One hand washes the other hand and together they wash the face

by James Arthur Warren 31 December 2014

I want to tell you about Marietta my neighbour, she’s twice my age, I’m 44. We met ten years ago when I discovered her in my garden picking grape vine  leaves to make dolmades. She told me her name was Maria but her real name is Marietta, which I always use. I said my name’s James but she’s called me Davi ever since! She came back later and gave me a bowl of  her delicious homemade dolmades and that  mutual giving between the two of us has continued for 10 years.

Marietta came to Australia as a 19 year old from Greece, post WW2 after it had been occupied by the Italians. She’d learnt Italian during the war. She arrived in Australia, married had a daughter and then was widowed when her daughter was young.

Marietta found herself work while her daughter was cared for by another woman because there was no child care around at the time. Marietta learnt to speak English but never learnt to read or write it.

There were no free classes she could go to. She had no time  as she worked hard to survive.

Marietta making dolmades

Marietta got married a second time and had a son and now has great-grandchildren too. Her family visit most weekends and during the week Marietta can be seen tending her beautiful garden with roses, hippeastrums, lilies but also beans, okra and  spinach to name a few.

We call out good morning across the road, often at 5.30am as we’re both early risers, watering our gardens or when I’m going to do some sport. But the most important thing about our relationship is that is about giving to, supporting and loving your neighbour. I give her pawpaw and she returns with beans, I give her bananas, she gives me pasta for dinner for my family, I give her eggs from my chickens and she gives me biscuits for my coffee, I  jump start her car and call the RACQ for her, she keeps an  eye on my kids and home when I’m away. I read letters for her.

Marietta tells people I’m like a son and  I tell people about how amazing she is.

Yesterday I mowed her lawn, its growing so fast now it’s summer. After I  finished  we were having an orange juice and Marietta  said for the first time ever, “do you want money?”

Of course I said, “No, it’s not about money it’s about helping each other and working together and loving your neighbour”.

Marietta replied “ Davi, in my country we have a saying, one hand washes the other hand and together they wash the face”

I went away with a plate of Marietta’s biscuits to dip in my coffee. The truth is that I do want money and help. I am just just one hand that wants  another hand to wash a face.

I know that if Marietta had had the opportunity she would have loved to learn to read and write English but like so many people who live in Australia the opportunity wasn’t there. That’s why I have started, James’ Blue House Free School, to take technological literacy to people and so people can find information that allows them to shape their destiny. Marietta doesn’t know what the internet is, she doesn’t have email, and facebook is outside her comprehension.

That’s why I am asking for  volunteer teachers for local English classes. That’s  also why I am asking for money so that I can buy and equip a double decker bus with learning technology to  take the concept of free school to remote areas where people don’t have easy access to education.

If you want to help this free education initiative, please donate at gofundme by going to James Blue House Free School Bus

I just went to the first Blue House, the place where I met Marietta,  to feed the chickens, collect  some eggs. While I was there. I picked some grape vine leaves and took the eggs and leaves over to Marietta, She was making dolmades and showed me how and told me the recipe.

She teaches me, I love her.

Each one must teach one. One Love

James

PS Please share this post.

Mariettas domades

15 Quotes about education from Master Teachers

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Education of myself is both liberating and addictive. Liberating because it frees me from the bonds of ignorance. Addictive because the more that I know, the more I more I learn what I don’t know yet.

I know what I do know.  I know that what I don’t know, I can learn. However, it’s what I don’t that I don’t know that I can only learn through study, self mastery and education. I realized this many years ago, fortunately, when I was young and then the amazing Internet came along and suddenly I increased my learning ability because of the availability of information  and this inspired me to learn more. For this reason I’ve put together a few of my favourite quotes about education from some of the Master Teachers of the past.  Continue reading 15 Quotes about education from Master Teachers

In Praise Of Decay (and against plastic)

Malcolm Guite

In pale gold leaf-fall losing shape and edge In pale gold leaf-fall losing shape and edge

I walk each morning in some woodland near my home and especially savour in this late autumn, early winter season, the damp carpet of fallen leaves, now decaying and forming  rich mulch that will feed the soil for future growth. Even in their decay, losing edge and shape, melding and blending together there is in this carpet of leaves, a kind of grace and beauty. The other morning though, these meditations were interrupted by a sudden intrusion. There amongst the gold and mottled leaf mould, like some harsh alien excrescence, was a discarded plastic bag. It was totally out of place and told its own tale of indifference and carelessness; not just the carelessness of the person that dropped it, but the carelessness of the culture that produced it. The trees shed their leaves, and in that fall and letting go  achieve…

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Cold turkey for plastic bags in 4101

South Brisbane retailers called to voluntarily stop supplying plastic bags for the New Year.

