Spending for Good

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It’s 36 days til Christmas. Gulp! It can’t be denied. Christmas is coming and so is the annual consumer pilgrimage to buy stuff. I’m already being regaled daily by the Cheeky Monkey with additions to the ever growing Christmas list. The look of horror on his face when I suggested that he might be a bit old for Santa. You’d have thought I just told him Santa was actually a flesh-eating Zombie. It was enough to tell me that Santa gifts are here to stay for quite some time. Added to that are all the obligatory gifts – work Secret Santa, older relatives, people for whom Christmas retains a special meaning. I don’t hate shopping – entirely – just not good at compressing the process for a specific purpose. It seems so manufactured somehow. And of course, don’t we all have enough stuff in the first place?

qart-christmas-card-pack-of-15-hhxSo imagine my joy at coming across Good Spender, an online shopping platform that connects you directly with goods and services from social enterprises. You can shop AND make a difference at the same time. Win win!

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A partnership between Social Traders and Australia Post’s Our Neighbourhood program, Good Spender gives you access to fashion, art, homewares, food, jewellery and lots of other great things. You can even buy wine to support charity!

Your dollars go to a bunch of great social enterprises, and that means helping out causes like fairtrade, young people, the environment, food security and many more. The website lets you search by product category or by cause you want to support. Each social enterprise has its own storefront on the site with information about their cause, their returns policy, shipping rates and any other relevant information.

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This is such a great way to support a cause without even really trying. Coincidentally, Good Spender is offering free shipping today and tomorrow 18 and 19 November. Go check them out!

Draw Happy

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When we were in the middle of the YarnHeart project, and doing heart making workshops, one of the things that turned out to be challenging was explaining the concept of gratitude to children. We talked a lot about what gratitude meant and how it made you feel. Of course, one of the things we talked about was how gratitude gave you a feeling of happiness. Many of the kids would then tell us the things that made them happy and that they were grateful for them.

Draw Happy is a global art project exploring happiness by inviting people to draw what makes them happy.  The project founder Catherine Young, talks about how difficult it was getting people to draw what makes them happy.

Interestingly, results were not as straightforward as I thought they would be. In my initial round of asking 100 people in Iceland, some people who rejected me did so because they refused to draw even the most basic of shapes and stick figures. A smaller population were surprised that someone even bothered to ask them this question, because no one else previously had and neither had they asked this themselves. I decided to go forward with this project and ask everyone – friends, colleagues, teachers, and strangers back in New York (and the world) – to DrawHappy.

Our chats with the kids were extremely rewarding, especially when they finally ‘got it’ and started listing off  things they were grateful for in their lives. The realisation of gratitude also seemed to have an empowering effect on the kids – knowing that there were good things in their lives that they could be grateful for.

When I read about Drawing Happy, I felt there were definite similarities to what we experienced. Sometimes taking that moment to think about what makes you happy or what you’re grateful for makes all the difference,

Might have to get those crayons out after all  as Louise recently suggested in our Grateful31 challenge with this post about drawing and colouring.

image by Jessica Cardenas, drawhappy.org
image by Jessica Cardenas, drawhappy.org

Happiness – synthesized vs natural OR do we really know what makes us happy?

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Thanks so much to Brain Pickings for highlighting this TED video featuring social psychologist Daniel Gilbert talking about his research on happiness and our cognitive bias in determining what we really think will make us happy. According to Gilbert, human beings really aren’t good at predicting what makes them happy and ultimately, choice is the enemy of happiness. Watch the video and then go find his book Stumbling on Happiness. Gilbert is an engaging speaker – it’s an easy 20 minute watch and you’ll be surprised how easy it really is to be happy!

YOU HAVE.

#Grateful31 starts today!

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And we’re off. Our new 31 day grateful challenge starts today, and it has already made me feel so happy. I almost couldn’t wait to share how grateful I am to be alive in this amazing life, waking up to sunshine and birdsong. Oh grateful challenge, how I have missed thee!

Then I came across this wonderful post from Christine Carter in my inbox and just had to share it with everyone. It’s a really lovely read about noting down the good things that happen, even if you are not a journaler! I totally relate – I must have at least 5-10 notebooks with a few pages filled. And when I read them, I realise that in the past I have often written when I am sad. Re-reading my notebooks can sometimes take me to places of profound sadness. So how important to now also remember to jot down when I am happy, and today is definitely one of those days. I also love her tips about texting your kids. I’m gonna try that next week when my cheeky monkey is back from his Dad’s place. I am already anticipating the funny look on his face to receive a message and photo from me!

In the meantime, hop on over to our Grateful Project facebook page, or tweet or instagram #Grateful31 all those grateful feelings. It’s guaranteed to make a difference!

Binky’s Darwin YarnHeart adventure

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imageWow. Darwin was amazing. Much fun and heartmaking was had amidst the festivities of I Heart Bagot and the Darwin, errr…Festival! It was all very festive, what can I say?! 

The response to YarnHeart was wonderful and we are still churning out the portraits this week and probably for the next couple of weeks. The heart installation space was in Bagot House where folks could go visit, have a cup of tea, see the fabulous hearts sent from near and far and enjoy learning about the history of Bagot Community.

Big thanks must go to Producer Kieren Sanderson. This project was conceived over emails and phone calls but could never have been delivered without the amazing on the ground skills, coordination and leadership of Kieren. Thanks also to Louise Doble, who’s incredible design talents were put to good use with our beautiful YarnHeart logo. Louise is also the unofficial Binky photographer and archivist and took many wonderful images during our time in Bagot community – we’ll share more of these over time. Thanks also to the talented Zoe Davis, photographer and the plethora of amazing production crew who made our time at the festival just so much more wonderful – Ally, Sophie, Vanessa and anyone else I’ve missed. And thanks to Darwin Community Arts Centre for supplying the crafting supplies for the YarnHeart space. What a collaborative effort! We couldn’t have done it without you.

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Off to Darwin for YarnHeart

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imageWe’re super excited because tonight we fly to Darwin. We have a stash of YarnHearts to share and photograph and we’re very happy to be able to see the project come to life.

There are new portraits up in the gallery and we’ll be trying to share images and observations from the community and the festival as much as our internet connection will allow!

If you’re in Darwin and see us, come say hi!

Heart and records a good mix for NAIDOC!

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The City of Darwin did a heart making workshop at Bagot using old records, to celebrate NAIDOC Week! Big thanks Darwin City and Aly De Groot (workshop facilitator). They look amazing! imageimageimageimageimage