Wednesday 30 March 2011
Tuesday 29 March 2011
The Co-operative is a well known feature on High Streets across the UK. They have 5, 000 outlets, including shops, banks, funeral services, legal services all of which are ultimately owned by The Co-operative's six million members.
This model of business ownership has become well known to a lot of people and is used by a lot of organisations, for example there are housing co-operatives, health care co-operatives and many small co-operatively run businesses across the UK. All are owned and democratically controlled by their members, who may include employees, customers and local residents. The co-operative business model is a great way of running a business as it spreads risk and reward equally among those who have a stake in the business, it is often more intimately connected with the community in which it is based than many businesses are. The Co-operative can give help and advice to people wanting to set up their own co-operative business.
When the Rochdale Pioneers set up the first co-operative in 1844 it was revolutionary! Right from the start the Rochdale Pioneers distributed a proportion of their profits to their members. The Co-operative continues profit sharing to this day.
As well as its commitment to member ownership, The Co-operative has also been a pioneer in ethical business practices, for instance in 1985 The Co-operative banned the use of animal testing for its own brand toiletries and in 2003 it made the decision that all own brand coffee would be fair-trade. In 1992 the Co-operative Bank became the world's first bank to introduce a customer led ethical policy, which makes it the first choice of bank for people who care what happens to their money.
To mark this long term success, The Co-operative has just launched a multi media advertising campaign Join the revolution to highlight their ethical credentials. The campaign features people and groups that The Co-operative have empowered to bring their own revolutions to life. One of my favourite highlighted projects is Urban Bees, which was set up by bee-lovers Brian McCallum and Alison Benjamin. Brian and Alison have set up 20 new hives on rooftops and in community gardens and allotments across London, and they will have given training and start-up equipment to approximately 300 people in the city by the end of 2011. This taps in very well to the current increasing interest in self sufficiency and urban food growing.
Urban Bees is not just a one-off either. The Co-operative is very committed to bees and runs Plan Bee a campaign to save the honey bee.
Do you think you could set up a project as vital as Urban Bees? The Co-operative is looking for new ideas for revolutions in the UK, in the following categories:
- Benefiting the community
- Combating climate change
- Inspiring young people
- Tackling global poverty
If you have an idea Get involved - the most popular idea in each of five regions of the UK will win £5 000 to help make it happen!
Partage propulse par ebuzzing
Monday 28 March 2011
It was also lovely to see a lot of bees, buzzing around, low to the ground, looking for new homes. Lovely to see celandines and wood sorrel in bloom too!
For Nature Notes
As ever, red text takes you to other webpages where you can find out more!
Sunday 27 March 2011
Friday 25 March 2011
I share Suitably Despairing's cynicism about the sponsors of Climate Week. However, it does offer a great opportunity to highlight the issues and galvanise people into action. If you're in the UK, you can find an event close to you or run your own event! There's even an Ideas Bank too!
To mark Climate Week the Carbon Trust have created an infographic that explains why business holds the key to meeting UK carbon reduction targets. If you click yes on this site, they’ll use your support to get more businesses to prove carbon reduction.
Thursday 24 March 2011
One of the things I particularly like about the Woodland Trust is the fact that they have a Creative Campaigning section to their website. This is full of poetry, art, films and other creative responses to woodlands and is well worth browsing. I was delighted to be contacted recently by the Woodland Trust and asked to contribute a page about haiku. You can read this page here.
Wednesday 23 March 2011
Earth Hour is a campaign run by WWF. The aim is to get people and businesses to simultaneously switch off their lights for an hour, in an attempt to highlight our need to reduce consumption if we are to tackle climate change and save the natural world.
Last year hundreds of millions of people across 128 different countries and territories took part, which is pretty impressive! Will you be taking part this year? You can sign up here.
You can like the Earth Hour Facebook page to demonstrate your support for the campaign and to show the world’s governments how seriously people now consider climate change to be.
I blogged about Earth Hour two years ago here.
