SGI-UK Members Join "Year of Service" to Improve Environment
Throughout July, SGI-UK members from around the country organized events under the theme “Earthkind” as part of the Year of Service initiative, a government-sponsored initiative to encourage people of all faiths to contribute to their local communities. The event was sponsored by the Communities and Local Government Department and the Cabinet Office. Each faith was allocated a volunteering day and a different theme for social action, with July 3 allocated as Buddhist Action Day.
There have been other volunteering days over the year for people of other faiths, including Christianity, Jainism, Sikhism, Islam, Judaism, Bahá’í and Zoroastrianism. The Year of Service has also highlighted the voluntary service that people of faith carry out in their local communities and provides an opportunity to forge links between volunteers. The event also gave people from different backgrounds a chance to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
On July 28, SGI members from the Scottish Borders District took part by holding a woodland training day at Gordon Community Woodland. The training day was led by SGI-UK member and forestry consultant Donald McPhillimy, a director of Reforesting Scotland and member of the Forestry Commission's South Scotland Forestry Forum. The day consisted of pruning young trees and then stacking the pruned branches, twigs and leaves to create habitats for insects, small mammals and birds. Several local members will continue to volunteer at the community woodland.
Members in the Highlands also participated by painting an extensive area of railings in Grant Park in Forres, Morayshire, on July 1, in support of the “Forres in Bloom” initiative that enters the town in a nationwide competition to locate the “best kept town” in the UK. People of all faiths or without a faith were invited to join members of Moray Firth and Speyside District in this effort, which received widespread appreciation. Local members have also joined with those in Highlands District to raise funds to buy 82 tree saplings that will be planted later in the year in the Dundreggan Diamond Jubilee Wood as part of the Trees for Life project in the Highlands. The trees will be species native to the Caledonian Forest and contribute to its reforestation.
Other action day events took place in Dorset, Hampshire and Oxfordshire. The Dorset event took place on June 30, when SGI members from Bournemouth and Poole invited people from the community to join them in cleaning up Kinson Common Local Nature Reserve. In Hampshire on July 1, members from Southampton, Fareham, Winchester and the Isle of Wight tidied up the gardens of Sarisbury Community Centre, one of the venues they use to hold Buddhist meetings. In Ladygrove Park in Didcot, Oxfordshire, SGI members joined the July 14 Picnic in the Park, part of the town's jubilee celebrations. They had a stall focusing on protecting wildlife at which children learned how to make and decorate bee houses and sow the seeds of plants that will attract butterflies and bees. Also on July 14, SGI-UK members in the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham held a community and environment activity in Ravenscourt Park.
[Adapted from articles in the June 6, July 18 and August 1, 2012, issues of SGI-UK Online News Bulletin; photos courtesy of SGI-UK, Ashley Vernon and Simon Poyner]