This weekend I went shopping with one of my colleagues. We hit up the huge Salvation Army store on the Princes Highway and found this wooden toy bike to add to our garden:
We also made a visit to Reverse Garbage in Marrickville, which is Australia's largest creative reuse centre established by a group of teachers (no surprises!). We picked up some very cheap records that we want to add to our entrance 'reading room' with a record player that will be brought in too. We also picked up a bag of these plastic bottles, which look like glass. We figured we could put letters in them written by students to themselves and hang them to the tree outside the classroom.
After the project was approved, I informed my friends of the vision via Facebook. The response I had was overwhelming. Without asking for help, I received an inbox from a friend of mine called Nikki who offered the amazing ideas below. The monster mirror was created by Lacey Malice, I am thinking of putting something very similar up behind the teacher's desk!
Nikki also offered to create the 'create' board, where students can hang their work on a clothes line (see below). She found this out on this tutorial link by Honey and Fitz, who has some very cool DIY projects. Nikki specialises in graphic design and illustration... and I think that earns a plug to her page! Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/KYNKgraphics
Other friends have also volunteered to come in and help out whenever needed. They have also shared links on where to gain recycled furniture (such as Reverse Garbage) and other cool ideas. I am very grateful for all those who have offered to help, a huge shout out to them!
Could you recite the alphabet at the age of 5? Were you able to do it using a dinosaur name for every letter? Better yet, could you do it now? If you answered no to any of the last two questions, then this video is worth watching (despite the poor quality). Of course I am being a little biased... ladies and gents- may I present my cousin's daughter.
FYI- If you were like me and answered no to all three, not to worry, Albert Einstein didn't speak until he was five.
Today at work, our wonderful technology all-rounder-go-to man left a little something on all the desks in the English and ESL faculties. It was an extract from a book called 100 Ways to Improve Your Writing by Gary Provost. Provost is known as the "writer's writer," for mentoring writers on how to write. I thought this was too good not to share and will be ordering my copy soon!
"This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It's like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals--sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
So write with a combination of short, medium, and long sentences. Create a sound that pleases the reader's ear. Don't just write words. Write music."
We've all heard the phrase "random acts of kindness," but these guys take it to a whole new level. Make Sydney Smile is an initiative led by two people; Shell Eves and Brett Fox, and all they want to do is spread cheer throughout Sydney. Below is just some of the things they've done to promote their cause.
One of the questions you might be asking yourself is why would they do this without asking for something in return? The truth is, being kind simply makes us feel good. Some of us don't know this because we are so distracted by our busy lives or we think we won't have our kindness returned. When you give someone a compliment, you are essentially giving them a gift. Have you ever noticed that you feel better when someone accepts your compliment? Even though the kindness was not reciprocated, you both ended up winning.
A chat with co-creator Shell Eves
But hey, don't take my word for it. I decided to contact Shell Eves the co-creator of Make Sydney Smile and find out how they feel about doing all of this.
How did this idea come about?
Shell: We talked to each other a lot about random acts of kindness and how we would like to do some. There are some really great projects going around like "Wake Up Project" that promote random acts of kindness. However, we found participating really difficult because most of those acts are about paying for things for people or buying things and we're both pretty broke. So we had to think of a way to do nice things for strangers that don't require a lot of money. We thought of signs and letters. Then we came across Make DC Smile, run by Massoud Adibpour who holds up happy signs in high traffic areas in Washington. We loved that so we wrote to him and told him our ideas and asked if we could join forces and be 'Make sydney smile'. It'd be so cool if it became a global thing, a few other American cities have started doing it too.
Why do you do think this is important?
Shell: Life can get really busy and stressful sometimes, especially in Sydney where people work very long hours and try to fit as much as possible into their lives. The downside to this is that we often shut ourselves off from the people around us, we don't interact with people we don't know and sometimes can even have automatic negative feelings toward the people that surround us in everyday life. We wanted to provide an alternative way of thinking about strangers as a way to get through that isolation and the feeling of others being outsiders or being less important than us. So we decided we'd start giving kindness to strangers in the form of kind words and compliments on signs and fliers, writing letters, etc just for the sake of making them stop for a second and smile or laugh. We do this because it benefits our own sense of belonging and positivity in the community, but we also hope it's a bit infectious and other people will want to be actively kind to strangers too.
How does this make you feel?
Shell: Acting on compassion and kindness is a funny thing. You do things with the purpose of making somebody else feel good but you end up benefiting from it as well, maybe even more so than the person you're delivering kindness to. So we do this project because we want to make other people smile, laugh, be happy and feel good about themselves, but as a result we get this real sense of connectedness to other people and feel less self-centred and less 'in-our-own-minds.' Just shifting from focusing internally on ourselves to bringing the focus externally to how we can do nice things for others is very uplifting. And then of course when we occasionally get caught in the act or get feedback from people who say it made their day, then obviously that makes us really happy.
Does it matter that you don't get a response all the time?
Shell: Part of the beauty of this is that no response is required. We sometimes put our Facebook address on the signs to spread the information but there is no obligation for people to take any action to thank us or return the favour. We like that part of it, just putting the kindness out there and letting it go.
If you want to find out more or keep track of Make Sydney Smile, check out their Facebook page.