#WATWB March 2021 – On the Bus

Welcome to the We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB. We have been going since March 2017, sharing good news stories. Our c0-hosts this time around are:

Sylvia McGrath, Roshan Radhakrishnan, Shilpa Garg, Eric Lahti, and Belinda Witzenhausen.

Picture from Channel Nine News Canberra, Australia. Accessed 28 March 2021.

To join this post you’ll need to hop on the bus! The Sleep Bus to be more exact. Not far from where I live, a city of Queanbeyan, NSW (Australia) has acquired a Sleep Bus.

Like many parts of the world we have issues here with homelessness. People who cannot find or fit in a home to live. The Sleep Bus movement provides a shower and short-term bunk accommodation for homeless people. A great idea.

You can check out a report from our Channel 9 Network that they posted to their Facebook Page.

You can hear more about Sleep Bus from their website, as their founder, Simon Rowe (what a first name!) talks you through with short video updates.

Simon Rowe in one of the Sleep Buses he and his son are making. From their website. Accessed 28 March 2021.

What a rolling, practical way to give some help to those needing somewhere to sleep.

Here’s an excerpt from a poem by Meghan O’Rourke called “Sleep”. You can read the rest at Poetry Foundation. They may even read it to you.

…In the bedroom the moon is a dented spoon,
cold, getting colder, so hurry sleep,
come creep into bed, let’s get it over with;
lay me down and close my eyes…

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#WATWB November 2020 – Social Media Mental Health and Racism

Well I’m off to a late start again! My biggest good news this week was being able to see a really wonderful friend – and in person too! However, we aren’t here for that purpose.

Our latest #WATWB co-hosts are

Lizbeth Hartz, Inderpreet Uppal, Shilpa Garg, Damyanti Biswas, and Roshan Radhakrishnan.

Please hop on over to their pages.

I have long been interested in people and culture. We have such a vast array of them in our world. At times our “otherness” can lead to competition and conflict. At others we enrich each other in our variety.

Image from ABC News – ABC Life November 2020

So when I saw that the Australian ABC had this story on their ABC Life list, I had to have a look. It can be used for other aspects of social media but they have applied to racism.

There are four suggestions. I’ll provide a taster quote for each one and you can go to the link yourselves at your leisure.

Suggestion One: Setting Firm Boundaries for Yourself

“This can include your engagement on social media, who you deal with and how you deal with them,” says Naarm-based counsellor Tigist Kebede.

She has some simple advice to start with.

“Log off. Especially in times of distress or where you feel overwhelmed, having contained periods where you use social media can be life-changing.” For more.

Suggestion Two: Connection is Key

Whether it’s spending more time with (biological or chosen) family, finding a mentor in your workplace or seeking out online communities, prioritise connections with people who share a base-level understanding of what you’re going through.

“Connection — whether it’s to community, to an individual, to others — is about finding your people,” Ms Kebede says.

“It’s not just because they’re the same colour but because they understand your experiences that you can share the load with them.” More on connection.

Suggestion Three: Give Yourself Space to Feel

Experiencing racism can overwhelm us with anger, anxiety and pain. It can impact us in many ways: mentally, physically and spiritually.

Rather than bury your feelings, “check in with yourself” is Ms Kebede’s advice.

“It’s about holding space, compassion and empathy for yourself and for your needs. If you feel you want more.

Suggestion Four: Reclaim the Narrative

In Professor Carlson’s experience, it’s Indigenous peoples’ ability to see the funny side that often helps them deal with the repetitive trauma of “another day in the colony”, to quote Dr Chelsea Bond.

Deploying humour has become a powerful tool for Indigenous social media users to speak back to racist and non-factual online commentary.

“That’s something I love about our mob, being able to see the irony. You get people saying ‘Australia was colonised peacefully’ — well, you can show just how laughable that is by turning it into a meme like [the Facebook page] Blackfulla Revolution does so well.” More on reclaiming.

There is more to the article than what I have gratuitously cut and paste from ABC Life. The link is in each quote.

As I was preparing this post some other words were forming. Below is an excerpt and link.

Not Just Some Other

I am black

I am white

In restful dark

And shining light.

