Archive for the ‘soft energy paths’ 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.

Hinkley Point C

July 28, 2016

Hinkley Point C will cost 18 billion euros.

Correction, Hinkley Point C  has an estimated cost of 18 billion euros. Large infrastructure projects have a nasty habit of being over time and over budget. This is true of EDF’s latest project in France.

18 billion euros is larger than the capital value of EDF. Major shareholder in EDF is the French government. If Hinkley Point C proves to be, as many suspect, a White Elephant, it will destroy the French government.

The French Unions are oposed to Hinkley Point C and are considering mounting a legal challenge.

The new UK government is having second thoughts.

The price of electricity from Hinkley Point C is guaranteed for the next thirty-five years at double the current price of electricity.

The price of electricity from renewables has been halving every 18 months.

The offshore wind farms Siemens plan to build in the North Sea will deliver electricity at much lower price than Hinkley Point C

Hinkley Point C is a disaster and must be stopped.

Proponents correctly say we need reliable sources of clean energy. That is why we must push ahead with renewables, the more we have, the more reliable, as not reliant upon the unreliability of a  few sources.  Also resilient.

We must follow a Soft Energy Path, one wheres sources are matched to usage.

Nuclear power is hard energy, it is also very brittle.

installation of rooftop solar panels

installation of rooftop solar panels

Last week, my neighbour installed 14 solar panels on his south facing roof. Speaking to the contractors, they said peak output (on a good day when the sun is shining) is 3 kW.

Imagine if every house had solar panels, if new build was mandatory to have solar panels.

Inshore wind farms have been a disaster. Wealthy landowners reap the subsidies. Or did

We need to create community owned local area grids. Into which feed renewables guaranteed a fair price. Consumers would pay a  fair price. Any surplus energy would be fed to other local are grids via a publicly owned National Grid.  Any monetary surplus would either be fed back into the local grid or used to finance community projects, watering of the collaborative commons.

EU pushed diesel, thanks to lobbying by VW (the same VW that rigged emission tests). Net result nearly ten thousand deaths a year in London due to air pollution from toxic diesel.

In US and Japan, a different route of hybrid and electric cars.

One of the problems with electricity supply from renewables, is matching supply to demand. Electricity from the sun  during the day when demand also peaks. Wind blows at night when demand is low

Surplus generation, could be, at cheaper rate via smart meters, used to charge electric cars. Electric cars when not in use, with fully charged batteries, could be used when peak demand exceeds supply. Smart meters can also use the electricity for low grade heat, for example water heating and space heating, where being cut off for a short while does not impact on the user (especially if have manual override).

A couple of weeks ago, a useless report on abuse by the Big Six, a useless report that cost millions to compile. A couple of their worthless recommendations was better use of price comparison sites (better called price fixing sites as paid by suppliers to set up deals) and if consumers had not recently change supplier, add them to a database to receive junk mail from suppliers.

One measure at a stroke would improve the situation, eliminate standing charges, a fixed rate per kW-H, or maybe two rates, one a special cheap rate when surplus exceeds supply (requiring smart meters).

There are no standing charges when paying for petrol, there should be no standing charges when buying electricity.

We do not need to nationalise the Big Six, introduce community owned and controlled local grids, and the Big Six would be driven out of business, as unable to compete.

Post-Brexit, we need investment in green infrastructure, investment in publicly owned railways, in locally owned and controlled electricity grids. What we do not need is bad infrastructure, HS2, Hinkley Point C, expansion of London City Airport or additional runways at Heathrow and Gatwick.

A Fossil Fuel Free World is Possible

June 7, 2015

The reality is that climate is getting warmer, the weather is getting more extreme and unpredictable, and we have to become more resilient, more efficient, and more innovative.  — Governor Jerry Brown

Across the world we are starting to see the impact of extreme weather events.

In California a prolonged drought has prompted a 20% cut in water usage by Executive Order.

We’re in an historic drought and that demands unprecedented action. For that reason, that I’m issuing an executive order mandating substantial water reduction across our state. As Californians, we have to pull together and save water in every way we can. People should realize we’re in a new era. The idea of your nice little green grass getting lots of water every day, that is going to be a thing of the past.

But, if Californians are expected to cut their water consumption, why is a Nestle bottling plant exempt, why is fracking exempt?

