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      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   06/04/2017

      Depression, Mental Health and Crisis Support   Depression and other mental health difficulties are common amongst people on the autistic spectrum and their carers.   People who are affected by general mental health difficulties are encouraged to receive and share information, support and advice with other forum members, though it is important to point out that this exchange of information is generally based on personal experience and opinions, and is not a substitute for professional medical help.   There is a list of sources of mental health support here: <a href="http://www.asd-forum.org.uk/forum/index.php?showtopic=18801" target="_blank">Mental Health Resources link</a>   People may experience a more serious crisis with their mental health and need urgent medical assistance and advice. However well intentioned, this is not an area of support that the forum can or should be attempting to offer and we would urge members who are feeling at risk of self-harm or suicide to contact either their own GP/health centre, or if out of hours contact NHS Direct on 0845 4647 or to call emergency services 999.   We want to reassure members that they have our full support in offering and seeking advice and information on general mental health issues. Members asking for information in order to help a person in their care are seeking to empower both themselves and those they represent, and we would naturally welcome any such dialogue on the forum.   However, any posts which are deemed to contain inference of personal intent to self-harm and/or suicide will be removed from the forum and that person will be contacted via the pm system with advice on where to seek appropriate help.   In addition to the post being removed, if a forum member is deemed to indicate an immediate risk to themselves, and are unable to be contacted via the pm system, the moderating team will take steps to ensure that person's safety. This may involve breaking previous confidentiality agreements and/or contacting the emergency services on that person's behalf.   Sometimes posts referring to self-harm do not indicate an immediate risk, but they may contain material which others find inappropriate or distressing. This type of post will also be removed from the public forum at the moderator's/administrator's discretion, considering the forum user base as a whole.   If any member receives a PM indicating an immediate risk and is not in a position (or does not want) to intervene, they should forward the PM to the moderating team, who will deal with the disclosure in accordance with the above guidelines.   We trust all members will appreciate the reasoning behind these guidelines, and our intention to urge any member struggling with suicidal feelings to seek and receive approproiate support from trained and experienced professional resources.   The forum guidelines have been updated to reflect the above.   Regards,   The mod/admin team

Aeolienne

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About Aeolienne

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    Kilimanjaro
  • Birthday February 21

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    Female
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    Leamington Spa, Warks
  • Interests
    Baroque music, green issues (esp. renewable energy), hillwalking, Quakerism, reading (astronomy, fiction, popular science), practical conservation, art exhibitions, royal-watching
  1. (Not written by me) ‘Nature became a support system’: How autism helped me campaign for wildlife A 15-year-old conservationist and activist from Northern Ireland writes about how it’s easier for him to connect with the natural world than other aspects of life By Dara McAnulty As a toddler, I crawled to observe, and sometimes catch, anything that moved: caterpillars, woodlice, ants. I intently observed birds, their behaviour and watched in wonder at their intricacy and how they interacted with everything around them. At this stage, I was unaware of my difference but as I grew, I knew the world was too noisy, too busy, too confusing and too overwhelming. I was diagnosed with Asperger's / autism aged five, at the insistence of my school – my parents had accepted and nurtured my eccentricities and even though I knew that I made life challenging for them. They always showed unconditional love and acceptance. Nature brought so much understanding to my life. It satiated my curiosity and then quenched my thirst for knowledge. My capacity to feel at one with the confusing aspects of our world grew when I was immersed in nature and learning all about it. My differently wired brain was at peace. By age seven I knew I was very different, I had gotten used to the isolation, my inability to break through into the world of talking about football or Minecraft was not tolerated. Then came the bullying. Nature became so much more than an escape; it became a life-support system – although I didn’t realise it then. By age 12, my mental health was in tatters, years of bullying and isolation had taken its toll. I decided that I would write, unlock all the feelings that were swirling in my head, I needed to express what I couldn’t in real time through conversation. I started writing a blog about nature, autism, species I was interested in, the habitats they lived in and the challenges they faced. It quickly gained popularity beyond my wildest dreams. I joined Twitter and three years later, my life is irrevocably changed. I was invited on to