Today I begin my two week Permaculture Design Course in beautiful Cumbria.
It’s part of my two year plan to combine permaculture principles with plumbing skills to be able to offer water management and design in harmony with the ecosystem.
On my travels I’ve found a lot of environmental projects that are struggling to find the plumbing and engineering expertise they need. It seems that most of the plumbers aren’t interested in the environment and most of the environmentalists don’t know plumbing. That sounds like a thing to change! Those of us on the permaculture course now have two weeks of camping, eating and studying together to learn the principles that we will later use in our own projects.
Sama and Eve have started to collect funds for the travel and other expenses costs of the Heathrow 13. You can donate to support these lovely people on our new campaigns page. Please put ‘Heathrow’ in the reason box. Let’s show our gratitude for their bravery and for making sacrifices for all our sakes. Thank you to the four early birds who have already donated!
They live in different regions of the UK and will have to travel to meet their solicitor, witnesses and each other in order to prepare for their two week trial starting on the 18th January 2016. This is time and energy consuming, as well as expensive, but we can support them and reduce the burden.
If you would like to volunteer to support the Heathrow 13 in any other ways please get in touch with us. Thank you!
This morning I was a very happy little polar bear. “No ifs no buts, no third runway” we shouted. Standing outside Uxbridge Magistrates Court with forty other people I supported the climate activists who were arrested last month protesting against airport expansion. The 13 brave folk pleaded not guilty to aggravated trespass because of the greater climate crime they are trying to prevent.
You can watch a video of Sheila’s statement that she read outside the court. Check out my happy polar bear protest sign. Don’t want to wait for a paint to dry? Try chalk, tipex and hairspray instead.
The UK climate targets will only be met if we do not allow airport expansion. The vast majority of flights in this country are from a small minority of very frequent short haul flyers. For example those with second homes who fly to them at weekends. Policies such as stopping frequent flyer discounts and introducing a frequent flyer tax would help us reduce, not expand airports. No ifs, no buts, no more runways.
We’ve now sold a quarter of the first print run of Pollinating Change!
You can now order multiple copies of Pollinating Change from our website at a discount. You can get two copies for £18, three for £25, four for £32, five for £40 and ten for £60 (+p&p).
We have also reduced the postage costs of a single book. So if you’re looking for an inspiring gift for friends or your local social centre, we’d be delighted to send you a copy and help spread the good vibes. Do you know a shop, cafe or centre that might like to stock the book? It would be wonderful to have your help to sell the whole print run by the end of September to pay off the print costs and use the money for more cool projects!
After the month long cycle tour retracing the Buzz Tour to Berwick-upon-Tweed, and two days bewildering merriment in Edinburgh festival, I gratefully left my bike behind to travel to The Green Gathering for the final film screening of the tour.
Over the last month I’ve daily felt like I was coming home – revisiting places and friends all over the country. I’ve been so delighted to share the film in 15 different towns and cities and for the heartfelt impact on people who’ve come. Thank you so much to Mel, Miranda and Laura for joining me on the cycling – not being much of a cyclist the moral support was essential! After the 63 mile ride to Gamlingay, knowing that Miranda was joining the next day made it not all seem so painful. Another highlight for me was visiting the nature reserve on Lindisfarne which I wasn’t able to do last year because of the tides. Watching over forty seals, and countless flowers and birds, feeling like the only person on the island.
In the next few days I’ll be sending out copies of the documentary to people who donated to the crowdfund and then uploading the Buzz Tour documentary so that everyone can watch it, so look out for that to enjoy and share around.
Right, I’m off to go hang up my bike helmet for a while. A long while. Until the bike tour to Paris for the COP climate talks should just about do it.
In Hulme Community Garden Centre in Manchester I wander in the sun amongst vegetables, families and education projects to meet Helen. Helen was one of the founders of MERCi (see A hive of possibilities) and founders of Kindling. I asked her what had lead her to become so active and to create these groups.
Kindling in Manchester runs practical projects to increase food sustainability and campaign for social change. Their projects include FarmStart which is an incubator farm to help new growers get started and scale up, Forgotten Fields a project about the history of Manchester’s food growing, as well as organising many events and resources to support local growers.
Next to a canal in Manchester is a five story building, converted from a mill, where lots of different environmentally minded organisations live. It’s called Bridge 5 Mill, it”s run by MERCi and it’s a hive of possibilities. I’d like to share with you a little of the story of this building and a couple of the groups who use it, from hydrogen fuel to peace campaigns.
Back in 1995 two friends in their twenties dreamed of making a sustainability hub for Manchester. After 6 months of consultation, gathering a team, and years of searching they succeeded in finding a building and gaining funding, purchasing the building in 1999. The old mill was renovated using trainees and volunteers as part of courses using reclaimed and recycled materials and won an award for it’s energy efficiency. It now has offices, conference space and a garden. Tenants include the International Coalition to ban uranium weapons, Black Environment Network, as well as bee keeping cooperative soap makers Three Bees, and Planet Hydrogen. I interviewed Tom from Three Bees last year and a year on they are now planning to add soap making courses to their services.
With hydrogen we can store renewable energy by separating water into hydrogen and oxygen. When you want electricity they can recombine to form water again. Mike from Planet Hydrogen kindly demonstrated a hydrogen cell in action for me in a transparent container so we could watch the gases form.
Over the years spaces like MERCi provide so many positive groups with the basics they need to function. When a town has such a hub for a long time you can almost forget the importance of it. Once it’s built, everything slows down, it stops being so exciting, the four walls become a new norm. But most towns have no such space where groups can meet, grow and collaborate. It’s hard to imagine all the meetings, all the events, all the projects that have happened in that building so far. To speed up the social change we wish to see, one of the first things we need is to take care of the basics, to shelter these groups and give them a home. Long may MERCi continue to do so.