News from Ben Parkinson

As regular readers will remember, since 2009 Ben has been working in Uganda, where he has been responsible for developing the Butterfly Project, with the most disadvantaged children living in remote rural and slum areas. It is supported by the Chrysalis Youth Empowerment Network (CYEN), a charitable organisation with an administrative base in Birmingham, UK.

The Butterfly Project is a network of committed young people from the most disadvantaged backgrounds, who are determined to be catalysts for change in their communities and are supported in their objectives by Chrysalis, through specialist training and support, to start and develop their own social project.

Ben sends the latest news from Kampala

We’ve had a good year for almost all of the Butterflies this year, with the Pioneers stepping up to new responsibilities, C2s moving into and through university, C3s becoming more capable citizens and leaders and C4s starting to believe in themselves as changemakers.

We’ve had a good year for entrepreneurship developments:

  1. We’ve added a new site for goats in Omoro, about 5 miles from our Koro Centre.  The existing site continues to raise about 3.6m UGX per annum.  We have also acquired 4 pigs in Koro on that site, which we will likely breed from.
  2. Grace has started a substantial herbs, onions and tomatoes garden on our Koro site, which includes coriander, turmeric and ginger.  Now the borehole is nearby, watering is easier and so far all of the crops have come up.
  3. We have sold out of our initial hard soap production run and will be doing a second run this week.  Barbara (C3) and Rose (C4) are leading on this.
  4. Our initial run of Skin Tender petroleum jelly has sold well and we have promised regular orders for this from a school.  Sione and Suzan (C4) have been leading on this SkinTender brand.
  5. We have been working on the production of a Ugandan boardgame – Omweso – which we have been producing using recycled pine to try to inspire and enable children in rural areas to learn and play their local game.  We have orders for 20 or more units.
  6. We also have three partly-designed boardgames, which we are hoping to market next year.  Patrick’s (C3) game is coming into prototype this week, so that it can be reviewed by the games publisher.

The C4 group have now moved forward to a stage, where we can include their training with the C3 members, who always add a new dynamic to discussions.  We have covered topics such as global warming, plastic in the oceans, as well as science and technology developments, such as the bacteriophage this year!  We are also making progress in fostering teamwork between the two groups, with a recent event, where both groups had an equal role in training boardgames for the Boardgame Bootcamp.

We have settled into the whole centre now, which has given us seven new rooms, which have been repurposed as cinema, kitchen, library, office and three sleeping areas.  Cooking has also evolved a lot this year, as the young people have been able to experiment with new recipes on our gas stove. 

The Nursery still continues and we have an excellent head teacher that has become a leader in the Koro team.  We have been able to expand it this year to include the necessary desks and chairs and a separate classroom for each nursery year, as required by the local authority.  There are now three teachers, one of whom also cooks the porridge each day.

Finally, we have developed a plan for the Chrysalis School in Koro, which is below for your information.  The blue areas are already built, the white parts are not.  We will need to raise some further money to complete this work.  We presented the plan to a church in Birmingham yesterday and are hopeful that we can raise some money through this and other routes to complete the work by early next year.

 

If you are interested in seeing more photos of our activities, then click the links below:

Boardgame boot camp

Cooking and carpentry

Climbing and adventure

Mission Painting

C3&C4 Training session

 

 

 

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Invitation: Helena Norberg-Hodge

Helena Norberg-Hodge (ISEC/Local Futures) writes:

“I have seen how the global economy destroys people’s fundamental relationships with one another and the Earth by breaking down interdependent local economies.

“To counter this, I believe that we need community and political engagement in the form of resistance and renewal – resistance to further globalisation, along with the renewal of localised systems in food, energy, finance and other sectors of the economy. I’m convinced that this is the most strategic path towards genuine sustainability”.

She sends an invitation to the forthcoming Economics of Happiness conference in Bristol, October 19-21.

