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News from Caroline Whyte of Feasta

Feasta, co-founded by our late colleague, Richard Douthwaite, is issuing a podcast series: Bridging the Gaps: Podcasts on ecology, health, energy, well-being . . .

It is co-organised by Feasta and the European Health Futures Forum. It’s a follow-on to our 2019 series Beyond the Obvious, also done in collaboration with the EHFF.

Feasta plans to upload 10 podcasts in the course of 2020. Topics will include:

• how best to measure well-being
• the politics of land
• wealth distribution
• diversity, both biological and cultural
• blame, shame and compassion
• the role of digital technology in society

…..all in the context of a biosphere which is critically ill and in need of urgent care.

The hosts, Seán O’Conláin and Caroline Whyte (right), explore a range of topics with guests from a wide variety of backgrounds. To hear Podcast 1: Living well in the face of climate and ecological crises (January 31 2020) click on this link.

Feasta thanks Laoise Kelly who gave them permission to use her harp music. The piece is ‘Princess Beatrice’ from her Album ‘Just Harp’.

 

 

 

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Jackie Carpenter is setting up a cohousing community in Southwest England

Project Q is setting up a new cohousing community in Southwest England, based on Quaker principles (truth, peace, equality and simplicity). Other aspects of the community are up for discussion and debate.

The community will have shared communal spaces and private living spaces, where we will be dedicated to helping people and the environment. It will be:

  • An example of simple, sustainable living, showing people how we can survive and thrive during and after the existential crisis that is threatening us
  • A deeply spiritual space to nurture members; a place where people can come to find spiritual care in connection with the climate and ecological crisis
  • An educational centre teaching practical skills like food-growing and crafts
  • A centre of inspiration and positive thinking
  • A loving community based on Quaker principles (truth, peace, equality and simplicity) with strong links to other Climate Crisis groups.

We are seeking people who will sell their houses and invest their money, or commit to working diligently if they don’t have much money. We shall buy a country estate or farm which already has suitable buildings, move in within a few months (depending on house sale speed!) and devote ourselves to supporting others, helping people to learn to live simply with hope and happiness. In particular we shall aim to help teenagers and young adults find their path in this confusing and mixed-up world.

One corner of Trelay farm

Track record? Read about her earlier experience below* and learn about her first co-housing project on the Trelay Farm website. Day to day living is described here:

Friendship Cohousing – the first Project Q cohousing community – is progressing well. We are close to purchasing a property near Marazion. Our next meeting will be on 11th and 12th January. Contact Jackie@trelay.org for more information.

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Jackie Carpenter is a chartered mechanical engineer – and in the 80s she managed large projects for Brown and Root. She was President of the Women’s Engineering Society from 2002-03 (see her 2001 paper). In 1995 she changed direction, helping to found the charity Energy21, and was managing director for ten years, promoting community renewable energy – networking with many, notably Hermann Scheer, a member of the Bundestag and President of Eurosolar. Jackie’s Stroud cottage ran on 100% renewable energy. She was President of the Women’s Engineering Society from 2002-03 (see her 2001 paper). In 2007 she moved to Cornwall to help to create a new sustainable community, Trelay, ensuring the long term continuity of the Energy21 Network of community organisations by linking it with the Centre for Alternative Technology.

 

 

 

 

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More news from John Bunzl

John writes:

Simpol has been thinking about love. I know, bear with us. We really do mean love.

In the last month global climate strikes saw some of our planet’s youngest and brightest hopefuls take to the streets demanding action before a cataclysmic future becomes unavoidable. A 16 year old woman now recognisable the world over put herself in a position to speak blistering truth to power, and she did so with courage. The strikes, and her words, made for provocative headlines, entertaining memes, and powerful news segments. And motivated by a righteous anger over a future being squandered, we were united in our damnation of those leaders and countries who fail to heed her words.

But were we right to be? Or was there was something missing? Something desperately lacking to temper the damnation with understanding, to find connection across the divide, to focus the fury into action. What was missing, was love.

While our most vulnerable changemakers take to the streets to fight for the future they will most certainly have to live through, is it enough for the rest of us to just ride the trajectory of their fire? To take their raw emotion and point it at our leaders? Or should we be the ones to find the way forward, a way beyond blame, to resolution?

At Simpol we have already defined our way forward. It’s simultaneous action on global problems. We’ve defined it as cooperation. We’ve defined it as politics. Now, we define it as love.

