Archive for the ‘social justice’ Category

Extinction Rebellion Lincoln

April 18, 2019

Mail on Sunday saw a ludicrous feature on Extinction Rebellion, they were deluded, they wished to take us back to a fossil free dark age.

No, they recognise we face a Climate Emergency, that a fossil free future is our only future.

London, key points were taken. It was not until the third day BBC started to report.

Police have been deployed to arrest peaceful protesters. Would they not be better deployed to deal with knife crime?

Arresting people is pointless, and on dodgy legal grounds. For every person arrested, two more take their place.

Nothing learnt from Civil Rights protests in US. Arresting people, more take to the streets.

In Algeria and Sudan, the people have taken to the streets, faced down oppression, kicked two brutal dictators out of office.

In Lincoln, on Day 4, a small gathering under a tree in the High Street.

Were they there days before, I do not know.

One ignorant man shouted abuse, hit out at the disruption in London.

That disruption is as nothing when London floods due to rising sea levels.

Extinction Rebellion have taken direct action as a last resort, for far too long our corrupt politicians have been in the pocket of big business, giving the go ahead to fracking, to Heathrow expansion, subsidies to oil industry, go ahead for open cast mining.

Direct action is the only action that has ever changed anything.

It will cost far more not to address climate change to sit back and do nothing.

Protesters in Lincoln were calling on Lincoln City Council to declare a Climate Emergency, as many councils already have, to halt the Western Growth Corridor.

Activists need to seize control of the local Town Hall, to end the one-party state in the pocket of the local coop and big business, follow the example of Madrid, Barcelona and A Coruña, open to public participation, network across Europe with other citizen-controlled Town Halls.

Lincoln and Lincolnshire have an appalling bus service. Try getting a bus to anywhere after 1900 in the evening.

The pedestrianised High Street is not. Lorries drive through any time of the day. No enforcement action, local council and police turn a blind eye.

There is a ban between 1000 and 1600, but no one takes a blind bit of notice.

There should be a ban 24/7, emergency vehicles only. Lorries park on the periphery, deliver by hand cart and trolley. The norm in Europe

Maybe they will, but the protesters should have sat down on High Bridge and blocked the High Street.

Ban wood burning stoves from the city.

It beggars belief we still build new build with no solar panels on the roof.

We need local area power distribution networks, owned and controlled by the local community, into which feed renewables paid a fair price, consumers pay a fair price. Surplus generation fed to other local networks via a publicly owned National Grid. Any ‘profit’ either fed back into the system or used to fund local community projects. Electric cars provide a nighttime base load.

Avoid any corporate chain coffee shops, enjoy specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic in an indie coffee shop. In Lincoln that would be Coffee Aroma or Madame Waffle. Reusable coffee cups glass Keep Cup or bamboo ecoffeecup address symptoms.

The planning application for a drive-thru Costa must be opposed. No one who loves coffee would be seen dead in Costa. More traffic. At a time when we should be reducing our dependency on the car, an application for yet another drive-thru. Local Coop once again acting for corporate chains whilst at the same time destroying Sincil Street. Those who love coffee relax in Coffee Aroma or Madame Waffle with specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic.

Brighton has Hisbe. Lincoln needs a zero waste store.

An animal diet, apart from being nutritionally dense thus better for our health, is environmental sound, grass fed animals are part of the natural cycle, improving the soil acts as a carbon sink.

We need to re-wild.

We have to drastically reduce our emissions of carbon. The longer we delay, the deeper the cuts.

Children are going on strike on Fridays. They question why their future is being destroyed.

We need a Green New Deal.

Read This Changes Everything.

Hacks at failing local rags The Lincolnite and Lincolnshire Echo failed to cover the protest.

Om Nom issue 2

April 5, 2019

I first came across Om Nom during a recent trip to Brighton late last year in Magazine Brighton then again in Infinity Foods. I decided to pick up what was on sale In Infinity Foods, issue No 3.

Issue 2? I checked to find impossible to obtain, long sold out.

Then an idea, Ideas on Paper, always back issues.

Out of luck.

Then another idea, Outpost Coffee. I was in luck, not only a copy, they kindly gave me their copy.

Afternoon Christmas Day, after Christmas dinner, I settled down to read Om Nom issue 2.

Om Nom is a food magazine, ethical food and lifestyle.

What is ethical?

Veganism is not ethical. It is a lifestyle choice. A lifestyle choice bordering on quasi-religious fundamentalism.

If you do not want milk in a cappuccino, fine, but do not expect a quality cappuccino with fake milk. It will look and taste disgusting.

What of soya milk, is it ethical? Where has the soya come from? Plantations where once stood rain forests. Soy can be an allergen. The soy is possibly genetically modified. Soy is bitter and has to have additives to remove the bitterness.

What of almond milk? If California, what of the water used in a state suffering from drought and over extraction of water? Five litres of water for each almond.

If do not like milk, for whatever reason, have single origin V60 pour over.

But if insist on fake milk in a cappuccino, then ask for Oatley not an inferior cheap oat milk, and blend in the pouring jug. It looks and tastes marginally better but is not great.

