A message from Colin Hines


Colin shares his Guardian letter and hopes that readers will blog or forward on email the link at the foot of this page

Policies geared to achieving more job security, a decrease in inequality and protection of the environment

The rise in right wing populism seen in Italy’s election result shows the need for ‘progressive protectionism’, nurturing and rebuilding local economies through the permanent reduction in the level of international trade in goods, money and services, and enabling nation states to control the level of migration that their citizens desire.

The first step to an effective response by progressives to the rising tide of rightwing populism in Italy and elsewhere (Editorial, 6 March) is to realise that ever more open borders are the problem. It was predominantly the opposition to inadequately controlled immigration that resulted in the Italian election result, the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election.

Ed: Stan Labovitch in the next letter agrees: “In order for “progressives” to prevail, they need to understand rather than condemn the electorate, who fear unemployment and the never-ending flow of asylum seekers through Italy’s southern flank. The opulence that we tourists see in Sorrento, Venice or Rome, is not the experience of many Italians”.

The other contributing factor was globalisation, with its job-destroying and far-too-open borders to goods such as steel. Lastly, inadequately constrained flows of capital and financial services assisted in the economic crash of 2008. The only counter will be some form of protectionism.

Trump’s threatened trade war over steel (Report, 5 March) is the wrong kind of 1930s-style one-sided protectionism. He wants to curb imports that cause domestic unemployment, but at the same time plans to use all possible leverage to open up foreign markets to US exports.

To avoid a re-run of the 1930s will require a very different “progressive protectionism”. This could benefit all countries by nurturing and rebuilding local economies through the permanent reduction in the level of international trade in goods, money and services, while enabling nation states to control the level of migration that their citizens desire.

This approach can return a sense of optimism to the majority through championing policies geared to achieving more job security, a decrease in inequality and protection of the environment.

Read the letters here: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/mar/06/italy-shows-that-rise-in-populism-not-limited-to-trump-and-brexit






James Robertson: ‘a reasonable revolutionary’

Only last week, a Handsworth reader emailed asking for news of James; he had just reread ‘The Sane Alternative’ and been impressed anew by it.

I replied that James still lives with Alison in Cholsey and has just retired, but that all the website resources, including articles, papers, newsletters and the pdfs of his books, will continue to be available here: http://www.jamesrobertson.com. Use this link to go directly to the newsletters.

I added that I recently discovered his  book ‘Future Wealth’ and put a chapter online: The local economies of cities, towns, rural districts and villages, ending “I think you will warm to it”.

Seeing that world society was in an early stage of a ‘great transformation’ and that, as has happened from time to time in history – for example, at the Renaissance – this would affect every aspect of human life, James explored three possible responses:

Business As Usual;

HyperExpansion (HE), boosting the drives of the industrial age – centralising, scientific, technical, economic; and

Sane, Humane, Ecological (SHE), inspired by a new, genuinely post-industrial direction for human society’s next stage of development. Based on principles of Enable and Conserve, SHE would give priority to the needs of people and the earth.

He explains: “I recognised that the actual future would be shaped by a mixture of all these and other responses, or visions, or scenarios. But I have focused since then on what the third one – the sane alternative – would mean in practice”.


Writing an account of James Robertson’s life and work would be a formidable task for the most experienced biographer. Here only two awards will be mentioned – the outline of his life may be read by following the link above.


The Citation for the Award ‘To the Creator of the Sane Alternative’

The most high profile recognition of his work was the award of the Gold Medal of the Pio Manzu Centre by its International Scientific Committee. This took place at the Pio Manzù International Research Centre, a non-governmental organization of the United Nations and the UN’s Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) an institute for the in-depth study of the main economic and scientific aspects of the relationship between man and his environment. UNIDO promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization and environmental sustainability.



After working as an aide to Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on his “Wind of Change” African tour in 1960, and as a director of interbank research, James Robertson came to see that “decolonising” today’s overpowerful institutions must be part of the transition to a democratic, environmentally benign post-modern world.

Taking a clear-cut stance on issues involving moral choice, his books as an independent writer and lecturer – including “The Sane Alternative”, a landmark study for the “new economics” movement – have supported practicable measures to promote economic justice, such as monetary reform and a shift of taxation on to the use of land and other resources. He was a prominent founder of The Other Economic Summit (TOES) and the New Economics Foundation in the mid-1980s.  

The Pio Manzu Centre pays homage to this ‘reasonable revolutionary’ and singles him out as an outstanding example of a modern thinker at the service of society.  