ISEC is working in collaboration with Happy City and the former mayor of Bristol. Jonathan will be chairing.

Helena explains: “Localization is not about eliminating international trade, or reducing all economic activity to a village level, but about shifting the power from transnational corporations to nation states, while simultaneously building up regional self-reliance”. 

Two Local Futures initiatives: Planet Local and the International Alliance on Localization

Planet Local is a web series showcasing inspiring localization initiatives from around the world. The series highlights diverse examples of localization in action in such areas as community renewable energy, local food and farming, local economy, eco-villages, alternative education, radical democracy, the local commons, and more. Planet Local demonstrates that the movement for localization is broader and more diverse than many people realize, manifesting as a powerful mosaic of small-scale solutions happening on a planet-wide scale. The series aims to inspire a politics of hope, grounded in actual existing projects that too often go unnoticed by the mainstream media.

https://medium.com/planet-local

People and groups from 58 different countries have joined the International Alliance

The International Alliance for Localisation (IAL) was originally conceived as a way to formalise and expand this informal network of groups and individuals who are working on issues that fall under the broad umbrella of this global-to-local shift network. The hope is that the IAL will help to catalyse a powerful global movement for localisation.

The general public and even most local groups themselves are often unaware that they are, in fact, part of a rapidly growing worldwide localisation movement. We believe that linking together these groups that are currently operating in isolation can greatly strengthen them all.

Here are some of the key individuals who have been part of the consensus-building process:

  • Michael Shuman, one of the first economists to promote localisation;
  • Camila Moreno, a Brazilian trade and agriculture activist;
  • Bayo Akomolafe, a Nigerian writer, researcher and storyteller;
  • Manish Jain, an ‘unlearning’ advocate and co-founder of India’s Swaraj University;
  • Carlo Sibilia, a member of Italy’s 5 Star Movement;
  • Keibo Oiwa, a leader of Japan’s ‘Slow Life’ movement;
  • Yoji Kamata, founder of the Ancient Futures Association of Japan;
  • Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics and The Ascent of Humanity;
  • Judy Wicks, co-founder of BALLE (Business Alliance for Local Living Economies);
  • Carol Black, director and editor of the film Schooling the World;
  • Richard Heinberg, ‘peak oil’ expert and author;
  • Ross Jackson, founder of the Global Ecovillage Network;
  • and Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

The mission of the IAL is two-fold: to facilitate dialogue and collaboration among the multitude of groups and individuals who are engaged in grass-roots localisation initiatives; and also to enable this diverse localisation movement to speak with a more unified voice in resistance to further globalisation – one loud and powerful enough to break through the ‘noise’ of corporate-dominated political and economic discourse.

 

 

 

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News of Diana Schumacher

elf logoThe Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) is a charity which helps the voice of ordinary people and communities to be heard on matters affecting the environment in which they live and to have access to justice.

ELF provides free information and advice on environmental issues to individuals and communities via its in-house and university-based law clinics, and its network of specialist environmental lawyers and technical experts. Socially and economically disadvantaged communities which want to address their concerns, but lack the resources or information to do so are helped – and all are welcome to enquire.

In a recent newsletter they continued with their interviews with prominent ELF people, speaking to Diana Schumacher OBE, Vice President and Co-founder.

Diana with her long involvement in setting up environmental organisations, speaks for herself.

What role do you play in ELF?

diana-schumacher (3)I am the youngest of ELF’s three founder members and original trustees, together with Martin Polden and the late Professor David Hall. I still serve as a trustee and am now vice-president.

What is your relationship to ELF and what brought you into the Environmental Law field?

I am not a lawyer and sadly know little about environmental law itself. In the 1980s I had been engaged in setting up various pioneering environmental organisations and think- tanks such as the Schumacher Society; Schumacher College; The All Party Energy Group (now The All Party Environment Group); The Green Alliance; The New Economics Foundation (nef); and was involved with various others.