Inserted extract: In this Medium piece: “People can come together in larger groups to “love” each other in the sense that they come together to help each other to organise for an agreed purpose. “Politics” is the name we give to this kind of love. It involves a process in which groups of people together decide their goals and agree how to achieve them and how to organise themselves in the best interests of all members of the group. When someone is prepared to die for their country, who can say that this is not love?”

Some say love is unrealistic. Impossible. Utopian, even. We say: Love is all we have.

See also A new and better kind of politics: Nick Duffell

 

 

 

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News from John Bunzl: never has his message seemed more relevant

As the introduction to John’s latest book says, compellingly: “In the 21st century we face innumerable challenges both now and in the future, from mass migration, unfettered corporate power, to inequality, big data and climate change. Ahead of these global threats and tragedies is a common barrier to their solution it is the spirit that has defined the age we live in: competition. The Simultaneous Policy Solution, the ‘SIMPOL Solution’ shows us how we must all come to terms with the crippling effect of global competition. Only through simultaneous action, through cooperation, can we overcome these problems”.

In July last year news was posted here that The SIMPOL Solution: Solving Global Problems Could Be Easier Than We Think, co-written with Nick Duffell, was to be released in the USA.

Since then, John writes, further editions have come out in Canada, Netherlands and Germany (German title is “Nationales Denken, Globale Krise”. National thinking, global crises.).

The webpage for the book is https://simpol.org/resources/the-simpol-solution.

Re-Base Camp – London 

The new website tells readers that John Bunzl  has been invited to host a round-table discussion on democracy at Re-Base Camp, to be held in London 4-5th November, 2019. Led by author, Chris Kutarna, Re-Base Camp is “a global invitation to collectively re-imagine our future and actively participate in expeditions for systemic change”. 

Only through simultaneous action, through cooperation, can we address the challenges facing us.

 

 

 

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News from Ben Parkinson in Uganda

 

CYEN has formed a partnership with “ECOaction”, a waste management project in Banda, founded in 2012 by Reagan Kandole. It has been involved in youth social enterprise projects for last 5 years and wants to expand their environmental intervention by working with CYEN.

This project is engaging young people and the rest of the community in collecting waste and creating employment opportunities through reusing and recycling waste. In the capital city of Uganda, Kampala 730,000 tons of waste is produced every day and, at present, only an estimated 1% is recycled.

ECOaction’s goals are:

  • to address high unemployment and the increase in bio and human waste;
  • to stress the benefit of an eco-friendly society beyond trash, where empowered and responsible citizens live in harmony with their environment;
  • to engage the community in environmentally beneficial livelihood activities, increasing community events and activities that can improve the environmental situation and
  • to increase opportunities in welding/carpentry/and using many kinds of waste apron plastics aim to recycle/reduced/reuse.

Ben Parkinson (CYEN) says: “Companies estimate that only 4% of their bottles come back for re-use and surely we need to address this by improving the amount that recyclers are paid for the bottles or finding some way to subsidise this.

Bottle picking is known as the least well paid work, where adults cannot find even enough for their children’s school fees. Ecoaction Banda have evolved products which could help address this imbalance.”

ChrysalisUganda will be hosting one of their large recycled plastic collection bins and young social entrepreneurs from their Butterfly project will be learning the techniques of recycling plastic, as part of their training programme.

 

 

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News from Colin Hines

Northern Green New Deal Powerhouse

After a meeting last May of groups interested in developing campaigns on the Green New Deal in the UK, the ‘30 by 30’ campaign was set up to ensure that around 28 million UK dwellings and 2 million commercial and public sector buildings are made energy efficient by 2030.

Since then, Colin, wearing his Green New Deal Group hat, has been having discussions with energy efficiency experts and activists in the North of England and this has resulted in the idea of a ‘Northern Green New Deal Powerhouse’, explored in an article published by Brave New Europe, which serves as an interface between experts and civil society groups supporting the creation of an egalitarian, just, sustainable and social Europe.

Edited extracts – read the full article here

The Brexit fog has lifted just long enough to allow David Attenborough, Extinction Rebellion, Greta Thunberg and the constant background call in the US and Europe for a Green New Deal to put the climate emergency centre stage in the UK public debate, affecting the outcomes of the European Elections.

The momentum behind these demands must be maintained, gaining widespread public support leading to the necessary Government action.

A Green New Deal approach, seen to benefit the majority by making all buildings energy efficient, will provide secure, well paid jobs in every constituency and tackle fuel poverty (‘Jobs in every constituency’) .

