Friday, 21 January 2011
The WI was active on the home front during the Second World War, preserving foods – of course making jam by the tonne – using every scrap of food in order to prevent waste; making new clothes out of old; conserving energy and water; and recycling rather than throwing away. All of these actions have been championed again in recent years by WIs through their Eco Teams, Love Food Hate Waste, Carbon Challenge, composting and car sharing, and many other worthwhile and commendable activities.
Caroline Lucas coined the phrase 'wisdom in one place' when she spoke of the report and this phrase really fits the profile of the WI as an organisation – the wisdom of the membership together with practical knowledge and know-how should not be ignored.
This was highlighted again at The City Food Lecture given this week at Guildhall by Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. He too was saying we 'need new tools' in agriculture if the world is to be fed, and products have to be sustainably sourced for sourcing to be able to continue!
Later in the week I had a meeting with the Government Equalities Office in light of the departure of the Women's National Commission. The work of the WNC, set up in 1969 as the national, independent organisation to present the views of women to government, now comes under the banner of the GEO. The priorities for the GEO are civic participation, the launch of a consultation on access to public life and also reporting on the diversity, or lack of it, of people in politics. This office will be delivering an on-line newsletter to which anyone may subscribe.
Meanwhile the week hosted 2 NFWI committees – there is never a dull moment!
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
Happy New Year to all blog readers! I begin 2011 with a Victoria Sponge - “the frumpy, floury image of a Women’s Institute Victoria Sponge” to be precise.
A Victoria Sponge, if properly made and presented, is neither frumpy nor floury, no matter who makes it. I’m sure many young WI members who bake would not be happy at the implication of the Victoria Sponge they make being frumpy, and neither would many older members, myself including. If Jane Simon of The Mirror would like to learn how to make an un-frumpy Victoria Sponge, I know many a WI member would be more than happy to show how its done, not least at the WI Cookery School.
But isn’t it great that people want to bake Victoria Sponges (and every other type of cake for that matter!). Baking can be a very therapeutic exercise, especially when the results are so tasty and admired by those who eat them.
Looking towards other WI business; there is plenty going on with the WI throughout January. Snow or no snow, events are planned in Federations across England and Wales, and I see from their websites that several areas will be holding a Burns Night celebration. Amongst other things there are walks and beauty days; science groups and food hygiene certificate classes; New Year sales and resolution meetings; judges information days and speaker selections days – never mind play readings and patchwork and many other craft classes.
The WI never sleeps.