Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Giving and sharing and welfare...

I love the idea of sharing. It's so so important to me to cultivate a sense of reciprocity in my life and in the lives of my kids. Also in our community.

Since beginning my social work career quite a few years ago I've been irritated by the welfare culture that exists within large community and not for profit organisations... you know what I mean....  "Poor" folks lining up for a food voucher or a bundle of poor quality canned or packaged  goods to keep them going through the week. Now, don't get me wrong.. I value the contribution of those who run and work for big welfare organisations.. really I do.. and they are necessary. Many families wouldn't get by from week to week without a food voucher. I get that.

I guess what has frustrated me for a long time is the massive power imbalance that is created when a well meaning, well dressed, middle class social worker (like me) sits behind a desk and makes decisions about the lives of the "poor" or "less fortunate" acting as a gate keeper between the "greedy" poor and the food bank or book of  supermarket vouchers (stamped NOT TO BE USED TO PURCHASE ALCOHOL OR CIGARETTES).

It's just never felt right to me.

I feel that community is the answer.. family to be more specific. When we are able to view our community (even the ones who are SO different to us) like family we are less likely to be selfish with our belongings, money and our selves. We are more likely to want to share what we have and try to make sure our friends have what they need... and in turn.. they make sure we have what we need.

Sounds pretty simple. But I'm sure you know as well as I do that it's not.

When we choose to hang out with those who don't really fit in to society we take ourselves in to uncharted territory and expose ourselves to the ups and downs of real relationships. Sometimes it's great.. other times it's just shitty and hard.

I am part of a special Salvos community in inner city Melbourne. One of our main aims is to act as a pseudo "family" to those who don't fit in. I have been thinking a lot recently about how we can encourage generosity between all the members of out community... no matter how much money we all have and have taken inspiration from some friends of mine- the Urban Seed mob in Norlane- and created a Share Cupboard where people can bring food or other goods to contribute and they can take what they need.

I worked up these signs today..

What are your thoughts on this? How do you connect with your community? What's your community like? Where do you see generosity in your life?

Let me know in the comments..



Alisha - the.wineglass.manifesto said...

I think that's a really amazing idea and actually very simple. If I were near to one of these cupboards, it'd make me think twice before throwing out things I don't need, especially if I've benefited from taking something in the past.

It reminds me of the Take A Penny, Leave a Penny bowl in the US!


Ashwee said...

Hi Alisha,

Thanks for stopping by.. I haven't heard of the take a penny leave a penny bowl but I like the idea! :)

ButterandBuntings said...

This is lovely ash and I never knew how good you were at this kind of art. Loving your posts..keep them coming!oxoxo

Shella said...

Hey Ash! Just taking a break from studying and reading your blog, and wella inspiration for my essay on community! I may just quote you....if Im allowed?! You have a beautiful heart, and I love what you do in your community, it inspires me and motivates me to live more thinking of others and their needs rather than just my own! We all have something to offer to others, it's wether we are willing to or not. <3

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