April #EastLothianHour – Kindness, Coffee and Guerrilla Happiness

For this month’s #EastLothianHour, we are going to discuss intentional, anonymous acts of kindness performed in playful, creative ways for strangers.

So what does this actually mean?

If you give someone £2 for a cup of coffee, that’s a nice, decent thing to do.

If you campaign for fair trade coffee, that’s activism (there a good selection in Earth Matters, North Berwick).

If you stick “Pay Your Tax” stickers on Starbucks, that’s subtervising/guerrilla stickering/culture jamming…or something (Some local, independent coffee establishments are listed here, but there’s heaps more).

If you and your pals run on to a train, dressed as waiters, set down a tablecloth and pour free cups of coffee for the bemused passengers that’s, well, frankly, that’s just brilliant (but not recommended on the morning commuter train to Waverley).

We’d love to hear your ideas for Random Acts of Kindness or ideas to make East Lothian and beyond, a wee bit more pleasant.

Join in the discussion, from 9p.m. – 10p.m. on Friday 1st April and use the hashtag #EastLothianHour

 

Prizes to be won!

gardeningscotlandNot taken part in an #EastLothianHour before?  Don’t be shy.  Just jump right in and tweet your suggestions or share your experiences – as an incentive, everyone who contributes to the discussions will be entered into a prize draw.

Prizes are:

A pair of Gardening Scotland tickets

A pair of Scotland’s Big Nature Festival tickets.

Stuck for ideas?  An A-Z of Guerrilla Kindness might look something like this:

Action for Happiness@actionhappiness helps people take practical action for a happier and more caring world. And guess what? Being kind, makes you happy.

Bus Shelters – Bus shelters are the perfect places for random acts of kindness.  East Lothian has it’s own tweeting bus shelter @PPansBusShelter where it is rumoured you may catch a glimpse of tiny people waiting for the X15.   With a rather larger budget that the Prestonpans prankster, Pepsi created an amazing augmented reality stunt at a bus shelter:

Next time you’re going for a bus, why not leave a pair of gloves, a joke or a book…or a chair? The Guerrilla Upholsterer a.k.a. @mick_sheridan leaves beautifully restored chairs in bus shelters.

Change the World for a Fiver –  Change the World for a Fiver is a book, priced at a £5, which is packed full of ideas on how to change the world for a better place.  Buy two and give one to someone.  Better still buy your copies from Hive, the network of independent bookshops.

Deeds – You’ve heard the expression, Actions speak louder than words.  It’s true.  Social Media makes it easy for us to say kind stuff, retweet kind stuff and like kind stuff but don’t forget to DO the kind stuff. (Having a Digital Detox every so often is really good for you and frees up some time too).

Effect – The side effects of kindness include happiness and healthiness.  Read more here.  The Science of Kindness – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M4ALRY5LyBM

Flashmobs – A flashmob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then quickly disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression.  Who can remember the Puffin Flashmob outside the National Gallery?  Take a look at this Mannequin Mob…would something similar work in East Lothian?

Guerrilla Gardening@guerillagarden Guerilla Gardening is the act of cultivating a neglected area.  This can be setting up a community garden growing vegetables or planting up a neglected roadside verge with brightly coloured flowers.  A sideshoot is Incredible Edibles which includes projects in Dunbar.

HugsFree hugs is a social movement involving individuals who offer hugs to strangers in public places.  You might not be entirely comfortably making physical contact with a stranger, but would this ball pit experiment work here?  

Improv Everywhere@ImprovEvery is a New York City based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places.  Check ’em out they’re freaking hilarious.

Jokes –  Jokes, pranks, silliness, high jinx and tomfoolery – when good humoured, and made with the intention to make the ‘victim’ laugh as much as the prankster – can really lift a person’s spirits. Take a look at these daft ‘memorial’ bench plaques.  rogerCuthill Park in Prestonpans played a trick on locals when it announced the installation of a plaque to commemorate ‘physicist’ Avril Fish.  Yes, it was an April Fool’s joke.

KidsFree cakes for kids is a community service to families who find it difficult to provide a birthday cake for their child.  In Prestonpans, a small group, working in conjunction with Prestonpans Community Council & East Lothian Foodbank, provided Christmas gifts to the children of families frequently using the Foodbank service.

Little Free LibraryLittle Free Libraries build and install Little Free Libraries across the UK with the aim of increasing access to books for children, young people and their families.   Find them on Twitter @LtlFreeLibrary. If you like this idea you will love the Athelstaneford Book Nook.  On a similar vein is Bookcrossing.  the practice of leaving a book in a public place to be picked up and read by others, who then do likewise.  Why not leave a note inside a library book for a stranger to find.

