I am an immigrant.

brexit
Are you voting to Leave today?
Is your vote motivated by the desire to ‘regain control’ of Britain, or by the fear of immigrants overwhelming the UK? Do you resent the incomers who take jobs from British people, get benefits, abuse our welfare system with glee?

When I have conversations about these topics with my friends and colleagues – about the issues they have with immigrants coming to the UK – I always bring up that I too am an immigrant, that tighter controls affect me directly. They say:

“You’re not an immigrant, you’re Canadian”
“You’re not an immigrant, you’re white”
“We have no problem with you, because you work!”
“It’s an open-door policy, surely it must be easy to get in!?”
I explain that throughout my six years in Britain, I’ve never been entitled to benefits here.

I explain that I’ve been rejected for a visa once before, had to sit before an immigration judge to prove my right to stay, representing myself against a Home Office lawyer.

I explain that jobs weren’t blindly given to me and taken from British folk – I interviewed, was assessed, and proved the best candidate.

I explain that myself and many incomers want to live here and make our communities better – volunteering, starting businesses, actively engaging.

I explain that the visa process is anything but an ‘open-door’ – it’s difficult, ever-changing, and comes with no guarantees. Rules change and you need to leave. Last summer this happened to me – when I had to quit my job, leave my house, leave my partner, and go back to Canada to apply for another visa. I’m back now, but it’s been the better part of a year, and the visa process isn’t finished yet.

If you’re happy with myself staying here in Britain, because you know me and like me, I’m familiar to you and relate-able to you – remember that I too am an immigrant. If any of what I’ve said above surprises you, would it be fair to say that your perspective on immigration might be limited to what the media tells you, v.s. actual immigrant experiences from those you’ve spoken to?

The EU migrants you’re trying to block from coming to the UK aren’t a faceless mass – they are people with stories, and lives, and contributions, and talents. They bring different skills, perspectives, cultures – they make us richer in their diversity, not weaker. Like me, they have reasons why they want to be in Britain, and more often then not, it’s not borne out of a desire to threaten British values, sponge off the system, or cause trouble.

A vote for Leave today is a vote against me – literally and figuratively. Not only is my visa directly linked to membership in the EU, but I am a good example of an immigrant you’re okay with staying here, because you’ve gotten to know me. It’s easy to judge and be afraid of that which you don’t know – please give others a chance. I promise they are better than what the Daily Mail says.

A loaf of faith

french-stereotypes

I am not  a baker.

In my working week, I am a support to communities and businesses across central Scotland – with the goal of creating more a diverse, thriving, and resilient rural landscape. This is not a baker.

In my volunteering life, I am an advocate for a better food system – with the goal of communicating the alternatives, and supporting innovative practice within food systems. This is not a baker.

In my domestic domain, I am a cyclist, a gardener, an aspiring shepherdess – with the goal of riding in beautiful places, cultivating happiness, and sharing space with wooly creatures. This is not a baker.

For the past six months though, I’ve been baking.

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Where are the Scottish CSAs?!

Scotland has lots of grand and wonderful things – sweeping vistas, ancient castles, moody lochs. Scotland even has some less grand things – deep fried mars bars, indecipherable accents, dreich weather.

But, dear Scotland, I riddle you this – where are all of your CSAs? Those wonderful and innovative pairings of nourishment and community, a structure that allows for transparency and participation in our food system. They seem to be quite rare up here.

Sharing the risks, responsibilities, rewards of the farm

CSA, for the unenlightened, stands for Community Supported Agriculture – a method of organisation for growing food that shares the risks, responsibilities and rewards of farming between producer and consumer.

There are several variations on what can be considered a CSA – many operate on a CSA ‘share’ system. This is when consumers buy a share in a seasons’ farm harvest, paying a lump sum up front at the start of the season. In return, they receive an equal share in each weeks’ harvest, whether that harvest is plentiful or more limited. This spreads the inherent, and numerous, risks of farming over many people, so the farmer isn’t solely saddled with risks of crop failure, weird weather, or low yields.

Keep reading …