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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

http://www.trelay.org/

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/

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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News from James Robertson

Readers not already on James Robertson’s massive mailing list are advised to consider signing up to receive his Newsletter which has a wide overview of current issues, drawing on a range of sources and reaching people in many different countries. Here are a few extracts from Newsletter No. 58 – August 2017

FACING THE FUTURE

Viral essay: The Uninhabitable Earth. “It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.”

See David Wallace-Wells at www.ecologise.in/2017/07/15/viral-essay-uninhabitable-earth.

WE THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD MUST ACT, IF OUR LEADERS WON’T

14 years have passed since the British Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees, offered us Our final century. “I think the odds are no better than 50/50 that our present civilisation will survive to the end of the present century”. See www.news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/uk2000/newsmakers/ 2976279.stm. If the leaders of our countries pay no attention to those warnings, we the people of the Earth must respond.

EXAMPLES OF PEOPLE RESPONDING INCLUDED:

  • The Ecological Land Co-operative works towards a living, working countryside (Ed: co-founder Shaun Chamberlin). “Our mission is to provide affordable opportunities for ecological land-based businesses in the UK. We support rural regeneration by developing affordable sites for farming, forestry and other rural enterprises which are viable and ecologically beneficial”. Their current 2017-2020 Business Plan sets out more about their work. See www.ecologicalland.coop.
  • The Farmer Is The Future, by Julian Rose. See www.notthembutus.wordpress.com/discussion-papers/the-future-is-the-farmer-julian-rose.
  • Localise West Midlands works towards local supply chains, money flow, ownership and power for a more just and sustainable economy. Its joint co-ordinator is Karen Leach. This not-for-personal-profit thinktank, campaign group and consultancy exists to promote the environmental, social and economic benefits of:

Local trading, using local businesses, materials and supply chains

Linking local needs to local resources

Development of community and local capacity

Decentralisation of appropriate democratic and economic power

Provision of services tailored to meet local needs.

See www.localisewestmidlands.org.uk

Added (Ed)

And finally: The overwhelming negatives of the Hinkley Point deal.

“The Chinese and French have made British consumers the equivalent of a gargantuan payday loan. The case for the project, says the NAO, was “marginal” and the deal “not value for money”. That is auditor-speak for crazy.” See www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/23/hinkley-point-cancel-theresa-may-hs2.

 

 

 

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Diana Schumacher– a Brexit cameo

Diana was responding to the riposte to Professor Minford made by Molly Scott Cato whose work she has long admired:

“She has made a much neglected point about all those small overlooked timing and communication factors which should be taken into account in any rational economic decision.

“However, in my view, the referendum decision of 2016 should have been debated much more fully and three-dimensionally beforehand.

“Brexit is essentially not just about economics, statistics and accountancy (which was, I believe, the main reference point), but about affirmation of much more lasting and enduring issues such as political and cultural unity, integrity, solidarity, harmony and mutual humanitarian support in the face of creeping materialism overruling basic human values”.

 

 

 

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News from Shaun Chamberlin

Shaun opens with a reference to a workshop at the first national gathering of the U.S. Transition movement: “All 180 attendees at that gathering were gifted a copy of Surviving the Future, courtesy of a wealthy fan of the book, and to honour Fleming’s influence on the birth of Transition“. He refers to Mark Boyle’s article in The Guardian and we note this paragraph:

“The late David Fleming – one of the greatest thinkers you’ve probably never heard of – said in his recent posthumously published magnum opus, Lean Logic, that “localisation stands, at best, at the limits of practical possibility, but it has the decisive argument in its favour that there will be no alternative”.

A Spanish publisher has now signed up to translate and publish Surviving the Future for the world’s half-billion Spanish speakers!

Shaun continues: “And filming is now underway for an hour-long film on David Fleming’s life, legacy and vision, provisionally titled The Seed Beneath The Snow! BAFTA lifetime achievement award winning director Peter Armstrong is at the helm, and I hope to be able to include an early teaser clip in the next update – stay tuned…”

 

He writes:

Exciting developments! So, where to begin?

The reviews to date have been spectacular, and have led to over 5,000 early book sales. The book tour has so far taken in several festivals, Oxford University, a week-long course at Schumacher College, and a number of bookshops, think tanks and radio stations (footage here). I’ve been invited to several interviews on the books, from the Peak Prosperity discussion that has had over 12,000 views on Youtube to others including Radio EcoshockLegalise Freedomthe Permaculture Podcast and Resonance FM. There was also a FEASTA webinar and a particularly entertaining chat with Australia’s Greening the Apocalypse crew.

Written opinion pieces about the books have been published by OpenDemocracyKosmosPermaculture magazine and Chelsea Green. And other thinkers are beginning to riff off Fleming’s work, from renowned philosopher Roger Scruton’s thoughtful essay relating traditional conservatism to Fleming’s environmentalism, to Patrick Noble dedicating his latest book to the inspiration he found in Lean Logic!  Dan Jones, originator of Lean Thinking, has also been in touch to express his delight at the “mightily impressive tome”, while influential writer Richard Heinberg’s powerful piece “Are We Doomed?  Let’s Have a Talk” has been sparking a lot of conversations online this week.

