I arrived in Paris on Friday evening but was inside for the night before the murders began. Over the next month Buzz Tour will be reporting from Paris, bringing you interviews and articles about the people gathering to work to reduce climate change, but in this first report can only express my condolences to all those injured and those who lost loved ones.
On Saturday I saw soldiers outside a synagogue and assumed it was because of the killings but my companion told me that Parisians have been living with soldiers outside some places of worship and schools since last January’s terrorist attack. I spent today walking from one side of Paris to the other today then catching the buses around. In the unseasonably hot, sunny weather people went about their Sunday business and the street cafes were busy. Tourists packed the areas around famous sites and families were using the many parks.
Opposite the Porte Saint-Denis (built to celebrate Louis XIV’s war victories) a homemade banner call for “Paix Amour” – Peace Love – with the Eiffel Tower peace symbol. The Eiffel peace symbol was also showing on electronic screens in the spotlessly clean business district amongst the glass high-rise towers. The number of homeless people living in poverty on the streets across the rest of the city is very high, most of them black. Cardboard corrals and tent shanty areas pop up now and then anywhere, even next to the Commerce building.
Hundreds gathered in Place de la Republique for a peace vigil this evening. Looking out of my window I can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance, tonight relit after being dark in mourning yesterday.
Want to connect with the biggest climate meetings and demonstration of our time? The 21st UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP21) is a focal point for people from around the world to gather. The talks begin on the 30th of November and finish on the 11th of December but grassroots events are already happening and will continue after the talks. Here’s a look at what’s coming up.
On Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th in all major cities across the world are the climate marches. If you want to organise your own local demonstration a good place to start is 350.org.
The Climate Games, the “world’s largest disobedient action adventure game” runs from the 30th of November to the 13th of December. Before that, teams need to anonymously register and pick a target. You can play anywhere in the world especially for the opening round on the 30th of November and teams will win points for their actions. Here is an excellent toolbox for disobedient actions to give you inspiration and more information.
In Paris you can find out more about the dozens of workshops, gatherings and talks on the website of Coalition Climat 21, the French-led coalition of over a hundred different groups. On the 5th and 6th of December the Peoples Climate Summit will have the largest concentration of events, just to the east of Paris in Montreuil. Between the 7th and 11th of December the Climate Action Zone will help people to form groups and to prepare to take actions against those worsening climate change.
If you’d like to go to Paris you can arrange your own transport or Reclaim the Power have organised coaches. In Paris there will be free ‘crash space’ organised by Reclaim the Power for which you will need to bring a sleeping mat and bag. If you would like to arrange your own accommodation we suggest you are quick! If you would like to cycle there you can book your place (including accomodation) with Time to Cycle.
In the words of the Climate Games, get ready to make your move!
Buzz Tour’s Sama explains how she’s preparing to cycle to Paris and invites you to join her with Time to Cycle.
We are five weeks away from the start of the COP21, the 21st climate talks held by the UN, and my heart is bubbling. Since the first of these conferences, CO2 emissions have gone up by 63% and we are further than we ever have been from protecting the species on this planet. But in these grim times, I feel excitement.
During our five-day mass ride to Paris, subgroups will cycle together an average of 40 miles a day and work together. The ride in December will be physically and mentally challenging. Training and information about the mobilisations taking place in Paris will be shared during the ride and the cyclists will arrive in teams, ready to take part in a way that suits them. The negotiations end on the 11th December, but the human affinities, challenging experiences and shared stories remain.
To avoid the rising of temperatures, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground. The bicycle is a beautiful example of how we can do this. Affordable, healthy, enjoyable and cleaner, it is a way of slowing our lives down and appreciating what is around us without having a negative impact on others.
There are still places left on the ride and deposits need to be in by the 1st November. We are encouraging everyone to get sponsored and reach out to those who are unable to come but can have their messages taken to Paris through this ride.
With great joy we can announce that you can now watch the Buzz Tour documentary! https://buzztour.org/documentary/ Please share this inspiring and uplifting film and support all the wonderful projects of people working to protect our environment.
In two days you can watch the one hour film for free online, download and share. Please help us create a buzz around its release by sharing it widely. The film has been screened in fifteen towns and cities around the country as well as at The Green Gathering, receiving great reviews.
Inspiring and uplifting…the film has really given me a lot to think about…thank you so much for sharing your wonderful journey…some documentaries can leave you feeling depressed but I felt so positive and inspired afterwards, thank you!