I gradually began to realise that most environment and development issues were being determined largely on the grounds of “economics”. This effectively meant that large industrial, business and development interests were able to override local community and environmental considerations, and unfortunately, this situation still exists today.

Then, in the mid-eighties one such development occurred in my own village of Godstone in Surrey, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), some of which was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and which resulted in a two-year Public Inquiry. A multinational company was seeking permission for open cast mineral extraction to mine Bentonite for export. Although the planning application was eventually withdrawn, it left the local community with debts of several hundred thousand pounds in paying off legal and other professional fees, and with the interest on loans, it took many years of begging and fundraising events to pay off these debts! It had been a ‘David and Goliath’ situation, and in this case David won, but the unfairness of the financial inequality was obvious.

It occurred to me that begging letters, sponsored walks and knitting tea cosies were not the answer! What was needed to resolve similar issues was a partnership between those involved with local environmental concerns, and scientific professionals and lawyers who were willing to give pro bono advice in defence of the environment.

Although environmental law was in its infancy in the UK at the time, compared with some countries such as New Zealand and certain states of Australia, there was an urgent need to have the legal profession involved in local decisions affecting the environment, and also to develop environmental law expertise and access to justice in this country.

I put these ideas to Professor David Hall, a friend, and at the time Chair of the Parliamentary Energy Group, and to Martin Polden, (a lawyer who had successfully helped me on a copyright case), and both agreed it was an idea worth exploring. In practical terms Martin obtained initial funding and the support of some key lawyers; David found us a small desk/cupboard and telephone/answer machine in his department at King’s College, London; and I contacted and encouraged various key environmentalists to serve on our committee, to become patrons, or to donate additional funding. Eventually after months of correspondence and meetings, ELF was born.

Do you have one particular area of Environmental Law that interests you?

No. Ultimately all aspects are connected and every development impacts on something – be it land use, air or water quality, noise pollution etc. These are for specialists to evaluate.

Do you think that Brexit is an opportunity for the environmental/conservation sector?

Definitely not, in that EU environmental legislation has in many ways protected the UK from further environmental degradation, despite the fact that there has not been enthusiastic implementation of the Aarhus Convention.

What do you see as being the three most significant challenges to Environmental Law in the future?

The fact that local communities are frequently unaware of their rights and unable to access environmental expertise; the fact that short term economic interests frequently obscure long term environmental preservation; and in the UK we do not have environmental courts.

What is your hope for the future of ELF?

I should like to see more publicity of our cases and a far greater public awareness of the benefits ELF can offer. Above all, we need more core funding to enable us to employ more staff, extend our outreach and take on more cases. Sadly, for us also, it comes down partly to economics!

 

 

 

 

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News from the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability

Our late colleague, Richard Douthwaite, was the co-founder of Feasta (the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability) an Irish-based economic, social and environmental think-tank. He is now represented here by Caroline Whyte.

Anne B. Ryan, chairperson of Feasta trustee board, writes: “Basic Income Ireland is organising a series of events throughout Ireland during the month of Sept, to inform about and discuss their proposals for a basic income in Ireland. Advocates believe that a universal, sufficient and unconditional basic income would be a crucial ingredient in a transition to a more sustainable and equal society and economy. Many members of Feasta also take this view and see BI as an important systemic intervention that would have important short-term benefits but that also has the capacity to support the more far-reaching transformations we need. Read more about basic income at www.basicincomeireland.com.”

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Sat Sept 1. Common Ground, Beverly Studios, Bray, Co Wicklow. 1-3pm. BII members will have a stall at the monthly market.

Thurs Sept 6. Ox Mountain Heritage Centre, Tubbercurry, Co Sligo, 7pm Talk and discussion.

Thurs Sept 6. Gullane’s Hotel, Ballinasloe, Co Galway. 7pm. Talk and discussion.

