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Conscious Christmas

Last week I vocalized my first gripe over Christmas gift buying. It was a blustery day and I told myself after work I would venture out to the dangers of Princes Street to hunt for gifts and finally start checking people off the list. My friend’s response was not what I expected, “oh I stopped doing that years ago”…I had to ask for clarification, “yeah just one year, enough was enough and I explained to friends and family I would no longer buy Christmas gifts”.  Is it possible to find a balance and not over consume during the Christmas period, does a conscious Christmas exist? 

 

Manufactured Desires

I’ve never felt quite so jealous of someone else’s relief from such a trivial conundrum. I don’t think I ever considered the fact that you could just…stop. It made me question why we do it to ourselves? Perhaps it’s like everything in life, the virus of capitalism has leached onto everything. Instead of being content with giving one thoughtful gift we are plagued by thoughts of ‘I didn’t spend enough’, ‘it should be more than one gift’, ‘what if they spent more than me’, ‘what if they think I don’t care’. None of these thoughts are very Christmassy and at the heart of it, your loved ones would never think such things of you.

 

“It is another of consumerism’s ironies that, although it functions like a mental trap, we often think of it as an escape.”  J.B. MacKinnon, The Day the World Stops Shopping: How Ending Consumerism Saves the Environment and Ourselves

 

Over Consuming Christmas

Personally, I don’t think I could take quite a drastic leap, and whilst I wouldn’t label my friend a Bah Humbug, I simply love Christmas too much to not gift give. However, I find myself extremely frustrated over the wasteful and excessive way we consume Christmas and we should definitely become more conscious over the Christmas period. Consumerism and the environment go hand in hand, the more we consume, the more we produce, the more we waste. It’s times of the year, like Christmas, where we should definitely be consuming differently, and not as much.

We’ve all had our fair share of Christmas presents where their only purpose was to generate, at best, a 30 second laugh. They then spend the rest of their life in a junk drawer, or collecting dust on a shelf only to end up in the bin or at a charity shop. I see gift sets from chain retailers in the same light. Ultimately, you are paying for Christmas themed packaging which again…goes in the bin! 

So how do we all take steps to reduce wasteful consumption? Gag gifts can be a hoot, but can be sourced responsibly via charity shops or even ebay. No, your friend with a leaky gas pipe does not need a fart button. At all costs, avoid the boring, and frankly sexist, gifts for him or gifts for her sections. There’s a reason these types of gifts and gift sets dramatically fall in price post Christmas (it’s because no one wants them). 

 

Money, Money, Money!

British shoppers are expected to spend £4.4bn less on non-essentials – a fall of 22%. 

Without ignoring the elephant in the room, we are of course in the midst of a cost of living crisis. If unanimously we are spending less on Christmas, how can we also allow our money to have a greater impact on our local economy. Easy, spend it locally. And when I say locally I don’t mean Fort Kinnard because it’s down the road. Turn to our independent traders, local shops! Treat our friends and family to smaller gift parcels full of delights. Ultimately, these traders may not make it without our support. You may already be thinking about how these shops are too expensive, but again, perhaps we need to adjust our expectations for gifts. Quality over quantity! 

Yes you may be able to get more ‘bang for your buck’ by buying gifts from chain retailers, but think of how much further your money goes when supporting a local business. Not only does your lucky receiver gain a beautiful, thoughtful gift, but you actively supported our local economy. Without sounding ungrateful, I find nothing more frustrating than receiving a gift that I know I won’t use. I’m sure we can all agree that one thoughtful gift is far more wonderful to receive than a big pile of consumer goods that are eventually forgotten about. 

Do It Yourself.

There is always the calling that a DIY christmas is the way to go. Undoubtedly, with energy costs on the rise, a vat of homemade chutney may no longer be the answer we’re looking for. We can definitely be a lot craftier in our quest for gifts. Perhaps we also should stop frowning upon the idea of second hand gifts…When it comes down to it, what are the real differences between a charity shop book, and a new book? Or a toy? A scarf? I’d argue that the only difference is our disdain towards giving something that has had a previous life.

