16 February 2009

more ways to help - edited

dirty brown stain
Smoke over the Yarra Valley

It's at times like these that you realise how Melbourne, despite its 3 million inhabitants, is like a village. Where we live the threads of the community web are strongly interwoven, and many of us know dozens of people who have lost homes, loved ones, had near escapes, are putting up evacuated families, fought the fires as volunteer CFA members, etc. The children's school newsletters are full of calls for help with housing families, replacing furniture and books, emergency accommodation, animal agistment and so on. But even in the faraway city where I work most people know of at least one person affected.

It's a village.

As in any village, people are rallying in all kinds of ways.

Jan at Sewjourn has organised a quilting bee to make handmade quilts to give (further down the track, once the essentials are covered) to those who've lost their homes in the bushfires. See here for details.

The call has also gone out to gather craft supplies to help re-stash a crafter, details here. If you think this is a little frivolous in light of the enormity of peoples' losses, read this and remember these projects are for the longer term.
Edit: that link doesn't work for some reason. Try this and click the button that says 'donate your craft supplies'.
Updated: all links now working I think. Thanks!

Updated again - I know some people think it's frivolous. I did initially, then read the quote below (on the ABC bushfire website) from Liz Tilley, survivor of the 2003 Canberra fires, and I thought again. And it's worth reiterating that many folk can't afford to make a monetary donation but can spare some of their existing stash. Others have already made a financial contribution and want to do something more.

"Make something. Some of our most treasured items are the ones that were made, with love, by complete strangers. The quilt that was one of the hundreds that arrived from all over Australia, the hand-knitted rugs that my children like to snuggle under in winter. If you make jewellery, make a few pairs of earrings or a necklace. If you make toys, make something for the children who have lost theirs. If you knit, make a winter scarf. If you sew, make some table placemats or a beautiful table runner. If you're an artist, paint a picture or frame a drawing. I still find it incredibly moving that people cared enough to put time and love into making something that has now become a new family treasure for us." - Liz Tilley.

Visit Handmade Help for more ideas on how to help by buying, donating or selling handmade items, and don't forget to donate to the Red Cross or register to volunteer.


sooz said...

Oh isn't it? As terrible as it all is, I am so comforted by seeing how well everyone is pulling together. Thanks for the post and spreading the word!

meggie said...

It all seems to have stirred up more emotions about other hurts, wounds, & devastations. We ARE a Village. We ARE a Nation, trying to pull together, & those of us not in the immediate face, wonder what to do. We want to offer support, love, & healing.

ThirdCat said...

Even here, everyone seems to have a fairly direct link to at least someone affected. You are so right about the village.

Still, I can't imagine how overwhelming it must be, living so close to it, and with every day bringing a new emotion, a new story...I am thinking of you and of those around you.

valerie s. said...

So happy to say that some of our Montana firefighters will be heading your way to lend a hand! Yes, we are all members of the same village.

BabelBabe said...

hey, i sent the re-stash website to my local yarnstore; they can put an item in the newsletter or a flyer up in the store. I know postage may make it prohibitive, but if nothing else, it can raise some awareness here and maybe generate some cash donations.

Thinking of you...

Helen said...

Hi Suse

I'd like to know more about helping to re-stash a crafter but the links aren't working unfortunately. Can you check them and I'll have another go? I think my circle of friends might be able to help with this and I don't think it's at all trivial. When things are stressful at work I find I can switch off for a little while when I have yarn or a needle in my hands and who needs to be able to switch off for a few minutes more than these people? Being a knitter, sewer, quilter is a large part of who you are as much as how you spend your time.


lucy tartan said...

Well, I do think it's frivolous, partly because I can imagine only too clearly how it would feel to have lost your home, your town and a fifth of the people who live in it, only eight days ago, and learn that in Melbourne people are merrily making you a patchwork quilt and picking out fabric for you. To me all this handcrafting for down the track, when in honesty we haven't even worked out where the track begins, smacks somewhat of self-indulgent rushing ahead to the 'fun part.' And I feel this as a handcrafter, and owner of an enormous stash, myself. I'd feel less concerned if it was clear that nobody was spending money on these projects, money that could have been directly donated. But there is no evidence of that being the case.

victoria said...

I think it's a great idea. People's basic needs - food, shelter, clothing are being provided for, but the things that make them feel more human, the second level of material needs after the basics are provided - which for an artist/crafter includes materials are deep needs - are not frivolous. It's not as if the money/effort spent on getting together craft materials is going to take away from donations from other areas, people have more then enough to give and want to give it. If I lost all my material possessions, the things I'd be most upset about would of course be photos but after that it would be the kids toys and my fabric/art supplies.
Also, everyone is donating money to the main thing too, just because people don't say it on their blogs doesn't mean all they're doing is the "fun part". And I wouldn't say any of this organsing is being done to have fun, it's compassion.
p.s. sorry to rant at another commenter on your blog Suse, that was just an annoying self righeous comment.
Also, I lost a foster kid from my home last year (one I was planning on having til she grew up) and it was the worst thing I've been through in my life and it might sound frivolous but someone (sue from 5 & 2) happened to send me a massive package of fabric which arrived that week and it DID help me feel better.

fifi said...

I confess I felt that I felt silly to consider giving someone an artwork....
I have given all I could to both the red cross and the wildlife, though, but still wish I could make some lovely cheering presents like others are making.

Blue Mountains Mary said...

See for me, I might feel something other than tremendous heartache all the time if I knew that people were making things for me.

Why I might even feel a sense of anticipation! And that would be wonderful.

Off to find all the felt I bought from Winterwood and didn't use.

meet me at mikes said...

I'm sorry that some people think this is frivolous. We have all donated money - and are saving to donate again. I really think that Making Something especially making something for those that lost everything is better then sitting on one's arse doing nothing and tsk-ing at the news. These donations are for the long term. They will be distributed in consultation with The Red Cross, Rotary and community groups. They will be distributed when the time is right - and in a way that will allow people to choose what they need or like.

For those that would rather make their own - we've already got a swag of lovely fabric, yarn, sewing supplies and more. Because some day those things will need to be replaced. And it might be nice to help make a start on that. Again people will choose what they like - and take what they need.

I am really doubting that people are spending money they could be donating on these things - most crafters I have been in contact with are of the 'mend and make do' and 'use what you have' school of craft. We are a huge community - we are connected in ways that five years ago would have been impossible - and we will use our connection to spread awareness, to raise funds and to do stuff. Because it's a terrible waste not to.

City people need ways to help - after they have donated money, after they have driven up to the Diamond Creek relief centre to drop off baby bottle steriliser, after they have sent prizes for the secondary school swimming carnival, after they have printed out the wishlist of books from the boy who lost his library, after they've combed the Oxfam Wiki Fitzroy site and rung up Kennards to say send all your fricking Chainsaws up to the Relief Centres!

No amount of contributions seem like enough, in this case. We feel powerless and guilty. We want to help in any ways appropriate. We need stuff to do while we sit in front of the telly, while we are on the tram. We want these people to know that we care about them, just as though they lived right next door. And that we are planning projects and donations and funds over the coming months - because we are determined not to forget. With every dollar. With every tin of baked beans. With every stitch.