I am yellow

I am red

I am hard at work

And resting in bed.

More here.


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#WATWB October 2020 One World Learning in a Pandemic

Another month has whisked away and I missed the reminders for #WATWB! But here we are with the We Are the World Blogfest to end October 2020.

Sylvia McGrath, Mary Giese , Shilpa Garg, Sylvia Stein and Belinda Witzenhausen are our co-hosts for this time around. Please head over to their posts as well.

There has been much discussion over time about what this year of disasters has been teaching us. Some are enjoying more time in nature. Some have cherished time in their household working on both relationships and the building of the house itself (perhaps even getting rid of things no longer needed!). Others have learned new skills and new ways of learning.

Self

Daniel Goleman, one of the people who raised our attention to Emotional Intelligence, has continued working and puts out a monthly newsletter. He includes some work he did with a coach on how she used emotional intelligence with her clients. Then he adds these:

When you have strong self-awareness, you:

  • Know what you are feeling, why you feel it, and how it impacts your ability to perform and relate
  • Understand clearly your strengths and limits, leading to a realistic sense of self-confidence 
  • Connect to your values and sense of purpose, allowing you to cultivate a more meaningful life.

A useful check-in for this year we are having.

Self and Others We Are Connected To


Moving from good news to our self to with others, in the latest newsletter on LinkedIn Goleman includes a video of the piece Bolero, by the classical composer Ravel. But it is another one of the virtual concerts, celebrating people from various places joining in to play and dance.

Here is a screenshot and link.

Part of the good news we have learned this year is that we can still be connected to other people, and their great gifts, even in times of isolation and lack of travel.

Self and Others Different From Us

Goleman offers another video. This takes our awareness to peoples from a culture that may be different from us. The video is a song by Jackson Browne and his band.

It tells the story of a people in Haiti and their resilience. There is a screenshot above and here is a link to the clip. It broadens our compassion and our solidarity to be part of such stories.  Thanks to Jackson’s song I need not post a poem this time around either.

Some of the things we have learned this year as we have all lived in a pandemic is to be more aware of ourselves, of others we are connected to, and of peoples in cultures around our world. Perhaps we are coming closer to understanding that we are one world. To me that sounds like good news.

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#WATWB August 2020 – Hope In End of Life Care

If I, or a loved one, were dying from Corona virus, aka, COVID 19, I’d like someone such as Dr Kate Gregorevic on the palliative care team.

Picture: ABC Life accessed 30 August 2020 9.43pm

Before going further, I say that as part of the latest series of #WATWB We Are The World Blogfest Posts. The co-hosts for this month are:

Lizbeth Hartz , Roshan RadhakrishnanShilpa GargPeter Nena and Sylvia Stein. Please hop on over to their pages and any others with the #WATWB that you care to read.

ABC Life, from ABC News Australia, featured Dr Gregorevic recently. She works in palliative care here in Australia. You can read the fuller story. But here are some samples.

Looking after patients at the end of their life can be incredibly rewarding especially being able to bear witness to the joy and love they have created in their life as their family hold vigil to mark their last days.

Dr Gregorevic describes some of her experience.

My work constantly reminds me that life is fragile, precious and finite, and to appreciate all the small, beautiful moments that make a life. Part of what makes the challenges of work manageable is knowing I provided the best care I could at such an important time.

She has a sense of the mutual benefit between the families and her team.

The families I speak to show the most incredible empathy and generosity, expressing sympathy for the work I am doing, saying thank you for the work I am doing. And I cannot express how much this helps me through these days.

It is good to know that medical staff like Dr Gregorevic and her team are helping treat people with COVID-19. Clearly they see the person. They also see the patient’s loved ones. That makes all the difference.

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#WATWB July 2020 Late Edition – Letters from the Lecturer

Well the first bit of good news is that the We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB is back again for another month and has been running for years.  As life changes for some of us it can be a slog, at times, to keep up the momentum. There are months where we struggle to find enough co-hosts.  If you have been with us a while, and may be able to help, contact one of our co-hosts.

