Living Light
Welcome! You have found the site of the CreationKeepers team (Christ Church's Eco Church Committee), which shares ideas and experiences about how we can all lighten our environmental footprint. We do this because we see our planet and its resources at a breaking point and believe in the power of personal examples. Most weeks, we will reflect on some aspect of living, working, shopping, consuming, reading, learning, etc. These are all local experiences and can easily be adopted by others in our community. Our authors (Rosie and Monika) look forward to any comments or ideas that you may also have and want to share. Send us your ideas at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Blog #123: Imagining our Future - with and without Doom&Gloom

June 8, 2023
Monika Weber-Fahr
Sometimes, when reading the news or simply when looking around and noticing how behind we all are in safeguarding our environment, I do have moments of sadness. I wonder how our future - and the future or our children and their children will look like, I wonder about droughts and floods, I wonder about people and animals and how we all will live together on a planet that may well have to feed more than it has the capacity to sustain. I am not alone with these worries - visual expressions underpinned by scientific insight exist all around, including the Doomsday Clock, created by Atomic Scientists in 1947 and annually adjusted, and the World Overshoot Day, expected for 2023 on August 2nd, or the Stockholm University’s  Planetary Boundary Diagram. The Environmental Movement does not like us to speak in terms of doom and gloom, mainly perhaps because research tells them that hearing too many of such narratives can lead to apathy. Christian environmental groups take it a step further, looking for hope in prayer, scripture and action, trusting that there will be a tomorrow, of some kind.
If there were a tomorrow is in fact the title of an exhibition that I stepped into this week, offered by Vienna’s World Museum (Weltmuseum) through next January. Its theme is Science Fiction - a genre in literature that we typically associate with imagined yet non-existing technology and its impact; we tend to think about space ships or fantasy dragons, and some of us may be aware of the writings of futurists or utopians such as H.G. WellsJules Verne, or Hugo Gernsback.
Foto:What ideas about the future do people hold who have experienced environmental traumas and colonization? The exhibition gives voice to indigenous artists who offer views of alternative pathways ahead.
This exhibition is rather different to what we tend to think Science Fiction is about. Firstly, it takes a broad view of the means that people use to imagine the future, well beyond visionary works of literature and poetry, showing us an eclectic mix of, yes, books and graphic novels such as superman or star wars, as well as paintings, films, sculptures, and installations. Secondly, and perhaps most touchingly, the theme of Science Fiction is explored well beyond the well known writers and film producers but instead gives voice to artists hailing from groups who had their environment and as a result their future stolen by industrialisation and colonization. In fact, looking at some of the exhibits - for example those building on 500 years of the indigenous experience of destruction in the Amazon - I was struck by how much healing and hope there seemed to be in imagining, describing and building an alternative future, perhaps more even than in the technology-focused science fiction of western authors of the last century..
An exhibition worth going to? Definitely! It has its own website that tells you something about the different artists featured, grouped under topics such as Space Mosque, After the Apocalypse, or Brave New Worlds. But personally, I find the website a bit confusing, just clicking through things conveys information but not the sentiment that one experiences when actually being in the room with statutes, paintings or with the voices of artists recorded as they tell their own personal view of the future. Will it give you consolation that yes, there will be a tomorrow? Probably not. But it will connect you with more and different perspectives of people who all must feel or have felt the kind of worry or sadness that comes with wondering whether there will be a tomorrow.
A visit at the World Museum does not come cheap - a ticket will set you back 16 Euros - but of course you can take a moment and explore all the other sections. And if you go there before the early July, you can even check out Fruits of Labor, a tiny little exhibition running through July 9 that finds a way to use art to document nature’s destruction in China. Most amazing to me were pictures of pollinators - actual people who do hand pollination, flower by flower, in a particular valley - simply because insects, most notably bees, have been destroyed there.  The pictures are amazing documents of what a massive ecological imbalance of nature can lead to - a future that if only as a beekeeper I definitely have no intention to imagine.