Thurs Sept 13 East Clare Co-op, Scariff, Co Clare. Time to be confirmed. For details please see http://www.eastclarecommunitycoop.com/
and https://www.basicincomeireland.com/news

Fri Sept 14, Royal Irish Academy, Dawson St, Dublin, 6.15pm. Frances Coppola will examine the economic potential which could be unlocked in Ireland by offering its citizens the security of a basic income. Coppola is an internationally-acclaimed economics commentator, writer, musician, and former banking professional and she writes the Coppola Comment blog http://www.coppolacomment.com/. The event will be chaired by journalist and broadcaster Vincent Browne. You need to register for this event on https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/hidden-productivity-unlocking-economic-value-with-basic-income-in-ireland-tickets-49268936716 and the cost is €5 for those on a wage.

Six later events are listed here. http://www.feasta.org/2018/08/30/basic-income-roadshow-in-ireland-september-2018/

 

 

 

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News from Pat Conaty

Pat Conaty, well-known in Birmingham for his co-founding of the Aston Reinvestment Trust with Sir Adrian Cadbury and setting up the Debt Advice Centre at the Birmingham Settlement, moved to Wales where he is promoting community housing and community land trusts (CLTs).

His work with others includes the building of a partnership between the Welsh government, co-op housing activists and non-profit housing developers to run a national demonstration project on CLTs and other forms of democratic housing including co-op rental, co-op shared equity, community self-build and co-housing.

He comments that such partnerships have long been established in Scandinavia where co-op housing is commonplace, continuing:

“As affordable housing both to own and to rent has vanished since 2010, community led-housing solutions have been emerging against the odds. Community Land Trusts in rural and urban areas, co-housing and student housing co-ops have been bootstrapped by activists . . .

“In Wales and South West England partnerships with government and local authorities and housing associations are showing how to develop effective public-social partnerships with local activists to increase the diversity of democratic housing provision and solutions”.

At the Co-op Congress in Wakefield last July, Ed Mayo asked Pat to chair the Reimagine Housing session which led to further developments with Liverpool and Leeds activists connecting CLTs and Co-op housing to speak, the Student housing co-op activists and other innovators.

This led to other meetings in early January with housing co-operatives and the head of a housing association, interested in his Commons Sense report for Co-ops UK on Co-op garden city opportunities and connections with those working in the Midlands on the use of brownfield land to develop new garden cities.

 

 

 

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News from John Bunzl

The Simpol Campaign goes stateside

What the world needs now is more cooperation, and, you know, the level-heads necessary to make it happen. When you think cooperation and level-headedness, the US might not quite be the first place that springs to mind, but here at Simpol, we’re committed to empowering citizens in all countries around the world to drive greater cooperation from their leaders where it’s needed most.

John writes:

“For the last few months we’ve been busy preparing for the US release of The SIMPOL Solution, the latest book on why we need more cooperation in the world, and how our thinking needs to change to do it.

“To coincide with the release, we’ve been busy taking part in some interviews to help get the Simpol conversation in the US going, so that we can bring the campaign for global solutions to new audiences there.

“We’re in Evonomics!

“For those who are fed up with the meaningless ‘ding-dong’ between the political parties, Simpol offers a way to cut through that, driving all politicians towards implementing what really matters: a sustainable and just world.”

David Sloan Wilson – American evolutionary biologist extraordinaire, recently read and loved The SIMPOL Solution so much, he invited John and Nick to discuss the book, it’s genesis and their hopes for Simpol as part of an interview for Evonomics – economic thinking that can change the world for the better.

Tom Amarque, author, philosopher and podcaster recently interviewed John and Nick for his “Lateral Conversations” podcast at this link.

If you’ve got friends stateside that might be interested in helping to solve the world’s biggest problems, do consider sharing it with them, or better yet – connect them with us! 

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Calling all London-based supporters!