Springwatch, asked to write articles for the Wildlife Trusts and my local newspapers. The BBC wanted to film me, record me for radio – all of this was completely unnerving and at times overwhelming – but I pushed through because even though it was all so new, I was doing what I loved. I was being myself. During this time, realising the extent that nature was suffering, I quite accidentally became an activist. I started campaigning firstly against the illegal persecution of hen harriers – a protected raptor, endangered and increasingly rare. It hurt me so deeply, that the words on the page needed to be spoken out loud. I stood up and spoke that first time, aged 13, and all of a sudden I felt a great strength burn inside me. I realised I had potential to do good, to give back to nature – which has given me so much joy, wonder and healing. One of the qualities of being autistic is our determination and focus. Many people call our interests ‘obsessions’, I call them passions. My passion is the natural world, our planet, all life we share it with and the challenges it faces. I will never give up. Wherever my passion is willing to take me I am ready for it, it’s who I am. Read more from Dara at youngfermanaghnaturalist.com and follow on Twitter @NaturalistDara Source: The Big Issue
  2. This event (on 3 July) may be of interest. It's hosted by IBM at their Client Centre in London - which, incidentally, is not their UK HQ (that's in Portsmouth). A day of workshops and networking focused on ensuring careers in cyber security are made accessible to everyone. The workshops will educate and offer constructive advice and guidance for both employees and employers. The workshops: Exploring the gender gap in cyber security – has anything made a difference yet? Combatting stress and burnout in cyber security .. from surviving to thriving How to tap into the neurodiverse workforce to plug the skills gap Physical disability: addressing the accessibility challenges faced in a technical security career Book on Eventbrite
  3. I'm surprised none of the BTL commentators have criticised the use of the term sufferers, viz: "Lynne Wallis looks at why autism is so misunderstood and what sufferers can offer" Was this article really published only 7 years ago?
  4. How do Members with travel with ASD and Aspergers

    And once you're there: Four tips to help you get the most out of your holiday
  5. (Not written by me) Autistic 7-year-old advised to stay off school for sports day to avoid "causing a scene" The school apologised and said the staff member's suggestion was "inappropriate" A furious dad says he was asked to keep his autistic son off school for sports day - to avoid him ‘causing a scene’. Mark Birchall, 28, said a classroom support worker approached him in the playground and said it might be wise to exclude his son Jacob, who has Asperger syndrome. He claims the seven-year-old “cried his eyes out” after he broke the news about missing the event at Banks Road Primary School in Garston . The headteacher apologised over the “inappropriate suggestion” and said it was not the view of the school, which tries to ensure all children can take part in such activities. Mr Birchall, from Speke, claimed the staff member told him earlier this month that Jacob would be extremely upset if he lost, and could “cause a scene” at the sports day on July 18. He acknowledged his son, a Year 2 pupil, might have struggled because of his Asperger syndrome, but said it was completely wrong to suggest excluding him. He said: “I feel they were embarrassed by him, rather than just thinking about his needs. “It was disgusting to single him out. It is excluding him, which is exactly what you are supposed not to do with children with special needs. “It should be about inclusion - even if he didn’t take part, he could have handed out medals or been a referee. “It feels like it was about keeping him away, about showing there were no issues at the school.” He said he had to organise his own sports day and even buy a medal for his son at home instead, as he did not feel they would be welcome attending. He said: “Jacob cried his eyes out when we told Jacob he wasn’t able to go. “He had been practising trial runs at school, and said he wanted to be as fast as his hero, the car Lightning McQueen. “It’s hard to accept sudden changes like that when you have autism. So I had to take the day off work to do my own sports day with him.” He said he had disagreed previously with the school over provision for Jacob, who is likely to move to another school next year. He added: “Because autism isn’t a physical, visible disability, I feel people with autism aren’t accepted the same way.” He said he had been encouraged by the response from other parents after he shared his experiences on Facebook, with many shocked by what had happened. Headteacher Linda Gibson said: “This was an entirely inappropriate suggestion made almost two weeks ago that neither myself nor the class teacher were made aware of until after the event. “We have a clear policy that all of our children take part in sports day and I have taken steps to make sure this can’t happen again. “I am really sorry for the upset this has caused and I am meeting personally with the family together with our Chair of Governors to discuss their concerns.” Liverpool is trying to become one of Britain’s first autism-friendly cities, with many city institutions and businesses taking measures to properly support people with the condition. Source: Liverpool Echo
  6. How do Members with travel with ASD and Aspergers

    As may this: What's the perfect holiday length?