Feeling inspired? Want to contribute? Remark on or question something? Please send thoughts about or suggestions for the Living Light Blog to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Blog #122: This Weekend - Make Time for World Environment Day

June 1, 2023
Monika Weber-Fahr
World Environment Day is coming up, on June 5th, next Monday - and it’s a day that is marked around the world by activities, events, and even celebrations, many of which already started on the weekend, June3rd or 4th. Also here in Vienna, there is a variety of things going on that may be worth your time and attention - offering opportunities to learn about, participate in and contribute to ways to protect nature.  World Environment Day has been celebrated annually now since 1973 - for 50 years - and it has grown from a little noticed moment for activists to a worldwide platform to promote awareness and encourage action for the protection of the environment.
One fun thing may be to combine a visit at Strandbar Herrmann with checking out a Mural called #Pixel Can - made from hundreds of empty cans - that the Recycling Initiative Every Can Counts (Jede Dose Zählt) has put up. Only seven out of ten cans used for drinks are properly recycled in Austria - and the Mural should serve as a reminder for all of us to make sure that cans go into the recycling bins. If you are interested: The Recylcing Iniitiative Every Can Counts works in 16 countries and 18 cities - in Austria in Vienna and in Graz.
Foto:This year's motto for World Environment Day is #BeatPlasticPollution. Having said that - the topics of activities associated with World Environment Day over the weekend and on Monday go well beyond this topic.
If you want to dive a little deeper into Austrian discussions about environmental topics - and if your German is up to the challenge - do check out an information session offered by the Naturfreunde Wien about environmentally friendly vacations.  Is ecologically light vacationing even possible? What are the advantages of using public transport - beyond the environmental footprint? And which areas are easy to reach - and which are not? Where to get help? Anyone interested to spend free time in nature and looking for answers to these questions is welcome on Monday, June 5, at 18:00, at the offices of the Naturfreunde Wien, Raffaelgasse 11 (room 101) in 1200 Wien. Simultaneously, also on June 5 at 18:00 - and also available only in German - is the public viewing of the new documentary “Two Way Street - aus den Augen aus dem Sinn” that describes the environmental challenges that the river Danube and its fauna and flora has to confront. The even is hosted by the Technical University Vienna (TU) who is also organizing an interesting  panel discussion with researchers working on micro-plastics, nanoparticles, toxicology and environmental management.
The Austrian Government is taking the opportunity of World Environment Day to also celebrate Eco-Label Day (Umweltzeichen-Tag) - an annual event during which enterprises and organizations marked with the prestigious Umweltzeichen (Ecolabel) are invited to undertake specific activities to make their commitment more visible. Here you can find a long list of shops and items worthwhile paying attention to throughout this weekend - ranging from reduced prices for environmentally produced notebooks at LIBRO, to a special brunch offer available on June 5 at the Henriette Stadthotel where you can taste mushroom sausages from Hut&Stiel, through to special events and menu options at many other hotels. Most practical perhaps for our English speaking community: The Haydn Cinema offers - at the occasion of Eco-Label Day - all tickets for the price of a junior ticket if you mention the word Umweltzeichen-Tag.
#BeatPlasticPollution is this year’s motto of World Environment Day - and if you have no time to participate in or check out public events, or if you are looking for something you can do without speaking German, you can always celebrate the day yourself by reducing, refusing, re-using, or recycling the plastics that you might otherwise purchase or use on that day - and beyond. Dig around a little on the Worldenvrionmentday.glogal website - you’ll find interesting information as well as ideas and suggestions on what to do yourself.
Feeling inspired? Want to contribute? Remark on or question something? Please send thoughts about or suggestions for the Living Light Blog to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Blog #121: My Little Yellow Bag

May 25, 2023
Monika Weber-Fahr
Many moons ago, on a (birth-)day, it had appeared on my doorsteps: My Little Yellow Bag. Bright as the sun and visible in night-traffic, made from seemingly invincible materials that would withstand any degree of physical abuse, this bag the best of all husbands had figured would be perfect for me. And so it was. More of a purse or a clutch, My Little Yellow Bag was somewhat like Hermione’s sackerl; you may remember the Harry Potter sequel when Hermione placed an Undetectable Extension Charm on her bag, allowing her to store insane numbers of things therein that really did not seem to be able to fit. Until they did. Well, that was exactly how My Little Yellow Bag performed. And now it’s gone. Left behind and forgotten in a pub when I was in a rush, it is now in the possession of some other lucky person. And I have to go and find a new one.