Fans of the books have organised reading groups from Ireland to Malaysia, Vermont’s impressive Sterling College are organising a symposium based on David’s work this autumn and the New England Book Show gave Lean Logic their design award for its uniquely-realised structure.  And this November the Gaia Foundation – David’s Hampstead neighbours – will mark the 7th anniversary of his death with a celebration of his ongoing influence.

The books were also named in ‘best of 2016’ lists by both GreenBiz and The Times Higher Education Supplement!

This dedicated page on the Fleming Policy Centre website has at-a-glance summaries of the reviews to date, videos from the launch events, links to buy the books etc:  http://www.flemingpolicycentre.org.uk/lean-logic-surviving-the-future/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN7eNlvN-0o  

VIDEO (8 mins): 2016 event at Trinity College, Oxford University, Jonathon Porritt and Shaun Chamberlin discuss the work of David Fleming (Trinity alumnus ) focusing on economic collapse and the rediscovery of culture grounded in place. They were celebrating the launch of ‘Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It’ and the paperback ‘Surviving the Future: Culture, Carnival and Capital in the Aftermath of the Market Economy’.

Follow @LeanDictionary on Twitter to stay up-to-date with all the latest

 

 

 

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News from Pat Conaty

In March, on the blog of the West Midlands New Economics Group, there was a post about the work of Pat Conaty and others on behalf of ‘the precariat’, the self-employed, often working in service industries such as fast food, for security firms on temporary, even zero-hours contracts, or in the so-called ‘gig economy’.

The precariat includes many workers who used to have skilled or semi-skilled but relatively well-paid and secure jobs, under-employed graduates, working in insecure jobs requiring a much lower education level, migrant workers, and people from ethnic minority communities. Benefits the self-employed cannot access relate to holidays, sick pay, maternity and paternity leave.

He and his colleagues are editing the final draft of two reports:

The TUC wanted a short report of about 25 pages. The publication date has not yet been decided. One option is to do this conjunction with their annual congress.

The longer report includes more new ways of tackling this problem and has a fuller set of recommendations including one on Universal Basic Income. It will be published by Co-ops UK and the Co-op College in September.

In May, the Office for National Statistics estimated the rapidly rising number of employment contracts (see graph below) that do not guarantee a minimum number of hours. Its estimare is drawn from its twice-yearly survey of businesses, combined with estimates from the Labour Force Survey (LFS) of households, which includes the number of people who report that they are on a “zero-hours contract” in their main job.

This report, first published in March 2017, includes the latest figures from the LFS for October to December 2016 as well as new estimates from the survey of businesses for May and November 2016, respectively.

The results from the November 2016 survey of businesses indicated that there were 1.7 million contracts that did not guarantee a minimum number of hours, where work had actually been carried out under those contracts. This represented 6% of all employment contracts.

People on “zero-hours contracts” are more likely to be young, part-time, women, or in full-time education, compared with other people in employment. On average, someone on a “zero-hours contract” usually works 25 hours a week. 32% on a “zero-hours contract” want more hours, with most wanting them in their current job, as opposed to a different job which offers more hours.

The Labour Force Survey defines “zero hours contracts” as “where a person is not contracted to work a set number of hours, and is only paid for the number of hours that they actually work”. The LFS counts people who report that their main employment is a “zero-hours contract” and who are aware that their contract allows for them to be offered no hours.

Pat’s heartfelt words were quoted “God knows something has to be done for zero hour workers, growing ranks of exploited self-employed and those working all hours of the week in the gig economy to make ends meet”. He lists four guiding objectives and recommendations for uniting self-employed workers in the 2016 publication: ‘Not Alone’:

  • 1. Recognition of the growing self-employed workforce, by developing organising strategies for self-employed workers, bringing together trade unions and the cooperative sector and operating with the support of national union centres such as the TUC

2. The development of organising strategies will involve consideration of key priorities for action, including:

  • Primary sectors, such as the creative industries, care services and the green economy
  • Primary services, such as a credit union for freelancers, provision of micro-insurance and related services such as debt collection, tax accounting and legal advice, the scope for platform co-operatives and sources of capital for cooperative business development.

The third and fourth advocate government action:

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) should identify how to create a voice for self-employed workers at the heart of government, learning from the way in which wider small business has successfully become recognized over time, in business policy, regulatory interventions and commissioning design. The Treasury and Financial Conduct Authority should develop an appropriate regulatory treatment for mutual guarantee societies; and the Department for Work and Pensions should explore the potential for business and employment co-operatives for people on benefit.

 

 

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Mary Holmes: NHS, India and Liam Fox

Mary continues to work for a better health service (as a retired health professional) and serve rural India with Assefa and Action Village India. She was recently snapped (below, far right) with the able MP Clive Lewis, supporting CAAT’s campaign to ban the sale of military equipment to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is the UK’s biggest arms customer. It represses its own population and has used UK weapons to help crush democracy protests in Bahrain. UK-made warplanes are now playing a central role in Saudi Arabia’s attacks in Yemen.