Microfinance@Kiva is a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Leveraging the internet and a worldwide network of microfinance institutions, Kiva lets individuals lend as little as $25 to help create opportunity around the world. Learn more about how it works. Sign up here.

Nice Graffiti – No, we don’t mean illicit artworks in that beautiful French city (if that’s what you want, look here) we mean, uplifting non-destructive, temporary kind using chalk (see here)  or moss (see here)

Moss-Graffiti-–-How-to-Do-It12One Action@takeoneaction is Scotland’s global action cinema project linking audiences, movies, campaigners and communities.  See the change you want to be in the world!

Pay it Forward – if you’re lucky enough to be the recipient of kindness or good fortune, pay it forward.  The vision for Pay it Forward UK is to assist people to have the opportunity to give to others – particularly those less fortunate than themselves.  One good deed might not seem like much, but if everyone did something good for someone else, then the cycle of generosity and kindness can help us to become better people. @PayitForwardDay is on April 28th this year. East Lothian man, Jamie Morris aims to fund a racing wheelchair then use it to raise funds for others.  Follow his ‘Pay it Forward’ campaign here: raise funds for a racing wheelchair.

QR codes – Environmentalists have used QR codes to great effect to sticker products and give consumers information that companies prefer to keep quiet.  As well as being used by activists, an enterprising person has linked QR codes with kindness and sell kindness ‘tokens’ with a QR code on that ‘tracks’ the journey of the token.

Random Acts of Kindness – – Kindness Day is held on 13th November every year. It is a day to celebrate and promote kindness in all its forms from giving out chocolate at train stations to flash mobs. In February this year, a mystery samaritan left cash to pay for a parking fine while the car owner was in Edinburgh’s Sick Kids. The recipient was so moved by this act of kindness that has paid the favour forward with a fundraising drive for the hospital.  That’s how kindness works, like a ripple in a pond. Still stuck for ideas? Look here >> https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-ideas

Subtervising & Stickering –   are ‘improving’ certain prominent adverts in their own sassy way.  Although technically illegal, a similar guerrilla stickering campaign on the LondonReduction_of_expanded_play_opportunities Underground has brightened up many a commuter’s morning.  Make Magazine produced a series of stickers which could be stuck on some products in toy stores to highlight how playtime is becoming an endangered activity.

#ThisIsThoughtful@Thtfl is a magazine, studio & creative community on a design-driven mission.  Read about their Penny for your Thoughts project here  .  #ThisIsThoughtful is a little experiment…

Walk Raleigh Mount_Urbanism -It’s easy to fall in to the trap of thinking that big cities and towns and unfriendly, uncaring places and wee villages have a wonderful sense of community.  A group of North Carolina residents mounted walkable direction signs around their town. What changes would you make to your town to make East Lothian a wee bit more pleasant for residents and visitors?  Public bike pumps? Vegetable vending machines?  .  Check out some of the the improvements that three designers made in Paris. If you want proof that cities can be caring places, read these examples.  Better still, be the example.

Voice activated – You know how it is, you have a new label maker, you’re feeling a bit mischievous and next thing you know, there are confused shoppers trying to operate a ‘voice activated’ trolley.  No? Just me then.  Also works well on doors and hand dryers.  Have fun.

Weird and Wonderful – Using materials found in the local environment and some basic artist supplies such as clay and paint, Mark Buckman crafted unique quirky pieces and placed them back on the Littlehampton beach where he had found them for beach visitors to discover.  Perhaps you’ll find something at Dunbar’s Stone Stacking Challenge….

X – X is for Crossing -Would Remi Gaillard’s famous prank work in East Lothian?  And where should we carry it out?

Yarnbombing and craftivism – Crafty members of @musselburgh2016 have been decorating the Honest Toun with all sorts of creations to foster interest in the forthcoming Riding of the Marches. Follow the #ROMArt hashtag to discover more.

Zzzzz – that’s it.

Be kind to everyone you meet, not because of who they are but because of who you are!

URGENT: Special Landscape Area Consultation

East Lothian Council is carrying out a review of its landscapes with a view to designating Special Landscape Areas. These landscapes will then be given protection through the policies of the East Lothian Local Development Plan.

This is your opportunity to suggest beauty spots, natural places, viewpoints and landscapes that you consider special or have particular importance, to be considered for designation as Special Landscape Areas.

This important consultation closes on Sunday 1st March!

You can submit your suggestions via a short survey which include the following questions:

Where do you think the best views in East Lothian are?

Which areas of East Lothian do you think are special and why?

You will be able to upload up to three supporting photographs or other documents (Word, JPEG, bitmap or PDF files only).

