedom

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way.
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing. - Arundhati Roy

  It was an amazing experience to be amongst so many young people singing and chanting at the Climate Strike.   The young voices of our world are rising and making themselves heard, carrying their love, care and vision for the future on their wings.  A new world is being birthed through their songs and voices and we must listen to their call.  
October Overtures
As the Autumn leaves bronze, the singing season is getting into full sway for choirs. Please click here for the full October line up and a special thanks to everyone how made this years Sing for Water London such an amazing experience.

If you'd like to liberate the revolutionary power of your voice  121 or at a choir do drop me a line.

Wishing you a rebellious October






Photo -  Jon Parke, Sing for Water

Singing Our World Well 

Singing Our World Well

In a gentle way, you can shake the world  - Ghandi
The world feels especially topsy turvy at the moment on a local, national and global level. The rise of right wing governments is accompanied by brutal misogyny, racism, environmental destruction and oppression of minority groups including the LGTBQ community.
For me the question comes repeatedly, how can I serve, what can I do?during these very intense times.  For me, empowerment and peace comes from starting with what I can do in my corner of the world - small daily actions like smiling at strangers, making ethical consumer choices, protesting intelligently and of course singing where and whenever possible....
Whatever your gift, whatever your abilities, whatever your situation
- just by being here, you are contributing to the wellness of the world.

Singing Makes Magic In Mayhem
When the world turns upside down,
the best thing to do is turn right along with it - Mary Poppins

The mistress of magic, Mary Poppins, teaches us to seek the possible within the impossible and to look for new perspectives available when life turns upside down. Anyone who does yoga will have felt the benefit of turning themselves upside down in a downward dog. Similarly walking backwards can press the reset button on our brains.  We have the capacity to alchemise our challenges, to find the magic in the madness.
Singing sprinkles some magic and brings a fresh perspective on day to day life:
as Jack Pelham, MD of Men's Chorus Sing Montana identifies
It is for me one of life’s most meaningful experiences, and yet its meaning is strangely non-pragmatic. I mean, it’s not like the economy does better because of men singing, or that it solves congested traffic patterns. But its value lies in something of a different sort; there’s something so “human” in the experience. And I find that Jack is simply a better person when there’s something like that to be experienced, and to be looked forward to each week.
Caveat: Actually, we know that singing does boost the economy -
an Arts Council report demonstrates that arts and culture industries generated £3.4 billion in 2015. :)

Singing Activism
It's a folk singers job to comfort disturbed people and to disturb comfortable people - Woody Guthrie.

There are multiple ways in which singing has been used to bring wellness, strength and peace to those who are suffering. Singing is now being prescribed as to alleviate the suffering of those with many health conditions including COPD, dementia, Parkinsons and mental health issues.
Singing has also been used as a revolutionary tool to disturb oppressive systems and regimes - singers including Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Joan Baez and Peter Seeger were all at the forefront of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s.  Some evolutionary theories suggest we started singing as a noisy display tactic to frighten away predators and enemies.  This ancient battle cry can be found ringing around football stadiums and a recent study showed that football teams who sang their national anthems with great passion were more likely to win!
As I write, huge amounts of people are taking to the streets to protest the proroguing of the UK Government. There are also ongoing events and protests by Extinction Rebellion. If you are interested in joining mass chants at events in October with the leader of the Spooky Man's Chorale, please email Stephen Taberner.  There is also an Extinction Rebellion Choir Facebook Group
As singing activates our inner wellness, we are motivated to contribute to the wellness of the world. It's a natural cycle of giving and receiving from the magic of song, that rides on the wave of every breath.
Coming Up...

After a wonderful summer, I'm excited about the new term of Autumn singing - please visit my choir page for the full line up.

If you'd like to flex your activism and wellness singing muscles  either 121 or at a choir do drop me a line.

Wishing you an awesomely active, wellness boosting Autumn






Photo - sunset perspectives,
Recent wonderful trip to Aarhus


 

Giving Your Voice A Holiday 

Giving Your Voice A Holiday

Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time
- John Lubbock

I love August in London - there's a softer, slower hum to city days. For those of who sing or lead choirs, there is time to rest our voices and/or refresh our vocal inspiration with a workshop, summer school or singing holiday.  I'm personally very glad of the time to dream up new choir repertoire for Autumn, work on creative projects, learn new things, have fun with friends and family or just take a nap! So here's a few reflections on the benefits of taking Vocal R&R.

Vocal Rest
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes
... including you - Anne Lamott

Our voices can become tired, fatigued or overused with the giveaway symptoms of a dry, husky tone and texture.
Tips for rejuvenating a tired voice are
Hydration - drinking plenty of water (warm or room temperature) and avoiding too many drying drinks such as fizzy drinks, alcohol, caffeine.
Steaming - a relaxing vocal treat which helps open and clear passageways in our mouth, throat and nose - head under a towel over a bowl of boiling water with your favourite essential oils. Better still, take a trip to the steam room.
Yawning & sighing - both relax the throat and boost our oxygen intake.
Vocal Use - temporarily avoid vocally strenuous activities such as talking in a noisy bar, chatting for hours on the phone, teaching or presenting.
Retreat - quiet days or silent retreats give us time to disconnect from the cacophony of voices in the social circus and  tune back into our inner voice.
Sleep - its vital to unplug and reboot with a good sleep/ snooze/ nap.


