On Sharing #2

The world is going to shit. Now, that’s a harsh way to start a blog post, and I’m sorry if I have offended you, but I assure you that by the end of the blog post, you won’t be so upset but thinking that the little things count, and be encouraged to do your bit, despite the awful things that are happening around us.

The recent IPCC report into climate change has confirmed what many of us already know – that we are all at risk. What’s depressing is the Australian government’s response to this – we aren’t even sending a senior minister to the next conference on climate change negotiations, quite an embarrassment whatever the supposed priorities might be. Down the road – and in fact all across the nation – communities are being blocked when it comes to applying for exemptions for coal seam gas mining (basically current laws give the minister power to grant exemptions for any reason deemed appropriate – rather spurious, if you ask me) and the Great Barrier Reef – an iconic image of Australia – is also under threat from the mining boom. The other honeybeebee – my husband – was rather despondant about all of this on Friday night. “I give up” he said. “I give up caring. If they want to f**k up Australia, then do it. I don’t even want to live here’. Now I had to offer the there theres, and don’t give up baby platitudes – but he’s kinda on the money there. We can’t do anything. If the community groups can’t oppose mining because the government has the right to do what they want, and despite not voting for him, Abbott’s in denial about climate change and is moving Australia backwards in that regard – what CAN we do? Talk about it?

How many times have you had conversations about doing real, concrete action about the world? Sign some petitions? Don’t take bags to the supermarket? Buy local? Sponsor an orangutan in Borneo? Don’t buy palm oil products? We try, and we do what we can, but it’s hard, because we work hard and we are on the hamster wheel of the modern world which demands we drive cars to work and so on and so forth. I don’t want to lecture – and I’m not, just describing my own outlook in this moment – but it’s tough, and despite all the talking about it, and keeping abreast of current affairs – it’s depressing to think that what we do doesn’t really count, not in the grand scheme of things – and not when those in charge aren’t doing a thing about it. The drop in the ocean cliche doesn’t cheer me up, most days.

And then on some days, it does.

Inspired by a local member of the Facebook barter group that I admin, we set a date for a local food and produce swap. It was to be held at the local coffee shop in their courtyard and was all about sharing home made and home grown produce. I was so nervous before I went that I didn’t even want to go. What was the point? People talk about how it’s impossible to buy fresh food in this community and that the local supermarket overcharges, but after HoneyBeeBee’s depressed rant on Friday night, I was thinking that I was going to be standing there with my broad beans, alone and feeling ridiculous. Maybe I should just freeze them and keep it all to myself. After all, as long as we are eating well, then who cares about everyone else?

But the morning of the swap I thought, stuff it. I believe in this. If no-one is there, then I’ve tried. So I got up early and picked beans, snowpeas, lettuce, cabbage, kale and artichokes. I dug up thyme and jerusalmem artichokes, and cut sprigs of rosemary. I pulled jars of homemade kumquat marmalade out the cupboard and the elderberry cordial I’d made the day before. I hassled the brooding chooks for eggs. I got out a gold felt tip pen and wrote the ingredients on the oregano pesto. We drove the van down to the cafe, ordered a coffee, put out the produce and waited. Some minutes later someone arrived with a huge Queensland Blue pumpkin. Someone else dragging a bag of cow manure and a cardboard box of succulents, and another with eggs, and yet another with a huge bag of herbs and lettuce, and another with lemon balm. There weren’t many of us, but those that were there were thrilled.

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In the course of an hour we swapped and sold our goods. The sun was shining and people were really enthused. Will you hold another one? Can I bring bread? Should I bring my lemons? Do you think people would like tomato seedlings? Why don’t you advertise in the local paper? Have you got an email address?

I left feeling good. It wasn’t about profit – we made 7 bucks, which hubby spent on a sandwich. I came away with some things I didn’t have – a few lemons, a jar of curd and an aloe vera. I didn’t care about making any money, or coming home with free stuff. I just was glad I was doing something good, however small it was. People were happy. I was happy.

And I’ll do it again. There’s some crazy shit happening in the world, but we can all do good things to try to balance it out, and there is no good to be done just sitting around talking about it.

Tell me what things you’ve done to promote goodness in the world, however small. Have you held a food swap, or been to one? What did you think?

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