There is an additional question: Are there any areas that need landscape improvement, and what would need to be done to improve the landscape/area? (included for reference – no improvements are planned).

You can also email photographs and other documents to landscape@eastlothian.gov.uk

Suicide Awareness Events in East Lothian

On 10th September, people from around the world will mark World Suicide Prevention Day, an event that promotes suicide awareness and efforts to prevent suicide.

2014_wspd_banner_englishIn 2011, 22 people took their own lives in East Lothian – the highest since 1991. This figure decreased the following year to 18 and fell further last year to 13*.

In East Lothian, a week long series of events is being organised by Christine Chambers, the Choose Life Co-ordinator for the county, in conjunction with CHANGES and Stepping Out.

This includes a daily broadcast on Radio Saltire which Brian Glass, CHANGES Choose Life Training Co-ordinator, explains: “Each day from Monday 8th until Friday 12th September, between 12 and 1pm, there will be input from those who have experienced suicidal thoughts – or a carer or a representative from a supporting organisation – presenting different perspectives on suicide prevention and raising awareness of the resources available throughout East Lothian.

If you can read between the lines, you can save lives. That’s the message that Brian hopes to get across at Thursday’s SafeTALK event at Musselburgh East Community Learning Centre. “We are running a three-hour training course which gives the attendess the skills to recognise when someone may have thoughts of suicide, and to connect that person to someone with suicide intervention skills.” Anyone wishing to book the course should email brian@changeschp.org.uk.

For those bereaved by suicide, there will be a special time for reflection in St Andrew’s Church, in Musselburgh. To find out more, call Christine 01620 820176.

A LONG WAY DOWNThe week culminates with a free screening of Pascal Chaumeil’s black comedy ‘A Long Way Down’ at the Masonic Hall in North Berwick, at 7p.m. on Friday 12th with an optional post-film discussion and drinks. For further information contact Nicky Fox (Stepping Out) Nicky.fox@btinternet.com Phone: 07966 535 514

To learn more about how Scotland aims to reduce suicide, or, if you are worried about yourself or someone else visit chooselife.net

(*figures from http://www.gro-scotland.gov.uk/statistics/theme/vital-events/deaths/suicides/tables-and-chart.html)

Organic September

This September, East Lothian retailers and producers are asking everyone to make a Small Change in their everyday lives, in order to make a Big Difference to our food and farming.

SA_SCBD_Food&Farming_Logo_RGB_AWThe Soil Association Scotland, the organisers of Organic September, is the UK’s leading membership charity campaigning for healthy, humane and sustainable food, farming and land use.

It is an ethos that Mike Callendar of East Coast Organics, firmly believes and is organising a farm visit on Sunday 14th September (1-4) to the Eco Farm near Morham (not the Boggs Holdings base).

“This is our yearly event for our members, customers, friends and anyone that is interested in sustainable food production. The whole event is a celebration for everyone that has believed in, and supported us over the past 18 years.

As always, it will be a fun day out for all the family with organic hot food and drinks and an organic market.  There will be tours of the farm, polytunnels, crops and orchard, a kids corner with goats, kunekune pigs, rare breed sheep, geese and ducks as well as a chance to play on a JCB digger.”

Always thinking of the environment, Mike is keen to encourage visitors to be eco-friendly “Please try and car share or cycle.  From Haddington head south to Gifford for 2 miles then take a left to Morham.  The Eco Farm is 300m on the left EH41 4PD”.

Cocoa beans may not grow in Scotland but the demand for organic chocolate is certainly growing. Ali & Friederike Gower, of The Chocolate Tree, who specialise in crafting artisan chocolate from their small factory in Haddington, have recently re-launched their range of premium organic chocolate, with amazing flavours like sea salt & caramel and brambles with cardamon.

To create their chocolate bars, they work with an organic certified couverture (a very high quality chocolate). The blend of cacao beans used to produce the chocolate is sustainably & ethically sourced from Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Organic farming ensures the preservation of biodiversity in these very special parts of the world.

Although most often associated with the food industry, the organic label covers fashion and beauty too as Rosemary Renton from the Small World, suppliers of Fairtrade certified organic cotton bags & homewares, in Prestonpans, is keen to point out: “Most people think of cotton as ‘natural’ but only organic certified cotton is kind to the planet, the producer and the purchaser.  Conventionally produced cotton is an intensive process which accounts from almost one quarter of all the world’s insecticides.  This results in terrible conditions for the cotton growers and thousands of chemicals are used to turn raw material into the textiles that we put next to our skin every day.

By choosing organic we can all support a kinder, greener and more ethical way of living – from more bees and hedgerows, better animal welfare, and shorter more trustworthy supply chains.

For more information about Organic September, visit  www.soilassociation.org