In reality, imagine the cost of purchasing a variety of toys, books and games for a child and simply rejuvenating it with thoughtful and crafty wrapping? Who doesn’t love a hamper?! There’s no reason the hamper couldn’t be made up of second hand buys… You can find some more ideas for this here

 

“Under capital’s growth imperative, there is no horizon – no future point at which economists and politicians say we will have enough money or enough stuff. There is no end, in the double sense of the term: no maturity and no purpose.”Jason Hickel, Less is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World

 

I don’t believe there is a right or wrong way around these conundrums. Christmas gift shopping is already hard enough without jumping through extra hoops. Society screams at us to be more eco-conscious, to save local businesses and still please our loved ones. Nevertheless, we should consider what our favorite gifts have been. How and why did they spark joy or find purpose in your life? Consider the journey the gift will go on after it has been received. By applying a few of these thoughts to our gift giving this year, we will ultimately have a more conscious christmas! 

 

A practical guide, things to remember whilst Christmas Shopping:

Quality over quantity. 

Reuse, recycle, do not fear second hand and charity shops.

Dedicate some time to look around independent shops.

Want to support some Tribe Members? Check out our Christmas Newsletter which features a gift guide full of ideas and gift cards. 

 

Share your thoughts and keep in touch by signing up  to our newsletter below!

Thanks for reading,

 Alice.

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Seven Years of Tribe Porty

Community Coworking

I started out saying YES, learned how to say NO and am finally pretty good at knowing when to say both.

It is my 7 year anniversary of starting Tribe Porty. May 2014, I embarked on my journey of trying to create a place for good people to do good things.  I spent 11 months researching and applying for the building warrant and start up grants, renovating and engaging in community consultations.  I said yes to everything and everyone. “Yes” builds bridges, “Yes” opens doors. Yes is a great way to start.

I then quit my job (that I really liked) and committed to making my vision a reality.  I spent another 9 months renovating and working with the team of TEDxPortobello volunteers. TEDxPorty launched the same time as Tribe Porty and kickstarted our bigger vision of doing and seeing things differently (the theme of our fist TEDx). Over the past 7 years, we have welcomed thousands of people by providing space to work and create and we have hosted hundreds of classes, events, and workshops. We have worked with approximately 400 different freelancers, entrepreneurs, charities and social enterprises. We have renovated this tired, old building into a hive of activity, from global conferences, bike maintenance, wood workshops, music lessons and so much more. I have met so many wonderful people through Tribe, it has enriched my life beyond my imagination.

In 2018, we nearly lost our home and scrambled to save Tribe and our home here at Windsor Place. We managed to take over the long term lease of this privately owned building and once again started renovating and designing spaces to suit our ever growing community. At this time, we also launched Tribe Women, now rebranded as Keystone, an online business programme for enterprising women which combines business teaching with wellness rituals. We sold out two years in a row and have enjoyed building this powerful network.

More recent times have been challenging but the pandemic has really exemplified how strong our community really is. Members have supported Tribe and have also checked in on one another – a commitment that has genuinely demonstrated unconditional kindness by supporting the constant growth and improvement of ourselves, each other, and our wider environment. This level of showing up for one another is what it is all about and also drives the team and I to work hard for Tribe.

Although the improvements, renovations and upgrades never cease, I have also learned how to say no. I say no to things that do not fit within the values of Tribe. I no longer exhaust myself convincing people how great we are. I don’t need to. If we aren’t right for you, that is okay- we remain great either way. This might sound a bit arrogant but promise it’s not.

I finally trust in the work. 

A big heart felt thanks and a YES!, with both arms in the air, to the past, present and future supporters, champions, members and community.

We are still here and stronger than ever.

 

Community to the test

by Dani Trudeau

 

The real test of your character comes out when times are hard. This can be the worst and the best in humanity. I think we are all well aware of the negative actions of some so we are focusing on the positive and practical. We are reaching out to our incredible network, exploring solutions, pulling together and checking in on one another. Please get in touch if you need help with anything (micro to macro) or if you have some good ideas you need help implementing or sharing.

As we are mostly made up of freelancers, we need to look that ball of anxiety in the face and then find solutions, one challenge at a time. Not only do we need to navigate potential financial difficulties, we have to think about how to be at home with our children and other working from home housemates. Furthermore, we need to protect our mental wellbeing and we think this is where community is really put to the test and is at its best.

We have some good practical considerations below from our pals at Senscot Legal and Macdonald Henderson.

1) HMRC- If you have Corporation Tax, Personal Tax, VAT and PAYE liabilities, then you could approach HMRC to delay payments for them – they may be willing to negotiate a payment plan.