A new ‘30 by 30’ target

The UK Government’s 2050 target must be bought forward. To further these goals, it is time to consider a ‘30 by 30’ initiative to ensure that around 28 million UK dwellings and 2 million commercial and public sector buildings  are made energy efficient by 2030.

In the UK there is now a political urgency for such a comprehensive approach to be considered, given the possibility of an Autumn election in the UK and talk of opposition parties forming local alliances. Helpfully our call for a ‘jobs in every constituency’ Green New Deal last year gained the because addressing the climate emergency is now an unavoidable political priority.

This ‘30 by 30’ target could cut carbon emissions by around 40%. It would also have the social advantages of dealing with fuel poverty and requiring a massive multi skilled, training programme resulting in a wide range of long term, well paid jobs, as well as business and investment opportunities in every community. Local democracy could flourish since enacting this huge programme will require consultation and the involvement of the workers and recipients of this ‘30 by 30’ programme.

The ‘Northern Powerhouse’ is a project to boost economic growth in the North of England, initiated by the 2010-15 Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition and centred on the “Core Cities” of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield, Hull and Newcastle. This has resulted in half the people living in the North now being governed by mayors with increased but still limited powers and the setting up of Transport for the North with a £70bn investment blueprint.

However this has not been experienced on the ground as a gain for the majority, since the reality of the Government’s austerity programme is that overall public spending for the area has been cut by £3.6 billion between 2009/10 and 2017/18, while the South East and the South West together saw a £4.7 billion rise (in real terms). London also saw a cut in spending, but by far less, at £256 million . In terms of the crucial research and development the Golden Triangle of London, Cambridge and Oxford attracts over half of all research funding – more than £17bn. A mere £0.6bn goes to the north east. Cambridge, with a population of 285,000, has as many private R&D jobs as the whole of the north, with a population of 15 million.

However these trends could be significantly changed were a labour intensive ‘30 by 30’ Green New Deal programme be introduced for the region, making all buildings carbon neutral by 2030. Conveniently this fits in well with the climate emergency calls from the leaders of the Northern Powerhouse’s ‘core cities’ since most already have a 2030 deadline for becoming carbon neutral .

The scope for a comprehensive energy efficiency programme which will both generate a huge range of jobs and improve living conditions for millions in this area is enormous. There are approximately 2,750,000 homes in the north of England suitable for cavity or solid wall insulation and 1,140,000 homes are suitable for loft insulation.  In addition to this there would be huge potential for solar PV on roofs, replacing gas boilers with heat pumps or community heating schemes, battery storage and smart meters.

To act as an inspiring example for the whole country would require spreading the Northern Green New Deal Powerhouse approach to every nook and cranny of the region. In addition to its five major city regions, the area has within it 265 towns, almost 1,000 villages and smaller communities. It also has 29 Universities which could help become the hub of a massive retraining programme for the range of skills required to make all the area’s buildings energy efficient.

The Policies Required

E3G’s comprehensive report, “Affordable Warmth, Clean Growth” has already detailed a comprehensive Buildings Energy Infrastructure Programme and dedicated delivery agency to achieve major energy savings and de-carbonise the UK heating supply. It set out an action plan to make all homes energy efficient within 20 years, although this timeline is in the process of being shortened for an update to the report. Achieving this goal will require the adoption of world-leading quality standards for retrofitting and constructing homes, area-based schemes led by local authorities, additional funding sources that won’t raise energy bills and financial incentives to encourage households to take up energy-saving measures.

In terms of what this would mean for the Northern Powerhouse, IPPR North details in its report ‘A Northern Energy Strategy’ a similarly comprehensive programme from the perspective of the resources available and the needs that must be met in the North. This emphasises that its policies would be driven more effectively at a local level, by actors who are trusted, who understand their local housing stock and those that live within it.

Strong national and local political support for such a ’30 by 30’ approach could come from the Northern Powerhouse All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) which brings together Northern MPs and Peers with the new Metro Mayors and key leaders from local government, the private and third sectors.

Finally this would help address the Remain versus Leave divide since it would result in ‘jobs in every constituency and would help bridge the gap so eloquently expressed by a French yellow jackets jibe–“Our elites are talking about the end of world when we are talking about the end of the month.”