South Brisbane, December  24, 2014:  local resident, James Warren is calling on businesses in the 4101 postcode to go cold turkey and  stop supplying single use plastic bags to customers as their Christmas gift to the planet. In an open letter to retailers and businesses Mr. Warren is inviting them to participate in an initiative that can increase profit and business sustainability.

Stopping using plastic bags is an environmental safety issue because only 25% are reused and the rest end up in landfill or the environment.  Plastic bags are avoidable consumer waste which damage the environment and kill many animals. Plastic bags don’t break down in the environment but break up into smaller pieces. Micro-plastic is then eaten by fish and bio-accumulates up the food chain to people who eat seafood.

Mr. Warren said, “I was prompted to do something when I saw thousands of pieces of colourful blue, red and green plastic while walking along the high tide mark on the beaches of beautiful Stradbroke Island during a family holiday so I decided I had to do something for our children’s future.” “Understandably there will be some resistance to change their habits by people who have grown up with free plastic bags but many of the older generation can recall  using paper bags and boxes,’ he said.

Reducing single use plastic bags through a ban does not increase the cost to consumers because when faced with a plastic bag ban, consumers choose sustainable alternatives such as canvas or jute bags.

In South Australia, nine out of ten shoppers now take their own bags at no extra cost. California in the US has recently outlawed single use plastic bags and major countries such as China and India are working towards eliminating plastic bags.

Thousands of Queenslanders participate in the annual Clean Up Australia Day. All of these clean ups report the problem of plastic bag litter. There is a reason for South Brisbane, 4101 to address this environmental health and safety issue. It is our duty of care.

The open letter to retailers in 4101 can be viewed on google docs.

https://docs.google.com/document/d/15-pmNunf6Qixtdf4mp7eSWjPLdrvL3XAg1jMuX1cXas/edit?usp=sharing

Why education should be free

In 1988 while studying my Bachelor of Science in Australian Environmental Studies I was fortunate to study major paradigm shifts in society. I had a realization that through education we can make positive improvements that result in an improved, sustainable, happier world. In 1989 the government of Bob Hawke abolished the free  universities that the Whitlam government had introduced in 1974.

Since 1989 we have seen a whittling away of public  funding of education and a gradual move toward increased privatization of education similar to the United States model of education.  However in Europe and many developed and developing nations state sponsored education is increasing. At the same time in Australia the administrative burden has steadily increased reducing teacher’s focus from student’s needs because of the increased  burden of compliance.

These developments have not been confined to the tertiary education sector but also the Vocational Education and Training, and schools sector. In Queensland, the VET sector has been restructured resulting in thousands of job losses in the TAFE, reduced accessibility to a variety of vocational courses at TAFE, and increased prices for courses at TAFE.  As well there have been numerous reports about substandard education in the private sector. In the school sector the National Assessment Plan for Literacy and Numeracy has seen increased pressure on students and teachers with less teaching time reactive to the needs of the students and increased time spent on test preparation.

I have also seen firsthand the power of education to improve people’s lives during my work as an English as a Second Language teacher for over 10 years. In this time, I have discovered that all people want a better, peaceful, happier, fulfilling lives.

The words of Halie Selassi I, Emperor of Ethiopia also support education:

“Education develops the intellect; and the intellect distinguishes man from other creatures. It is education that enables man to harness nature and utilize her resources for the well-being and improvement of his life. The key for the betterment and completeness of modern living is education. But, ‘ Man cannot live by bread alone ‘. Man, after all, is also composed of intellect and soul. Therefore, education in general, and higher education in particular, must aim to provide, beyond the physical, food for the intellect and soul. That education which ignores man’s intrinsic nature, and neglects his intellect and reasoning power can not be considered true education.”

Solutions are easy. The internet and in particular the phenomenon of social networking increase the permeability of helpful positive information. For example, the act of sharing an article in facebook, twitter or google+ can result in the information being further shared and re-shared which means it is potentially read by thousands of people in many countries.

However, there are pockets of society that are disengaged from the traditional education system and also the internet of knowledge. For this reason James’ Blue House Free School is setting up a travelling free school in a double decker school bus. The aim is to engage the disengaged and empower them to make their own life changing choices through their own self mastery. The most important people to educate are the ones who need it the most.

Please help me achieve my vision of a travelling free school by donating at gofundme.com/j6hahs