Yes, we should eat more fruit and vegetables, grains and nuts, less processed food, maybe less meat, but we need to take a whole systems approach, not be the latest bigot in town jumping on the latest fashionable bandwagon, the latest fad.

In many parts of the world, grazing animals is more environmentally sound than growing crops.

https://twitter.com/EricaHauver/status/1109108123573387264

There is nothing intrinsically healthy about a vegan diet, especially when highly processed.

Organic food heavily processed is still heavily processed food.

Fake milks are highly processed, loaded with sugar. Fake meats heavily processed, laced with additives, just for starters, pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, water, yeast extract, maltodextrin, natural flavours, gum Arabic.

Was the demand for vegan sausage rolls from Greggs an indication of how bad their regular sausage rolls?

Then there is the need for supplements, on what is claimed to be a healthy diet.

And what of the environmental cost?

Nitrogen-based fertilisers, pesticides, palm oil, genetic modification, reliance on oil industry, just a few of the issues.

Africa, Europe, Asia, North America was covered in open woodland and grassland, savannah, prairie, across which roamed huge herds of herbivores. Man was a hunter gatherer, ate red meat, ate fat, grains did not form part of our diet.

EAT-Lancet diet for a small planet, almost vegan, good for our health, good for the planet, too good to be true, the wheels fell off within days when subject to proper scientific scrutiny. That promoted by agribusiness should send alarm bells ringing.

Too much fake science. For example a vegan burger compared with a meat burger, the former served with green tea, the latter served with a latte with half a dozens spoons of sugar.

There is no such thing as cheap food, we simply externalise the costs, social costs, human rights abuse, environmental degradation, climate chaos and animal welfare.

A handful of people eating plants does little to address ethics in food production.

It is not ethical when we praise quality but expensive food, nor when we praise cheap substandard food.

It is not ethical when rich folk enjoy food produced by poor folk who get poorer the harder they work. It is not ethical when the rich get richer peddling junk food to the masses.

It is not ethical when we live in a world where McDonald’s, Starbucks and Costa colonise our towns.

Is it ethical to put a brick through McDonald’s or Starbucks?  Or should we create and support alternatives, indie coffee shops, direct trade, serving specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic, local restaurants, the Italian osteria, supporting local producers, serving local and regional dishes?

An act of unbelievable crass stupidity when vegan quasi-religious fundamentalists target Hisbe, an ethical food store. Where next, Infinity Foods, a workers cooperative? Maybe not, Infinity Foods bake vegan cakes and where would we be without vegan cakes? Maybe do something useful, target and shut down McDonald’s or a kebab shop.

Use of instagram is not ethical. Owned by facebook, claim ownership rights to your pictures, act as bait to draw into the facebook walled garden, pictures posted via robot to twitter are not visible on twitter, the pictures could be used to promote something you are opposed to, you would not know as they do not ask permission to use your pictures, complicit in teen self-harm and suicide.

Business model of facebook is to steal and abuse personal data, to manipulate. Facebook are part of a lobbying group opposed to CO2 reductions.

Post pictures direct to twitter, post videos to youtube or vimeo, put a link to videos on facebook, drive traffic out of not into facebook.

Instagram is hosting material that is leading young teens to self harm and take their own lives. A shocking account of how one young teenager was led to take her own life by material on Instagram.

Latest evil of Instagram, complicit in eating disorders.

Anyone encouraging use of instagram, is complicit in teen self harm. People and companies must pull the plug on instagram. Or do they wish to be complicit in teen suicides?

Engaging in a partnership with Tesco is not ethical.

To engage in partnership with Big Business is not ethical. It will be business as usual, at best greenwash.

It is ethical to create and support alternatives, build from the ground up, local, cooperative networks, disrupt, build disruptive business models that topple the existing entrenched order, but not aid, to let their existence continue.

We need to look at the entire business cycle, not focus on one aspect.

The Mylkman delivers nut milk in bottles via bicycle and now electric milk float. That he is using and recycling glass jars from a nearby restaurant is good, also that he is finding uses for the nut waste products, but where do the nuts come from, how are they processed, what happens to the waste?

With every business featured, I would ask are they coops, open coops, do they network with other local businesses, do they accept local currencies, faircoin?

Cheese comes from the milk of ruminants, they process what we cannot eat, turn it into milk, rare breed cows out on pasture, unpasteurised milk, turned into cheese, is a wholesome natural product, without any additives, flavourings, not adulterated in any way. Slow food at its best. Anything else, is not cheese.

If not made from milk, it is not cheese. It is disingenuous to claim threatened when asked to desist on calling a product cheese when it is not cheese.

Chocolate is very strictly defined:

  • cocoa solids – sugar
  • cocoa solids – cocoa butter – sugar – vanilla

Anything less is not chocolate, at least in the US, in EU 5% vegetables oils. Which means cheap crap chocolate substitutes vegetable oils for cocoa butter, the really cheap crap palm oil.

If we have standards for what can be called chocolate, it is reasonable to expect standards for what may be called cheese.

The demand for cashew nuts to satisfy vegans, especially for fake cheese, is leading to appalling working conditions for those in the Third World who shell the nuts

Threatened is when vegan fundamentalists and terrorists send pig farmers death threats. Yes the pigs may be reared in inhumane conditions, and yes that should be addressed.