  7. Why did the stories (in the second half of the survey) use American spelling and vocabulary? We Brits fill up with petrol, not gas.
  8. (Not written by me) Finland is offering free trips to people in need of happiness lessons By Katherine Martinko For three days this summer, a local host could show you why their country consistently ranks among the happiest in the world. For the past two years, Finland has been named the happiest country in the world. Its citizens are relaxed and cheerful, enjoying life in a progressive, technologically advanced society, without becoming overly stressed. The Finns themselves attribute this to their connection with nature and their instinct to go outside whenever anxiety rears its ugly head: "When others go to therapy, Finns put on a pair of rubber boots and head to the woods." Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? Well, I have some exciting news. You, too, could learn how to live like this, taught firsthand by Finnish 'happiness guides'. A curious project called Rent a Finn, organized by Visit Finland, will send a select number of guests to live in Finnish households for three days this summer, during which they will experience life as the Finns do – and hopefully find their inner calm. All travel and accommodation costs are covered, but you must be willing to be filmed throughout the experience. As a guest, you will experience "anything from visiting a national park to spending a weekend fishing at a real summer cottage, berry picking in the wilderness, enjoying a proper Finnish sauna – basically all the things that we Finns love to do in nature and what makes Finland the happiest country in the world." Hosts include Esko, mayor of a small town near the Arctic Circle in Lapland, who will take you boating and teach you to play mölkky, a Finnish throwing game. If you stay with Hanna, an IT professional, you'll travel to her grandmother's lakeside home outside Helsinki, where you'll pick blueberries, eat traditional pastries, and hang out in the sauna. Linda and Niko live on Utö, Finland's southernmost island in the Baltic Sea with a population around 40. They'll take you sailing through the archipelago, show you the lighthouse, and camp out on an islet. How do you become one of the lucky few? Now is the time to apply by filling out an online application form and filming a 3-minute video describing yourself, your connection to nature, and why you want to visit Finland. Submit, breathe deeply, and wait with your fingers crossed. I know what I'll be doing this weekend... Source: Treehugger Closing date: 14 April Quote Edit
  9. This other thread may be of interest: Finland is offering free trips to people in need of happiness lessons
  10. National Apprenticeships Week 4 - 8 March 2019

    (Not written by me) Sunday 3 March 2019 23:57 McDonald's kicks off National Apprenticeship Week with 750 apprenticeships Michael O'Dwyer Michael is a financial journalism student at City, University of London. McDonald’s will today announce more than £2m worth of apprenticeship opportunities for new and current employees in the UK this year, making use of the government’s apprenticeship levy. The fast food chain plans to create 750 new apprenticeship spaces in the UK. McDonald’s promised last summer that it would employ 43,000 apprentices in Europe by 2025. Read more: Apprenticeship levy bashed by UK businesses The announcement coincides with the beginning of National Apprenticeships Week, which runs until Friday. McDonald’s, whose UK apprentices range in age from 16 to 58 years old, has been providing apprenticeships in the UK for 12 years. It said that 80 per cent of its apprenticeships are currently held by people already working for the company. “We strongly believe in the combination of workplace training and studying with practical experience to help people progress and develop,” said Harriet Hounsell, McDonald’s UK’s chief people officer. The positions on offer range from entry-level roles to a business management degree apprenticeship with Manchester Met University. Apprentices will be paid a “work-equivalent salary” to the job they are doing, rather than the minimum £3.80 an hour apprentice rate of pay. Read more: Rising international sales give boost to McDonald's shares “I am thrilled to see such ambitious plans from McDonald’s,” said Anne Milton, Minister for Skills and Apprenticeships. “Apprenticeships offer people a high-quality route to skilled employment with the option to train at every level,” she added. “You get paid while you train and can start a great career in a huge range of professions ranging from business to hospitality.” Source: City AM