Relevance to European and US Green New Deal Campaigns

 There are roughly 300 million homes and other buildings in the European Union and they currently represent almost 40% of total final energy consumption . Therefore making them all carbon neutral and so providing jobs in every community can make a crucial contribution to the growing demands for a European Green New Deal that addresses both environmental and social concerns.

The US Green New Deal has at its heart making every residential and industrial building energy efficient. Given there are around 140 million residential buildings alone in the US this by definition means jobs in every district in the country, both Republican and Democrat. Such a Green New Deal could therefore be the cornerstone of the Democrats’ attempt to beat Donald Trump in 2020.

Why Should This Happen?

The answer to this is climate events and the beginning of the end of austerity. With Europe threatened with ‘hell is coming’ heat waves and a growing Eurozone crisis and international slowdown resulting in a reconsideration of austerity both in the EU  and the IMF , the stage is set for the climate emergency movements demands to be translated into jobs in every community.

Finally there is a timely precedent for such a transformational achievement. Fifty years ago this month the US put a man on the moon within a decade of President Kennedy’s original call to do so. This time the priority must be to save the planet, not to leave it.

 

 

 

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News from the Foundation for the Economics of Sustainability (FEASTA) co-founded by Richard Douthwaite

 

Following the May Food for Thought collaborative event, which FEASTA organised in partnership with Afri, Teacht Anair, Food Sovereignty Ireland and the IEN-organised National Biodiversity Week, Caroline Whyte sends news of an event Elements of Change, in Cloughjordan ecovillage, Co Tipperary, on June 29, organised by Cultivate, which will feature Rob Hopkins among others. The Cultivate website has more details.

Now that we have declared a climate and biodiversity emergency, what are we going to do about it? Reimagine how we transition to a low carbon, biodiverse and just society.

 

 

 

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Jane Taylor

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Recently Pat Conaty sent this message: “Some very sad news. Do you remember Jane Taylor the former ITN journalist who co-founded Positive News? She died recently of sepsis”.

I first met Jane at an Energy21 awards event in London many years ago. We discussed Positive News then and on several occasions afterwards. Neither of us was happy with the type of advertisements carried in Positive News and she managed to persuade the editor to add the newspaper style supplement because she needed something more suitable to hand out to MPs. A charming and able woman.

When I sent the news of her death to Jackie Carpenter, saying I’d like to write about her, as I believe several networkers will have known her, Jackie wrote:

“Here is a story you might like to include. Back in the 90’s, Hermann Scheer, a German MP was making amazing progress with promoting renewable energy in Germany. He came to England quite a bit because he thought it was very important to persuade the UK to do likewise, to become a world leader in renewable energy. He soon got to know Jane Taylor, who used to write glowing things about him in Positive News. I met him at the launch of Eurosolar UK and later I ran the UK branch of Eurosolar for a while. Hermann also met Professor Susan Roaf, who was the first person in the UK to have a solar roof. One day he was with we three ladies. “You are my mistresses!” he said, and Jane replied, “No Hermann, that’s not the correct English word for what you mean.” Hermann laughed and went on, “I want you three to organise a lecture about renewable energy to a large audience in London!” The following year I was president of the Women’s Engineering Society and I fixed up for the lecture to be held in the Institution of Electrical Engineers. I introduced Susan who gave the talk, and Jane was the reporter, writing all about it in Positive News.

Pat Conaty ended, “This is a huge loss to co-op economy colleagues in Wales. Jane had been working with us actively in recent years on the Peoples Bank for Wales project. Indeed she played the lead role on our report that convinced the new First Minister, Mark Drakeford to back our grassroots vision in late 2018.”

 

 

 

 

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News from Helena Norberg-Hodge

Last year there was a New Era blog about the International Alliance for Localization (IAL), co-founded by Helena. People and groups from 58 different countries have joined the alliance to date and more are signing up every day. The lists of individual and organisational members may be seen here.

IAL’s recent message: the localisation of our food systems is possibly the single most important strategy for building new economic models that benefit both people and planet.

Since food is something that every person needs every day, even small shifts in the way it is produced, transported and marketed can have big impacts.

For a while now, the average age of farmers worldwide has hovered around 60 years old. As the older generations of farmers retire, the question grows more pressing: who will grow the food of the future, and what will their farms look like? Fortunately, a small but growing number of young people around the world have begun to renew their interest in farming, and they’re likely to have smaller, more diversified, less chemical dependent and more community-oriented farms than the generation preceding them. Not only that, but a surprising number of people with college degrees and “prestigious” desk jobs are leaving urban areas and returning to the land.