What are you doing on Tuesday 10 July? Simpol founder John Bunzl will be giving a short TED-style talk followed by chat over a few pints at Green Drinks – a regular green industry networking evening in Brixton. The evening kicks off at 18.30 at The Dogstar Bar, London, SW9 8LG.

 

 

 

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News from Zerbanoo Gifford

Zerbanoo writes:

The World Zoroastrian Youth Leaders Forum (WZYLF) was held at the ASHA Centre in Gloucestershire, England between March 16-25, 2018. It was a transformative experience for the group of 20 nextgeneration leaders from around the world, all identified as people closely concerned and connected within local, regional and global Zarathushti circles.

WZYLF organisers, participants & volunteers at Asha Centre

This forum’s aims were tied to using our heads, hearts and hands: to understand the dynamics of sustainable change; to reflect on the global Zarathushti community; to connect with the heart of Zoroastrianism and with one another; and to unite and focus our energies for the betterment of the Zarathushti community. Some of us from India, some from Canada, US, New Zealand and Australia

Adrian Locher (facilitator), Mark Mazda (facilitator) and Sanaya Master (Organiser of WZYLF came to receive us. We gathered to discuss our local community initiatives. These included the World Zarathushti Chamber of Commerce (WZCC) (Jehan Kotwal), Building the social Infrastructure of the community (Shazneen Limjerwala), Study of fire temples (Cyrus Rivetna), Zarathushti memory project (Arzan Wadia). We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening learning Latin dancing from Jimmy.

On Monday, we focused on mapping the challenges, problems and what needs to be healed, in the global Zoroastrian community to create a Zoroastrianism of our highest vision. We were given some questions to reflect on.

  1. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the global Zarathushti community?
  2. How do we achieve unity and a sense of common purpose?
  3. How can we achieve sustainable change?
  4. How does a younger generation make a difference? These were laid out diagrammatically on the sides of a circle, and in the centre was a central question,
  5. How does Zoroastrianism help us meet these challenges?

Several issues were listed by participants as in need of urgent attention from the community. These included a leadership deficit, the lack of assimilation of Parsis and Iranis, decreasing numbers, lack of understanding of religion, lack of engagement of youth, amongst others.

We took a walk in the Forest of Dean, ably guided by Adrian and Mark. It was beautiful, walking through the forest, sharing stories, bonding, and finally, arriving at a sacred pond (above). Adrian shared that this was used by Christian monks for years

We had a discussion and lunch with Baroness Jan Royall, the principal of Somerville College, Oxford University. In her engaging interaction, she proudly shared that Cornelia Sorabji, a student of Somerville College, was the first woman to study law at Oxford University, the first Indian national to study at any British university, the first female advocate in India and the first woman to practice law in India and Britain.

The grand finale: the Freddy Mercury singalong at the local pub.

Zerbanoo drew attention to this World Congress of Faiths essay award, deadline 28th August 2018

 

 

 

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News from Shaun Chamberlin

And first, a tribute to David Fleming discovered by chance

A symposium – Surviving the Future – on David Fleming’s work at Vermont’s Sterling College in December was oversubscribed.

Shaun (below left) was a key organiser, but having sworn off flying in 2002 due to its environmental impacts, he was an interested spectator on the livestream!

Video:

http://www.darkoptimism.org/2018/01/31/sterling-college-symposium-david-flemings-legacy/

17-19 May 2018: after the success of the above symposium on Fleming’s work, Sterling College will be hosting a deeper dive into Fleming’s work taught by Richard Heinberg, Martin Kirk and Matthew Derr at Craftsbury Common, Vermont, USA.

Several engaged fans of Fleming’s work made submissions to the Irish Citizens’ Assembly regarding his ingenious TEQs carbon rationing system

(The submission by Prof. Barry McMullin of Dublin City University).

Shaun also led a number of events discussing the books, including this enjoyable webinar with Helena Norberg-Hodge of Local Futures, the special anniversary event at Gaia House near David’s home in Hampstead.

