ASSEMBLY FESTIVE GATHERING

ASSEMBLY FESTIVE GATHERING

Our final Assembly Gathering of 2017 has come and gone. On Sunday afternoon 35 of us huddled around campfires, dined on delicious local food, foraged in the freezing sunlight and forged new friendships. 

With ice and snow covering most of the country over the weekend, it felt like madness to be hosting a dinner and workshops in a stone barn at the beautiful property of Laura & Ben in Downpatrick. Miraculously though, the sun came out as people were arriving and it wasn't long before we forgot about the cold and immersed ourselves in conversations, food and making. We forgot about the cold. We forgot about the cold. Maybe if I write it a few more times it will be true. It was cold. 

A year into running Assembly Gatherings has taught me a lot about the power of female resilience; of the wide open hearts of women who want to connect. Each time we have a gathering it feels like we are steadily building an army of supportive women, ready to propel and promote each other. I can feel it in my bones and see it in the way people are connecting both online and in person.

WHY FASHION IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

WHY FASHION IS A FEMINIST ISSUE

If you’ve stuck around here long enough, you’ll know that I am an advocate of slow, sustainable fashion.

Much of this passion has come from my work looking at exploitation and human trafficking – realising the connection between what we consume and the people who make our stuff. I have spent years now learning about the fashion industry; the systems, the policies, the garment workers, the belly of the beast.

The fashion industry is the most pollutant industry in the world; second only to oil. There are huge environmental concerns that we just don’t consider when we bag a bargain. Did you know it takes 1800 gallons of water to grow enough cotton to make the average pair of jeans? The rise of fast fashion means that factories in developing countries (where labour is cheap) are manufacturing non-stop to keep up with our quick-fix excessive shopping demands. The factories are filling the air with toxic chemicals pumped out by machinery used to making synthetic clothing.

The effects of this relentless manufacturing is evident in climate change – an issue that impacts developing countries with particularly huge devastation. Climate change means that developing countries are experiencing overwhelming heat and vast areas of drought, leading to crop failure. Crop failure means that farmers can’t survive in business and trade. Business failure leads to poverty, malnourishment and eventually whole community vulnerability. Can you see how it all connects…?

Environmental issues in the fashion industry are one thing, but lately I’ve been feeling strongly that in order to see real change, we need to recognise that fast fashion is a massive feminist issue as well.

HACKS FOR HANDLING KIDS, CONSUMERISM & CHRISTMAS

HACKS FOR HANDLING KIDS, CONSUMERISM & CHRISTMAS

It’s officially November, so I thought I’d get in early and start the conversation about Christmas and kids and all the stuff that comes with that. I think it’s worth taking just a little time now before the rush comes in to figure out how we can handle consumerism with our kids and family at this time of year.  

Raising kids that are not sucked into the consumeristic way our society is postured is a big deal to me and as I delivered my ‘Eco Family Living’ online course in September, I was aware of how many of the participants really wanted to dig into this issue too. How do we keep our kids from having too much unnecessary stuff without feeling like we are depriving them? How do we align our values to these gift-giving times of the year when so much feels out of our immediate control?

Firstly, I want you to know that it is possible. It’s possible to be a conscious consumer, to consider the impact of your purchases on people and planet and still have a magical time of gift-giving and joy with your family.  

ETHICAL FASHION + FINDING YOUR PERSONAL STYLE

ETHICAL FASHION + FINDING YOUR PERSONAL STYLE

Clothing is often referred to as our chosen skin – often the most obvious medium we use to say what we want to say about ourselves to the world. What do you want your clothes to say about you? This may sound like a frivolous question (and it’s certainly a privilege to be able to even have this conversation) but what we wear can give us confidence and help us to be the best version of ourselves. We all have to get up and get dressed every day (shame). We all buy clothes and our money will be given to the garment/fashion industry so it feels important to use it as an opportunity to buy wisely and wear clothes that really reflect who we are.

I think that there often comes a time, particularly for women, when clothes become a chore. We wear them for function and not for expression or joy. Often this rut in personal style can come because other more pressing seasons in our life (like, becoming a parent - HELLLOOOO LEGGINGS). Sometimes the fashion industry, with its 52 micro-seasons a year (yes, really) can leave us spinning with so many emerging trends completely baffling our ability to know what we actually like when we eventually try to claw our style back.

CREATIVITY & COURAGE

CREATIVITY & COURAGE

A couple of months ago my lovely pal Emma (Life At The Little Wood) asked if I would speak at the Blog Retreat she was hosting for all of us bloggy/grammy types here in Northern Ireland. It was pitched as a pretty small affair to begin with so I, of course, said I would.  Then everyone wanted to come and it turned into a 140 people full on event at the incredibly beautiful Larchfield Estate! That's what happens when someone like Emma starts a ball rollin. She brings in the fold.

Public speaking is something I do a lot of in my work with Freedom Acts. Usually not a week goes by where I'm not speaking in front of a small or a big crowd of people about trafficking and exploitation. I still get nervous about it, but it's definitely something I'm well versed in now. But to talk about blogging and creativity - sheesh. That felt different. A little less factual, a little more personal. To be honest, my September leading up to the blog event had been an absolute stress-fest. I had been launching a big campaign for Freedom Acts, re-writing our entire website, writing scripts for 6 promo videos and putting together a brand new resource for our 5 year celebration event. I was also delivering my Eco Family Living course to a full intake of amazing people online which was making me so happy but so tired! That's why it might have gone a bit quiet round these parts lately.