If California is in trouble then so is the rest of America, because they truck fresh produce from California. Fresh produce is even airfreighted to Europe.

Why? Is this not insane?

We have such an insane system because agriculture can externalise its costs, because Big Businesses controls our food production and distribution system. Food is grown for profit not to feed people.

In Transition 2.0

January 23, 2014

People are brainwashed into being consumers, when they are are not consuming, they sit like zombies before widescreen TVs, the modern day soma of our times, where they receive yet more brainwashing.

The news before Christmas, was how much are people consuming, is it enough, after Christmas how much had they consumed, was it enough?

Is that all we are, is that all there is to life, endless, mindless consumers? It does not lead to happiness or wellbeing, quite the contrary, it leads to unhappiness, leading to more consuming, the junkie trying to get the next fix. Nor is it good for the planet. We are being hit by environmental crisis every day, and they are becoming more frequent and more extreme.

In the long run, it is not good for the economy, as unconstrained growth never is, it leads to boom and bust,

We have economic crisis, caused by the the banks, being used as an excuse for austerity, which is merely a cover for Shock Doctrine, slash and burn of public services and welfare, further transference of wealth from the poor to the rich.

The richest 85 people in the world have amassed as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion. That is a handful of people who could easily travel on a double-decker bus, not that they ever would, have as much wealth as the poorest half of the word’s population.

Is this fair?

Travelling around, I find people are increasingly saying no, enough is enough, the 99% have had enough.

The one thing that communities have learnt, when they put their mind to it, are more than happy and capable of running their own affairs, they do not need corrupt politicians and global corporations, telling them how to think, what to do, what to wear, what to eat.

Community run pubs are successful, those run by pubcos, or to be more accurate bled to death by pubcos, then sold off for redevelopment, are not.

Using the Localism Act, communities can register their pubs as an Asset of Community Value, then should the pubco try to dispose of the pub for redevelopment, the local community has the right to buy and six months within which to raise the money.

Transition Heathrow transformed a derelict market garden, to the benefit of the local community.

Communities have been abandoned. Their only use was as a cash cow.

The Tumbledown Dick is an old coaching inn dating from the 1720s. Once a popular live music venue, it has been abandoned and allowed to fall into disrepair. The local community wished to buy it, turn it into a community run arts venue. They were shafted by their local council, who preferred to see it demolished for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s

A common reaction of visitors to North Laine in Brighton, or Totnes in Devon, or Sincil Street, The Strait, Steep Hill in Lincoln, is why is my town not like this why do we not have quirky little shops, character?

Lincolnshire Co-op, aided and abetted by the City Council, is wishing to destroy Sincil Street for a shopping centre.

Quirky little shops, usually family owned, recycle money within the local economy, increasing the value of that spent. Global corporations drain money out of a local economy, usually dodge tax too, as we see with Starbucks.

Quality local shops bring people into an area. Other local shops benefit. Money spent in the local shops, gets recycled within the local economy.

Market Rasen was a failing market town. The local shops, got together with each other and the local community, put on markets, craft and arts fairs, opened up empty shops as pop up shops, spruced the area up. Market Rasen is now a success story.

To look at the opposite end of the spectrum, Aldershot and Farnborough, where the local council has a policy of ethnic cleansing of local businesses, net result, two dead soulless towns.

Greening Alton grows food in public space. A green patch at a road junction, Alton Station. Passers by, at least at Alton Station, are encouraged to help themselves.

There are gardens, not used to their full potential, people who wish to grow vegetables, but have no garden. Why not bring together the two, and share the produce?

In Geneva, under a scheme called foodscaping, neighbours agree what to grow, then share the surplus.

In Transition 2.0 is a wonderful mix of discussion and real world examples. If it contains one underlying message, it is that of hope, we do not have to tolerate the status quo, we are the 99%, we do not have to accept what is dictated to us by the 1%, when people, local communities, cooperate, put their mind to something, they can effect real and lasting change.

Moneteveglio illustrates where local communities need to go further. They need to seize control of their local councils, the local councils then become accountable to the local community, serve the local community, where we have participatory democracy, where the local people are directly involved in all the decision-making, and the role of local councillors then becomes reduced to one of accountability and scrutiny, ensuring what the local community wants is carried out.

