It is now about three months since we left Corrymeela, and other than going on a couple of protests, it might appear to the casual observer that I haven't been doing very much. And in one sense, maybe you're right.
I acknowledge the luxury of being more or less completely master of my own time for a few months. I acknowledge the privilege of having a supportive family of in-laws who have housed us and put up with us! But I hope at least, I will get to the end of this few months and feel it is a privilege, yes, but one which has not been wasted. It has been a chance to catch up with friends and family: a few visits and a good number of long overdue emails (requests accepted if you feel you've missed out!) ! It's been a chance to read some very good books.
But the main way in which I hope this time will have been useful, is the work I am currently doing for Fairgrounds, producing some educational resources to help children understand the importance of ethical trade and our global interconnectedness and responsibilities. That all sounds very highbrow: there's also a fair amount of glue and mess involved too so it won't get too heavy!
Some of you will have already heard me mention Fairgrounds, but I don't think I've written about it on here before, so this seemed like a good occasion to do so. Fairgrounds is a social enterprise based in Bradford, West Yorkshire, which imports and sells fair trade products from all over the world, as well as committing to educating young people, about fair trade and making ethical choices.
We have been involved in Fairgrounds for quite a long time now: from its fragile beginnings, through a few ups and downs, and watching it grow from strength to strength. When I say involved in, I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea: I take zero credit for its success which has been down to the hard work and dedication of Nina (with a lot of family and friends around her) but primarily Nina with her determination to turn a vision into a reality.
Now, with a bit of time to spare, I am able to play a very small part in hopefully helping it to continue to grow. I am currently putting together a series of lesson plans, exploring themes of fair trade and recycling by learning about the production of recycled magazine jewellery in Uganda. The scheme will include literacy, geography, art, ICT, even some maths: and hopefully a lot of thoughtful reflection on making a difference.
It is an interesting process: reflecting on how to create resources which invite children to reflect on important issues at an appropriate level, simplifying themes and material while not underestimating their powers of reflection and intuition; designing something which will appeal to teachers among a myriad of pressures on their time; planning in the abstract without a single group of specific children I know well in mind, but knowing that while designed in the abstract, it will be taught in the concrete.
It seems this blog post is one of two things: either I am trying to justify my current existence: well, yes, possibly; or it is a shameless plug for a company I care about: well, yes, probably. Go to the website. Buy some stuff. After all, it is FAIRly good.