 

Zero waste is a journey we should all be on.

In nature the concept of waste does not exist either in time or space, the output of one process the input to another.

People walking down the street with coffee cup in hand is a fairly recent phenomena, a recent trend.

Taking a KeepCup to Pret a Manger is not an ethical choice.

Pret a Manger was once part owned by McDonald’s, now 100% owned by German Vulture Capitalists. Pret a Manger even before acquisition dodged tax.

Reusable cups address symptoms not the underlying problem of grab it and go, pointless consumerism.

We need to stop buying stuff we do not need. We buy stuff, own it for six months, a temporary pause from extraction, manufacture, then ownwards to incineration or landfill.

More coffee shops need to follow the example set by Napier Quarter, a coffee shop in Australia that has banned takeaway coffee.

Relax in an indie coffee shop with specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic, single origin coffee, direct trade not the FairTrade scam, transparency, traced back to origin to the farm where the coffee was grown and the best ripest reddest coffee cherries picked, the farmers paid for quality, a higher price than the FairTrade price which is a tiny premium above the price for commodity coffee.

It is indie coffee shops that have led the way with direct trade, compostable coffee cups, keepcup and ecoffee bamboo clones on sale, discount if bring in own clean barista friendly cup. They are leading the way serving specialty coffee in glass or ceramic.

Ask what do they do with coffee grounds? Ask they put out in a strong paper carrier bag for gardeners to carry home.

Small Batch in Brighton have an arrangement where coffee grounds are collected by a mushroom grower Espresso Mushroom Company and used to grow oyster mushrooms. The cycle is closed when Small Batch sell the mushroom growing kits.

Shop in zero waste stores, Hisbe in Brighton which recently celebrated five years, Keep in Farnham, a small room above a vegan restaurant which only opened a few weeks ago.

If shop in Waitrose, harangue the staff and management, ask why fresh produce wrapped in plastic, bananas rotting on the shelves, ask are they still in the environmental dark ages? In M&S individual turnips shrink-wrapped in plastic, coconuts with shells hacked off shrink wrapped in plastic.

In Hisbe, all the fresh produce loose, not wrapped in plastic, pick what you want, pop in a paper bag, weigh, label then purchase.

Bad as Waitrose and M&S are for plastic and over packaging, as nothing compared with Hotel Chocolat with their excessive over packaging and obscene use of plastic.

It was not so long ago buying water in a bottle would have seemed a strange choice when it came free at the turn of a tap. Similarly it would have seemed strange to carry milk back from the shop when it was delivered to the door.

I remember being at my grandmother’s when the milk cart passed by early in the morning, I would hear the rattle of the milk bottles, one of the first sounds I would hear of a morning. It may have even been horse drawn.

I also remember how as children we would knock on doors, and ask for their empties, take to the corner shop and claim the deposit.

We recycle stuff, what of people and places?

There are many abandoned and derelict buildings, abandoned land, people thrown on the scrap heap.

ReSpace puts to use empty and abandoned buildings.

The Hive in Dalston hosted conferences, workshops, small businesses, social enterprises, theatre, music.

A derelict shopping centre in Aldershot could have been reused, but no one came forward to take it on.

Nomadic Community Gardens, a spare bit of land, two people toiling away, bringing back into use. They did not ask for volunteers, the community joined in.

Land in London, ethnic communities, amazing variety of vegetables grown.

A large garden, too much work, people who desire a plot to work, join forces, share what is grown.

The system outlined by Dale Vince of Ecotricty for power distribution is neither green nor ethical. No we do not need large lithium-ion batteries, fields covered in solar panels, crops grown for biofuels.  Lithium is scarce, comes from conflict zones.

We should be creating community owned and controlled local area networks, fed by renewables paid a fair price, mandatory for every new build to have solar on the roof, consumers pay a fair price, any surplus generation fed to other local grids via a publicly owned National Grid, any monetary surplus either fed back into the local grid or used to fund local community projects.

Biodigesters on farms can power the farm, feed into their local grid, the residual waste put back on the fields.

The so-called smart meters being rolled out across the country are anything but smart, all they do is provide real time indication of the electricity we are using.

A real smart meter would enable remote switching on and off of low grade usage. For example an immersion heater for hot water could be turned off to help reduce peak demands, with an override switch.  Electric cars can be charged over night to deliver a base load for wind and wave turbines.

We need heat pumps. All new build should have heat pumps.

Imagine an estate powered by one power station. Build a second estate, conventional thinking is we now need a second power station. No, reduce power consumption of existing estate, build second estate to much higher standards, maybe even a net contributor to the local grid, now not only do we not need a second power station, we have surplus generation from the first, or can be replaced with a more efficient power source, which could be an off-shore wind farm.

We need a Green New Deal. We need a soft energy path, where generation is matched to supply.

Dale Vince owns Forest Green Rovers, a football club he has taken from a village side to the Football League with ambitions to go further.

Classed as the greenest football club in the world. The pitch is chemical free, mowed by a solar-powered, GPS-controlled, robot mower. Real Madrid visited to view the pitch.