  11. This week (4 - 8 March 2019) is National Apprenticeships Week. You can search for events near to you here.
  12. (Not written by me) Sweden's surprising rule for time off The country's unique leave of absence system helps workers launch their own business. Can it be replicated elsewhere? By Maddy Savage 6 February 2019 Jana Cagin had never thought about running her own company until she and her fiancé had “one of those lightbulb moments” while out shopping for a new sofa at Ikea in a Stockholm suburb. They felt that the range of legs available was too limited. After scouring the internet failing to find suitable alternatives, they came up with the concept of developing their own brand of replacement furniture parts, designed to help buyers put an artistic stamp on new flat-pack furniture purchases or ‘upcycle’ existing home staples. “We were just struck by this idea and it really made us so passionate,” she explains. The couple began by running the venture in their spare time. But according to Cagin, it was being able to take a leave of absence from her job as an organisational psychologist that really enabled things to get off the ground. “We started finding suppliers, getting a lot of press, starting building the website,” she explains. The company was also accepted into an acceleration programme for startups, which offered coaching, workshops and mentoring. “If I were to work during that time I wouldn’t have been able to join, and it really helped us to believe in our idea.” Meanwhile, knowing that she could return to her old role if things didn’t pan out alleviated some of the financial risk, especially since her partner was a freelancer in the creative industries. “I’d never seen myself as an entrepreneur, so being able to have that kind of security and something to fall back on, I think that played a pretty big role.” She didn’t go back to her old job. Six years after that “lightbulb moment”, which happened when Cagin was just 31, the couple’s e-commerce business now offers decorative door knobs and cupboard panels, as well as legs for a range of different furniture types. It operates in 30 countries and has six full-time employees. A legally enshrined right While not all new companies become so successful, Cagin’s experience taking time off from fixed employment is far from unique in Sweden. For the last two decades, full-time workers with permanent jobs have had the right to take a six-month leave of absence to launch a company (or alternatively, to study or to look after a relative). Bosses can only say no if there are crucial operational reasons they can’t manage without a staff member, or if the new business is viewed as direct competition. Employees are expected to be able to return in the same position as previously. “To my knowledge this is the only country that offers a legally-enshrined right to take a leave of absence for entrepreneurship,” explains Claire Ingram Bogusz, apost-doctoral researcher in entrepreneurship and information systems at Stockholm School of Economics. “You meet a lot of people who’ve got permission from their employer to start up something in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with their employment, and once that business is up and running, then they take a leave of absence to see if they can actually make a go of it,” she says. “It’s very common, particularly among highly-skilled entrepreneurs who build high-tech firms.” Max Friberg, 31, who runs a software platform, is one of them. He chose to take a leave of absence from a global consulting firm rather than quit his job, even though he had been working on the project in his spare time for over a year and says he was confident his idea would take off. For him, losing the competitive advantage and “social status” he’d worked for years to achieve was as much of a concern as financial insecurity. The possibility of unpaid leave greatly eased some of those worries. “I had this fantastic job. I had been working very hard throughout university to get it and while at the job to keep it and to advance,” he explains. “I was questioning myself: ‘am I doing something crazy?’ But feeling that I could go back took quite a bit out of that scariness.” The secret to innovation? Sweden, with a population of just 10 million, has developed a reputation as one of the most innovative countries in Europe in recent years. The most commonly-cited reasons its start-up scene has grown so quickly include strong digital infrastructure, a culture of collaboration and affordable private unemployment insurance, which provides a larger social safety net than in many countries. Measuring exactly how much the right to unpaid leave has contributed to this is tricky. While the trend – particularly in the tech scene – has been observed by academics, unions and employers alike, there are no national databases that break down how many people registered to take a leave of absence start a business. But what the figures confirm is that rising demand for all kinds of leaves of absence (including paid parental leave) coincides with growing numbers of Swedes starting their own companies. In 2017, 175,000 25- to 54-year-olds on leave were registered, compared to 163,000 in 2007, according to Statistics Sweden. The registration office for Swedish companies, Bolagsverket, says 48,542 limited companies registered in 2017, up from 27,994 in 2007. So what can the rest of the world learn from