Mikhail Gorbachev, President

Rimini, 19 October 2003


James and Adrian Cadbury gave the inaugural addresses of the Attwood Group in 2002 -see James’ tour de force here.

The presentation of the more low key Attwood Award took place at Barnes Close on Saturday October 15th 2011 during the annual – and final – gathering of the Bromsgrove Group, attended by his wife, Alison and many friends and colleagues who had long known James and appreciated his work.  Some readers will remember him speaking at the first meeting of the Bromsgrove Group in 1997 – and attending most of the following meetings.

John Johansen-Berg gave a short introduction and Angela Shaw (Attwood family) spoke about Thomas Attwood, political and economic reformer and Birmingham’s first MP. The Attwood Award for long service to the cause of monetary reform was presented to him by seven year old Thomas Southwell – also a member of the Attwood family.


An outstanding example of a modern thinker at the service of society” indeed and a highly valued colleague.





News from Helena Norberg-Hodge

The 2017 Arthur Morgan Award was given to Local FuturesDirector Helena Norberg-Hodge, “in recognition of her tireless advocacy for communities across the planet”.

The award is bestowed annually by The Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions to honour those who are passionate about – and committed to – community and democracy.

Community Solutions is perhaps best known for their inspiring 2006 film The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil

It described how organic farming, urban agriculture – and of course community – enabled Cuba to survive the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequent loss of almost all its oil and food imports.

Read more about founder Arthur Morgan’s work here.

Community Solutions is among the many organizations worldwide that are helping to forge a grassroots path to a new economy, and Local Futures are happy to have collaborated with them on the Economics of Happiness conference in Ohio.

  • In Japan, Local Futures has helped to forge a broad-based Economics of Happiness/localization movement.
  • In South Korea, it collaborates with a group of 37 mayors who have formed a Social Economy Forum.
  • In Italy, it is in dialogue with the Five Star movement (M5S), an environmentally-minded people’s party that is channelling half of their MPs’ (member of parliament) salaries into a microcredit bank that provides funding for small businesses. They have raised more than €10 million so far.

In the UK, the small Somerset town of Frome, where Local Futures film The Economics of Happiness was screened in 2011, has revolutionized rural politics.


Over the last few years, representatives of Independents for Frome have gradually won all the seats on the local council. Their platform is about sustainability, inclusivity and rebuilding the local economy from the ground up. Read more about their achievements here.

In 2017, Helena hosted four live webinars in The Global to Local Webinar Series. In January she was joined by Christian Felber, founder of Economy for the Common Good and the final webinar of the year was with Shaun Chamberlin, author of The Transition Timeline and managing director of the Fleming Policy Centre. It focused on the late David Fleming’s work, his book Surviving the Future, and his contribution to the localization movement

Read more in the latest Local Futures Newsletter.




News from Ben Parkinson

Ben writes:

During 2018, we will be working on the construction of the Chrysalis Campus, most specifically the Chrysalis Secondary School, which will be a school that empowers more youth to be social entrepreneurs.

We’ll be enabling young people at the school, which will be in remote Northern Uganda, to learn what their own talents are, which will mean there will be opportunities for them to develop their creativity in arts, crafts, music drama, sports and even games and game design.

Here are some of the highlights:

We’ve received a 20 foot container distributed the contents and transported it to our remote rural centre in Koro in Northern Uganda

We’ve sponsored 83 children in school or university.

We’ve produced thousands of bricks using a donated brickmaking machine and started building our own school in Koro.  We hope to complete Phase 1 of the building programme early next year.

We’ve trained a new group of Butterfly trainee social entrepreneurs and continued supporting disadvantaged children living in Acholi Quarter slum areas and remote rural Koro with activities.We’ve launched Gamechangers, a board game outreach project, designed to encourage new young people into board gaming and identifying new changemakers. 

Boys and girls from the Chrysalis Athletics Club members have won every athletics event they have participated in this year!

Uganda needs more schools that put their pupils first and we believe we can have a major impact in Northern Uganda, based on our track record to date.

Grace Ayaa, the Director for Northern Development for Chrysalis, the organising running the Gamechangers programme in Uganda, is a great fan of board games and her children (9, 11 and 15) play frequently and have been helping with the teaching.  Grace has discovered that board games can be very good at teasing out capability in children and building confidence.

“In Uganda, when growing up, children who are a bit different often underperform in schools and lose confidence.  If they excel with board games, that confidence can be brought back.  I find that, once discovered, the children want to learn more and more games and I can see their abilities and confidence growing week by week, which has to be a good thing.”