A new stadium will be built using wood from sustainable sources, solar power on the roof.  Outside the stadium, charging points for electric cars.

Food served is vegan. Fans come from miles around for the food, not because they are vegan, the food is better than typical football club fare.

Jamie Oliver featured the club for veganuary on his Friday Night Feast on Channel 4.

Veganuary was much hyped, yes a big increase, but a big increase on a small number is still a very small number. The real measure, how many stuck to a vegan diet? A mere 16%, a tiny number on an already small number. Butchers reported no loss of business.

A vegan sausage at Greggs was much hyped. Did sales increase because their sausage rolls were so bad? Bad diet, highly processed junk food, a diet rich in highly processed carbohydrates.

Several of the people featured in Om Nom issue 2 have come from what David Graeber would describe as bullshit jobs. The classic bullshit job marketing. Was it these bullshit jobs that was the impetuous to do something different, to add meaning to their lives, to make a difference? What they fail to comprehend is that it can no longer be Businesses as Usual, we cannot draw from businesses, we have to implement radical changes, there is no Planet B.

Do you have to be a vegan to be an activist?

Do you have to be an activist to be a vegan?

What is an activist? What is activism?

Signing an online petition. Joining a protest. Occupying Starbucks. Refusing to cross the threshold of Starbucks or McDonald’s. Blocking access to a fracking site. Supporting local coops. Relaxing in an indie coffee shop serving direct trade specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic. Objecting to obscene use of plastic by supermarkets. Lobbying politicians. Buying fresh produce off local markets, dried goods from zero waste stores. Objecting to McDonald’s trashing a local pub.

Activism takes many forms. And no, do not have to be a vegan to be an activist.

If we look at meat consumption, be it per capita or per country, it has risen. It would appear the richer we are, the more meat we consume, no meat or little meat is seen as a poor person’s diet. This level of meat consumption is not sustainable.

In 1961, global meat consuption 22kg per capita, 2007 40kg per capita.

There is though a large disparity between countries. India 3.2kg per capita, for Brits and Americans, 85.8kg and 125.4kg per capita respectively.

One of the driving factors was in the USA, post WWII, increased production was going to lead to a glut, people were urged to eat more meat.

But the figures are highly misleading. Meat consumption has risen, but only because of the increase in poultry consumption. This is for the last century. If we go back two centuries, meat consumption, red meat consumption, has declined. If we look at the the historical record, red meat consumption was much higher.

We should also note that if we go back to 1900, consumption of vegetable oil was near zero, if we compare with today. The exception being olive oil in Greece.

But even in Greece, use of olive oil does not stretch back into antiquity. The use of olive oil was cosmetic not culinary.

The Mediterranean Diet is recent, conferences in Mediterranean locations, good food, favourable reports, get an invite for next year, all floated on an olive oil industry slush fund.

No food magazine is complete without recipes. Om Nom is no exception and has a handful of recipes scattered throughout its pages.

They say print is dead. Who they are I do not know. Print is not dead.

What is dead is the rubbish we find in the newsagent, the glossy freebies no one wants, vehicles to peddle crap we do not want, an appalling waste of trees.

Quality print, Om Nom, Ambrosia, Standart, Drift, no advertising, is not dead. Nor the outlets, indie coffee shops, Ideas on Paper, Magazine Brighton.

Om Nom is available as a digital copy, the price is too high. It should be set at one pound, maximum two pounds, made available on LeanPub, set own download format.

Also make Om Nom available on Issuu to browse on-line.

Independent Life is an example of a quality print magazine available on Issuu to browse on-line.

The name Om Nom, I have absolutely no idea. I have asked wherever found, and everyone admits they do not know either. It has been suggested it may mimic the sound of eating.

Big Rock Coffee Company

March 4, 2018

I had never heard of Big Rock Coffee Company until my attention was drawn to a coffee shop hosting a focus group.

Canopy Coffee are looking for keen coffee enthusiasts to partake in a FREE focus group discussion this Wednesday 28th at 6.30pm to give some consumer reaction to an exciting new coffee concept – Big Rock.

When anyone talks of something being exciting, the alarm bells start sounding, worse still a focus group.

Why is everything referred to as exciting? It is PR marketing gibberish, nothing else.

Focus groups are widely discredited.

Why would any reputable coffee shop host a focus group?

Why restrict to the age group 25-40, does no one drink coffee outside this age group? What does it say of the coffee shop?

It took place, the snow was bad. No detailed report posted for those who could not attend or who were barred by the age discrimination.

My curiosity was piqued.

I decided to check out this coffee company, what was special, why did they need a focus group, why not simply sell speciality coffee to discerning coffee shops?

Big Rock is a small single-origin coffee company built on a big idea.

We’re committed to :

1. Providing exceptional quality coffee from single origin sources.

2. Making a big difference to people’s lives by offering stability and hope in an unpredictable world.

We’re honest people with a clear message. We wanted our name to reflect those principles.

It just so happens that we found our first coffee partner on a farm overlooked by a gigantic monolith called ‘El Peñol.’

Marketing hype, tells me nothing about the coffee.