2) Suppliers-You may wish to approach your suppliers to extend credit terms.

3) Customers-Can you approach customers if you currently have credit terms, can you ask them to pay quicker?

4) Loans/ Bank overdrafts- If you currently have outstanding loans, would you be able to negotiate a payment holiday? Do you have an overdraft facility with your bank, and can you increase it in the short term? (From experience, the telephone waiting times are long so get a book or podcast going in the background).

Please remember, for the 4 points detailed above, you must ensure that you have an agreement with the relevant parties that you are planning to defer payment.  In the case of customers, propose more favourable terms. Be aware that if you do not negotiate an agreement, it could result in a breach of contract.

Your staff-The closest business relationship you have is with your staff. But hard decisions will have to be made if you are looking at a downturn in revenue. You may have to consider a reduction in staff pay to see you through the coming weeks.

The impact will depend on what you consider will be the revenue reduction. You may even have to ask staff to reduce their hours in line with the revenue reduction.

If the outlook becomes bleaker, redundancies may have to be considered. But remember, you will have to factor in redundancy payments.

Where can you find further help? -Both the UK and Scottish Governments have published a set of measures to help a business through the inevitable downturn.

The Scottish Government set up a dedicated advice helpline – 0300 303 0660 and introduced a set of supportive measures:

The UK Government has also announced measures to alleviate the effects of COVID-19

Here are a couple of Government web sites that are well worth a look.
Government Support for Employees and Benefit Claimants
Coronavirus Guidance for employees and employers
Government guidance to employers and businesses

Please remember keeping an open dialogue with suppliers, customers, staff and HMRC is key to building positive working relationships and managing your business through difficult times.

What can I do with my time that is important?

by Dani Trudeau

I was recently asked to do a quick talk to camera about my life’s ‘purpose’. To me, it’s a word that feels so limiting, so finite. As though we all have just one reason for being. Actually, I’ve come to realise that a better, more relevant question would be, “what can I do with my time that’s important?” And that led me to think that, ultimately, death is the only thing that gives us perspective on the value of our lives. It sounds morbid, but it’s really freeing.

In Mark Manson’s brilliant article, he says “Discovering one’s ‘purpose’ in life essentially boils down to finding those one or two things that are bigger than yourself, and bigger than those around you. It’s not about some great achievement, but merely finding a way to spend your limited amount of time well. And to do that you must get off your couch and act, and take the time to think beyond yourself, to think greater than yourself, and paradoxically, to imagine a world without yourself.”

So I’ve made a list of important ways to spend my time:

It all seems pretty simple, yet it feels really important. I would love to know what others find important ways to spend their time.

Let me know.

It is a wonderful thing, to feel like you are becoming more

by Dani Trudeau

 

I am resisting the pull of writing about my New Year’s intentions. We have heard it all before and there seems to be equal camps of pro resolutioners and anti resolutioners. Instead, I thought I would try and write about the uncomfortable – but ultimately positive – process of taking on something new.

First of all, the real power is finding what works for you. Be it an app for helping you achieve your goals or a friend, a group, whatever. More to the point, the motivation is the key, the ways to get there are individual and you can be as creative as you like. And maybe, right now, you are perfectly happy just where you are (although I think those moments are rare and fleeting-enjoy it).

If you want to become more, if you need to shake off a limiting shell, here’s a helpful way to think about it: be more lobster.

“The stimulus for the lobster to be able to grow is that it feels uncomfortable. Now, if lobsters had doctors, they would never grow because as soon as the lobster feels uncomfortable, goes to the doctor, gets a Valium, gets a Percocet, feels fine, never casts off his shell. I think that we have to realize that times of stress are also times that are signals for growth, and if we use adversity properly, we can grow through adversity.” – Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski

Most of the time, my motivations are that I love learning new things, challenging myself and seeing how I can become more than I am right now. Sometimes this life feels too short for all that I want to try and do. Don’t get me wrong though, I spend plenty of time wrestling with the fears, the disbeliefs and the feeling of being stuck before the unknown. But I hold to the fact that those feelings are all very normal.

The funny thing about new growth, learning and capability is that we often have to put in a lot of work to gain access to them. Then, once we have them, it feels so easy, or obvious, or simple, and we forget about how hard we had to work to get them. We might even feel a bit silly for not having always thought like this or being able to do it.

Remember that you’ve made it easy by putting in the hard work. Be more lobster – be more you.

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