Thursday, August 16, 2007


Volunteers: Part 1


“If our hopes of building a better and safer world are to become more than wishful thinking, we will need the engagement of volunteers more than ever.” Kofi Annan (UN Secretary-General 1997-2007).


“Approach volunteers with caution—there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Gabrielle Sanders (my better half 2004 - ?).


With her experience of building her turf-roofed, timber-framed eco-house as one of nine in a cooperative housing scheme—a magnet for eco-volunteers—Gabrielle is well placed to possess a valid opinion on the relative benefits of volunteers. So it was somewhat ironic that she was the more enthusiastic when we recently received an offer of help (via this blog) from a permaculturally-interested university student cycling through France on her summer holidays.


I warmed to the idea and we started a list of the things she could help us with. The first list might have got us in trouble, considering slavery was abolished in 1833. At the end, though, we had a balanced list of interesting things to do and were relishing the extra pair of hands. So, as the days passed, we became ever more concerned and eventually fired off an email to ask her when she was coming. Very apologetic she was but she’d run out of time and forgot to tell us. Her name was mud, into which she’d dragged all her volunteering colleagues with her: I told you so!


In fairness, Emily would win an award for the politeness and sorry-ness of her apology, thus diffusing any residual bad-feeling and she offered the possibility of a volunteering-cycling friend who’d also be interested in coming. Stop Press—we’ve had an email from her friend, Sam, and we’re going to say yes. So, watch this space (blog) for whether we’re going Kofi or Gabrielle on our view of volunteers (no pressure, Sam!)

3 comments :

Val Grainger said...

Try help exchange! we have had 2 of the best volunteers ever!

em said...

Since hearing stories from Sam and from reading your blog which inspires enthusiasm and reminds me of where i'd like to be now i'm back in the city, it's a very unfortunate thing that time ran out. It did run out for a good reason which brought me to a campaign to raise environmental awareness, but I guess we must remember not to let the 'rat race' get the better of us and so i'm hopeful that at some point over the year and possibly the next when i'll be living in France, i'll get out and about and will be welcome to visit. Good luck, happy Autumn Equinox for next Saturday, and best wishes,

From a hopefully not too 'muddy' emily (well not at all in the actual sense seen as I never turned up to work and play in the mud!) sorry and a little sad for not coming but very glad that Sam did.

Stuart and Gabrielle said...

Thanks for this, Emily. We look forward to seeing you and thanks for putting us in touch with Sam, who turned up just at the right time to really help us out before my operation and our wedding.