Resting is Courageous
If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit - Banksy

 We are constantly changing beings who need to catch up with ourselves and feel into where we are growing and going next.  Our voices are a crucial instrument of expressing who we are in any given moment.  Sometimes we need to be courageous and say no to external demands in order to give ourselves time to rest. This is not the same as giving up - it is a necessary act of giving to ourselves which then enables us to give to others.

Rest is Generous
Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop - Ovid 

The capitalist mechanisation of humans - insisting that we continually produce and profit in order to prove ourselves - is a fatally flawed premise which results in false bounty.  Both people and planet pay a high price for for over-working, over-doing and over-consuming.
The truth is that rest always brings a natural, sustainable return on investment. I find that I am always much more productive after a rest - be that time off or just a nap.  Resting enables us to tune up and tune into the melodies that arise on the breezes of inspiration.
Do join me in (hopefully) Sunny South London for an afternoon holiday at a Summer Sing on 17th August - more info here.

Also look forward to seeing many choir friends at the Sing for Water London Pop Up rehearsals working towards our big mass choral sing for WaterAid at the Scoop on 15th September. 


If you'd like to explore your voice either 121 or at a choir next term do drop me a line.

Wishing you much R&R this August





Photo - birthday R&R at Hitchin Lavender - it's good to be alive!

 

Singing Ourselves Sunny 

Singing Ourselves Sunny

Music is sunshine. Like sunshine, music is a powerful force that can instantly and almost chemically change your entire mood. Music gives us new energy and a stronger sense of purpose. - Michael Franti

As the Solstice Sun has set on the first half of the year, I wanted to celebrate some of the projects I've been involved with recently.  A study by the New Economics Foundation found that making small improvements to our wellbeing can help decrease mental health issues and help us flourish. Here's how singing can boost the 5 Ways to Wellbeing and help us feel sunny.



Connect 
Singing together connect us with others
Fun, laughter and good company - Singing with Soul project participant
I had the honour of leading a six-week project with members of The Hive, a drop in service offering a hot meal and creative activities to members of the community at St John the Evangelist Upper Norwood.  We had a fabulous time learning participants choice of songs and working towards a fun performance with players from London Mozart Players as part of Crystal Palace Festival.  We know from research by organisations such as the Campaign to End Loneliness, that our social connectivity has more impact on our longevity than smoking or drinking.  Feedback repeatedly demonstrated that participants highly valued the sense of connection and togetherness in the project.



Be Active  
Singing is a gentle form of exercise
It’s great that the patients have such a great option to come and enjoy themselves and also do their lungs some good! -
Physiotherapist, St George's Hospital
I've been working in hospital settings for 5 years now and have seen the positive impact singing can have for cardiac and respiratory patients.   Lung Songs at St George's Hospital has grown into a thriving, lively, supportive group of people who love singing together.  We warm up and get moving before gently flexing some lung and heart muscle with uplifting singing. 



Take Notice
Singing makes us more aware of ourselves and others,
as we explore beautiful sounds together

Over 2 million people per year care for others, which represents a saving of £132 billion a year to the economy.  The majority of these often unsung hero/ines of our communities will spend up to 50 hours per week caring.  Carers Benefit - £64.80 per week -works out as £1.85 ph for 35 hours per week.  As a result of caring 71% of carers suffer mental health issues and 61% physical health issues.  Every June at Croydon Carers Choir we mark #CarersWeek, to flag up that we need to take notice of Carers. Singing together is an creative respite activity that helps carers feel seen and heard.

Keep Learning 
Singing is great braingym

Singing is a continuous adventure - I am so grateful to be learning on my feet in so many different settings. One of my next ventures is a new male voice choir, ManSong at the Landmark Arts Centre. Dominic Stichbury founded the monthly Men's Singing Workshop five years ago as part of his highly successful mission to #getmensinging and from these sessions has grown the idea of a weekly choir.   I've enjoyed guest leading some of the monthly sessions and am really looking forward to this new project.



Give 
Singing for/with others is a gift and can be used to fundraise and contribute to causes and community

My Welcome Choir had a fabulous time in June getting out and about in our local community - we sang onstage and at local treasure trove Coconut Trading as part of Crystal Palace Festival and #SE19Lates.  We will also be joining up with two other local choirs to fundraise for Sing for Water on 11th July, before joining the big mass choral sing at Totally Thames in September.  Research shows that people who take part in arts activities and choirs are more likely to volunteer and give to charity, as building connectedness boosts our awareness of how we can contribute and make a difference in our world.
 
Singing is wonderful in so many ways, not just these five and I am continuously being surprised by the magic that happens when we raise our voices together.  I'm looking forward to what the next half of this year of song brings...

If you'd like to explore your voice either 121 or in a choir do drop me a line.

Wishing you a wonderful sunny Summer of song






Photo: Mike Jones Crystal Palace Festival