Sweden’s unpaid leave system? According to Claire Ingram Bogusz, the trend for taking leave to start a business needs to be viewed in the context of the Nordic country’s notoriously strict employment laws. These have traditionally made it harder for bosses to fire staff than in many countries. She argues that it might encourage some employees to stay put once they have the security of a substantive role. “People don’t easily relinquish that [permanent] job once they have it,” she says. “It’s maybe analogous to owning a house or an apartment. Once you own it, you don’t just give it up easily.” Samuel Engblom, head of policy for the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees, explains that the government, unions and employers in Sweden have supported the right to take time off as “a way of promoting mobility in the labour market”. “Most employees hesitate to leave a job that they perceive as secure for something as insecure as starting a business,” he says. “Maybe it’s quite a Swedish view – I mean, you could promote entrepreneurship by making it more profitable, and we do that to some extent, but you can also promote entrepreneurship by making it less insecure.” Ting Xu, an assistant professor at the University of Virginia whose work focuses on entrepreneurial finance, argues that increasing the right to unpaid leave could play a crucial role in fuelling entrepreneurship, even in countries with much more flexible labour markets. He cites a 2016 study by Failure Aversion Change in Europe (FACE) Entrepreneurship, a European project designed to help would-be tech entrepreneurs break the barriers generated by fear of failure. It found that while financial risk was the top concern, career risk came a close second. “The fear of losing a stable professional career if their start-up fails is a major thing holding many people back,” he argues. “Many countries subsidise financing to entrepreneurs. However, reducing career risk can be just as important, and is often ignored by policy makers.” Although his own research focuses on parental leave, rather than unpaid leave, it provides rare empirical data to back up this idea. Xu was part of a team that looked at a reform that extended job-protected parental leave in Canada from a few months to a full year in 2001. They found that women eligible for more time off were more likely to be entrepreneurs five years later that those who gave birth before the change. “This result is strong evidence showing that when we remove career risk it can actually spur entrepreneurship,” he concludes. Are there any down sides? Some observers argue it might be more difficult for employers outside Sweden to allow workers to return to their old roles after taking time off to run a business. These workers could face discrimination when it comes to future career prospects or salary. However in Sweden, this kind if prejudice is against the law. “For someone to have gone out and tried something new and had that opportunity and come back isn’t actually seen negatively. It’s seen neutrally at best, and probably even positively, because then the person has said, ‘oh no, this job is what is actually for me’,” explains Ingram Bogusz. She argues that Sweden’s entrenched focus on work-life balance is a “huge contributing factor”, which might not be relevant in other places. “In Sweden, people are expected to have a balance in their employment – not just in terms of balancing their personal lives, but also balancing other things that are of importance to them or mean personal growth for them. Starting a new business could be [part of] that.” Jessica Petterson is among those currently making the most of this approach. The 30-year-old is wrapping up a period of unpaid leave that she’s spent launching a virtual assistant product for charities. She has decided to return to her permanent job at a non-profit organisation, and to pursue her entrepreneurship more slowly on the side. “I don’t make enough from my company to support myself, and I want to buy an apartment quite soon. So that’s why I need to go back to my old job to get a steady salary every month,” she explains. “They [my managers] are really happy with me going back. They’ve given me some other projects to work on so that I won’t feel as ‘stuck’ as I was before.” However, Samuel Engblom at the Swedish Confederation for Professional Employees points out that while many employers share this positive attitude toward unpaid leave, others can struggle with the administrative and financial challenges linked to covering a worker’s responsibilities while they are taking time off. “For the employer, it means losing someone who knows the job. Especially in situations where there is a lack of skilled workers in a field, this of course can be problematic,” he says. He suggests these challenges could be exaggerated in countries with less stable economies than Sweden. A new future? Of course, both the advantages and challenges of unpaid leave are only relevant when employees have permanent positions in the first place. While the vast majority of Swedes are in stable jobs, there has been a shift towards temporary employment and the gig economy in recent years, which has largely affected younger workers. In 2017, almost 50% of 16- to 24-year-olds and 18% of 25- to 34-year-olds were in temporary work, up from 44% and 14% in 2009 respectively. “It is a problem that Sweden faces as well as many other