 

 

 

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News from Helena Norberg Hodge

Join Local Futures at Earth, Culture, Economy

25th-29th June | Schumacher College, Totnes, UK

What would the world look like if humans lived harmoniously with nature rather than creating environmental mayhem? What strategies can be employed to overcome the entrenched power of big business, big banks, and big government?

We’ll dig into these questions in Earth, Culture, Economy, an open course at Schumacher College led by Helena Norberg-Hodge, Stephan Harding, and Satish Kumar. Our approach will be broad and holistic and we will consider a range of themes from the perspective of both the global North and South, including:

• How to measure real progress
• Putting food and farming at the center of the local economy
• Tackling climate change through localising 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 localisation

~RESERVE A PLACE~

We also have two other events coming up in the UK this summer:

Localisation, Degrowth, and Wellbeing

An evening of discussion and Q&A
with Helena Norberg-Hodge and Jason Hickel

19th June | London, UK

Co-creating Wellbeing Economies

A how-to course on big picture activism

13th-17th July | 42 Acres, Frome, UK

 

These events will present a global perspective on localisation and equip you with practical strategies for supporting genuine social, ecological, and economic renewal wherever you may be. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

 

 

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Ben Parkinson in Uganda: the latest development

Ben writes:

Boardgaming is turning into a major hobby for those children in Uganda, whom we can connect to board games.  We’ve seen confidence build and even children learn to read, as they desire to play the games better. 

Visitors to this website, from ten countries in March – who may not have read earlier news of the Butterfly project – should know that there are too few useful things that Ugandan children who live in slums or remote rural areas can do, so often they can end up in scrap collecting or worse in cities or into alcohol in villages.  Board games which are part of Ugandan culture are a welcome addition to our activities, and it is a privilege to be able to introduce these games to so many.

In May this year, we hope to host the second Village Boardgame Convention in Uganda, more details here, following on from last year’s amazing event. At our remote rural centre in Koro, near Gulu in Northern Uganda, we have a children’s activity centre, where we plan to bring children and youth from multiple districts of Uganda with your help. This event is part of an initiative by UK charity CYEN, which trains teenagers from remote villages to be social entrepreneurs, young people who can catalyse change in the most disadvantaged parts of society.

We believe that boardgames can effect change in these young people by teaching them skills, which they would otherwise find difficult to learn.

For instance:

  1. a) Games can teach young people about the outside world in fun ways, which will stimulate their interest and ambition
  2. b) Winning games can build confidence, when often schools have few mechanisms to boost the confidence of their pupils
  3. c) Most games have a planning or memory element, which can help their players think in different ways, when often children might live day to day for their survival
  4. d) Many games are creative and help inspire problem-solving, which is key in seeing change occur in these remote places
  5. e) We hope to inspire new game designers from communities, who can then earn money that can help enhance local school or health provision.
  6. f) Co-operative games can inspire teamwork and partnership, a factor often needed in impoverished areas.

The initiative is called Gamechangers

See the video here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/uganda-village-board-game-convention/

New clubs have sprung up in two sites in Gulu and another at our centre in Koro, in Northern Uganda.  In Kampala, we launched our Boardgame sleepovers two weeks ago, which were incredibly well attended that we barely fit everyone in!

In December, we ran Christmas workshops for village children as part of the Gamechangers Road Trip making it to some of the most remote parts of Northern Uganda.  Last weekend we opened up a third official Gamechangers club in Mpigi, about 30km to the west of Kampala.

Our team of 16 young trainers taught 12 games to almost 70 children and staff at the Abato Foundation.  During the next month we plan to open eight more small clubs in Northern Uganda, in advance of our second Village Boardgame Convention, so that we can bring a further 80 children to the Convention to meet their peers and learn from our more experienced players. In total we estimate we have introduced boardgaming to almost 1000 children in Uganda and regular boardgaming occurs now to at least 100, from North to South.