We’ve chosen a selection of inspiring short films from the USA, Canada, China, India, Thailand and Australia that offer a glimpse into small diverse farming operations around the world. The films are divided into seven categories:

  1. Introduction — The New Local Food Movement
  2. Diverse Farming Systems
  3. Local Food Webs — Exploring Systems of Distribution
  4. Local Food Processors — AKA Making Delicious Food
  5. Challenges & Solutions
  6. Ecovillages & Networks for New Farmers
  7. And Finally, A Little More Inspiration

We encourage you to pick a few of your favourite films from the list and organize a ‘viewing night’ for your friends or your local community — to inspire others to get involved in working for food system change. Let us know how it goes by tagging us on Facebook and Twitter, or emailing info@localfutures.org.

And please share with us any other short films about inspiring food and farming initiatives that you know of. We’d be happy to share them with others.

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A later message is about ‘Happiness in A Time of Crisis’: 5 Day / 4 Night Residential Course, The Gaunts House, Dorset, UK. July 11th – 15th, 2019

A highly participatory, first-of-its-kind residential event at Gaunts House, bringing together Helena Norberg-Hodge (founder of Local Futures), Satish Kumar and Mac Macartney – three highly sought-after, internationally-recognized and inspirational speakers – as well as distinguished guests, facilitators, thinkers and activists from around the world. This 5-day course gives you the chance to meet friendly, like-minded people to discuss how we can transform the global economy and make a happier world.

 

Read more about the main contributors, guest speakers and facilitators – and book tickets.

 

 

 

 

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News from Colin Hines – Green New Deal potential realised by leading American Democrats

As politicians and other supporters of the Green New Deal in the USA made their voices heard on Capitol Hill in December, Naomi Klein writes:

“The bold moral leadership of newly-elected members of Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has me feeling more optimistic about our collective chances of averting climate breakdown than I have in years, But a whole lot of things need happen very quickly if the political tide is going to shift in time – including finding new ways to engage the public in this fight”.

She had the opportunity to sit down with one of the few politicians who has consistently focused on this issue — Sen. Bernie Sanders. They spoke at the Sanders Institute Gathering in Burlington, Vermont, this weekend. Sen. Sanders then hosted a ‘town hall’ on climate change with guests including Ocasio-Cortez, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, activist and “Big Little Lies” star Shailene Woodley, climate scientist Brenda Ekwurzel, activist and musician Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, and Mayor Dale Ross of deep-red Georgetown, Texas.

Colin, as Convenor of the UK Green New Deal Group, welcomes this growing transatlantic awareness and responded to a Times article by The New Economics Foundation’s Miatta Fahnbulleh, headlined: “Britain needs a green new deal to revive its economy after Brexit”.

She spoke of the need to move beyond the old, broken systems and status quo that left many people behind, adding, “A green new deal for the UK could give us just that” and continued: 

Climate change has muscled its way back onto the political agenda:

  • debated by UK MPs last week for the first time in two years
  • with added momentum from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey’s support for a green new deal in the US;
  • the audacious climate marches on Westminster by schoolchildren
  • and increasingly rising temperatures.

The idea is simple: an unprecedented mobilisation of resources to achieve 100% renewable energy and eliminating greenhouse gas emissions within a decade while creating millions of jobs and lifting living standards.

The question we should be asking is can we get away with not taking action on climate change. If the science is right, then the answer is no. The more that global temperatures rise, the more chaos in the system: more devastating hurricanes, record droughts, extreme floods, coastlines disappearing, food scarcity from loss of crop yields and fisheries — all driving climate-related poverty across the world at a scale we cannot even imagine.

The cost of this, not just in pounds but in human suffering, will far outstrip the cost of any green new deal. And as cartoonist Pett says:

Colin agrees that Green New Deal’s introduction of a massive, costly, yet utterly crucial shift to a lower carbon infrastructure will require widespread public support. Such a programme would be labour intensive, consisting of work that is difficult to automate and so providing a secure career structure for decades. It would include making the UK’s existing 30 million buildings and future new builds energy-efficient and fitted with renewables, plus a concentration on rebuilding local public transport links, making resource use more efficient and developing sustainable local food and agricultural systems.

Most importantly in political and social terms such a Green New Deal approach will generate ‘Jobs in Every Constituency’ including affluent as well as ‘left behind’ areas and so should gain the support of MPs from all political parties.

 

 

 

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