Speaking of co-hosts, this month our valiant leaders are:

Eric Lahti – https://ericlahti.wordpress.com

Susan Scott – http://www.gardenofedenblog.com/

Inderpreet Kaur Uppal – http://inderpreetuppal.com/

Shilpa Garg – https://shilpaagarg.com/

Peter Nena – https://drkillpatient01.wordpress.com/

 

Please hop on over to their pages and others on the #WATWB.

Now for a late edition of some other good news.

 

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Dr Murad Jehangir Yusuf Tayebjee.  Image from ABC Life, accessed 2 August 2020.

As the coronavirus aka COVID-19 hit, many schools, universities and other educational centres rapidly moved to a more online presence in all manner of operations. This can be very socially isolating for students and staff so…

Dr Murad Jehangir Yusuf Tayebjee wrote letters to his students. We pick up the report from ABC News Australia in its ‘Life’ team.

Dear students,

As I submit your final grades for this term, I wanted to take a moment to write you a note.

Maybe you made it to university after studying hard in year 12. Maybe this is part of a career change for you, or a return to study after having kids.

Whatever your story — and there are as many stories as there are of you — you certainly didn’t expect to undertake your 2020 undergraduate year in the middle of a global pandemic.

We didn’t expect it either.

He moved on to outline some of the things they may be doing, like getting their hands dirty and building small-scale solar powered cars.

Tayebjee even told them that they inspired him by staying with the course. What an encouraging teacher from the University of New South Wales (Sydney, Australia). You can read more of the story yourselves.

Lock-downs have been really tough for people. This fellow, who admitted that he too, “had to adapt fast”, adapted well. He not only engineered his courses, but innovated the communication needed in order to reach his students.

Those who follow this blog know that I love poetry and also try to share a poem with the story.

Poet, Michael Ryan, writes of letters in an institution. Just like lecturers use their imagination to reach students, so too do poets, like Ryan, explore the world of the imagination. An excerpt is below.  Full text at Poetry Foundation.

Letters from an Institution

The ward beds float like ghost ships
in the darkness, the nightlight
above my bed I pretend is a lighthouse
with a little man inside who wears
a sailor cap and tells good old stories
of the sea. The little man is me.

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#WATWB June 2020 Work for Refugees

It’s that time again already.  The We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB has more stories for you.

Our generous co-hosts for this month are Sylvia McGrath, Susan Scott,  Shilpa Garg, Damyanti Biswas, and Belinda Witzenhausen

I nearly lost the story I was going to post. But I found it again thanks to SBS Australia journalist Jennifer Scherer.  It’s about refugee Bill Ngo who fled conflict and came to Australia. In time he began a business. Sadly, his business is dwindling due to losses in these COVID-19 days. But Bill is undaunted and plans to get going again.  Scherer tells his story on audio (put the sound on!).

The other part of this news is that there is good reason to believe small businesses like this are probably near us too. We can find out where they are and support them.

In a similar vein, back in January 2020, SBS News Australia also told a story of a Sri Lankan Restaurant ‘Colombo Social’ giving refugees and asylum seekers their first jobs. Or, you can check out their Facebook page.

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Shaun Christie-David. Image: SBS News Australia, 10 January 2020

“Sydney restaurant Colombo Social hires refugees and asylum seekers helping to kickstart their careers in Australia, and it’s run by two friends who met in high school, ”  says SBS News Australia.

What a great pair of stories in these days where we long to create greater harmony between the peoples of our earth and ensure the underprivileged find a home and a way to share their gifts.

And, for a poem…. by Miroslava Odalovis called ‘Silent Refugees’

What are we left with
When years and health are gone
When tents fall down under the roofs
When the shelters no longer shelter

When winters close down frozen and fireless
When summers burn crying for some ice
When springs forget to grow
And autumns die within a leaf

more at PoemHunter.com.

 

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#WATWB May 2020 and Kind20

Sometimes, as we surf the net and scroll the feeds, we absorb cyber-toxins at a rate of knots.  There are days that humiliation, personal attacks, and cynicism are just too much.

So, to counter such a trend, just over three years ago, Belinda Witzenhausen and Damyanti Biswas called together a group of bloggers.  From it came the We Are The World Blogfest or #WATWB.

We’re still here!  This is the latest installment.  We are grateful to the co-hosts. This month they are …..

