Thursday 25 November 2021

We are the World Blogfest # 53 – The Red Dress Project …


This is such a wonderful project unifying women around the world – Kirstie Macleod from Somerset, England started The Red Dress project to help marginalised women tell their stories through embroidery.

The finished object
c/0 The Red Dress

As she says in her introduction … her dress embroidery project has globally connected 244 embroiderers (239 women and 5 men), their families and their communities from 28 different countries by adding an image onto the dress that represents themselves and their culture.

During twelve years (2009 – 2021) pieces of burgundy silk dupioni have travelled the globe to be embroidered with cultural stories …

Embroiderers include:

  • Women refugees from Palestine;
  • Victims of war in Kosovo, Rwanda, and DR Congo;
  • Impoverished women in South Africa, Mexico and Egypt;
  • Women in Kenya, Japan, Paris, Sweden, Peru, Czech Republic, Dubai, Afghanistan, Australia, Argentina, Switzerland, Canada, Tobago, USA, Russia, Pakistan, Wales, Colombia, and the UK, as well as
  • Upmarket embroidery studios in India and Saudi Arabia

It is quite stunning … and I would ask that you look at the video twelve minutes of pure indulgence for us to luxuriate in – and wonder at: 

  • their stories, 
  • their skill … 
  • and to see the dress in all its glory – in the individual's homeland
  • and now it is being exhibited in various galleries and museums worldwide

Each embroiderer has been able to have more positive lives, and have helped others in their villages or camps enhance theirs too … improve their lot, teach others to use their talents, and tell their stories with thread.

Just look at the beauty … this artistic platform has really opened doors for these marginalised people to rebuild their lives.

Kindly commenters, readers – please look at the video and marvel … I exhort you to!!

Hilaria in Mexico - one of the talented
embroiderers c/o the video

The Red Dress will embrace you – draw you in, let you wonder at its beauty. An artistic project to be sure …

This has to be a perfect example of the We are the World Blogfest mantra:

We are the World Blogfest

In Darkness, Be Light

The Red Dress Project has completely transformed their lives … they can afford to feed themselves, earn a decent and consistent living …

Enjoy the video!

The BBC Dress Embroidery Project unifies women around the world.

This has a two minute video - to give you an idea ... but the twelve minute one is superb.

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Brumaire - French Republican Calendar …


We've just been looking at the French Revolution – guided by an excellent ex-history teacher – and I offered to give a talk about 'Napoleon and his Contested Legacy' … only clever because I'm plagiarising it from an article I came across!

Coup d'etat - painting (after the event)
by Bouchet (1840)

The French Revolution is a complicated period in history … and we've had some very good talks – I'm always learning.

My eclectic brain came to the fore again regarding a post – not for our history group – but for anyone who is kind enough to visit the blog.

I'd never heard of 'Brumaire' – believe it or not !… it was the second month in the French Republican Calendar – “which lasted for the longest time of all: twelve years (1793 – 1805)”.

The Coup of 18 Brumaire brought General Napoleon Bonaparte to power, and in the view of most historians ended the French Revolution.

Month of Brumaire

What fascinated me were the details found in the French Republican Calendar – such as …

  • each month lasted 30 days, divided into three 10-day weeks …

  • Every day of the year had the name of an agricultural plant – except! …

  • The fifth days were named after a domestic animal,
  • and the tenth days were named for an agricultural tool

  • The Calendar began in September at the Autumnal Equinox

Foggy Misty day ...
Brumaire – from the French for 'fog' or 'mist'the 2nd month (22 Oct/24 Oct to 20 Nov/22 Nov) – when apparently France is known to be full of misty foggy days!

It is an interesting calendar – useless to us, who all use the Gregorian one - but I was drawn in when I saw each of the 30 days – don't ask about the extra days … see the link.

