Why You Should Join Green New Deal Rising

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

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You may have noticed me sharing a lot online about a group called Green New Deal Rising – sharing actions members have taken challenging MPs, the issues the organisation is bringing to the forefront of political conversations, and sharing challenges I’ve been a part of myself. But who are Green New Deal Rising, what do we do and should you even care?


Despite only existing for about 3 months, Green New Deal Rising have made significant impacts, have had actions going viral again and again, and been mentioned in many high profile media outlets and in Parliament itself. It’s safe to say it’s going well so far. GNDR has many aims, goals and principles – its primary goal however is to push for the passing of the Green New Deal bill through the UK Parliament and ensure a 10-year programme of social, economic, and infrastructural change that prioritises the wellbeing of both people and the planet. It aims to decarbonise the UK, to ensure a just transition and plenty of green jobs, to transform the economy and move away from corporations, to protect and restore our planet and only home, and to promote global justice. Not too big of an ask really!


Our main methods are MP challenges, where activists confront politicians with the issue of the Green New Deal and climate action largely in an attempt to open up dialogue between politicians and young people, but also to praise those who are taking action as well as to shame those causing climate delay. These are the videos you may have seen shared online and several show just how little powerful politicians care about the climate and the voices of young people (I’m looking at you Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer).

 

I joined Green New Deal Rising in August after having seeing their launch events and challenges of politicians such as Nicola Sturgeon and Keir Starmer online. I was getting a bit desperate and lost when it came to hearing of and seeing the climate crisis worsening. Especially during the summer, it felt like we were seeing one new record-breaking climate disaster occurring every day. But climate despair gets us nowhere. We need to turn our desperation and despair into action otherwise the climate crisis will continue unfettered, with profits for CEOs of extractive industries continuing to rise as fossil fuel production is predicted to soar in coming years even with such open public objection. Since joining GNDR, I’ve felt like I’ve actually been doing something and having more of an impact on a wider level. Don’t get me wrong, I know the other work I’ve been doing is important, but I feel like taking part in direct actions with GNDR has given me more physical energy and motivation. There may also be an element of attending in-person actions after nearly two years of isolations and lockdowns, but the element of driven youth community which is at GNDR’s heart surely contributes to that too.

 

Since joining Green New Deal Rising I have felt more motivated in my actions and further campaigning on climate issues. I have been more joyful in my activism, and truly felt like part of a wider community of young people pushing to protect our futures, through making friends with the people.

 

I know that without the confidence boost and practical experience I gained through actions with GND Rising I would not have done other direct actions outside of the organisation such as the recent action I organised with some friends protesting at the opening of a new H&M in Newcastle’s Eldon Square shopping centre. Through working as part of Green New Deal Rising, I have learned more about what it takes to put together actions, and how much goes on before you see it covered in mainstream and social media. It’s takes a village not only to raise a child but to co-ordinate actions. There are so many meetings, things to consider, and not very exciting tasks that need to be done in order for actions to take place and be effective, that it’s easy to forget if you just see a snazzy edited video of it afterwards. There is a role for everyone because there are roles for every skillset, confidence level, and personality-type. Whether it’s writing speeches, planning routes, creating banners, leading meetings, figuring out where to get food beforehand. There’s something everyone can do, and the more people there are the easier it becomes. 



 

I am so looking forward to spending time with lots of Green New Deal Rising activists in Glasgow next week for COP26 – to meet people who’ve actions I have celebrated and been in awe of, to meet people in person who have supported actions I’ve been involved with from afar, and to see friends from previous actions again.

 

If you’re interested in getting involved, come along to one of GND Rising’s regular Welcome calls to find out more about the roles available and become part of the movement!



If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa


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Me at 22

Friday, 15 October 2021

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I don’t know about but I’m feeling 22! 



Okay, I’m sorry (I’m not at all), but that had to be done. It’s a rite of passage no for anyone who turns 22 post-Taylor Swift’s Red-era. So yes, on Sunday I turned 22 and it means that it’s time for my annual reflection on my life, how I’ve changed, and where I’m going. Does anyone else do this? Is it a bit of an odd tradition? I find it kind of comforting to have a documentation of who I am at each year of my life. Before writing this, I read back over my Me at 21 post and it made me laugh several times. In that post I wrote that ‘21 is going to be the year of self-care and learning boundaries’ – and to be honest, I think that it was. 

 

I won’t lie lockdowns were difficult, and I think I only realised how difficult once we came out of them and I began to see friends again. It really hit home to me how, although they have been a lifeline, Zoom calls are nowhere near a replacement for seeing friends and family in person. Even with many lockdowns, I’ve learned to love my body and to feel sexy again after my herpes diagnosis (something I’ve referred to quite cryptically in blog posts beforehand). It took a lot of time, disclosing my status to my first partner post-diagnosis, putting back on the weight I’d lost when I was first really ill with it, talking about my experiences extensively with friends, and finally writing about it publicly in my first ever paid writing job. It’s something I’m now proud to be talking about openly and won’t ever try to hide again. It’s still scary to think of having to disclose to future partners but I know now that it will be okay. I’ve grown massively in accepting that in the past year and you can guarantee you’ll be seeing me talk a lot more about it in the future.