The High Court rejected the claim brought by law firm Leigh Day on behalf of the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) against Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, over the decision to continue to grant licences for the export of arms from the UK to Saudi Arabia. CAAT is now pursuing an appeal.

In lighter vein we must celebrate Mary and other networkers who introduce other splendid people, one instance being Richard Douthwaite who made the link with the late David Fleming.

Mary introduced James Bruges at the launch of Steve Schofield’s 2002 report: The UK and Non-offensive Defence: An Introductory Study on the Implications of the UK Adopting a Non-offensive Defence Stance, launched in the Commons by former defence minister Peter Kilfoyle. James has done excellent work on so many fronts and we note that so much has been omitted from his profile here: his ‘Little Books’, the contributions made by his family trust and his work on biochar, which has attracted many readers.

More recently Mary introduced Fran Wilde, also a supporter of Assefa and Action Village India. Amongst many other activities she is a leading light in organising and running the Madras Café at music festivals such as WOMAD. What started as a chai stall has now become a festival institution, serving Indian food to thousands of people. Staffed entirely by willing volunteers, all the profits from Madras Cafe go back to Action Village India to support rural initiatives and help to combat poverty and social injustice across India.

Highly recommended: Fran has produced a short film about her time in Minjur near Madras where women are involved in upgrading their homes from traditional mud and thatch which are vulnerable to the elements.

CAAT’s campaign ‘Arms to Renewables’ will be holding an event on September 6th, calling for jobs that create a safer, rather than a more dangerous world.

 

 

 

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News from Helena Norberg-Hodge

Earth, Culture, Economy – The Power of Local, UK

Monday, July 24th to Friday, July 28th, 2017

Schumacher College

The Old Postern, Dartington Totnes, TQ9 6EA, Devon, UK

 

View map

SPEAKERS

Helena Norberg Hodge

Satish Kumar

Stephan Harding

What would the world look like if humans lived harmoniously with nature rather than creating environmental mayhem? An important pathway for achieving this is to create an economic system which enhances both human and ecological wellbeing.

Drawing inspiration from Gandhi, Schumacher and the fundamental laws of Gaia, this course will explore urgently needed alternatives to business-as-usual economics. Our focus will be on the power of economic localization, a solution multiplier which restores the fabric of community, while simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions, unemployment and the gap between rich and poor.

You will join an in-depth exploration of the steps involved in moving toward integrated, human-scale economic structures in which deeply personal, heartfelt relationships matter most of all. Envisioning a shift from global to local entails grappling with a number of difficult questions: Just how localised should we strive to be? What strategies can be employed to overcome the entrenched power of big business, big banks, and big government? What is the role of technology in a localised economy? How do we start from where we are? We’ll discuss these topics and more.

Together, we’ll address the shifts needed at both policy and grassroots levels. We’ll honour the wisdom and practical knowledge of indigenous cultures and envision a society based on the proven principles of connection and community. We’ll learn from the kaleidoscope of people-powered movements around the world—a source of real hope for the future which has been almost completely ignored by the mainstream media.

Our approach will be very broad and holistic and we will consider a range of themes from perspectives of both the global North and South, including:

  • How to measure real progress
  • Putting food and farming at the center of the local economy
  • Reducing energy use while creating meaningful jobs
  • Tackling climate change through localization trade
  • The balance between urban and rural
  • The spiritual and psychological benefits of connecting to nature and community
  • Healthcare in a life-based economy
  • Resolving the roots of racial, ethnic and religious conflict
  • Restoring democracy through localization

This course will give you a global perspective on localization and equip you with practical strategies for fostering and supporting genuine social, ecological, and economic renewal, wherever you may be.

Fee: £ 795.00 Course fees include all meals, field trips, materials and all teaching sessions. The programme will run from Monday to Friday afternoon, and includes four nights private accommodation and all vegetarian meals from the first lunchtime you arrive through until the lunchtime before your departure.

To register: Login/ Register Schumacher College. For more information, please contact info@localfutures.org

In the latest entries on the Economics of Happiness Blog, Geneviève Azam delves into the history of the degrowth movement, Samuel Alexander paints a beautiful picture of what life in a modern ‘degrowth economy’ would actually be like, Helena Norberg-Hodge explores the economic and political forces that got Donald Trump elected, and Jim Tull questions the age-old myth that the poor will always be with us”.
Our Associate Programs Director Anja Lyngbaek and her husband Alejandro Lopez-Musalem appeared on an episode of the Uplift Podcast about their community-based life in a Mexican cloud forest. The episode is introduced by Dr. Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist studying the evolutionary basis of community.

Local Futures director Helena Norberg-Hodge also appeared recently on the Uplift Podcast, as well as on Charles Eisenstein’s podcast ‘A New and Ancient Story’.

 

 

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