Friday, 25 July 2014

Moving my body in joyful ways

Posted by Sebastienne

Medical professionals are so fond of telling us that regular exercise is great for our physical and mental health, but for a lot of us that's about as much use as prescribing chamomile tea to a chronic insomniac.

There's a huge amount of privilege involved in being able to take regular exercise. Factors that make it difficult or impossible to exercise might include: disabilities and pain conditions; long working hours; family/caring commitments; lack of access to safe or appropriate spaces for exercise; lack of access to specialist equipment or clothing; lack of interest in exercising.

For me, it was all about being fat.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Links round-up: leadership for the introverted, healing as collective, and the East Oxford Community Centre

Lashings of Ginger Bee TimerPosted by Lashings of Ginger Beer Time

First up, from the publishing industry: the reason every book about Africa has the same cover (it's not pretty).

kaberett read 10 Words Every Girl Should Learn [content note: sexism] and recalled, with fondness, the student union executive meeting where they roared "you WILL let me finish my sentence!" at the white gay cis dude who'd just interrupted them with an extremely smug and extremely incorrect statement.

At a conference a few weeks ago, Frances Hocutt gave a talk entitled Why are these people following me? Leadership for the introverted, uncertain and astonished - and it is amazing (video and transcript at the link).

Meanwhile, there's been a lot of discussion about trigger warnings/content notes over the past few weeks: we'd like to point you at an article that goes beyond the pros and cons to instead discuss healing and activism and imperfection as collective rather than individual endeavours. Relatedly: an excellent comic about trigger warning breakfast [content note: discusses rape, rape culture, victim-blaming].

Up at is an excellent article on the ways in which Nonviolent Communication can constitute emotional violence.

In disturbing NHS news, the Home Office is accessing NHS records to "help track down illegal immigrants" and migrants are to be charged 150% of the cost to the NHS of their treatment.

Finally, the East Oxford Community Centre - in many ways the spiritual home of Lashings and the physical home of fantastic endeavour Quiltbag Cabaret - is at risk of being taken over (from the Community Association in whose care it's been for years) by Oxford City Council, who own the building; there are concerns that the intention is to sell off some of the site to developers. There's a petition requesting that OCC allow this space to continue as a space for any by the residents of East Oxford -- please do consider signing.

Friday, 4 July 2014

On plastic-free July

kaberettPosted by kaberett

Plastic-free July: this is a thing that's happening in Witney, close to the birthplace of Lashings.

It's a nice - even laudable - idea in principle, and I'd love to know if you're engaging (and how you're getting on with it) - but unfortunately as an idea it is also fundamentally inaccessible.

I take 14 pills every day as maintenance. That number goes up on bad days (whether I'm adding in extra paracetamol or codeine or diazepam makes relatively little difference). I haven't even been able to get vegetarian antibiotics: think, for a moment, about how every single one of those tablets comes in plastic bottles or plastic blister packs, and how if I stop taking them I become non-functional within hours.

Then there's the fact that I'm currently without DLA. I shop at the co-op and my local corner shops as much as possible, but making food accessible - making sure I eat - is impossible without plastic. This is, of course, absolutely not true for everyone: but it's simply not something I can find the energy for without serious impact on my ability to do my daily healthwork, the bare minimum of self-care, and the day job that lets me buy food at all.

I'm vegetarian. I use public transport. And I use a power-assisted wheelchair and I work in clean labs that consume vast amounts of energy and produce significant quantities of plastic waste - I cannot do my job without personal protective equipment that always consists of one pair of nitrile gloves and often involves double-gloving, with vinyls over my nitriles. And sure, there is absolutely no sense in which my job is either necessary or useful - except that it seems to be what it takes to enable me to keep doing activism.

I don't know how to balance these trade-offs, and every single time something like this comes up as a campaign I just... I really just want to vanish. I am so, so glad that it is something some people are able and willing to do. I just wish I didn't feel so damn guilty that I can't. By all means, give up your luxuries for ethical reasons: that can be an awesome thing to do -- but be aware that for other people, they may not be luxuries, and that you don't get to make that call for anybody else.