Digging further, more marketing hype, ‘genuinely unique flavour profile rarely found in the UK’ they claim what they are doing is something new, ‘pioneer a new sourcing model directly from his farm’

We’re not willing to compromise and sell Better Coffee using an outdated system which disenfranchises our own farmers. That’s why we created ShareTrade.

And more of the same

Our greatest asset is our direct relationships with individual farmers; the people who’ve planted, nourished and tended their crop – often for decades. So before we started building websites and designing logos, we packed our bags and travelled to the mountains of Colombia.

We learned that the real struggle farmers face is uncertainty. Fluctuating prices and currency exchange rates, insect infestations and plant diseases that threaten their livelihood combine to make coffee farming an extremely risky way to provide for their families. Not only that, some of these problems lead to a lower yield and poorer quality coffee, creating a chain reaction that ends up hurting you, our customer.

The current system seems to work for everyone except the people who matter most- the farmers. There’s so much good work being done by agencies and NGOs on the ground, but we believe the only solution is a total review of the pricing model and striking a mutually beneficial economic deal with the farmers, and a better system of value creation. So we created ShareTrade, a new sourcing model.

NGOs are not doing an excellent job on the ground, they are outsiders, make promises rarely kept, take a few photos with smiling faces to be use for fund raising back home, then depart in their air-conditioned 4x4s, never to be seen again.

NGOs step in, launch projects, outsiders, with no local knowledge, no long term commitment.

As Phil Adams reports, they have a name for these projects in Uganda.

Project has become a dirty word. In Ugandan coffee farming circles it means “fuck things up and take pretty pictures”.

So what is ShareTrade? Is it a coffee crowdfunding, as the name would suggest? Or maybe with all the marketing hype, a scam?

No, it is Direct Trade, but given a different name.

ShareTrade is a new model of cooperation with coffee farmers that recognises and rewards the value they create.

We start with a simple viability price. This price is what’s needed to ensure the profitability of coffee farmers – and take it from us, it’s a lot more than the market price, or even the Fairtrade price. This viability price is guaranteed, come rain or shine (and you need a bit of both.) It’s the foundation that gives our farmers confidence, stability and a basis for committing to their farms and to producing quality coffee.

But a better price and a commitment to investment are just two thirds of what ShareTrade is. The final part is our relationships. We maintain constant contact with our farmers, sometimes as mentors, but mostly as pupils, working together to build a long term system which rewards quality and innovation. And as we look to develop our business and start to make a profit, our commitment is to sharing this with the farmers too.

ShareTrade is the heart of Big Rock – the foundation that lets us accomplish our dream: to bring about deep satisfaction at every level of the coffee chain.

FairTrade is a marketing scam to make smug middle class feel good, nothing more. It pays a tiny premium above commodity price. By not rewarding quality, it maintains growers in poverty.

Direct Trade is about building long term relationships, paying a higher price for quality. Everyone benefits, the growers, the roasteries, coffee shops, those of us who appreciate decent coffee.

Direct Trade offers transparency, accountability, traceability.

No mention by Big Rock of varietals, processing, Q grade of their coffee.

To claim they are doing something new, is disingenuous, it is insulting to the many who have been working hard for many years to establish long term relations to pay higher premiums for coffee, to bring us speciality coffee.

To name but a few, Square Mile, Union Hand-Roasted Coffee, Hasbean, Small Batch, Falcon Speciality Coffee, Dark Woods Coffee, with apologies to the many I have not mentioned.

The name Union in Union Hand-Roasted derives from a union of farmers, roasters, tasters, drinkers and tweeters.

Last week I was contacted by someone who tried to justify drinking at Starbucks because he did not wish to drink coffee at a hipster indie coffee shop. This level of bullshit only serves to reinforce their prejudice.

All Big Rock has done, is renamed Direct Trade, ShareTrade, claimed it is something new, then surrounded it with marketing bullshit.

And no this is not an ‘exciting new coffee concept’ as falsely claimed by Canopy Coffee who hosted the event, which took place during the snow.

Thank you to all the participants for this discussion evening in assocation with Big Rock. Hats off for braving the freeze and the brutal wind chill to talk about all things coffee.

An extremely informative and diverse discussion with lots of opinion and great insight, both in regard to what companies perhaps could be doing and what exactly we all were drawn to as consumers. A big thanks again.

Nothing informative. A detailed report for those who did not or could not attend or were excluded by the age discrimination would have been useful, maybe something to look forward to. The claim ‘what companies perhaps could be doing’ is simply false, many companies are engaged in Direct Trade, working hard to improve the lot of growers, improve the supply chain, to deliver quality coffee.

I have made no mention of the coffee, I have not tried, but Big Rock are not doing either themselves or the farm from which they source any favours with this bullshit. Excellent coffee speaks for itself. It does not need marketing hype or bullshit.

It may well be Big Rock supply excellent coffee. I am more than willing if supplied with a bag, to cup and see how it stacks up in a cup of coffee.

Real Fresh Coffee by the co-founders of Union has a section on Direct Trade, Coffeeography the growers and farms from where Stephen Leighton head of Hasbean sources his coffee,  The Monk of Mokha the risks one Yemeni man Mokhtar Alkhanshali took to bring speciality coffee out of war-torn Yemen.

