Green consumerism is becoming a pox on the planet, according to George Monbiot. Reading the free Ethical Living magazine we got free with our veg this week was interesting, after reading this article.
Possibly Not Safe For Work, depending upon where you work.
A guilty liberal finally snaps, swears off plastic, goes organic, becomes a bicycle nut, turns off his power, composts his poop and, while living in New York City, generally turns into a tree-hugging lunatic who tries to save the polar bears and the rest of the planet from environmental catastrophe while dragging his baby daughter and Prada-wearing, four seasons-loving wife along for the ride.
I’ve just discovered, via Facebook, that one of my old uni mates, Matt Davies, is Lib Dem councillor for Fortis Green ward on Haringey Council.
In the last year or so, and particularly in the run up to the local elections in May, I’ve been reading/using a variety of local websites, both political and non-political. One of these sites, Councillor Nick Wallis’s blog, has been nominated for a New Statesman Award. In the comments of his blog, a small discussion of the way parties locally are using the web started, which I started to add to. The comment got really long, so I turned it a post here instead.
I think what people are looking for from newmeedja is honesty and interaction, which is where I think Nick has things right with his blog. If he keeps on posting as he has been, people will come and read it. Posts like those about the Springfield School site or where he posted pictures of new bike lane features and then responded to questions raised are particularly useful examples. These posts also give a good insight into what Nick’s doing as my ward councillor and in his role within transport; which will help people make decisions when it comes to polling day.
I’m not sure that a ward level is the right level for the parties to aim at in Darlington as the number of residents is just too small (especially when you discount the technophobes). A town-wide site, which makes it possible for people to look at specific areas of interest or geography, would be more useful – the Darlington Lib Dems have done this to an extent, but their site lacks the interaction of Nick’s blog.
The local Tory site had some interesting features, but was a little haphazard. Most of the updating took place within the Feedback section, but it wasn’t possible to reference individual posts when responding and the feedback received was added infrequently, making conversations stilted. The site had some videos added, and a ‘blog’, but there was no way of commenting upon individual posts.
An interesting local site is HarrowgateHill.co.uk. This is set up as a community site, although it is run by new (and New?) Labour Councillor Mark Burton. The site has a fairly lively forum, and seems to be attracting a different sort of contributor from the more obviously political sites.
The discussion about new media Nick’s blog was started by Graham Robb; a name I’ve seen on the Town Liar forum but who I didn’t really know much about. From Graham’s posts on Nick’s blog, I’ve discovered he’s a bona fide political PR guru, and that he has a My Space account and a slick-sounding Internet TV studio.
I’ll be following the local New Media goings on with great interest, and possibly even taking part myself, centering the Bike Darlington blog. I’m interested in seeing how free online tools can be used by campaign groups like ours, making use of free and/or cheap online services and technology. I feel a summer project coming on.
‘Many big ideas have struggled over the centuries to dominate the planet,’ begins the argument by Jonathon Porritt, government adviser and all-round environmental guru.
‘Fascism. Communism. Democracy. Religion. But only one has achieved total supremacy. Its compulsive attractions rob its followers of reason and good sense. It has created unsustainable inequalities and threatened to tear apart the very fabric of our society. More powerful than any cause or even religion, it has reached into every corner of the globe. It is consumerism.’
According to Porritt, the most senior adviser to the government on sustainability, we have become a generation of shopaholics. We are bombarded by advertising from every medium which persuades us that the more we consume, the better our lives will be. Shopping is equated with fun, fulfilment and self-identity. It is also, Porritt warns, killing the planet. He argues, in an interview with The Observer, that merely switching to ‘ethical’ shopping is not enough. We must shop less.
Some really good links at the bottom of the article too, and mention of a TV programme: Big Ideas that Changed the World: Tuesday 10 April, 7.15pm, Channel Five
Today we became a seven-bike family (four of them are mine). My wife got a free bike from her brother which has been sat in his garage for a couple of years. It fits her and is serviceable enough, although it’s not the best bike in the world.
Since she wanted to be able to take out youngest around and about on it, we were thinking of a rack-mounted child seat, but when we was Halfords were selling the two-child trailer for 30% off, we bought that instead. This has the advantage that we can fit both kids in, as well as shopping and toys, and it seems pretty waterproof. It also converts very easily into a pushchair, which will come in useful.
We’ve had a play with it in the street, but not taken it on a longer ride yet. Once we put four stone of children in you can feel it but it’s much easier to pull than riding a bike with heavy panniers fitted, which is what I expect a seat would feel like.
Tomorrow is the big test, when she takes out eldest to the town centre. Thinking about the route has shown to us again that there are still major gaps in the cycle network; pavements will be ridden on at times. If “The Magnet problem” is ever solved we will have an almost traffic-free route from home to town, but for now when faced with a choice between riding on a badly laid out bit of road with the cars or on the pavement we’ll be choosing the pavement option I’m afraid.
So, that’s the new purchase, what’s the sale? Our car. We hardly use it but it costs us a fortune, so a week on Saturday it will make its final journey with us, to some friends in Leeds who are buying it off us. After that we will be car-free.
We’ve been lucky in that we made decisions which mean we had already minimised our car use: we chose to buy a house close to our family, I only applied for jobs I could get to on public transport, we live near to local shops (and only a ten minute walk from Asda), and we tend not to drive unless we have to. We’ll see how it goes, and will report back here.
yesterday afternoon, a lone protester drove her car through the main gates into the westminster compound, her aim to perform a citizen’s arrest on tony blair. this was a massive breach of security, but police are anxious to keep it quiet for all sorts of reasons, so i doubt you’ll hear about it on mainstream media.
I’ve just sent a reply to a letter in today’s Northern Echo, which was about a photograph of me in Monday’s paper. Last night, I was guest speaker at a local Liberal Democrat meeting. On Saturday, I was speaking at a meeting of 50 people I helped to organise.
How did this happen?