Everybody should be free to do the things that make their heart sing, to live in the way that is most authentically and essentially them.
People trapped in a cycle of poverty and deprivation, working two, three jobs to maintain a lifestyle that falls well below the minimum income standards are not singing, trust me.
So, next time you are considering making a value judgement, feel a sweeping "the poor have only themselves to blame for their problems they drink/smoke/gamble too much/only eat crap" think twice
We are all just trying to get by and if a glass of wine helps or giving up smoking would deprive you of one pleasure or comfort too far, so what? Ducks live in luxurious house, people wear dresses that cost a months income, people sleep in doorways and children leave school without being able to fend for themselves and without any real hope for their future.
While all this happens people in power debate how often a winter coat should be bought, yearly, every two years, three? and is 2nd hand acceptable?
Who are "people like us" & what about everybody else? Who is my community, not the place I live for sure. Are they fellow queers, low income families, benefit claimants?where Can I go to find them and how can we start to organise ourselves to take back some power?
I get it, it is hard to care about the big picture, carbon footprints in food production and zero carbon aims when day to day survival is at the front of your mind. But unless ordinary people become invested in these issues then it will only ever be a kind of game for the wealthy to play, green one-upmanship (my car is greener than yours/our holiday home is carbon neutral).
Language matters, cheap and nasty, cheap, rubbish, crap, poor quality. No wonder people on low incomes are miserable, absorbing the messages that we are stupid, lazy and irresponsible coupled with the innate knowledge that the food we are able to provide our families is substandard, harmful (to the planet as well as out bodies) and in many peoples opinions not fit for animal feed is hard to cope with.
I wrote this at a conference, a conference which I enjoyed very much. But however much I enjoyed it I can't help but feel uncomfortable. It seems to be inevitable that these things are run by nice, middle class people for nice middle class people, I sometimes imagine the attendees collectively shitting themselves if some of the people they want to "reach out to" actually tried to attend. It's a rather disjointed and not very polished collection of notes I made as the day wended along, but it began to form a kernel of an idea in me, rather like the overdone grit/pearl analogy.
I want to make a difference, change can only happen when enough people get behind it and start using their energy to push it along. I'm tired of listening to people in positions of power tell me how I'm doing things wrong. I'm sickened by the thought that because her parents are on a low income that my daughter has fewer opportunities in life. It's wrong, the dominant system is wrong. If organic food, renewable energy and sustainable living are for some they should be for all! These things shouldn't be the exclusive province of the middle classes in fact, they mustn't be. Children, all people must be given a sense of ownership, of power within their community and the wider society. They should eat nourishing food, wear clothes that aren't soaked in the sweat and tears of underpaid/unpaid workers, to be assured that they matter, they have worth!
Big stuff huh? ok, I'm not a politician and if you ever met me you'd never believe I thought so much (I'm pretty quiet in person) . I can bake though, I can take flour, water and salt and turn it into bread. Bread has a unique ability to bring people together and forge new bonds. It's a staple food that almost everybody eats, all cultures have some kind of bread product. It often has meaning beyond food, it features widely in religion and mythology. Bad bread, made with indifference gnaws away at society, it becomes a symbol of something bigger and altogether nastier. A people who are willing to throw those on the bottom of the heap to the wolves. Good bread, made with care, by hands that are not only involved in baking but that uphold other parts of the community, nurtures more than the body. A very simple meal of soup becomes something much more than the sum of its parts when a great loaf of bread is at the heart of it. Put very simply, if you eat poor you feel poor.
But, real bread must be available, you can't choose something which isn't being offered, bakers have to be brave and step away from the comfort of nice areas with affluent customers into places less scenic but with a desperate need for real bread and real food. The idea of community supported bakeries is simple but powerful. Community supported bakeries, rooted in the communities they serve can bypass social barriers and economic lines to provide good bread to people who need it. The bakery should stay within its area, small enough to be responsive to the needs of its customers. Once it becomes successful it goes on to facilitate the start up of bakeries in other communities.
I want to start a bakery, a short sentence but I have a feeling it could be a long trip.
Sunday, 11 November 2012
Definition of TRANSIENT