As ever, text in red in this post links to other pages where you can find out more.
Tuesday 22 March 2011
if only we could see them
with a rabbit's eyes!
You can read an imagined (and fanciful!) bunny's eye view of dandelions here starring our bunny Anya (now sadly no longer with us).
but not all rabbits are impressed by dandelions, as you can see here on Houseful of Rabbits.
Monday 21 March 2011
* the bird the tutor saw before the class arrived - today for example before the class, I had a lovely view of two goldcrests in a hedge, who didn't show themselves for the group
* the bird that is only seen by half the group - this happens all the time, today some of us saw a brambling and some of us aren't sure whether we did or not
* where is that bird you've seen? see The Hardest part of Birding an entertaining video for the birders amongst us
* describe that bird again? trying to guess the bird that a class member saw that no-one else did from a partial description
* two people looking at different birds but thinking it's the same one and not understanding why the other thinks it's a robin when clearly it's a greenfinch
* we make more noise in a group and so we may scare away the birds or just make too much noise to hear all the birds. Having said that, both groups this term have been very good at walking slowly and quietly and not talking too much.
across the clouds
Saturday 19 March 2011
and plenty of tufted ducks.
Friday 18 March 2011
Thursday 17 March 2011
The Water of Leith is largely an urban river, passing right through the centre of Edinburgh, ending up at the docks in Leith, which is a very built up area. A fair amount of rubbish gets dumped into the river, some of it intentionally, some of it left behind when people have got drunk and left their beer cans and sandwich wrappers behind, some of it blows into the river from surrounding areas. Some people have developed the habit of bagging their dog's poo but then throwing the bag into the undergrowth or into a tree (which is a disgusting habit!). Some litter gets blown back along the river and walkway from the bins in the area. The council can only supply bins where they can get vehicle access to empty them which means that some stretches of the river don't have many bins.
The river is patrolled by a team of volunteers, who go out once a week, by themselves to look after a specific area of the river. We record wildlife, cut back overgrown vegetation, pick litter and report on major pollution or littering incidents. I usually fill a large carrier bag with litter each week, in the summer it will often be about two large carrier bags. I only pick litter that I can pick without endangering myself - so I don't climb trees, jump into the river or clamber up or down steep slopes.
Around once a month (more in the summer, less in the winter) a volunteer clean-up team takes a length of river which is blighted by litter and spends 2-3 hours in the river and on its banks, filling up a skip with all manner of litter and often some large or strange objects. Many of the clean ups are done by groups from local businesses or community groups. Each year a trophy is awarded to the community group that finds the most unusual item of rubbish, the trophy itself is made from a Victorian figurine that was found in the river!
Wednesday 16 March 2011
The poems are all set in the 100 acre organic farm which Menos manages and owns. They are vivid evocations of farm life, detailing the issues and difficulties faced by farm workers - including bad weather; injured animals; thistle-filled fields and calf tagging:
The calf you want is always in the far field
with that bullish look in its eye, all beef and brawn
and its mother is always in the near field
with that protective look in her eye, and horns.
calf tagging is considered an extreme sport,
much like ram dagging, and not to be undertaken
without protective work-wear, an ambulance on call
from Belting the Galloways
For those who don't know, Belted Galloways are a Scottish breed of cow. You can read more about them on the Belted Galloway Cattle Society webpage.
These poems take the reader right into the heart of the hard work needed to run a farm. It makes you really appreciate the work behind the food on your plate! (Or not on your plate in this case if you're a vegetarian or vegan).
Wheelbarrow Farm by Hilary Menos, published by Templar Poetry was one of 4 winners of the Templar Poetry Pamphlet Prize in 2010.
As ever, red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other pages, where you can find out more.
Tuesday 15 March 2011
I don't think Bolts of Silk has got tired, though perhaps I'm too close to it to be able to tell?
What do you think? Does Bolts of Silk need a new editor? Should it look for a new editor as a matter of principle? Any other thoughts? Thanks for your comments!
