Hope in the Dark

I’ve been reading ‘Hope in the Dark’ by Rebecca Solnit. I picked it up at the Hay Festival earlier on in the year. I kind of kept going to read it but then finding something else to read instead. I by chance watched Josie Long on IPlayer and she recommended the book, so then I had to read it.

I have started trying to form an Amnesty International society at my university. This book has been invaluable in getting me to think more about what it takes, thinking about what I’m actually doing and having realistic expectations.

The book was originally published in 2005 so a decent amount has changed and progressed since but it’s eerie how in a way it hasn’t at all and how well the book still applies… Different people, same situations etc.

There is a large focus on American politics. Bush and Blair and the time of the Iraq war beginning. This was slightly before my time (as in I was about 9 so not really aware of the world) so it was difficult to get as involved with the book as I hoped I would. But Solnit writes really well and I get the points that she was making. I found it difficult to fully gauge some of the significance of what was written.

Solnit has since added a number of Forewords to her newer additions which are great introductions.

So very broadly, the book for me, mostly told me about what activism is, what has been successful and what it means to be successful or to have success or to not succeed. There were some really key thought provoking chapters in the book. Sometimes seemed screamingly obvious but not something you’d necessarily think about too deeply.

A quote in the book from Paul Goodman

“Suppose you had the revolution you are talking about and dreaming about…  … How would you live, you personally, in that society? Start living that way now!”

Solnit looks into the emotions associated with activism and tragic events. Comparing despair and hope.

“Despair demands less of us, it’s more predictable and in a sad way safer. Authentic hope requires clarity – seeing the troubles in this world – and imagination, seeing what might lie beyond these situations that are perhaps not inevitable and immutable”

She looks at the different types of activists and news bringers. Those that do well in defeat and ‘doom’. This is linked to the psychology that activism is more bolstering identity that achieving results. ‘demonstrating one’s own virtue rather than the realisation of results’.  I think I can think of a number of people who would be pessimistic, assume to worst and not try to make it work and then take in the glory when it turns out that they’re right. (which was more likely to be the outcome anyway)

I found it very true that “tales of decline and fall have an authority that hopeful ones don’t”

But activism itself can generate hope because it already constitutes an alternative and turns away from the corruption at center to face the wild possibilities and the heroes at the edges or at your side.

The revolution that counts is the one that takes place in the imagination, many kinds of change issue forth thereafter, some gradual, some dramatic and conflict ridden – which is to say that revolution doesn’t necessarily look like revolution.

Being able to see the world differently to what is put in front of you can be the biggest step in a revolution. Solnit uses a fantastic analogy of a theatre. Civilians being the audience and the actors on stage being presidents, prime ministers etc Big wigs. We don’t see what’s going on back stage or anywhere else in the theatre. But sometimes we do, sometimes we can see through the actors and when enough of us have, that’s revolutionary and that’s what the bigwigs are scared of.

What I really enjoyed about this book is that sense that even if you don’t see success or you don’t feel like you’ve made a difference, actually you probably have. In a small way you may have supported a movement, spread a movement to more people and in that way starting to stimulate a change or progression.

“It’s always too soon to go home. Most of the great victories continue to unfold, unfinished in the sense that they are not yet fully realised but also in the sense that they continue to spread influence.”

This is Earth, it will never be Heaven

Perfectionists don’t make very good activists essentially. When anything less than total victory is failure, progression is not going to be able to be appreciated. There will always be cruelty, violence, destruction but we can reduced it. ‘There’s an inability to to recognise a situation in which you are traveling but haven’t arrived to the destination. The world is always being made and is never finished.’

Victory is not some absolute state far away but the achieving of it. It wasn’t the moon landings but the flight etc

“The way you win people over to your side is try to present the information from some perspective they’re familiar with”   Velasquez

A better world, yes; a perfect world, never.

Rebecca x

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Bulk Market Dalston 

I was told about a bulk store near Dalston Junction so headed there to have a gander. I’m going away for a couple of weeks so bulking up on some dried fruits, nuts and seeds sounded like a good idea/ excuse / justification.

 

It was raining. I was very wet.

The shop was small but sold a good range of things. Spices (!) Dried fruit, legumes, nuts, seeds, pasta and dried carbs, eggs, fruit and veg. They also had cheeses, washing up liquid and dog food! They had lots of alternative cleaning tools, cutlery and toilet roll! It was great. They generally had a couple choices of each. For example, for nuts they had walnuts and almonds. They also had chocolate buttons and yoghurt covered peanuts. Nom.

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I brought my own containers… Couldn’t find actual containers so made do. Ha lol.

So you weigh your containers when you enter the shop and write the weight on them before you fill them up.

I got dried apricots, raisins and sunflower seeds. I’d seen the copper scrubber online and had been keen to get it so treated myself. It all came to £12 which is a lot but for the amount I got and the shop being quite niche and good quality it’s not terrible. I’d definitely go back.

If I lived closer it would be great for popping in and filling up when needed. Somewhere I can refill my spice rack !

The woman behind the till was really sweet and helpful and was great to talk to her about her plastic free adventures. It’s been re-inspiring to see someone else keen to do their bit.