The Lincoln Coffee Festival kicks off on Wedneday 14 March 2018 at Coffee Aroma  with an afternoon of conversation and book signing with Stephen Leighton. An opportunity to learn about Direct Trade with one of the pioneers of Direct Trade. No bullshit guaranteed.  Chat and speciality coffee served by experts.

End of Capitalism and future of work

November 9, 2017

The State could provide everything.

In Ancient Mesopotamia, the Temple Complex had gardens, farms, workshops, foundries.

In Classical Greece, the State controlled the gold and silver mines, minted the coinage. The coinage used to pay the military who used to pay for provisions. The traders and merchants and farmers used the coinage to pay taxes to the State.

In Medieval Europe the State created and regulated markets through the issue of Charters.

Post-2008, we are now post-capitalism.

We see capitalism has failed, the signs are everywhere, offshore tax havens, food banks, skewed wealth distribution, beggars on the street, wages have flat-lined workers have not shared in the growing economy, pollution, loss of natural habitat, global warming, break up of EU, increasing risk of wars for raw resources, all kept afloat on a sea of debt through quantitative easing.

The market has failed to function.

The market self-regulates and yet it failed to regulate the banks, the banks had to be bailed out by the State.

Price is a signal in the market. If marginal cost of information goods tends to zero, the market cannot function.

Robots can replace most jobs. The only reason they have not so far is because wages have been driven so low.

Classic example is the automated car wash replaced by a bunch of immigrants with dirty rags and a bucket of dirty water.

Worse still, as Paul Mason describes, workers being turned into human robots.

A month ago I met somebody who organizes trade unions at a warehouse. She was getting the minimum wage and worked on a zero-hour contract. The company could call her at any time on a very short notice, or not call her at all. One time they called her by accident. She arrived and they paid her for the exact amount of time it took to get there and then go home. She quit but not because of that, but because they asked her to wear a Go-Pro camera and a GPS unit on her arm to better manage her movements. This use of automation is crazy and it seems obvious that this warehouse could be entirely automated. People don’t need to do this work. They do because wage levels and trade union rights are so minimal in this country it is cheaper to employ a person rather than a machine.

Post-capitalism we could go one of two ways.

A world of Uber, Deliveroo, soul-destroying, temporary, zero-hours McShit jobs.

Or we could have open coops, collaborative commons, a sharing economy.

Companies like Uber and Deliveroo can easily be put out of business. Create properly regulated open coop platforms. If these are developed as open source, they can be replicated, adopted, adapted across other cities.

There is for example a black cab app for London. If open source, other cities can use, if an open coop platform, the taxi drivers have a say in how it is used, share the wealth it produces, if an open coop, those who hail the taxi have a say and share the wealth created, as does the community in which it is embedded.

Collaborative commons should not be restricted to the provision of goods and services, it has to be extended to social and political space. Ordinary citizens have to seize control of Town Halls, open up to public participation, network with other citizen-controlled Town Halls.

Radical Monarchs

January 7, 2017

The Radical Monarchs create opportunities for young girls of color to form fierce sisterhood, celebrate their identities and contribute radically to their communities. — Radical Monarchs

A group of girls, they could have joined the Scouts and learnt how to rub two sticks together, instead they formed their own troop the Radical Monarchs and fight for social justice.

A group of very intelligent girls.

The world needs more of them.

Thoughts of what could be for the New Year

December 31, 2016

As one year fades away and another begins, thoughts of Michel Bauwens of what could be.

Fake McDonald’s coffee news story

December 18, 2016

Only a clown would serve coffee heated to 190 degrees(!)

It hit the headlines a few weeks ago, a young woman had a coffee from a McDonald’s takeaway, her boyfriend drove off, took a corner too fast, the hot coffee was spilled in her lap, she suffered third degree burns. She sued McDonald’s.

The trolls crawled out from beneath their stones, attacked her for her stupidity.

Not a word of sympathy that she had suffered third degree burns.

Only one problem, the story was fake, it had been planted by McDonald’s to distract from the real story.

There was no young woman, there was no boyfriend taking a corner too fast.

There was a 79-year-old lady sat in a car in a car park with her grandson.  She accidentally split coffee in her lap. Nothing more serious than wet stained clothes. Only it was, because McDonald’s delivered the coffee way too hot, scalding hot, as result the lady ended up in hospital with third degree burns, life threatening injuries and nearly died. And as this was the US, a hefty medical bill.

The lady admitted, the spilt coffee was an accident, but it was not an accident the coffee was delivered too hot. That was the fault of McDonald’s. And this was not the only case. Several hundred cases of customers burnt due to McDonald’s serving scalding hot coffee. Clearly McDonald’s were negligent and liable for the injuries, the least they could so was pay this lady’s medical bills. They refused. It was with reluctance the lady sued McDonald’s.

The court imposed punitive damages against McDonald’s.

Action Aid

October 15, 2016
Action Aid

Action Aid

Action Aid had an event below The Acropolis. I have no idea why as it was in Greek and no one could  be bothered to speak to me. Why was material not available in English? At a guess demonstrating the obstacles immigrants have to overcome to get into Europe.  I may be wrong.