Susan Scott , Lizbeth Hartz, Shilpa Garg, Mary Giese , and Damyanti Biswas.

At #WATWB we tend to give politics and religion a wide birth.  Not to undermine their function or some of the good they can bring about. No, more to try and get to the heart of kindness in the course of life that can exist in simple human interactions.

The post I share this time may have arisen from a convergence of religious groups. But it is about kindness that goes beyond any of their own statues or rituals.

What I’m talking about is Kind2020.  You can visit their website or Facebook page.

Basically they are suggesting we all do what is in the photo below (From their Facebook page)

If you looked up their “about us” you may find

Express and Inspire

Working to Unite Humanity Through Kindness.

#KIND20 is a global movement for social empathy and worldwide kindness. It is borne of the Coronavirus world crisis and has been created as a unifying platform to turn despair and insecurity into positivity and hope.

We invite citizens of our world to take a video expressing “What Kindness Means to You?” and share on their social media nominating at least 3 others to do the same.

If one person passes it onto just 3 others, and they in turn pass it onto 3 more eventually creating a continuum, where our world will be full of messages of kindness, hope and positivity. These could also include a positive expression or acts of kindness experienced, seen or a personal commitment of change.

By the year-end, we are confident there will be more cases of kindness, than cases of COVID19.

Please do post your stories of kindness too!


Why not check out other #WATWB posts too!

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#WATWB April 2020 Agents of Environmental Change

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Image: APNEWS https://apnews.com/726ff63bb43bdca65e41625b1e223040

Change is such a part of life.  This post looks at environmental change. But it sees it as part of an integral ecology, where physical and social environments are aided to a better life for all, indeed a flourishing.

Welcome to #WATWB We Are the World Blogfest April 2020.  Our co-hosts this month are Eric Lahti,
Susan Scott,
Inderpreet Kaur Uppal
Damyanti Biswas,
Dan Antion.

Please visit their posts and others who bear the #WATWB, and share across your social media platforms.

In the Physical or Natural Environment

We did not ask for the problems that COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has visited upon our world. It is a tremendous challenge for all peoples and is bringing out both the best and worst in humanity.  Some good news is what has happened in nature when we slow down heavy industry awhile and stay at home.  AP news reports

As people across the globe stay home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, the air has cleaned up, albeit temporarily. Smog stopped choking New Delhi, one of the most polluted cities in the world, and India’s getting views of sights not visible in decades. Nitrogen dioxide pollution in the northeastern United States is down 30%. Rome air pollution levels from mid-March to mid-April were down 49% from a year ago. Stars seem more visible at night.

And

In Adelaide, Australia, police shared a video of a kangaroo hopping around a mostly empty downtown, and a pack of jackals occupied an urban park in Tel Aviv, Israel.

We’re not being invaded. The wildlife has always been there, but many animals are shy, Duke’s Pimm says. They come out when humans stay home.

For sea turtles across the globe, humans have made it difficult to nest on sandy beaches. The turtles need to be undisturbed and emerging hatchlings get confused by beachfront lights, says David Godfrey, executive director of the Sea Turtle Conservancy.

But with lights and people away, this year’s sea turtle nesting so far seems much better from India to Costa Rica to Florida, Godfrey says.

“There’s some silver lining for wildlife in what otherwise is a fairly catastrophic time for humans,” he says.

We didn’t ask for this virus and all its repercussions, especially on some of our non-tech savvy elderly who feel doubly isolated.  But while we hibernate it is good to see some of the natural world rejuvenate.

In the Social Environment

An Australian journalist posted the following on her Twitter account after a book release interview with a former Australian Prime Minister.

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“So”, some may say, “that’s a normal day of Twitter at it’s most terrible”.  But, what these posts do is hold up a mirror.  Hopefully it allows us, and the writers engaging in calumny, to see that they are attacking the fabric of a social environment. It is one thing to dislike a review, but another to attack the person and create salacious spin about them.  Calling out nastiness by simply holding it up in a mirror  helps clean up the social environment and is a preparation for further good news. More work in that area can be seen in Ginger Gorman.