countries in the world: this polarisation of people with permanent jobs and those who don’t,” says Ingram Bogartz. “For gig economy workers and freelancers... leaves of absence don’t actually affect them, and it creates additional distance.” Swedish lawmakers are monitoring the trend closely. A government committee was recently asked to investigate how more security could be provided for these kinds of workers. Meanwhile, the right to unpaid leave for permanent staff shows no sign of being revoked. Several unions have even struck collective agreements with employers that expand workers’ rights to unpaid leave by offering them 12 months off to try starting a business, instead of the standard requirement of six months. What is vital for all Swedish entrepreneurs to remember, according to Ingram Bogartz, is that whether or not they have the right to unpaid leave, starting a business remains risky. “The general downside of moving from permanent employment to entrepreneurship is true here in Sweden as in anywhere else. You go from a stable [job] and often quite decent salary to unstable and probably a much lower amount of money,” she explains. “But a leave of absence means you can have the best of both worlds: the security of a job that’s not going anywhere, and time off to pursue what’s important to you.” Source: BBC Capital
  13. (Not written by me - but it is written by my aunt, so naturally I'm biased ) AUF DER WALZ OR ON THE ROAD 1. FEBRUARY 2019 A man in black walks at a steady pace along a country lane. He has a small bundle, hooked onto one shoulder and a long, curled walking stick in his right hand. He is wearing black, wide-bottomed trousers, a white shirt, black waistcoat, black jacket and a black, wide-brimmed hat – so not the clothing of a tramp. In his bundle, he has a change of clothing and not much else; no mobile phone and only very little loose change. If I add that he does not yet know where he is going to spend the night, that he is hoping to find work (and lodging) in the next village as a carpenter for a few weeks before setting off, again on foot, in search of further work experience, in what age would you place this scene? Several hundred years ago? As far back as the 12th century perhaps? Or maybe on a spring day in May 2018, while approaching the village of Bubikon in Switzerland? Last June, our roof badly needed clearing of moss and twigs etc, which had blocked the drainpipes. We called a local roofer, who came accompanied by an assistant, a young man with a pony tail from Germany. He was dressed in black, wide-bottomed trousers with a black waistcoat and a white shirt but was perfectly nimble getting on and off the roof. “I think he’s a Wandergeselle and is auf der Walz,” L said. When we were inside, I asked for an explanation.. A Wandergeselle, translated as a journeyman in English, is a kind of travelling craftsman who has completed his apprenticeship and takes to the road (literally) for a number of years to gain experience of his trade in order to become a master craftsman. He (there are very few women who do this) offers his skills in exchange for board and lodging (which can be as simple as a barn) and maybe a small wage. After a few weeks, he moves on to find work elsewhere. This custom, nowadays almost only practised in German-speaking countries, can be traced back hundreds of years to the Middle Ages when skilled stonemasons, particularly in England, travelled vast distances on foot to work on the construction of the great medieval cathedrals and churches. The powerful guilds would not allow craftsman to become masters until they had completed these post-apprenticeship travelling years. At that time, the guilds also controlled professions in the visual arts so the “wandering years” were undertaken by painters, mason-architects and goldsmiths as well. This was important for the transmission of artistic style around Europe. The brotherhoods of journeymen later united to defend their interests against the masters’ craft guilds and can be seen as the pre-runners of trade unions. Nowadays carpenters, roofers, slaters and blacksmiths, along with stonemasons, are some of the journeymen that can be sometimes found on the road (auf der Walz). Our local television recently followed the fortunes or two such journeymen, both carpenters and both members of a Swiss branch of the Association of Righteous Journeymen Carpenters and Slaters, which has its headquarters in Germany. One of them, Michael, was at the start of his journey. The other, Cyrill, was returning after 4 years. The Wanderjahren (wandering years) for carpenters last for 3 years and a day (the minimum) and have clear rules. You must be aged between 20 and 30, unattached with no children and no debts. Once on the road (auf der Walz), you mustn’t return to within a radius of 50 kilometres of your home (except under exceptional circumstances, such as a death in the family) until your wandering years are over. A journeyman is not supposed to go more than a week without work or spend more than six months in one place. He should only take about 5 francs (or Euro) with him and return with approximately the same amount. Computers and mobile phones must be left behind, which explains why a lot of carpenters, masons, roofers etc are taken by surprise by the arrival of a journeyman on their doorstep asking for work and lodging, with no prior warning. Getting ready inside his parental