There was something else that was special about My Little Yellow Bag: It had been an upcycled bag. Freitag bags are made from discarded truck tarps, left-behind seat belts and airbags. The only new materials they use are zippers, buckles, and so on. The idea to upcycle something is as old as there are materials - something breaks or cannot be used for its original purpose, and we fiddle with it and turn it into something else. A famous example was Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind who took the old velvet curtains from a plantation home and created a stunning ball gown for herself. Thirty years ago, Freitag was one of the first firms to make a business model out of Upcycling: Originally a tiny start-up, endowed with the ingenuity and energy of two students with great ideas and a little bit of money, Freitag has by now evolved into one of the leaders in the market for upcycled bags, backpacks, accessories and apparel.
Foto: My Little Yellow Bag had been with me on many journeys over the last years - a fabulous product of the newly emerging Upcycle industry, made from discarded truck tarps and left-behind seat belts. Now looking for a replacement, I checked out a number of Vienna's Upcycle Stores, all of them well worth a visit, notably Kellerwerk and Garbarage. Check them out!  
Having begun researching for a replacement for My Little Yellow Bag, I am somewhat overwhelmed by what’s on offer these days. A quick google search on Upcycled Bags gives me over 6 million hits; many many firms around the world offer bags and other wearables made from upcycled materials. Looking to focus, I decided to stay away from online options and go shopping in person. Vienna has at least five shops that focus on upcycled products - some of them upcycled by their own team, in other cases upcycled by others. Amongst them, I checked out two: Kellerwerk in the Gumpendorfer Strasse offers beautiful and quite extraordinary pieces of furniture while Garbarage in Schleifmühlgassetakes takes on a broader set of items, covering both super-cool looking furniture and decorative pieces as well as wearables. Located in the fourth district, its absolutely worth a visit - with the added bonus that Bobby’’s, the British food store, is right around the corner. Even if you don’t walk out with a fun and happy-looking upcycled item, you will leave inspired about what one can do with everyday items.
Where is this leaving me with my search for a replacement for My Little Yellow Bag? There is a Freitag Store in Neubaugasse 26 I where I could get a nearly-exact replica - noting, of course, that upcycled products always are unique, simply because they are upcycled. I am also contemplating something else: There is someone in Germany who is producing and selling bags made from materials used by Fire Brigades - discarded fire hoses and firemen’s uniforms - looking not only cool but also incredibly sturdy.  So it might well be that My Little Yellow Bag will be reborn as a bright red FeuerWear bag.  And while I am contemplating, I’ll keep exploring the fascinating world of upcycled products - a journey well worth perhaps also for you to go on, not just because you are doing your bit for Mother Nature (by lessening the waste we create), but also because you will discover many unique and beautiful things.
Feeling inspired? Want to contribute? Remark on or question something? Please send thoughts about or suggestions for the Living Light Blog to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Blog #120: It's wild for Wild Bees in Vienna

May 18, 2023
Monika Weber-Fahr
On the wall of my study there is a picture of a bumble bee. The sentence below the picture reads “A Bumble Bee has a flight level of 0.7 cm2, at a weight of 1.2 gramm. According to the known laws of aerodynamics, it is impossible to fly under these circumstances. The bumble bee does not know this. She just flies”.  No, I am not normally someone who would surround herself with aphorisms on the walls of her flat, it was a present. And no, also the sentence itself is not true, not anymore anyways. Many of you may know that it goes back to a statement by French Physicist August Magnan who in the 1930s made the point that according to science known at the time  one could not explain how the flapping of their wings would keep their hefty bodies in the air. Fast forward 90 years, and science’s now improved technologies have allowed us to find out what’s behind the supposed mystery: It’s simply an unconventional combination of short, choppy wing strokes, a rapid rotation of the wings, and a very fast wing-beat frequency.
