Showing posts from July, 2015

Should our church pay staff at least the Living Wage?

Going through the budget prior to our church's recent AGM, I noticed that several of our staff didn't seem to have had a pay increase for some time.  As I was thinking about that, I also wondered whether they were receiving a 'living wage'.  After all, I know that churches sometimes skimp a bit on salaries so they can make more funds available to other aspects of their work and I didn't want us to be doing that.

I raised this with the elders and then ultimately Martin, on my behalf, raised it with the whole church at the AGM.  The church decided to appoint a working group to investigate this and bring a proposal to the church at next year's AGM.  To encourage the whole church engage in this discussion, I was asked to email the church with my thoughts on all this.  As this is something I've been thinking about a lot in recent years, I wanted to share it here, too.

Dear Church Family,

At the AGM, the church agreed to appoint a working group to look into our pol…

Climate change effects: vegan diet vs. flying

At a recent bike polo tournament, a vegan friend asked Martin if he was going to be going to the upcoming World Hardcourt Bike Polo Championship in Timaru.  Martin replied that he wasn't because he didn't want to incur the carbon impact of flying.*  His friend said he should go vegan, then he could fly with a clear conscience as the climate impact of a vegan diet is so much less than that of an omnivorous one.

*We did look into him going there via. train, ferry and bus, but it would take 2-3 days each way and we decided that wasn't a good use of his leave!

I thought that couldn't be right.  However, after crunching numbers, I found it to be much closer than we'd expected.

Firstly, I calculated the kg CO2e from flying to Timaru using the atmosfair calculator.  This is the most sophisticated calculator I know: it allows you to choose which model of plane you are using for each leg of your journey, which can make a big difference to the amount of CO2e emitted per perso…

Freedom for former prostitutes in Kolkatta

I've mentioned earlier the work of Freeset in Kolkatta, India, who provide work for women who've been trapped in the sex trade.  They were featured on National Radio a couple of days ago!  Listen here to a half-hour interview with one of their Kiwi staff :-)

They're currently fundraising to buy a new building in order to considerably expand both the scope and depth of their work.  If you haven't already donated, please consider doing so.  They'll be purchasing the building at the end of this month, using a mix of donated money and loans, but the more they are able to pay up-front the better for them.

(NB They don't seem to be doing updating the 'thermometer' on the donations page very often - I heard from one of their founders today that they've currently raised 50% of what they need, not the 40% it says on the thermometer).

I did it!!!! Fair Trade white chocolate

Note: since I wrote this post I've learned more about making white chocolate.  See my update here.
As mentioned earlier, no one sells fair trade white chocolate in New Zealand.  Piko Wholefoods in Christchurch have, however, recently started selling fair trade cocoa butter.  My friend Anna bought some for me on a recent trip down there and on the weekend she came over to help me figure out how to turn it into white chocolate.

We didn't have a recipe to go on, so I decided to simply use 1:1:1 cocoa butter:milk powder:sugar - looking at the ingredients of Cadbury Dream white chocolate it seems that's more or less what they do.  The amount of vanilla was the same as what I used for the coconut butter white chocolate.

It worked really well!  It's not quite as smooth as the commercial stuff, but the flavour's pretty much perfect :-)  And, so long as you have a microwave and an electric spice grinder it's very easy to do.  It even works out at a similar price to non…