 

I’ve also set myself more boundaries with work and making sure I don’t take on too much than I can handle. I’ve not applied for jobs I would have loved because I knew it would burn me out, I’ve turned down more serious volunteer roles in organisations I love because I don’t have the capacity to do anymore work for free. And I’m so proud of myself for actually saying no, because time was I would have applied for and said yes to every opportunity that came my way. I now know my limits a better and can feel when I’m reaching them. Did somebody say self-care??

 

As has been the case in most of my recent birthdays, I’m now in a new house! Still in my beloved Newcastle, this place has so much more space, an incredible bookshelf that is built into my wall, and it’s been so amazing to be able to share my space with friends of mine and my flatmates. It’s the first time I’ve lived in a house with two storeys for probably about 6 or 7 years, and for some reason it makes me feel a bit more grown-up? Not sure the logic there, it may be because I have a laundry room and a spare room now. I know right, wild! I have many more plants now and feel more confident caring for them – I managed to bring the plant I called Billy last year back from the dead. I now have several of these plants in two lines on my window sill behind my desk, meaning when I’m working I have lots of sunlight on me, plants in front of me, and candles and books to the side of me. Living my best life. 



In the last few months of 21 in particular, I have felt my work as a writer really take off. I have had 2 paid articles out so far, including one from Shado Mag whom I absolutely adore, and have recently accepted a new role (drum roll please) as a contributing writer for Remake, meaning I have my first steady paid writing job. I cannot believe that I get to be paid for what I love doing and am now what I wanted to be as a kid. My younger self would be in awe of me and honestly I cannot think of anything better. Remake has really given me confidence in what I’m doing, both in my activism and my writing this past year. In my last birthday post I wrote about pinching myself being in Zoom calls with those people. Now, over a year after first becoming an ambassador, I have been a guest on one of their community calls, an Ambassador of the Month, a contributing writer, had conversations with incredible people at its core, and made some amazing friends. I could not love Remake and its community more. It fills me with so much joy, hope, and motivation that I’ve been able to carry through into other areas of my life. 

 

Not only has my writing grown, but I have also been getting more involved with other climate activist groups, mostly Green New Deal Rising, doing smaller in-person protests. I’m going to write a whole blog post on why I love GNDR but doing in-person actions which have gained some traction (including Caroline Lucas mentioning an action against Rishi Sunak which I co-ordinated in Parliament) has given me so much motivation. It’s given me more confidence and I really feel like I’m now part of the movements making impactful change. I also organised my first protest the other week outside the opening of a new H&M store in Newcastle. It was so fun, and may have been a smaller action but I’m proud that I actually organised something like that! 



This time last year I had no idea what my life would look like now, but now I roughly know what my life will look like at 23. I started my Masters in the past few weeks – I know, it took me a while to mention – and I’m enjoying it so far even if I’m still figuring out my schedule with it. Last year I was determined I wasn’t going to do a Masters because I thought it would be a panic one, but instead I just found an area I wanted to study more during one of the last modules of my undergrad and have rolled with that. It’s part-time, meaning I have some more time for other projects, including my writing, new part-time job, and voluntary work, and I have my life semi-planned for the next 2 years (it may also mean I will finally get an actual proper graduation!). So far, I’m reading interesting books, writing whenever I can, and trying to make sure I find the joy wherever I can. 

 

At the same time as doing more serious things and working more, I’m trying to make sure I have regular and purposeful joy in my life. I’m actively going to the beach and swimming in the sea more, wearing fun underwear for myself, making an effort to see friends in person more now that we are finally able to, and there is always more room in life for another dance party. I’m also dying my hair a new colour next week, so I will have bundles of joy in that! 


 

The past few years have been a bit tumultuous for me personally (whose early 20s aren’t to be honest?) but I feel like I’m settling in to what I want to do, who I am, and what I value. Even if I may be a bit rocky sometimes (and let’s be real I don’t ever see a world where I’m not an anxious little shit) I feel like I know my own worth than I did a year ago, definitely more than I did two years ago. And yes, imagine I was doing finger guns at the end of that sentence. Still as cool as ever. 


Oh yeah - and I did that fringe. Nearly forgot about it. I mentioned in my 'Me at 21' post that I was sure I would have one before the end of the year, and I was right. I cut myself a fringe on a random afternoon in lockdown November when I was bored of writing my dissertation proposal. It takes a lot of work to maintain but I love it, even if it does mean I have to wash my hair a bit more often. Feels like I've had it forever - it's a keeper!

 

But anyways - this is me, at 22!



If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa


If you liked this post you might like: Me at 22

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My Experience with #NoNewClothes and Slow Fashion Season

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

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The beginning of October marks the end of a long season of slow fashion after the combination of #NoNewClothes, Slow Fashion Season, Secondhand September, so it's time to discuss my experiences with them this year.