That All Life May Flourish

When the good of the natural and social environments is allowed to thrive all may flourish.  This weekend 25-26 April, in my country Australia, and our neighbour, New Zealand, we celebrate Anzac Day, which commemorates losses of valiant lives in Gallipoli, Turkey, 25 April 1915.  It has come to be a day to remember all who have served in conflicts.  In a time where United Nations (UN) agencies are experiencing some moments of scapegoating by some national governments struggling with their stresses, we all remember the work of UN Peacekeeping efforts.

If poems speak to you of the natural environment, then go to the Poetry Foundation for some nature poems, like this one from Mary Oliver, The Waterfall.

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#WATWB January 2020 -Volunteering Can Help

Welcome to the first We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB  post for 2020!

This month our co-hosts are:

Damyanti Biswas,

Shilpa Garg,

Lizbeth Hartz,

Sylvia Stein, and

Mary Giese.

Please hop on over and look at their posts and any others with #WATWB.

Coming off a conference and in the thick of funerals, I thought I’d not make it this month.  But…. here we are!

I’m leaning on the good ole ABC Life News reporting.

Australian journalist Siobhan Hegarty has provided a story on young people and volunteering.  Right on topic too, for a colleague and I were sharing, on our way back from our conference, how volunteers are truly magnanimous people in the face of adversity.  We were thinking of our State Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS).

Hegarty’s story features a number of examples.  Like Rebecca Cole who joined the SES at age 18.

During the recent bushfires in NSW, Rebecca went on food drops and volunteered at the Queanbeyan fire control centre, operating the radios overnight and logging information for firefighters.

She says being able to volunteer with the bushfire relief effort stopped her from feeling helpless in the wake of the natural disaster.

“It’s so important to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”

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Picture accessed from ABC News life, 23 January 2020. Supplied by Rebecca Cole.

 

Another example includes WIRES (Wildlife Information, Rescue and Information Service).

Hegarty’s report reminds us that long term help matters too. Some agencies may not be able to take our help straight away but following up is a great idea.

She reminds us all that volunteering can help us feel like we are making difference.

According to Lucas Walsh, an education professor at Monash University, volunteering can lead to better mental health and social connectedness.

It may also help alleviate existential anxieties about the future.

“Getting involved in a meaningful activity will help improve your feeling about the challenges arising from droughts, fires and climate change”, he says.

You can see Hegarty’s full article here.


Follow #WATWB  and check out some other posts too!

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#WATWB November 2019 Surprised by ‘Life?!’

Image source: ABC News Australia

I remember my first experience of supreme pizzas, back in the day. It was fabulous to get all of those flavoursome toppings on one pizza! (Sorry to those Italian style pizza purists who find such complicated pizzas offensive!)

Later in life I found that blessed thing called seafood paella: lots of kinds of seafood and rice all in one place! Yummo! Washed down with vino, of course!

 

images.jpgAh!! Seafood paella.  Image source: https://hispanickitchen.com/recipes/mixed-seafood-paella/ .

I got that same kind of saturated sensation when I encountered this thing on ABC News Australia under the tab ‘life’.

But, let me interrupt the spiel to welcome you to

#WATWB November 2019, where our co-hosts are Damyanti Biswas,

Lizbeth Hartz,
Shilpa Garg,
Peter Nena,
and, myself,  Simon Falk.

Please head on over to their pages.

So, WATWB is all about promoting good news and I found some in that ABC News Tab called ‘life’. Check it out.

I found stories about a coffee seller who left his shop to change a lady’s car tyre.  A ‘substitute child’ who offered a lonely mother a happy Mother’s Day gift was another. 

This one has to be a favourite:

Neighbourhood love

Firefighters have been hard at it battling bushfires across Australia in recent weeks — and some are also there to help their neighbours.

“Our neighbour across the road goes out of his way to help us by mowing our grass for us on a regular basis,” says Terri Maher.

– Terri Maher, Coffs Harbour, NSW

Source: ABC News Australia accessed 28 November 2019

 

These are great stories of good news from everyday life in a neighbourhood.

Do you have any stories like this of your own that you can share?

This ‘life’ segment can be subscribed to by email.  I’ve signed up.

Would you like to join our WATWB each month?  Some details can be found here.

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