This is a bottom up approach, not what we are seeing now, a top down approach, where corrupt councillors and officials in the pocket of Big Business and developers, impose unwanted schemes onto hapless local communities.

It is not for local communities to work with local councils, it is for local councils to work with local communities.

Note: Apologies for including the Question and Answer Session on the film, as a disaster, badly filmed, bad sound. An experienced film maker on stage, and yet no one had the intelligence to bring the microphones close to the speakers, or worse, people off camera who were completely inaudible.

A longer version of this article published on Medium with additional notes.

Transition Free Press

December 2, 2013
Transition Free Press - Winter 2013

Transition Free Press – Winter 2013

Who other than a madman would launch a new newspaper?

Who in not only today’s economic climate but in the climate for newsprint, when newspapers are losing money, would launch a new newspaper?

Local and national newspapers are losing money.

A downward spiral, less news, less frequent, less reason to buy, shrinking income, fewer resources for news gathering and quality journalism.

It is into this climate Transition Free Press has been launched. A real newspaper, real newsprint, not a digital newspaper, like the recently launched Guardian Australia.

Transition Free Press was launched this year as an experiment, a toe in the water, a pilot of four quarterly issues.

Transition Free Press has proved to at least be sustainable. Whether it will continue into 2014 will depend upon securing funding.

I came across Transition Free Press in The Barn in Farnham, one of their fifty plus distribution hubs.

Why print and distribute a newspaper, with all the risks involved? Why not be like the Huffington Post or Guardian Australia, on-line only?

A newspaper is shareable, and yes, on-line is shareable too. Indeed, I would go further, when you find something interesting on-line, be it Transition Free Press, this article, music, then please share, tweet, re-tweet, recommend.

Transition Free Press is quarterly, it is not transient like a daily newspaper, it contains useful information, thus more likely to be valued, kept for future reference.

So what is in it?

Articles on self-sufficiency, local communities, alternative energy, local economies, carbon reduction, protest, local currencies, sustainability, art, music.

The very first issue, what could be called a pilot for the pilot, came out last year to test the feasibility.

I have read Transition Free Press whilst in The Barn, and have been suitably impressed. At the weekend I found the latest edition, hot off the press.

The front page of the current winter 2013 edition, out now, has a front page lead story on protest. Taking the lead from comments on not voting and the need for revolution from Russell Brand, communities are taking the lead.

Activists staged a mass work out at COP19 Climate Talks in Poland last month. The talks had been hijacked by Big Coal, Big Oil, and other big carbon emitters and polluters. The point the activists made with an impromptu press conference outside the talks, was that we can no longer trust politicians, if we want change, we have to take action ourselves.

That is what Transition Heathrow did, they squatted derelict nursery gardens and brought them back into productive use, ran workshops. Even the local police reported they had a positive impact on the local community, with reductions in low level crime.

With the collapse of the Co-op Bank, and the unfolding scandal, whereto ethical banking, and was it so ethical at the Co-op Bank?

Payday loan sharks, are not only screwing those they have got their teeth into, they are draining money out of our poorest communities, communities that should be plugging the leaks and recycling money within the local economy.

An evaluation inspired by the Reconomy Project of the potential to ‘relocalise’ Lambeth’s economy … switching just 10% of the borough’s supermarket food spend to local retailers would release £37 million (and “money spent in independent local businesses can create 2-4 more times as much real value as money spent in chains”), and retrofitting housing stock with solid wall insulation could payback in 15 years and generate £100 million of local employment.

And yet, we see the opposite. The Rotten Borough of Rushmoor, has been practising ethnic cleansing of local businesses in Farnborough and Aldershot. Squandering £1 million on repaving Queensmead will not attract people to Farnborough, any more than wasting £15,000 on a free wifi scam, a scam that will collect personal data, in order that locals can be bombarded with spam e-mail and spam sms text messages. Neither will demolishing the c 1720s Tumbledown Dick for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. The local economy will only benefit, when there are local shops and businesses to spend money in, local shops and businesses which then recycle money within the local economy.