Horrified they were using balloons. An environmental hazard and they should know better.  Out gassing from the balloons was unpleasant and is toxic.

I thought Action Aid was British.  Surprised  to find in Athens

ReSpacing Conference at The Hive

April 21, 2016

skipping breakfast

skipping breakfast

I arrived half an hour later than I would have wished as I caught two buses from Waterloo, rather than one, but at least arrived, and alighted more or less at the correct bus stop on Kingsland Road in Dalston.

The Hive is an office block just over the canal.

I recognised where I was as the social enterprise café established by Russell Brand is nearby.

Initial impressions, a legalised squat, though they would probably object to my description.

Up a flight of stairs, then a vast open space, but arranged into smaller areas, a kitchen cum café  in one corner, a  little rooftop garden outside. There were upper floors, these I did not explore.

Everything I saw, the chairs the tables, the stage, all had been salvaged and put to use.

Although half an hour late, an hour later than start time, I was still one of the first.

Did I understand Skipping Breakfast? Yes, food from skips.

We are told to recycle. Do we? No.

We waste food, we waste materials, we waste space.

Derelict building are everywhere. The Hive was a derelict building. In Aldershot, a dead shopping centre, with TechStart occupying one large unit, but begging to be used.

The Hive approached a developer, and with reservations, he agreed to let them use. A very short lease, the volunteers provided everything, all of which was salvaged.

The developer Michael has been completely won over, he is now a big cheer leader for ReSpace, putting derelict buildings to use for the community.

What is ReSpace?

ReSpace is a planning designation that any local council or planning authority can use.

Any property that is empty for six months can be designated ReSpace. It is then open to local communities to use, pay a peppercorn rent, the developer pays no businesses rates.

Everyone benefits.

There is now a petition calling for ReSpace to be written into planning law. Everyone is urged to please sign.

We are losing community space. We are losing green space, pubs, libraries.

Who runs these reclaimed spaces?

Volunteers.

How de we found them?

We don’t, they appear.

Nomadic Community Gardens: Two people toiling away at derelict land, bringing back into use. They did not ask for volunteers, the community joined in.

This is what happened at The Hive.

It is not only materials and spaces we need to recycle, we also need to recycle people. Idle hands, idle minds, that can be put to use on behalf of the community.

The Hive is a not for profit. The space is for use by not for profit, even for profit, they have helped set up several business, but they have to contribute to the common good. In other words they have to contribute to the collaborative commons.

The next step, having demonstrated the feasibility of The Hive, not forgetting an enlightened developer who wishes to contribute to the local community and without who The Hive would not be possible, is to establish a network of Hives, Holistic Urban Regeneration in action.

In Revolution, Russell Brand talks of Greys, a town in Essex, boarded-up shops, an air of desolation. Paul Mason mentions a similar town in PostCapitalism. These towns are everywhere.

The question is how do we regenerate them? Top down does not work. It has to be bottom up, small businesses, social enterprises, open coops, collaborative commons, sharing economy.

Aldershot is one such dismal town. Decades of bad planning decisions, a dysfunctional council with no understanding of what constitutes good town centre planning, no understanding of how local economies function, the need to recycle money within the local economy.  The streets are deserted, the shops boarded up, homeless in the shop doorways, the few who are on the street, no money to spend.

In the midst of this deprivation lies a derelict shopping centre. It could be the set for a post-apocalypse movie. There is even the occasional zombie walking through, saving on the need for extras.

The question is, what to do with it? It has been derelict for years. It is likely to remain derelict for the foreseeable future.

The one ray of hope, TechStart opened two years ago. Run by volunteers, they recycle old computers, run a net café, carry out repairs, provide training.

Last Saturday, TechStart closed, their funding had been pulled. The good news is, an outbreak of commons sense, funding for four months. But they have to become self-sufficient.

The empty shopping centre, instead of being seen as a liability, should be seen as an opportunity to showcase that alternatives are possible, that we do not have to be drawn into the addiction  of consumerism.

Look what could be possible:

  • TechStart
  • social enterprise café
  • repair shop
  • tool swap
  • credit union
  • start-ups
  • conferences
  • exhibitions

All it requires is vision.

Replicate across the country, make a difference.

What uses can that derelict building in your community be put to?

Does the local council maintain a list of derelict buildings, is it made public, are they designating as ReSpace?

For the developer, nothing worse than a derelict building, it soon falls into disrepair, becomes vandalised. Added to which the cost of securing the building. Occupation, put to community use, is better than sitting empty.

At the very least there has to be an exploration of what the The Hive in Dalston are doing. Hive started with just £250.

As a showcase building, The Hive in Dalston has demonstrated the feasibility of such a model and in only nine  months has seen over 4000 people, held 17 art exhibitions, numerous performance, environmental, political and cultural events and helped about 50 local charities. Has enabled people to start businesses and even had a skate park. This has all been achieved using a system that is self-sustaining and utilises volunteers, donations, up-cycling, recycling and sharing.

Local councils are almost an irrelevance. If they wish to work with the local community fine, if not bypass and work directly with a property developer.

The Hive are fortunate in not only having an enlightened local council, but also an enlightened property developer, who wishes to work with the local community, put something back into the local community.

