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ISSUE 2: Summer 2019/2020

Cultivate (verb):  try to acquire or develop a quality or skill; try to improve or develop

Community (noun):  the condition of sharing or having certain attitudes or interests in common.

- Oxford Dictionary

Cultivating Community focuses on ways you can build community around you by regularly connecting with others, involving others in your life & projects and getting involved in events, activities & groups.  

Through cultivating community you build trust, learn from others, share your passion and knowledge, as well as connect people together.

Communities grow stronger through each little action.

Cultivating Community is a forum which offers ideas, inspiration and starting points for you and your community.  My hope is that you start projects, community groups and discussions around things you can do together, whether it is a food share group or Momma Bake, a mending/sewing group, a work-share/crop-share group, or whatever you're into.....we are all better together.

In this issue of Cultivating Community the focus is on reducing our ecological footprint by recycling, upcycling, mending, repurposing.......

The Summer Solstice, or Midsummer, is on 22 December this year in the Southern Hemisphere.  Midsummer marks the longest day of the year.  It's a time to celebrate with others - singing, dancing and feasting.  Bonfires are strongly associated with Midsummer celebrations.

The symbols of the Summer Solstice are lemons, oranges, stone fruit, Summer squash/pumpkins (yellow and orange foods), dandelion, rose, chamomile, elder, t. John's Wort, lavender and honey.  Mead, an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey, is the traditional drink of Midsummer.


Recycling, Up-cycling, Re-purposing, Mending

Do you have a bag full of clothes that have stains, small holes or seams that are coming open? Do you find that as we shift away from plastic shopping bags you are left without rubbish bin liners or you are always looking for bags to carry your shopping in? Do you have a stack of old newspapers hanging around?

With a bit of creative thinking all of these problems an be solved at home, or even better, with a group of like-minded people - mend, dye, upcycle or repurpose damaged, underused or excess items so they can have a second life.....

I have a friend who started darning his green sweater/jumper with any colour yarn he could find when it first started to get holes in it. Now, about 1/3 of the sweater is patched with various colours and we were laughing about how, in the future, it will be completely darned with new wool and none of the original sweater will be there.....

This is a good example of 'obvious' mending - patching, darning, sewing in a contrasting colour, pattern or fabric to the original which draws attention to the spot.  This is the opposite of my Nanna's mending which is generally so good you can't see the area that has been repaired.

There is a big basket sitting under the table in front of me full of clothes needing some attention - my partner's corduroy pants with the back pocket tearing off, op-shop pants needing to be hemmed (which is always the case because I'm short), a cool skirt that's way too big which would make a great handbag instead, my daughter's shirt with a hole in it (which probably doesn't even fit her any longer because it's been in the basket for so long), etc, etc, etc.  Every so often my daughters and I sit down at the table and get through as much of it as we can in an afternoon.

Here are some websites and books that might inspire you to make time to mend, patch, darn and re-purpose your items.....

Now that we are no longer using plastic shopping bags what will we use for our rubbish bin liners (to the Americans - this is the trash can)? 

Here's a good idea....make bin liners out of newspaper!

I'm not sure what the green shopping bags are made of, but I do know they break down when left in the boot of your car in the hot Australian sun for periods of time, and they're ugly.  Here's an alternative - make shopping bags out of old t-shirts or singlets (tank tops).  My youngest daughter loves this because she doesn't have to part with her favourite clothes when she grows out of them......

There is a large bag of avocado pips in my freezer waiting for me to get out the dye-pot.  Avocado pips give a beautiful pink colour.  I have an old cotton scarf and some natural wool yarn from a farm up the road that I imagine will be lovely when dyed  a soft pink.

I have been getting my inspiration from Rebecca Desnos' blog and magazine, Plants are Magic.   I make it a point to purchase any new magazine she produces since I find I actually use them and refer to them.  My youngest daughter even asked for one on her last birthday as she loves the idea of making natural paints and using them on paper, fabric and wood.

On the blog, Rebecca has posts on how to dye with nettle, avocado, indigo and berries; as well as dyeing paper and wooden beads, using plant dyes for painting and decorating.

Instead of mending old clothes (or if they're too far gone), you can turn them into coiled baskets or rugs.  I love the braided rug zine from The Far Woods artists (they also have a Mender's Companion Zine).  Their moto is Artwork for the Love of Land and Community - how gorgeous is that?

Alternatively, you can make a coiled rug out of all the extra yarn/wool you have hanging around by making a finger-knitting (no hook required) and a wool needle - so easy!

Furoshiki are traditional Japanese wrapping clothes - you can use them to wrap gifts or to carry items in (such as a picnic lunch).  This is another way to use old clothes, blankets/sheets, tableclothes, scarves or pieces of fabric found at the op-shop.  

We keep a basket for any item that can be used to wrap gifts.....bits of yarn, coloured tissue and envelopes, shells with holes, brown paper bags, interesting paper, pressed eucalyptus leaves, etc.  The water colour paintings my children bring home from school go in as well to have a second life as birthday cards and tags.

I'm not a knitter, nor do I crochet despite my children trying to teach me, repeatedly.  So, I barter with my eldest daughter when I need new face washers or dishcloths - I make her a basket in exchange for the cloths (this seems very unfair to me as it only takes her a hour to produce the cloths and it takes me several days to make a basket...apparently I'm not very good at bartering either).

Make sure you use some kind of natural yarn when making these, not synthetic.  We tend to use hemp string or wool in 8- to 10-ply.

Make your own face washer or dish cloth


I hope this has inspired you to connect with those around you and cultivate your community.

Future topics for Cultivating Community issues will include:




Cheese making



Homemade cleaning products

Homemade personal care products




Bushwalking/forest bathing


Book clubs

Slow living

If you have topics that interest you, please let me know and I will incorporate them into future issues; or, if you have resources (e.g. FB pages for existing groups, web pages, etc.) you would like me to add, let me know that, too.

Look for Issue 3 in February 2020!

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