Monday 14 March 2011
Sunday 13 March 2011
Saturday 12 March 2011
There was time in the packed programme to chat to people, which was great. It was really heartening to see so many people who are committed to the future of the river and there was a very positive atmosphere to the gathering and a lot of excitement about the recent sightings of an otter with a cub on the river! I learned quite a lot too, particularly about fishing on the river!
As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks which take you to other pages where you can find out more.
Thursday 10 March 2011
Wednesday 9 March 2011
Then suddenly, as we turn to move away, the male starts to drum.
Tuesday 8 March 2011
Monday 7 March 2011
So when I'd finally admired all the elements of the book's appearance, I was able to sit down and read the poetry which is as lovely to read as the book is to look at! There's a lot of nature in this chapbook, from the symbolic Fleur de Lis to the fleeting life of Mayflies. We are shown a different take on the octopus in this excerpt from Octopodes:
When the previous cosmos collapsed
there was a sole survivor
of the wreckage, who squeezed
his form through tightest crack
into this our universe.
Also in the realm of strange sea creatures we have the seahorse in Hippocampus hippocampus:
fragile, flimsy-finned horse
fluttering in the sea grass
snuffling for shrimp.
This is a short book but one that the reader will return to again and again.
Venti handmade and published by JoAnne MacKay
Sunday 6 March 2011
Saturday 5 March 2011
He gets to know the remarkable individuals who spend their lives doing this dangerous and unhealthy work, but who retain a remarkable spirit and sense of humour. He takes their photos and then works on creating giant canvases reinterpreting these photos using material reclaimed from the landfills, with the catadores involved in the artistic work.
Finally the amazing pictures are sold and the money invested in a learning centre, library and vehicles for Association of Recycling Pickers of Jardim Gramacho - the catadores' union. The work of Vik Muniz and the catadores has ignited a movement in Brazil, currently with the support of the Coca Cola Foundation, to build a legitimate recycling system and hire the catadores in Brazil as consultants.
This is truly inspirational cinema! Waste Land will be showing until Tuesday 10 March at The Filmhouse in Edinburgh.
As ever, red text in this post contains hyperlinks to take you to other websites where you can find out more!
Friday 4 March 2011
Thursday 3 March 2011
Wednesday 2 March 2011
I've also just had confirmed the dates for the summer courses I'll be running this August for the University of Edinburgh Office of Lifelong Learning:
10-4 Monday 1 August Writing Inspired by Nature at the Water of Leith Conservation Trust Visitor Centre, 24 Lanark Road, Edinburgh.
10.30 -3.30 Monday 8 and Tuesday 9 August (2 day course) Introduction to the Water of Leith. Day one at 11 Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh day 2 at Water of Leith Conservation Trust Visitor Centre, 24 Lanark Road, Edinburgh.
There will be more details in the Office of Lifelong Learning Summer Brochure that will be out soon!
as ever, text in red contains hyperlinks to other sites where you can find out more!
Tuesday 1 March 2011
I just thought it might then be worth thinking a little bit about how this can be done. Firstly we need to be clear that there is a difference between quality of life and standard of living. There are many ways of reducing consumption that effectively reduce our standard of living as it is defined by society in general that don't decrease our quality of life.
For example, some ways in which I consume less than many people: not having a car; not taking holidays abroad; not working full time; not having a widescreen tv and huge music centre; not buying new clothes every season. I accept that many people will consider me therefore to have a lower standard of living, but I don't for a minute think it means I have a lower quality of life!
We don't need loads of stuff to have a good quality of life!
As Rabbits' Guy pointed out in the comments yesterday, efficiency and energy conservation have important roles to play in helping the oil we do have last for longer, enabling us to transition to a future less dependent on oil and stuff.
And as bunnygirl said, although we all need to do what we can, politicians and companies have much more of a role to play than they seem to accept.
If we can all reduce our consumption then we can help to secure a sustainable future. Otherwise we may find ourselves in a situation where run-away climate change and associated disasters force us into a poorer quality of life.