Where else other than The Hive would you find activists praising a property developer, and vice a versa the property developer heaping praise on the activists?

Discussion of the London Mayoral Hustings to be held at The Hive the following day. Questions people wished to put. What are they going to do to resolve growing homelessness, we cannot sweep under the carpet or push into neighbouring boroughs. Air pollution, expansion of Heathrow and Gatwick. Encouragement of growing food locally cf Dig for Victory during WWII.

A handful of groups were invited to pitch their ideas to a panel of experts. The ideas in themselves not that interesting. What was of more interest, was the advice given and the constructive criticism that followed. One important piece of advice, have a property lawyer with you to help negotiate and draw up a contract.

The Hive held their ReSpacing Conference on Wednesday 20 April 2016. A second day will be for London Mayoral Hustings.

The Hive is reclaimed space.

The Hive is community space.

The Hive is Holistic Urban Regeneration.

Reposted in Light on a Dark Mountain.

Key difference between the “Age of Me” and the “Age of We”

March 26, 2016
wise woman in the forest

wise woman in the forest

This is the gist of the systemic presentation a sleep deprived introvert (moi) shared at the inaugural FutureMe event on March 25, 2016 at The Float@Marina Bay in Singapore.

The “Age of Me” is Form (appearances based on scarcity) while the “Age of We” is Substance (inside us – knowledge, innate gifts and authenticity based on abundance).

We’re in the exciting paradigm shift between these 2 vastly distinct (business) cultures: The competitive “Age of Me” that valued things for what they produced and the “Age of We” that values the application of knowledge through empowerment.

The “Age of We” doesn’t exist yet because our global default culture is still very much the “Age of Me.”

In the “Age of Me”, businesses operate much like a factory assembly line because knowledge is hoarded. Everything is planned (sometimes blindly) from the top and executed by people in departments (usually working in haphazard silos). As firms create, push and sell stuff, value is produced upstream and consumed downstream. Because very few people benefit financially, owning hard assets is seen as a symbol of success.

While the impact of technology maybe exponential, the “Age of Me” thinking tends to be linear: I was born, go to school, start my career, get married, start a family, etc etc. Factory assembly line thinking.

But what if the next 20 years really changes humanity more than the last 300? Our future is highly unpredictable because the challenges are systemic.

Should you choose to remain in the mega competitive Age of Me (yep, that’s also the choice you make for your children and their children), PLEASE remember it’s  how a person with money hires a person without for the lowest possible wage to make as much profit as possible for the one with money. 

Already, automation, artificial intelligence and robotics are replacing many jobs.  There are also too many reports saying most people globally will be jobless in X number of years.

If very few people have jobs or just do gigs, how do we pay for living expenses like food, shelter, clothing, transportation, etc which keep getting more and more expensive?

Some countries like Finland and New Zealand are looking into universal basic income where everyone will receive an unconditional sum of money regularly.

“All problems are either clocks or clouds.” Karl Popper

To fix a clock, you take it apart. Examine the parts before putting it back together. With a cloud, you can only observe it as a dynamic, shifting, morphing whole. But since taking things apart and “breaking them down” gives us a sense of power and control, too many still use clock thinking to address cloud (systemic) problems. Then they wonder why the problems remain or worsen.

To truly prepare for the “Age of We”, I believe we NEED to completely rethink everything and NOT use the same thinking we used when we created systemic problems like poverty and climate change. To get everyone’s best input, we will first need to co create an “Age of We” culture to empower strangers ANYWHERE to DARE trust one another.

True abundance happens when each of us can openly apply our knowledge and our gifts to empower one another to be our best for everyone’s benefit.

Instead of madly competing against another, the only person we try to be better than is the person we were yesterday.

We’re living in potentially, the most fascinating phase of transformation humanity has ever known.  To be able to truly become the best we can be – not for ourselves or our families but for everyone (including your future generations).

There is no magic formula because everyone can do something in our own unique ways.  To unlearn to relearn by creating opportunities for strangers ANYWHERE to build trust with each other.  To show by doing.  Not just talking.

“Authentic paradigm shifts are rare because they entail an entire restructuring of our understanding, and if a period of letting go does not happen, and if we do not go through an experience of liminality, where nothing seems to make sense any more, we will never be able to enter a new paradigm.”                   Simon Robinson

To go from Scarcity to Abundance, the world has to experience an authentic paradigm shift.

What we have in abundance are the gifts we were born with. By embarking on your voyage of self discovery, you (re)discover what they are.  Once you know, develop and give your innate talents to live a more meaningful life:

“Each of us has the perfect gift to give the world. It’s what we were born with … if we’re able to each give what’s so uniquely ours – won’t we be able to create magic for and with each other?”  Betty Lim, 2001

Dare to self discover.  Dare to experiment.  Dare to unlearn to relearn. Start by openly enabling strangers ANYWHERE in the world to openly build trust with one another.  You’re MOST welcome to build on our social experiment.

As we don’t even have our own central engagement platform, please like our page on Facebook.

With your participation, this is the “For us” maximization movement I hope to start about a new way of thinking, doing and sharing.

May our potentials as an authentic human being become visible very soon.

— Betty Lim

Reposted from Linkedin.