The ConDem government, under pressure from the Big Six energy suppliers, are poised to axe or reduce the green and social levies on the Big Six, to reduce their commitment on green measures such as house insulation. Even if these levies were halved, at only 10% of the average bill, it would only see a reduction of 5%. On the other hand, if only 10% was knocked off the 90% of the bill the Big Six are responsible for, this would lead to a 9% cut in bills. The poor will save money if they use less fuel, they will use less fuel, we will all use less fuel, if our homes are better insulated. If we use less carbon-based fuel, we emit less greenhouse gases.

Money paid to the Big Six on fuel bills, is money drained straight out of the local economy. If we insulate, not only do we cut our fuel bills, reduce our greenhouse emission, that is money that is retained within the local economy, money, which if spent with local businesses, is money recycled within the local economy.

Transition Free Press is produced by a not-for-profit collective and supported, although not financed by, the Transition Network. You can help back the paper by signing up for an annual subscription, minimum £15 per year, though you can pay more if you wish.

You can also help, not only by buying a copy from a distribution hub, but chatting to your local indie coffee bar and similar local businesses, and suggesting they too become a distribution hub. It helps them, as they can bulk buy at a discount,and it helps them by bringing people into their coffee bar.

In a coffee bar, having a copy to read, or a pile on display helps. That is how I came across Transition Free Press in The Barn.

If there is not a distribution hub near you, you can find Transition Free Press on-line.

An edited version of a longer article published on Medium.

Charlie’s house: Two month death sentence because the “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”

August 24, 2013
Charlie's house: Two month death sentence because the, "benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside"

Charlie’s house: Two month death sentence because the “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”

Charlie, who built this beautiful straw bale roundhouse, is a young man with a young family and like many finds it impossible to afford a home. In Charlie’s case he had three things going for him. First his father owns a big enough plot of land for Charlie to build a home. Second, the land was right next door to Lammas ecoVillage in Wales where there is plenty of natural building experience, inspiration and community spirit to help Charlie.

Finally, Charlie had been living with his partner Megan in a damp caravan for the past 4 years. With a baby on the way Charlie felt he had no choice but to build his house without the approval of the planning authorities, convinced permission for his home would be refused. The lack of affordable homes and strict planning regulations touches many lives.

Hundertwasser the famous architect, designer and artist wrote:

The individual’s desire to build something should not be deterred! Everyone should be able and have to build and thus be truly responsible for the four walls in which he lives.

Jon Jandai, Director of Pun Pun Organic Farm said at a TED presentation in Thailand:

I want to be equal to animals. The bird makes a nest in one or two days; the rat digs a hole in one night, but clever humans like us spend 30 years to have a house… that’s wrong.

Charlie’s home is designed from the natural resources available on the land rather than by building industry professionals that often specify homes using processed materials with high embodied energy.

This method of building is what SunRay Kelly calls Evolutionary Architecture and what Ben Law teaches to architects who want to learn about sustainable natural building.

It took Charlie a little over a year to build his home with a reciprocal green roof and lime plastered straw bale walls. All in all it cost Charlie about £15,000 ($23,000). Watch this short video from film makers Living in the Future where Charlie tells his story.

Charlie and Megan applied for retrospective planning permission from Pembrokeshire County Council who decided that this wonderful, unobtrusive, sustainable home should be demolished consigning Charlie, Meg and their child back to their cold and damp caravan.

As of the 1st August 2013 Pembrokeshire County Council’s enforcement say the property must be demolished within 2 months because: “benefits of the development did not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the countryside”.

The Welsh government has guidelines for development of settlements in the open countryside called ‘One Planet Developments’. This is the Technical Advice Note 6 (PDF 6Mb) Planning for Sustainable Rural Communities, otherwise known as TAN6 with Tony Wrench’s roundhouse on the cover which was itself once under demolition threat but was eventually granted planning permission in September 2008.

plan of Charlie's house

plan of Charlie’s house

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

Published by Natural Homes.

There is something very very wrong with our corrupt planning system corrupt councilors and officials in the pocket of greedy developers.

It is ok to destroy countryside, level woodlands, for ugly development, but not ok for a house like Charlie’s that has minimal impact on the environment.

It would be difficult to imagine a house as attractive as Charlie’s.

We need more houses like this, not less.

I know of minimal impact houses in Cornwall and Sussex, assuming they are still there. The location is kept secret, as otherwise the too would be under threat as is Charlie’s house.