One person wont change the world but It’s the little things that do add up. If you’re passing by why not pop in? I have realised that I need to live in the world that I want to see. So no plastic and be nice to everyone and eventually maybe the world will all become like that too! 😉 ❤   I can dream

I had a massive cook off a couple of mornings ago. I’m going back to university next week for my next placement and I’m not looking forward to it. Long story, haha. Anyway the way to keep me happy is to make sure I have lots of nice food! So I have prepared some of the dishes to have Buddha bowls for lunch – guacamole, lentils and hummus. And i stewed some fruits to have with cereal or porridge. I finally made something of all the blueberries I froze. I made blueberry compote for porridge or desserts. I made a big batch of butternut soup and an even more massive batch of veggie bolognese. Boom. Happy Rebecca

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Also! I have been big time decluttering since I moved my stuff back home. There isn’t much space so I have donated probably over 50% of my books to local charity shops and same for my clothes and just things I like but never use. I realised that I had a lot of personal t-shirts that you couldn’t really pass on and was a shame to chuck out so I’m going to make this with them..

http://mypoppet.com.au/makes/2013/04/upcycle-style-braided-t-shirt-rug.html

Should be easy right?? 😉

Rebecca x

Plastic Free Month: 15 days in!!

Hey!

So the 2nd week has gone much better. I’m getting used to not being able to use plastic and how to get around it.  I have accepted that it just takes a bit of extra organizing and a bit of compromising.

Carrying water with me, eating before I head out, picking up fruit and veg and always carrying a bag, finding time to cook a big batch. Cleaning is easy, though I do want to order a scour sponge i’ve seen online that’s plastic free and friendly etc, cloths just aren’t cutting it! Carrying deodorant, toothpaste and breakfast with me when I stay elsewhere, it’s not actually that hard.

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I went to the opera at the weekend and because I can be a bit of idiot and forget things, I ended up arriving a lot later that i meant to. Worked out fine for the opera but meant we didn’t have time to grab some proper food. We had to pop to a shop to get some sandwiches/on the go food. There was absolutely nothing that I could eat in any of these shops. I did however find a bar of chocolate in only cardboard and foil! Bingo!! It was beautiful!

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I have definitely been eating more healthily again. (shes says after talking about chocolate). Although I have started buying things in jars, such as jams, chutneys and honey, peanut butter. I don’t usually buy them (to be a little healthier and because they can relatively expensive..ish.. and i tend to eat a lot in a short space of time) but they’re great for adding a bit of extra flavour to things.

I had a massive craving for cheese (again with the healthy eating?!) while I was shopping the other day. I had a tupperware on me and the guy behind the counter agreed to fill my tupperware up with cheese!! Best day ever! Only down side is that I did have to have a sticker. So not plastic free. However it did made me think about the benefits of buying in bulk. I could have bought a packet of cheese half the size and used more than double the plastic. This will definitely be something I’ll be keeping up after this month is over.

 

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One issue that I’m having at the moment is that I could really do with some new shoes and a new blouse or two. I keep going to have a look in shops and online and am either unsuccessful or see the plastic tag and just think.. I cant’!! So in that respect I’m saving quite a lot of money. And actually it really is making me use what I already have and is encouraging me to think about what I have and what I could do instead. It’s also encouraging me to not really care either.

The photo with the chocolate bar you can see my shoes, I’d have loved to wear sandles with that outfit. Those shoes were the daintiest/ not over the top and kinda smart? things I could justify wearing. I got to the point where I was running out of time and just said bleurgh who actually cares and walked out wearing them. And you know…nothing bad happened! Excellent!

I have also realised how much I’m starting to do by myself again. So I go through phases of trying to be self sufficient, i grew some vegetables and herbs a couple of years back when I was living at home and I loved it! Can’t do that at uni. But what I have started to doing is making my own bread, vegetable stock, crisps, meals from scratch, buying bulk herbs from markets and freezing them, buying fruit from markets and dehydrating, freezing them. I’m hoping to make some jam or use them in cakes as well as eating them for breakfast.

As well as food, I wanted to buy some flashcards for studying the other day, but obviously they all come in plastic packaging. I realized that actually i already have tons of card and could make my own.

I am just naturally thinking of alternative things I could do. And it’s been a really cool couple of weeks. Really difficult in some respects. I went to another BBQ on Sunday but this time bought frozen veggie burgers in cardboard with me and that was fine. I could have made my own! But didn’t have enough time haha.

There are definitely cons!

For example, all the dried food I bought from wholefoods came in paper bags and when tired I keep forgetting to double check what I’m actually pouring on my porridge….!!

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Also, I can’t easily receive flowers as a gift this month because they all come in plastic packaging. Quite gutting really !!  😉  … it also means that I can’t buy any too so i’m saving a small fortune in gifts xD

Rebecca xx

P.S loving all the Pride stuff coming up in London!! ❤


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To the older me 

Rebecca,

Lots of aspects of your life will change in the next few years. You have no idea what you will see, do and where you will end up. But the way you think now feels right and fair but still you have so much to learn and figure out.

Remember that you will never be able to second guess someone else’s story. Before you go to judge and put them into one your ingrained default stereotypes talk to them, learn about them. Realise how similar and different you are.

Remember where you grew up and what you saw. Remember the people you met and the situation.

At the end of each month, ask yourself if you’ve helped anyone, volunteered or donated your time or skills or donated money. If not, why?

Remember how you still want to change the world and still think it’s possible. Remember that you can still be settled and curious and explorative. Remember that if you are not happy with something you can change it.

Remember that you can’t just look out for yourself, you need to be able to see the bigger picture. Not everyone is in your position. Remember to practise being in other people’s shoes.

Remember that the world is not finite and that you simply can’t have everything you want. Compromise is good and healthy.

Remember to do the things you love and inspire it in others. Remember that you don’t have to be pushy or competitive. Grow at your own pace and don’t over do it. Take breaks and analyse.

Remember to be the best person you can be, because then your time will never be wasted.

Rebecca x