We want to give special thanks to The Creativity Hub, who are helping us in a number of ways this year to develop our board game activities.  Creativity Hub produce the famous Rory’s Story Cubes, which have been so important in teaching children how to tell and write stories.

They are helping us expand the board game clubs and also to help train our young people in game design, so that in the future Uganda can have its own game design hub, where young people can learn games and then have some support to bring these to the international market.

We need to raise a lot of money during this year and are looking for partners to help us fundraise.  To that end, we have set up a Justgiving page to allow people to fundraise for us.




News from Zerbanoo Gifford

In May, Zerbanoo, with her biographer, Farida Master, spread the word about ASHA on a biography tour in America.

In November, she was invited to speak at Dublin University Undergraduate Awards because of her book on Thomas Clarkson, the abolitionist, after whom they have named their global awards.

  • Asha’s Erasmus+ courses and volunteering programme have continued throughout the year and we have again welcomed hundreds of young people from European countries to engage in meaningful and life-changing activities. Zerbanoo comments, “There is certainly no Brexit at ASHA!”

To see a summary of this course’s activity and explore a little of the site. click on the link below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7msanLMu_D4

  • In August the seventh batch of 24 young Indian women came for their annual visit, culminating in a spectacular graduation performance at a theatre in Gloucester.
  • Since summer the Asha team has been joined by a number of younger team members to help to diversify and expand their work; each one of them is managing an exciting new project. Next year in March, they are hosting the first ever World Zoroastrian Youth Leaders Forum to help envision and shape the future of the Zoroastrian community.

  • Asha has been chosen by the British Council in Poland to be their UK partner in a two-year Interfaith programme focused on intercultural dialogue, tolerance and interreligious diversity.
  • A new and timely initiative develops the ongoing Middle East connection. The ‘Peace Laureates Israel Palestine Summit’ aims to bring to ASHA 24 of Israel and Palestine’s most successful young leaders across politics, civic society, culture, faith and the media for a 10-day Summit led by some of the world’s most eminent experts in their fields. This is a bold attempt to help support and prepare the next generation of leaders for a more peaceful solution in the region.

  • This year a two-year Biodynamic Apprenticeship scheme was launched in association with the Biodynamic Agriculture College. Asha already has one apprentice (from a Syrian and Bulgarian parentage), and another will start in April next year after completing his time in the British army.

Zerbanoo ends with an update on the Chagos exile:

(For many years, since meeting exiled Chagos islanders when Zerbanoo and her husband Richard were on holiday in Mauritius, Richard has given his services as a solicitor in the long struggle to enable those who wish to do so to return to Diego Garcia).

The disputes over the continuing exile of the islanders has reached the worldwide stage this year. In June a large majority of nations at the UN passed a resolution, fiercely resisted by the UK Foreign Office, to ask the International Court of Justice for an “Advisory Opinion” on the legal consequences of snatching the islands from Mauritius and deporting the population.

Meanwhile, Theresa May’s refusal in November to resettle the islanders, but offer £40m for them to stay put away from the islands, has been shunned by them, and Richard is starting yet another Judicial review (the fifth in twenty years!) of Government intransigence. Full retirement seems to be a diminishing prospect for him.





News from Shaun Chamberlin: first tasters from the forthcoming David Fleming film

Shaun writes:

With the editor’s apologies for a sadly belated posting: this month’s international anniversary events






Legal action by the Environmental Law Foundation, co-founded by Diana Schumacher

The latest news from The Environmental Law Foundation [ELF], of which Diana Schumacher is co-founder, vice-president and trustee, relates to a campaign to improve the performance of Thames Water.

Thames Water is subject to the Environmental Information Regulations (2004). This law says that bodies like Thames Water shall make the environmental information it holds progressively available to the public by electronic means which are easily accessible. The information will show where greater investment is needed to protect the river.

ELF has worked with London Waterkeeper (LW) since it was first approached for assistance in 2016. LW recently launched a campaign – A Thames Fit To Swim –  to persuade Thames Water to notify the public when sewage works overflow and discharge to the Thames during wet weather, from the Cotswolds to the Capital, by putting the information on its website, in real-time. Readers living in those areas may sign up to the campaign here.

                               Copenhagen Harbour Bath

Copenhagen made its waters ‘swimmable’ by adopting this policy. Read an inspiring account here. Urban beaches and harbour swimming pools have been created which are now its most popular open spaces.

Read more here.





News from Jackie Carpenter in Trelay

    Trelay members

Jackie is a co-founder of Trelay, which is working towards the original dream of a sustainable, cooperative eco-village, but the development work seems to be building up to some sort of crescendo and there was a big effort to agree a final site plan and tidy the site.

