Friday, 25 February 2011

Thursday 24th February 11

A very full day, enjoyable too.  I got up  early as I needed to get 10 sacks of compost ready for today's delivery, and be back in the house in time for Sue visiting; she had booked to come and look through our Suma catalogue and sort out an order.  She arrived at 10 with her cousin Robert, who's come to stay with her from Devon, where he spends a lot of time sailing.  It was good to meet him; he was curious about the fruit drying and our lifestyle, and we chatted whilst Sue sorted out her order, which always takes her ages  (almost two hours) despite being only 3 items!  But it was a friendly visit and I'm fond of Sue as she's more unique than most, is quite 'off the wall' and unusual.... and anyway, I've known her for the best part of 20 years and I'm fond of her.

She got finished just in time as I got a message from Sam from Sheffield.  She'd contacted me yesterday saying she was coming over to York with Emily and assorted offspring, to visit the National Railway Museum... and would I like to meet up with them.  They were in Wakefield at midday and would be at York Station by half past.  I loaded up my trailer with 5 sacks and dropped them off at St Lawrence's School, and sped off down to the station, where the 5 of them appeared about 5 minutes later.  I persuaded them to walk into York to have a quick look around before they went to the NRM.  They met Purple Man and saw Barley Hall, and we ended up at El Piano for a few drinks; I had my usual vegan hot chocolate.  It was lovely to see Sam and Emily again, this time in happier circumstances.... last time was at Mozaz' funeral, or rather the wake.

We parted company after this, they went to look at the Minster I think, and I put some cash and a cheque into the Co-op Bank, and came home.  I got in at 2.15pm, just enough time to have a sandwich and then load the trailer with the second 5 sacks of compost, plus a sack of sawdust for their compost bins as a free extra.  Laura Potts met me at the gate and took me down to where the school have their raised beds and compost bins, and I met Grace, a teacher there.  They were delighted with the compost, and paid me what I'd suggested, in cash, and asked for an emailed receipt.  Then they showed me the school field, some of which is about to be converted into an orchard, and today they were digging the holes.  I'm so delighted that this is a primary school which is actually addressing the issues, is DOING something.  When I was involved with Green Thumbs at Lord Deramores, we discussed planting a row of trees along the line of School Lane, but there wasn't enough enthusiasm to make it happen.  There still isn't an orchard planted at Lord Deramores, and I must have a look sometime at their compost bins, to see what's happening there.

I came home with an unwanted Christmas tree, and stopped off at the house which is having a conversion and took some more spare waste wood offcuts.

Gill and the boys were heading off to Heslington for Melody's birthday party.  I dealt with two Fiddlesticks enquiries, one a garden centre having a green fun day, so I explained about my other 'John the Composter' hat, and I'm hoping she'll get back to me with a booking.

At about 5pm I got myself ready for the Stockholm Environment Institute Annual Seminar, 'Equality and Ecological Responsibility in an Age of Austerity'.  This was at the Science Learning Centre at the University of York.  I met lots of friends there; I feel very lucky that we have this resource on our doorstep and so many brilliant and expert people in our midst.  The seminar was chaired by Liz Barclay, a very recognisable voice from Radio 4, and had presentations form Professor Kate Pickett, an epidemiologist and co-author of 'The Spirit Level', and Jonathan Porritt, who is perhaps best known for his involvement with FoE and chairing the Sustainable Development Commission, as well as The Forum For The Future.

Professor Pickett's presentation revolved around these slides, which basically show that in societies where there is a big gap between the rich and poor, lots of things are worse.... child wellbeing, reduced levels of trust, working hours are longer, less foreign aid is given, people recycle less.... all sorts of interesting correlations.  So a more equal society is better for everybody, because over a certain income, people don't get any happier.  Unequal societies have higher carbon emissions too, even higher levels of biodiversity loss!  This is a fascinating area of study, and Jonathan Porritt followed up with his take on the importance of dealing with both environmental sustainability AND social justice, or 'fairness' as it might be less confrontationally put.  His talk covered issues such as fuel poverty and doctors prescribing therapeutic interventions, such as retrofitting houses with improvements, or prescribing environmental 'voluntary work', like the BTCV Green Gym, as these often have much better outcomes than prescribing drugs, and are far more cost effective in solving social problems.

The discussion at the end was interesting... I asked about whether they saw Transition Towns as a viable way forward, and later on there was an exchange about how higher taxation had been demonised by the right, but actually it was a good thing as it was a way of sharing, or investing in everybody.  Places with high taxation are not less happy or less prosperous.

I had a chat with Jonathan Porritt afterwards and told him about my interest in green funerals.  He hadn't heard of Promession so I gave him a Novaterium business card and invited him to check it out.  I also chatted with several SEI people and explored whether there might be a way I could do some work with the Institute.

I got home at about 9pm, exhausted but determined to do my blog.  I love sharing what I get up to. 

I was amused/uplifted to get a link to this video which shows protesters invading the York Council chamber to protest at the cuts, and associated media reports including The Press and the BBC. One of the protesters explained why she'd done it, on her facebook page:

I've tried letter writing, I've sat in on lots of smaller cold boring meetings leading up to this, I emailed every councillor (most didn't even reply), I've got more signatures on my petition than the council got responses to their budget consultation, I've been the official service user rep on the future planning of Mental Health services in York, and it's got nowhere - just councillors patronising & ignoring me, and *laughing* and talking about party politics whilst discussing cuts that are going to cost lives. This might be the noisy visible bit, but it's the result of a lot of quiet, polite, patient hard work being thrown back in my face.

So those protesters get my respect and thanks for making a stand. 

1 comment:

Faye said...

Excellent and very interesting dialry (diary and daily!) entry today. Inspired, thanks x