Why contemplate about bumblebees today? Next Sunday - May 20 - is the UN’s World Bee Day, a day meant to raise awareness of the important role that bees and other pollinators such as butterflies, bats and hummingbeards have in contributing to our food security. And that includes bumblebees. 75% of the world’s food crops and 35% of global agricultural land depend entirely or at least in part on animal pollination - and yet the pollinators in our cities and countrysides are under threat. Much attention during World Bee Day goes to the honey bee, and as a beekeeper myself I have written two LivingLight blogs - last year and the year before - about beekeeping, honey bees, and honey. This year, instead, I’d love to take you on a quick little journey into the world of the Wild Bees. Not just because it makes sense and it is interesting - but also  because there is a special place right in our Christ Church neighborhood where many of them live, the Vienna Botanical Garden.
Foto: Here you see one of the many Wild Bees that live in the Vienna Botanical Garden, around the corner from our church building, in a picture taken by Hlompho during our Walk in the Park on April 29. And no, we neither remember the name of the flowers nor know the name of the Wild Bee species. If you recognize either, do send a message to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
Probably more than 100 different species of Wild Bees live in the Botanical Garden alone - quite a feat for what are just 8 hectares in the middle of the city. In 1912, some 70 species were observed, and by the 1990s - when another study was conducted - there were 129. As more and more plant species were added over the years, the hope is that also species diversity among Wild Bees has been either sustained or even increased since then - a study currently ongoing will tell us in about a year. How do I know? Three weeks ago, at our guided Walk in the Park, the Director of the Botanical Gardens, Professor Michael Kiehn introduced us to some of nature’s treasures over there - and these include quite a few Wild Bees. Globally as well as in Europe Wild Bees are under threat: In Switzerland and Germany, about half of the species’ are formally considered under threat, and in Austria, where about 700 Wild Bee species live, the assessment is currently ongoing. In the meantime, the Botanical Garden - just like many other groups and organizations - does two things specifically to help them out: Firstly, they invest in having a truly diverse set of flowers and trees, offering nectar and pollen throughout the entire (bee) year. And secondly, they have created spaces for Wild Bees to nest and reproduce, including a quite visible Bee Hotel. 
Why are Wild Bees so fragile - or seemingly so? It’s mostly about food. While the Honey Bee can access food sources within a radius of about 3 kilometers, most Wild Bees forage only a few 100 meters away from their nest. On top of that, they are much more selective than Honey Bees, highly specialized in drawing food only from a few types of flowers and trees, most of them equally considered wild. With agricultural spaces growing in size and both agriculture and also our gardens focusing on less and less varieties, there are simply less and less spaces where a Wild Bee can find enough flowers and trees in her proximity that would - in combination - offer blossoms with nectar and pollen throughout the year. What we can do is simple - plant local wildflowers on our balconies and in our gardens, and, if there is space, put up a little BeeHotel someplace. That does help, as does, quite frankly getting politically active or supporting those that are, lobbying for laws that support biodiversity and limit pesticides. But that’s maybe for another day and another blog.
In the meantime, even if you have no garden or balcony but would want to learn more about and observe Wild Bees in Vienna, you are in luck: Several of the local Gardens and Parks have a large and diverse population of Wild Bees. In fact, across Vienna, Europe’s Wild Bee capital, you can find some 450+ of the 700+ Austrian Wild Bees, and aside from the Botanical Garden there are also other great places to check out, including the Donauinsel, the Garten der Vielfalt in Esslingen, or the Blumengärten Hirschstetten. And if you have time this weekend, do also check out some of the public activities on offer this Friday and Saturday, May 19 and 20, organized by the City of Vienna for those curious to learn about Biodiversity in town. Of course, you can always go and visit the Honey Bees, also: At the Vienna Tag des Offenen Bienenstocks, on Sunday, May 21st, between 11 am and 5pm in the Amundsenstraße vis-a-vis # 14, where the Vienna Imkerverband will introduce you to everything you always wanted to know or never knew you wanted - about Bees in Vienna.  Enjoy!
Feeling inspired? Want to contribute? Remark on or question something? Please send thoughts about or suggestions for the Living Light Blog to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.