Project Awesome

Making my life more awesome

Micro-improving… everything…

on July 23, 2014

This year I am all about investing my resources in things which matter to me.  I used to do quite a lot of campaigning and political activism, but since pregnancy ate half my brain and sleep-deprivation turned what was left into curdled milkshake, it’s hard to have a nuanced and reasoned opinion.  And I rarely manage to listen to the news as every time I turn on the radio my children either shout ‘It’s too noisy. It’s hurting my ears!’ or start arguing about something which quickly escalates into violence.  Also most news stories make me cry.  I can just about manage to sign an online petition, but it can feel like cheap activism to me, and I can’t help wondering if it seems that way to decision-makers as well.

Instead, I’m trying to take small positive actions by the way I consume, or don’t.  I’ve been emptying my cellar, slowly, of things I no longer need, using the magic of Freegle.  It’s an email list where people advertise things they would like to give away, or would like to be given.  It’s simple and lovely.  Someone posted that they needed a hoover.  I had an old one in my cellar and offered it.  We arranged a time and she came to collect it.  She had a hoover, I had more space and we’d saved on landfill.  What I really like about it is that it doesn’t feel like poor people begging for the bounty of the rich.  It’s just lots of people who don’t really like waste.

I’m trying to spend money more locally and with independent shops: the money gets spent within the local economy rather than to pay Chief Executives multi-million pound salaries and to increase share prices and dividends.  I’m also trying to shop more ethically: when my phone dies I’m going to replace it with a Fairphone, a smartphone which tries to pay fair wages to the people who make it but, more importantly for me, is made using conflict-free minerals.  This will hopefully assuage my guilt about having a luxury item which is made from materials acquired through slave labour or which fund wars.  You know, small concerns…

And I’ve bought a new computer, because my much-loved Macbook is close to death,  and decided to try Ubuntu.  This is an open-source operating system, so an alternative to Windows or OSX, where the programming code is available to anyone to tweak as they fancy.  The laptop I’ve bought is fairly basic and had some mixed reviews, but I saw it as a fairly easy entry into an open source operating system, as well as a way of showing support for an open source project.  I also hope that using Ubuntu (keep repeating that – doesn’t it *sound* nice?) will give me extra geek credentials for if I ever want to start dating geeky blokes again.  In case my Dungeons and Dragons experience is not enough…

Finally, I’ve been working on becoming a micro-patron of the arts.  I’m putting small amounts of money into things which sound interesting: buying some artwork created by a friend, putting some money towards the start-up costs of a friend who is directing Pass a new play she has written (and which you can still go and see if you’re quick).  And I’ve put some money into a kickstarter appeal for an opera another friend is putting on.  Laura told me about an astonishing opera, Greek, which I went to see.  It was an incredible experience – ridiculous but brilliant, and very moving.  Somehow, the emotional intensity of the singing carried the sense of what was being expressed, possibly *because* it was harder to pick up all the words.  I still can’t explain what it was I loved so much about the experience, but I really did love it.

Now Laura is putting on a opera for and by young people.  It’s about science and identity and bioethics and sets the Greek myth of Pandora’s locker in a contemporary high school.  I love the idea of young people being introduced to contemporary opera in the way that I was.  If you would also like to be a Micro-Patron Of The Arts (and seriously, this is the sort of thing you can put on your CV) – the kickstarter is here.  An additional benefit of supporting Pandora’s Locker is that you will get thanked in Welsh, which is not something which happens every day unless, possibly you live in Cardiff.  If you would like to support fabulous art and be thanked in Welsh, you’ve got three days left to do it…

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