In parallel with all this, food production has gone up, with wonderful dairy products, plenty of meat, and more vegetables from both the polytunnel and the veggie patch than ever before. A poor year for soft fruit

Read about the wild flowers and wildlife there, the Easter egg hunt, planting seed potatoes, animal rearing and Trelay members’ visit to Golitha Falls, south of Bodmin Moor.

In addition to refurbishing and extending homes and building a materials store they have decided to have another go at getting planning permission for a wind turbine at Trelay – difficult, because it is an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB), but a pre-planning enquiry will be submitted, asking about a small turbine for the use of the community, rather than one to sell electricity to the grid.

Trelay Cohousing Community welcomes visitors, although they are not open to show people round most of the time, as it is their home and we are busy caring for our plants and animals, and building things.

Visitors can come there as holiday guests – see below for information about Tamarisk cabins, or contact Maria or James to find out about the campsite. To book in advance for next year please call 07378 286 126 or email camping@trelay.org. Those who wish to learn or work rather than be a holiday-maker can come to one of the “Interest Weekends” to learn what cohousing is all about. Or come as a working volunteer, either for one of the allocated weeks, or at another time. The dates for interest weekends (including dairying, looking after the fruit and vegetables) are on the website.





News from Rashneh Pardiwala: rainwater harvesting in Mumbai

A few days ago Rashneh emailed: “Glad to inform you that CERE has successfully completed one of the largest RWH systems within Mumbai city for Mumbai Police at their Armed Headquarters at Naigaon. The Commissioner of Police inaugurated the project on 3 Oct 2017”.

Mumbai Police Commissioner Dattatray Padsalgikar inaugurating the rainwater harvesting system last week

Anurag Kamble reported in the Midday newspaper that the police precinct houses 2,335 families of the constabulary, a municipal school and a police hospital. It also serves as a base for three battalions and many special units. There are three large training grounds and national level sportspersons practising at the hockey maidan. Despite this, for the past 15 years, the locality has been receiving less than 15 minutes of municipal water supply each day.

“Every summer, delegations of cops’ families come to us begging for a solution. Also, whenever training camps were held, which happens at regular intervals, we had to arrange for water tankers, as we never had enough drinking water,” said Additional Commissioner (Armed Police) Aswati Dorje. “And, during the monsoon, the ground would get completely waterlogged. We wanted to fix all these problems permanently”.

Then the Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) came to their rescue, suggesting a solution. “For the past three years, we were working with the Mumbai police to plant 500 native trees in Naigaon, under the Urban Afforestation Project. During one of those visits, we learnt about the acute water shortage and flooding problem in the area. We asked the administration if we could do rainwater harvesting here, and after a survey, gave them a presentation. We received the go-ahead immediately,” said Dr Rashneh Pardiwala, founder and director of CERE. “We got approval in March and literally worked day and night for three-and-a-half months to get the system up and running”.

Dr Rashneh Pardiwala, founder director of CERE, shows where the rainwater harvesting project was installed in Naigaon. Pic/Bipin Kokate

Phase 2: to create a natural reed bed system to treat waste water:

A long-term solution to water scarcity is to recycle grey water from the kitchen. This project component involves treating a part of the grey water from the police residential colonies through an effective and natural Reed Bed System and using the clean treated water to maintain the open grounds. Therefore, this intervention will help

(a) conserve potable water for watering open grounds,

(b) recharge the ground water table, and

(c) reduce wastage of water.

CERE is currently looking for funding for this phase of the project.

Highly recommended: a video about the detail of the project which may be accessed here: http://cere-india.org/rwh-with-the-mumbai-police/





News from John Bunzl

Something rather Simpol happened in UK politics. We doubled the number of pledged MPs! But what about Germany?

John Bunzl says:

Yes, the UK election was special, and we’re not just talking about the reported youth voter turnout or the Labour resurgence.

As a result of the stellar work of our UK-supporters, over 650 candidates standing for election signed our Simpol Pledge to solve global problems – and 64 of them are now MPs!

Bringing together MPs from across the political divide, including:

  • Vince Cable (Liberal Democrats),
  • Caroline Lucas (Green Party),
  • John McDonnell (Labour),
  • Jeremy Lefroy (Conservative)
  • and Marion Fellows (SNP)

– our coalition would make the third largest party in parliament. Who says politicians are out of touch? 

Congratulations and a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped get us there!

We’ll be working hard in the coming months to engage our MPs and in recruiting all those MPs who don’t yet support the campaign.


Get in touch on info@simpol.org if you’d like to be involved in what happens next.