  • Today is November 17th ...and we would be Watercress 'Cresson'
  • then a couple of others: Beet Root 'Betterave' is for 4th November;
  • November 27th features SweetPea 'Macjonc'

Just fun to look at and think about …

Republican Calendar - to be
found in Lausanne's Museum

The foggy month of Brumaire will live on in history as the time Napoleon came to power as the First Consul of France, when it is thought the French Revolution ended (1789 – November 1799).

Here endeth my lesson about the French Revolution – with the interesting (I think) French Republican Calendar …

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Friday 12 November 2021

Moment of Silence … Remembrance Day 11th November 2021


I have been wondering what to write this year – at least to make us all remember, perhaps in a somewhat different approach to Remembrance Day – which we always commemorate on the Sunday nearest to the 11th of November – when the Armistice was signed in 1918 … the inauguration of our Remembrance Day was set one year later.

The Cenotaph, London

The world does not seem to have learnt any lessons … and albeit in 2000 I felt we were in a golden era – things have definitely taken a turn for the worse as the years go by.

I was somewhat surprised to read that a blogger from a European nation wondered why remembering Remembrance Day was relevant today – as we only read about it in books … I'm sure their family would have fought in both Wars … it has shocked me.

The University of Leicester's

We live today in relative peace and harmony because of all the souls lost in War, or hurt by any War– we are so fortunate.

When I looked for a different approach … I noted how the Moment of Silence came about … that period of silent contemplation, prayer, reflection, or meditation – that genuine gesture of respect dedicated to the dead.

It seems to have originated in Portugal in 1912 but was a ten minute dedication of silence … we usually apply the one minute silence – except on special occasions …

or as we do every year on our Remembrance Day – the two minute silence is held at the Cenotaph … we need to remember those who sacrificed their lives for us to live in peace.

The Peace Lily

There were a great many small commemorations around the British Isles yesterday – the 11th day – and on Sunday we will observe the formal commemoration at the Cenotaph in London.

With special thanks to all who have allowed us to live today …

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Thursday 4 November 2021

Shattered - Lee McKenzie's new book ...


Lee's latest book 'Shattered' where a 19 year old is crippled by a snow-boarding accident – a freak of timing, or a murder … we are left to wonder.

Lee's book

The story, or two, are a delight to read – there's the main story with a sub-plot, which adds to the twist of the tale.

I really enjoyed it … for two reasons:

First and obvious I guess – the story … it happily took me along, and I was interested to see what would happen next.

Secondly – I'd recommend it as an education 'tool' to start to understand disability, how to cope with it from both the outsider (parent, friend, contacts – medical and community), and from the person whose life has suddenly, and so dramatically, changed.

Lee's banner for her new Young Adult novel

I've been fortunate in my life … in that I should have been involved with major incidents – but I was overseas and thus was not in the country – until my mother near the end of her life had major strokes and was confined to bed … we were very fortunate that she was able to communicate.

Disability Symbols

It was a learning experience that I had to come to terms with, as well as learn to deal with – it was a struggle, and mentally demanding … but we coped – I learnt and we both laughed our way along – yes with, at times, lots of grief.

However – this is not about me – 

                            but Lee's book 'Shattered'

lives are altered, we need to adapt and change, we should appreciate others' challenges …

If I had read this book … perhaps a much younger self would have enjoyed the story, but today's self – appreciated the accuracy of the times in the book that showed how all the characters dealt with their lives … something that we really do not come across … unless disaster intercepts our lives, or we're in that type of work.

Snowboarder in soft snow

I really did enjoy the book – and do highly recommend it: to everyone to read … it has depth, the characters are interesting, the storyline makes sense in today's world … and is there to make us think about things perhaps we had never had reason to do so, and I would hope to remember/learn from.

Lee – I congratulate you … 'Shattered' is a highly readable book – with hope, with struggles, but most of all with positivity …

It is in the Young Adult genre … but frankly could be enjoyed by everyone and discussed within the family setting – a great read: Highly recommended.

All the best Lee (also known as Cheryl … but to me she's Lee!) …

You can pick Shattered up here: Amazon      Smashwords     

I slightly give up with the changes in text size ... so I do give up!

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories