Saturday, 9 December 2017

No 9 - by Anne, Kay and Eleanor

This last year has been too busy. Balancing work, home, relationships with friends and family while trying to keep track of 3 teenagers increasingly doing their own thing often has me feeling like I'm not doing anything well or enough. But with one of those teenagers in her final year of school and probably leaving home next year, I'm also more than ever aware of how precious the 4 people I share my house with are to me, and how hard it will be to have my eldest spread her wings. This year my contribution is our contribution - it has stars from everyone in the family in it. Mine are filled with words - talking about what I love about my family and a reminder to myself to hold onto that. Others have pictures - each in a very different style and immediately recognisable. I'm sure they all have their own take on what they contributed, but I like the idea that we are all together.  

Friday, 8 December 2017

No 8 - by Rhona

A little posse went star hanging tonight... thank heaven for the athletic amongst us ;-)

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

No 6 - by the kids from Advent Adventure

For over a decade the kids of Clapton Park URC (the church at the Round Chapel) have gathered in the weeks leading up to Christmas to sing and tell stories about the characters involved in the Nativity. The kings and That Star tonight... Star gazing in the garden (always tricky in Hackney!), finding treasures, pointing the way, eating starry pies and biscuits and coming up with this beauty were all on the agenda tonight. 

No 5 - by Stephen

The end of the year is of course a time of reflection, especially if you are naturally introspective, and especially especially if given a task that means having to slow down and engage with physical creation, even in a modest way.

So the idea from the jumble of themes this year that stood out for me was “light.” It’s of course an obvious starry theme, but does not lend itself to an obvious solution if you’re trying to make a star of solid materials.

It all kind of came together when I saw the acetate sheet at the art store that I could turn, with my limited skill, into a recognisably starry, lighty object.

I won’t bore you with the details of the rolls of paper in the star’s core. Let’s call it something like a combination of time capsule, confession, resolution and prayer.

Monday, 4 December 2017

No 4 - by Lynda

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about plastic bags.

I’m a bit of a stickler for taking my own bags, declining the offer of the ubiquitous plastic one, stuffing unsuitable items into my handbag and carrying things home in my arms if I happen to buy stuff unprepared. I think it’s a hang up from way back. There was definitely a moment in my youth when I registered that my outward derisory attitude to my grandmother’s habit of cleaning out the sandwich bags and hanging them out to dry was not, in the long term, to anyone’s benefit. I think it was around the time of a coming of age visit to the USA where I could see the bigger, more shiny, more packaged version of my life coming home to roost. It was obvious it just wasn’t sustainable.

The ‘trying to avoid landfill’ is a thing for me too. Second hand clothes are a total bargain, and exciting to ‘hunt’ but there’s also that blindingly obvious thing in my mind… what is the point of actually throwing away stuff that other people can use?

But this week I’ve been challenged on a deeper level. I don’t have a funky link to anything, but at our church’s fab Christmas Fair last weekend there was a stall run by a woman who was selling beautiful stainless steel tiffin boxes, cutlery sets, metal straws, and ‘keep cups’. Imagine a plastic-free Hackney she said as she showed me the straws. Yes, I replied, we just use the plastic ones. No…. not the throw-away plastic ones I stammered, alert to my massive faux-pas. Those ones you can re-use. Put in the dishwasher. (Nervous laugh). But why not avoid plastic altogether? she said.

Why not indeed? It’s had me thinking. Honey in jars. Fabric bags. Tomato ketchup in glass bottles. Lemonade, ditto. Because I am a tip-top recycler, cleaning it all out and everything, my conscience is assuaged every Friday morning when it’s carted away. And of course the glass will have to be recycled too… but that’s still got to be better for the planet right?

It must be in the air. It’s recently been reported that the ‘first ever’ plastic free shop opened in Hackney (where else?!) this autumn. I feel a bit sorry for Unpackaged, which tried (and failed) with this idea over ten years ago. Which seems to have been airbrushed out of lazy journalist’s research because it was before twitter took off. Might as well never have happened. And, leaving even less of an online footprint, twenty years ago the aforementioned church also dabbled with a bulk-buy, sell-in-homemade-packages, sort of shop (imaginatively titled the E5 Shop) in order to try to bring good quality organic produce to those who couldn’t afford the hiked prices in the supermarkets when it was all becoming trendy. That was short lived too but there’s no doubt people up and down the country huffing and puffing at the sound of London bleating about how it’s so right on, even though their local ‘scoop shop’ has been selling stuff out of big buckets for decades.

But, shouldn’t knock it I guess. This is obviously one step closer to a plastic free Hackney. Which would be no bad thing at all.

Sign here for a concrete way of tackling the problem …

And read here for a salutary reminder as you go and buy your Christmas tat…

No 3 - by Rachel


December already.

Fag end of a year that went quicker than ever.

A year of remembering life and holding loss.

Much celebration of friendship and connection,

Alongside excruciating jibes and heartfelt remorse.

A year when we tentatively trust the certainties we think to be true.

My star is the explosion of a found mushroom crate from Chatsworth Road.

Met with foil, old paint and metal string it was therapeutic to thread and mold.

It reminds me that just life is complex.

A thrown together mesh of wonder and regret, delight and agony.

Advent for me holds the contradiction of wanting to take a reflective step of the carousel of life, at a time when there is more to do than ever.

Today it's been worth taking that step.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

No 2 - by Jaqui

Chatsworth Road: land of hope and glory. These are the words that struck me as I scooted my star up to it's landing place, on the beech tree outside Percy Ingles. Hope beating in the hearts of all of Clapton's people; glory in its well-trodden and much-loved streets. These gold-dusted leaves embellishing my star fell from the beech trees that grace it's pavements. These trees bring beauty and oxygen to our streets. Our parks and gardens, every plant that graces any place big or small, right down to the plots that surround our trees - some of which have been turned into tiny gardens themselves - have a value. Let's hear it for them; as they grow so too do the communities that plant them.

No 1 - by Jasmine

This year has been a blur, I'm still stood wondering where the summer went, and yet the countdown to Christmas has well and truly begun.

Making this star was a moment to stop and reflect, and a moment to look forward. What struck me most was the simplicity and the universality of the symbol. From the star above a stable, to the Islamic star and crescent, to the Jewish Star of David. This symbol has been claimed for many flags and many faiths, often as a symbol of hope and light. But oh, how twisted it can become when faith and borders harden and stars burn bright with human pride and power.

My metal coat-hanger star was made on a day when the President of one starry flagged nation retweeted anti-Muslim bile, and in the real world, thousands of Muslims continued to flee persecution in Myanmar, a nation whose single starred flag is only 7 years old.

Inside my star is a smaller star, it’s one of those glow in the dark stars. I guess I put it there as a simple prayer, a hope for persecuted people everywhere. It’s a light that calls out to leaders who have hardened their borders and hearts, a star that is longing for some kind of miracle this Christmas.