home, the 21-year old Michael seemed a little apprehensive as he packed the bare essentials into a small bundle. He wasn’t taking much more than a change of clothing, something to read and a list of journeyman contacts. He admitted that, apart from a visit with his family to Prague and the odd holiday with friends in Croatia, he had never been abroad. He was looking forward to the experience of living and working with the locals, something you do not do when on holiday in a country. He said he was planning first to head for Germany and then maybe go to Scandinavia and Ireland before venturing overseas. In theory, you are supposed to avoid public transport and just walk or hitch-hike. However, as many journeymen travel much further afield, taking planes (if they can be afforded) is accepted nowadays. The society is a kind of brotherhood and former journeymen and members of the guilds along with friendly inns willing to provide accommodation can be found all over the world. Michael was planning, in about a year, to travel to Canada, New Zealand and Namibia (a former German colony, where there are very good contacts for journeymen). The start of the “wandering years” has a number of traditional customs. On the day of departure, around 20 journeymen arrived, on foot, to give Michael a good send-off. All were dressed, like Michael, in the traditional costume of a journeyman carpenter. There are eight, mother-of-pearl buttons on the waistcoat to represent the hours they work in a day, six buttons on the jacket for the six working days in a week and three on each sleeve to represent the duration of three years. Nowadays, many journeymen from other trades have converted to the clothing of the carpenter, which is the most widely recognised so that it is easier for them to be identified as respectable journeymen. However, the uniform of other trades can differ; the hat might be a different shape or the trousers or jacket might be another colour. The uniform is completed with a gold earring and gold bracelets. In the Middle Ages, these could be sold in hard times or used to pay the gravedigger if a wanderer should die on his journey! Michael walked with the journeymen, singing and drinking, to the end of the village. His family and some villagers followed and stood in a group nearby. There was much toasting before they finally bade farewell and by then, Michael was distinctly unsteady on his feet. “He is relaxed and free,” said the journeymen surrounding him, “Excellent. He can go!” Luckily two fellow journeymen, who were in the middle of their wandering years, decided to accompany him for the first few days. So, Michael finally staggered off, arm in arm with his two companions and – most important – didn’t look back. They were heading for the nearest motorway so they could hitch-hike to Germany. The English word “journeyman” is still used by some British companies to describe the stage between apprentice and master, but the journeymen are not required to travel anymore. There have been times, since their founding hundreds of years ago, when the German-speaking associations had no travelling journeymen. They were banned by Napoleon, then in Germany during the Nazi years, for example, and not accepted by the communist regime in East Germany. However, there has been a strong revival since the 1980’s and at any one time, there can be around 600 journeymen, mainly from Germany, with about 10% from Switzerland, on the road throughout the world. The tradition of the wandering craftsman has also been celebrated in the arts. Gustav Mahler composed “Songs of a Wandering Apprentice”. Goethe wrote a novel entitled “Wilhelm Meister’s Journeyman Years”. And the Australian song, “Waltzing Matilda” is about an itinerant worker (swagman) wanting his late wife to walk (not dance) with him while he searched for work. In our current stressful, hectic working world, the idea of setting off in the morning with almost nothing, free of responsibilities, not necessarily knowing where one is going to spend the night, but with a list of possible contacts in one’s pocket, is exciting and attractive. Money becomes unimportant. “The idea is to become rich in experience, not rich in money terms” said one German journeyman. “You could say the others have the clock, but we have the time”, he added. Of course, it can be hard sometimes, standing by the side of the road in winter in Norway (as one journeyman said) when no car stops and a cold wind is blowing. But then the wind drops, a car stops, you move on, you find work again and spring comes and every day brings new experiences you would never have had if you had stayed at home, so you learn more and more. It can be a defining experience, which the journeymen will keep referring to in later life. So, if you drive past a hitch hiker dressed in the dark clothing of the journeyman with his wide-brimmed black hat, do consider stopping to give him a lift to help him along on his journey of three years and a day. Source: gbchblog (Switzerland)
  14. Moments That Relax You

    Now available until 31 December 2019! Source: GreenFinder
  15. There's also a report about the company in the Financial Times, but it's not letting me copy and paste its contents. You may need to register to read this, but don't worry: you can read up to three articles a month for free. Chocolate entrepreneurs with a social aim
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