This month’s Assembly was hosted by Chris (with the beard) and featured a low-key musical accompaniment from Rob, Chris (with the long hair) and Dave. We sang Lean on Me by Bill Withers, When I’m Sixty-Four by the Beatles, With a Little Help From My Friends by the Beatles, and Build Me Up Buttercup by the Foundations (which someone remarked seems to feature almost every month, but that wasn’t a criticism!). Dave was doing their best and talked about all the volunteering work that he has been doing around Leeds: helping with Spanish language lessons, interfaith community activities, and chaperoning a local children’s choir. The star of the show was Sarah, from Dementia Friendly Leeds, who told us all about how we can do more (as a city and as individuals) to help those who are suffering from Dementia. She also showed an eye-opening video from the perspective of someone suffering from dementia to illustrate some of the difficulties that sufferers face, and some of the ways in which we can help. Rob supplied the reading, which was this wonderful poem:
To Be of Use
by Marge Piercy
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
We ended with a group discussion over (the obligatory) tea and cake about how Sunday Assembly Leeds could help more. The result was a fair old smattering of Post-It notes with lots of great ideas! In case you can’t read the notes in the picture, here’s the list that we came up with:
- Helping the elderly with their homes/gardens – Sunday Assembly Groundforce?
- Helping on allotments – tidying weeding, etc.
- Tree planting (e.g. Forests of Bradford)
- Guerilla gardening – where you tidy up other people’s gardens and plant stuff
- Clearing bike routes of broken glass!
- Sexy dancing
- Become a choir and sing for charities
- Marshal at a local ParkRun
- ParkRun stewarding
- Car share on the way to Sunday Assembly
- Set up a car pool for people who struggle to get to Sunday Assembly
- Bike rides
- List of projects which Sunday Assemblers are involved in
- Support refugees
- Food bank collections
- Interfaith vegan feast
- Meet at a local social enterprise – e.g. The Real Junk Food Project
- Support the Real Junk Food Project
- Donate to food banks
- Helping the homeless – e.g. help in a soup kitchen
We’ll be looking into all of these (especially the food bank donations, which we have done in the past) and helping out with “person-power” for decorating and gardening. I think we might give the “sexy dancing” a miss, although it was suggested that we could be sponsored NOT to do sexy dances… One final suggestion that we had and which had quite a lot of support was a team 10km run to raise money for charity. The Leeds Abbey Dash is coming up, and at least two of the group were already signed up. We’ll keep you updated, and if you are interested in putting on your running shoes for a good cause then get in touch!