 

Seeing as I don’t buy loads of clothes anyway, I set myself the target of not buying secondhand clothes either. A complete ban. There were some caveats: I could swap clothes, I could be given them by friends/family, and basically as long as I didn’t buy them it was fine. And for the most part that worked out pretty well.

 

For the majority of the ban I didn’t acquire any new clothes at all. For the whole of June and July, I got nothing new. I hardly thought about new clothes, apart from when the odd ethical sample sale would come up on Instagram and I had to remind myself there was no point clicking on it ‘just for a browse’ because I couldn’t buy anything anyway. Then, at the beginning of August, a friend of mine who is starting at uni . In the end I took 3 tops (one of which was a vest top to go underneath another one which was mesh) and used the rest as part of a donation drive a refugee support organisation I work with was running at the time. They are now loved in new homes. 



Near the end of the month I then acquired 2 t-shirts new and for free, each through my involvement with an activist/voluntary organisation. This technically breaks my ban as they were both brand new, but I received both within a few days of each other at the very end of #NoNewClothes and. I’ve already worn my Green New Deal Rising t-shirt several times both as part of actions (challenging Kate Osborne MP and Chancellor Rishi Sunak) and in my day to day life – it’s a great top! These t-shirts do make campaigns, actions, and spreading the word about these organisations so much more effective and will definitely make the most out of them. 



Going into the last month of Slow Fashion Season and Secondhand September, and I was pretty set on not getting anymore. But then I got invited to an event by ethical and sustainable brand Birdsong (many people have sung their praises, including Aja Barber, whose opinions we know I trust probably more than anyone in slow fashion circles), to celebrate the launch of their new website. The event was so lovely, not just for the very cool people I met there but also the lush clothes I got to try on. I fell in love with 2 garments in particular: a t-shirt and some gingham trousers. The event attendees received a code to get a free t-shirt from Birdsong so of course I was going to get the one I tried on. After about a week I ordered it, expecting it to take about 3 weeks to arrive (as stated on the website), so I would be technically out of Slow Fashion Season by then (I know, stretching the rules to the max) but it ended up arriving at my house a few days later instead. I have worn it several times already and absolutely adore it. In fact, I’m wearing it as I write this. It’s so soft, comfy, and goes well with lots of garments I already own. It’s definitely one for the long haul.



Later on in the month I took home 2 items that were overflow from a refugee support project I volunteer with. We had way too many clothes than needed and were diving up the leftovers to donate to other charities who may need some. I loved 2 items: a top and a jacket and asked if I could take them home with me as they weren't being used. It's safe to say I have worn the jacket most days since I got it and have worn the top several times too. 


 

So altogether that’s 8 garments I acquired over the course of four months: 3 given to me secondhand by a friend and 2 new given to me by organisations I work/volunteer for during #NoNewClothes, and then another (ethically made) top I bought during after being slightly obsessed with it at a PR event and 2 secondhand items I also got for free during the Slow Fashion Season/Secondhand September. 

 

I may have technically failed these challenges, but to me they are still certainly a success. I reconsidered every time I had the thought of buying something new, thought over my relationships with my clothed again, and rewore some of my absolute favourite outfits. I also found new ways of wearing garments I love and want to make more use out of - like a black mesh drress I adore but want to wear in more casual ways. Turns out it looks great under a pair of green trousers I wear loads! Considering that the average person buys at least one item of mid-priced clothing a week, I have certainly succeeded in drastically lowering my contributions for the linear economy. 



The whole point of these challenges is to get us to look more closely at our clothing consumption and to reconsider if those consumption levels align with our values and how we want workers and the environment to be treated. They’re a means for us to step back and look at how capitalism affects our day to day decisions, and how we perceive our desires and what makes us satisfied. We’re constantly told that commodities will make us happy and the vast majority of the time that is a lie – books may be the only exception here, but that’s just me – and initiatives such as #NoNewClothes are a great way for us to rethink what we’ve been told since birth and find out what we really want/need. 

 

In her book We Need to Talk About Money, Otegha Uwagba discusses how capitalism and patriarchy intersect severely through the beauty and fashion industries. She highlights how ‘[m]odern consumer culture is sustained by a mixture of aspiration and dissatisfaction with the status quo, and the belief that this product or that brand is capable of transforming our lives; capable of making us happier, sexier, richer; capable of allowing us to self-actualise’ and that this was the ‘unsolvable lack’ as described by Anne Helen Petersen. Initiatives like #NoNewClothes teach us all about how to love what we already have and feel great in old clothes. I know having learned about slow fashion for several years now, I now value any clothes that I acquire much more highly, whether they're second or new, they will be cherished so much more now that I'm much more selective with the clothes I own and wear. To me, learning to love the clothes you already own is a great way to loving yourself more, and feeling better in your own skin by rediscovering clothes that make you feel great or trying out new outfits from clothes. It shows us that we can be content with what we already have and that supposed ‘lack’ is not, as we are told constantly by capitalism, ‘unsolvable’, but that it never actually existed in the first place. 




If you like my work and have learned something from it, please consider helping support me (so I have more time to write posts and articles like these!) by buying me a virtual cuppa



 

 

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