19 November 2008


Christmas is coming, the annual consumerfest madness, the fruitless quest for the perfect experience with family and friends who can be ignored the rest of the year. Yes, I’m a bit cynical about Christmas – so it’s good to hear about Reverend Billy and his Church of Stop Shopping, a travelling band of comic choirists spreading a message of socioeconomic sustainability in a mock-religious package. “Christmas is being hijacked by the marketing tsunami,” says Rev. Billy.

This project has expanded from a one-man performance artist preaching against consumerism on the sidewalks of Times Square, New York, to a 35-person choir and 7-person band with dozens of original songs and multiple media platforms. It’s educating the public about the consequences of unsustainable consumption. “The message -- consuming less-- is the single most effective and immediate response an individual can take to immediately halting the climate crisis. This same message has reached millions of people and has contributed to the public's increasing awareness of the relationship between shopping and climate change.”

I’m a big fan of making cards and presents, and love to receive handmade things (and find them impossible to ever discard). When we were kids in a cash-strapped family, we made presents for aunties, teachers, friends - frantically, right up to the last minute. We loved doing it. Now, so many people are pressed for time, giving time is the ultimate luxury.Along with the proliferation of "crafty" websites full of inspiration and instructions for thousands of projects, the internet in its wisdom has come up with "the handmade pledge" - at time of writing, 30,526 people have signed up!

Here's something handmade - the "steady hand tester" made by Thomas, age 12. If wire touches wire, the light goes on...

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