Crafting for the greater good

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Once upon a time, crafting and mending was a necessity for many women. These days it can be a pleasant hobby – but for some it is so much more.

Creating a connection between women and their ancestors, there is a new generation of crafters who use their heritage to fight for what they believe in. While not necessarily a new phenomenon,  mixing craft with social activism has recently hit the spotlight in a big way. Inspired by the rise of the Pussyhat, Heather Dowling explores the world of ‘craftivism’.

In the United States of America (USA), a sea of pink could be seen at women’s marches all over the country following the announcement that Donald Trump would be their next President. In  response to Trump’s “Grab them by the pussy” line, thousands of people around the world have bonded, marched, sang, laughed and yelled to get the message across that women are not objects.

A simple pattern, written by Kat Coyle, the Pussyhat is a hot pink beanie with little cat ears. It may be cute, but its message is fierce: don’t mess with a woman who knits.

In the lead-up to womens’ rights marches in Washington and across America in January, and the global International Women’s Day in March, knitting groups around the world have been meeting for the sole purpose of creating the hats to pass on to others, so that as many women, and men, as possible could wear one at these events. An image of a lonely hat even made the cover of Time  Magazine.

While the campaign originated in the USA, co-founded by Krista Suh and Jayna Zweiman, the concept has resonated with people around the world, including in Australia. Continue Reading

A home away from home

During Easter, we often reflect on ‘new life’ or ‘new beginnings.’ At Trinity Residential College, a Uniting Church WA college for university students in Perth, staff and students are all too familiar with the stress and excitement that a new beginning can offer.

Trinity Residential College is located across the road from the University of Western Australia, and provides accommodation for students studying at any university in Perth.

Hayley Winchcombe and Ben Perry are resident advisors at Trinity College. This means they live and study at the college and, having spent a few years there, are now working as advisors to new   students who are just coming in. They help new residents with any queries that might come up, from how to use the airconditioner, to where they can buy a sim card for their phones. They know  all too well how hard it can be to adjust to this kind of change; moving away from home, family, friends and high school, to a new city and a new self-determined study routine.

Hayley moved to Trinity from Dunsborough to study French, and politics and international relations. Ben hails from Albany and is studying psychology. They both said that activities organised  during ‘O Week’ or Orientation Week, were important for building their new life at Trinity. Continue Reading

Working together to reinvest

In Western Australia, our current criminal justice system is costly, hurting our families, and despite its claims, not effective at keeping our communities safe. Latest data shows that 40-45% of people released from prison return within just two years.

Social reinvestment, on the other hand, is a model that works with prisoners and those who are at-risk of entering the criminal justice system to reduce recidivism and to break the cycle of incarceration in those families affected.Continue Reading

Faith amongst pirates

For the last few years, Paul ‘Werzel’ Montague, a candidate for ministry with the Uniting Church WA, and Rev Chris Bedding, rector at Darlington-Bellevue Anglican Church, have been known  around town as Pirate Church. Since the comedy duo was created, many have caught the Pirate Church bug. The show has toured around the country, and in 2015 won Best WA Comedy at the  FringeWorld Awards.

On the back of Yurora NCYC 2017, the Uniting Church in Australia’s National Christian Youth Convention, and in the lead-up to the Perth Fringe Festival, Paul and Chris sat with Heather Dowling, editor of Revive, to chat life, faith, comedy and pirates.Continue Reading

CPE: no place to hide

Rev Michael Hertz came to Australia almost two years ago from the USA to a Uniting Church WA placement at Royal Perth Hospital (RPH). He co-ordinates the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Program there, and claims he has the best job in the world.

Michael describes clinical pastoral care as learning how to be present with someone in their spiritual distress. At Royal Perth Hospital, that can be during some of the most challenging experiences people will face.
“We don’t do surgery. We don’t do helping people have an appropriate hospital bed in their home. We don’t administer medications, but we’re part of all that activity and we’re right there providing emotional, spiritual, relationship and care,” he said.

As a young adult, Michael was working towards a career in medicine. But a moment of clarity about where his life was heading careened him in a different direction.

“I became the person I did not want to be in my attempts to get the top grades. I was taking the medical college admission test and I looked around the lecture hall and I realised I would not want to be cared for by any of the people I had been studying with and, worse than that, I would not want to have been cared for by myself.”Continue Reading

Water for life

As we enter summer, while the air gets dryer and the temperature gets warmer, we start to realise yet again the precious resource we have in water.

Indigenous Australians have always known the sacredness of our water. In the Dreaming, fresh water is the home of their creator – the Rainbow Serpent, or Waugul. Water is something to be protected and respected.

Josh Byrne recently delivered the Sir Walter Murdoch Lecture at Murdoch University. Josh, a WA local and a regular on ABC TV’s Gardening Australia, is considered by many a ‘water guru’. He has also turned his own house into an example of how households in Perth can live sustainably, using less water and energy.

He said the population of Perth is rapidly increasing; the Western Australian Planning Commission are anticipating that Perth will grow to a population of around 3.5 million by 2050. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Perth’s population currently sits at just over 2.5 million.

“This brings with it some significant challenges for a city like Perth which has been traditionally low density and sprawled,” Josh said. “That number of 3.5 million people is expected to require an additional 800 000 new homes. Forty six percent of that plan, the government is expecting to be infill within the existing metropolitan footprint.”

Josh added that the South West of Australia is also seeing some of the most profound effects of human-induced climate change in the world.Continue Reading

Embracing weirdness as a disciple of the Way

We’ve come a long way in understanding mental illness; and active spirituality, whether attached to religion or not, is now recognised as part of positive growth in mental health.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), almost half of Australians have experienced a mental disorder at some point in their lives. Mental illness can range from lifelong disorders, to periods of   depression brought on by situations such as a relationship break down or the death of a loved one. Treatments can vary from medication to mindfulness.

Associate Professor Kellie Bennett is a psychologist at the University of Western Australia. Part of her job is to train young medical doctors to understand why it is important to talk to patients about mental   wellbeing and spirituality, so they can care for the whole patient and refer them to specialists, such as a psychologist or chaplain, if needed.

She said that causes of mental illness, just as the illnesses themselves, are extremely broad. Understanding these causes is still unclear in some cases, but there is evidence that some circumstances, such as  isolation, can make people more vulnerable.

“There’s a variety of issues. I’m not sure that anyone could definitely tell you ‘this is what causes it’, because we just don’t know,” Kellie said.

Paul Montague, Uniting Church WA candidate for the ministry of the Word, comedian, actor, and one half of the comedy duo Pirate Church, has been pretty open with his experience of living with a mental illness. Paul was diagnosed with Type 1 Bipolar Disorder eight years ago while in his 30s, but looking back can see it had been affecting him for most of his life, even as a young child. Continue Reading