Charlie’s house look like a house built for a Hobbit.

To claim Charlie’s is harmful to the environment is arrant nonsense. This couple should be applauded for what they have built.

Please sign the petition to save Charlie’s house, calling on the local planning authorities to grant Charlie’s house retrospective planning permission.

inside Charlie's house

inside Charlie’s house

Charlie's house

Charlie’s house

Fracking at Balcombe in Sussex

August 1, 2013

Balcombe is a village in the Sussex countryside, north of Brighton.

Fracking, hydraulic fracturing of rocks by the injection of water at high pressure into the ground to release pockets of gas, contaminates groundwater. Future generations will have polluted groundwater.

Cuadrilla is drilling for oil at a site in Balcombe. They have said if they find shale gas, they will apply for a fracking licence.

The ConDem government has turned the principle, the Polluter Shall Pay on its head. Companies engaged in fracking will receive tax concessions, making it now the Polluter Shall be Paid.

In changing the planning rules, the ConDem government is making it nigh impossible to challenge fracking within the planning system, leaving local people no choice other than to take direct action.

Anti-Nuclear Energy Protest – Boycott EDF Energy

April 21, 2011
nuclear disaster area

nuclear disaster area

‘I do not believe a single word that issues from the mouth of a single spokesperson for the nuclear industry.’ — JONATHON PORRITT, June 2010.

A couple of weeks ago, campaigners brought rush hour traffic to a standstill to protest against EDF Energy’s plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations in the UK. All four lanes of the A302 outside EDF Energy’s headquarters in Grosvenor Place — which just happens to run alongside the gardens of Buckingham Palace — were sealed off shortly after 8am using 14-foot tripods. The cleared zone was then declared a ‘nuclear disaster area’.

Campaign group, Boycott EDF, says the energy giant is spearheading a ‘nuclear renaissance’ which could see the construction of at least ten new nuclear reactors — a move spokeswoman, Bella Benson, claims will spell disaster for the UK.

EDF has spent a massive amount of money marketing itself as an environment-friendly company,” says Benson. “But the truth is that it’s planning to lumber us with an outdated form of energy that is incredibly dangerous, extremely expensive and completely unnecessary. As the company’s HQ Is opposite Buckingham Palace, it would be fitting to call their plan a right, royal rip-off.

EDF has already caused great concern – even before construction of ‘new nuclear’ has started. An independent report published last year found that land designated for EDF’s two new mega-reactors at the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in Somerset is heavily contaminated with enriched uranium. But EDF has dismissed the report. “With such a hazardous form of energy, best practice must be observed at every stage. We find EDF’s attitude shocking,”

Cheaper, greener alternative strategies have been put forward by respected organisations including Greenpeace, the Sustainable Development Commission and the New Economics Foundation.

Says Benson, “The billions earmarked for new nuclear power stations should be invested in further developing safe forms of energy such as renewables and the type of district heating plants (combined heat and power plants) that can be run on biogas. It’s a scandal that there hasn’t been an informed public debate about this issue.”

The campaign is urging customers of EDF Energy to say ‘no to new nuclear’ by switching to other energy providers. It is also asking the public to boycott events and attractions – such as the London Eye – sponsored by the company.

There are alternatives. Nuclear, as we have seen from the tragedy in Japan, is not a green alternative.

Germany has said no to new nuclear power stations. It is time for the UK to also say no.

Edit by You and I Films.

Activists blockade EDF in London
Soft Energy Paths
Zero Carbon by 2030
How to save people in Eastern Japan
Wishes and cranes with love

Earthship 101

January 1, 2011

Earthship n. 1. passive solar home made of natural and recycled materials 2. thermal mass construction for temperature stabilization. 3. renewable energy & integrated water systems make the Earthship an off-grid home with little to no utility bills.

Biotecture n. 1. the profession of designing buildings and environments with consideration for their sustainability. 2. A combination of biology and architecture.

Tires are not toxic in an earthship. They are hazardous in a pile… Tires are filled with rammed earth, then plastered over. We have had numerous tests and been doing this for 40 years. Not ONE complaint, problem, rumor or ANYTHING in 40 years. David Wright does not know what he is talking about.

Also see

Soft Energy Paths

Curitiba – Designing a sustainable city

Natural Capitalism