The film represents a sampling of the amazing people and projects encountered during the Buzz Tour. For the full story, you can use the free resources on this website or you can buy the book online. Both the book and the film focus not on what obstacles lay ahead of us, but on how we can overcome them together. The kindness and hard work of people all over the country made the journey possible. Ten different companions walked on the tour with an hour of silence each day, living off donations, and some of their video diaries are also in the film. Over the course of five weeks I had the tough task of whittling the twelve hours of footage from the walk down to one. We interviewed over ninety people and there was hardly a village I walked through where someone was not doing something wonderful. Jade Neville kindly edited the final footage together, Formidable Vegetable Sound System donated their music for use in the film and it was filmed on a camera loaned by Insight Share.
I look forward to being able to finally share it with you.
This week were further revelations of the shocking extent to which Exxon executives knew about the severity of climate change as early as the 1970’s but orchestrated a campaign of climate denial to deliberately delay action on climate change in favour of their own profits.
n this great video for Philosophy lecturer Mark Jago’s blog, Two Wolves, I explain what I believe are some of the key points for understanding the ethics of climate change.
Such gross unethical behaviour as that of Exxon pulls immediately at our sense of justice, yet no law exists currently to bring those responsible fully to justice. Exxon may well be prosecuted for racketeering but our justice system has yet to catch up with this despicable climate crime. The campaign to make ecocide a criminal offence is one way we can move forward. It will be by our efforts that the law is made to catch up with the ethics of climate change.
At the end of August I spent two weeks studying a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in beautiful Cumbrian countryside. Living, eating and studying with 18 other people all wanting to make the world a little better. After completing our designs, receiving our certificates and putting on a riotous evening of entertainment, we all went back out into the world. It is estimated that over a million people worldwide have now taken a Permaculture Design Course. I think about the people on that course, and all the others like it all over the world taking those ideas and trying to use them, and I like the thought very much.
I’ll be practising making permaculture designs for others over the next two years but the first place to start is with yourself. Since for the next year I’ll be in one place, I’ll be starting with the patio outside my door. There are quite a few foods that can be planted in the autumn so even I, without soil and with a whole lot of shade, should be able too grow things. To start with I’ll be planting welsh onions (perennial), pak choi, perpetual spinach and wild garlic.
It’s been 40 years since Permaculture began and this year the International Permaculture Convergence was in the UK. The ripple effects to the UK from having hosted this gathering should be very pleasant to watch over the next few years. Go on, grow food everywhere.
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.
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.
“Ba ba badda, ba ba badda! Take the Trans Pennine Trail at the speed of a snail…” I have to amuse myself on the long cycles somehow. Going from East to West from Penistone, the Trans Pennine Trail is well surfaced and only gently inclining as it is along the route of a closed railway line, it’s also very well used.
We often think of the Netherlands as being a biking heaven, yet it wasn’t always that way. In fact they had very high car use. It was only through changing government policy and building biking infrastructure that they turned it around.
Where routes are easy to cycle, safe, and going where people want to go, people will cycle. My memories of the Pennines had me dreading crossing it by bike but it was beautiful. Once you hit the beginning of the old railway tunnel however, you have to over the top and things get bumpy and steep but at least it’s mostly downhill. Unless you’re a masochist I wouldn’t go West to East from Manchester at the moment.
The story of the Netherlands shows how a transport system can be remodeled and people’s behaviour will then shift. The current government is investing heavily in new roads, which leads to increased car use and car ownership. If we want more sustainable transport, first we have to commit to it. Build it and they will cycle.
A chance encounter with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust introduced me to their new project to vaccinate badgers in the local area. The government policy of badger culls to reduce TB in cattle has not been backed by scientific evidence, in fact it is understood to make matters worse by causing the remaining badger population to migrate. In areas surrounding TB infection, DEFRA is offering to fund half the cost of vaccination and the wildlife trust is trying to raise the other half.
“The Trust, which is opposed to culling as a means of controlling the bovine TB, believes badger vaccination can play a crucial role in preventing the spread of the disease in both badgers and cattle.”
Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust does a huge amount of good, managing a large number of different reserves and works to protect habitat and wildlife. Like many conservation groups, some of the Trust’s funding comes from the government, putting them in a difficult situation when government measures are harmful to wildlife. You can find out more about the vaccination campaign from the Trust’s website.
Walking through Cambridge last year I did not notice a huge difference between it and a certain other academic City, but on bike the difference is very apparent. Special bike paths, bike traffic lights and bike lanes in the roads that are actually wide enough, all make you feel much more welcome and safe as a cyclist.
During a visit to Cambridge botanical gardens I came across this fascinating new development using plants to generate electricity. The botanical gardens are also investing in a new research area for using algae to make biofuels.
I first met Oscar during last year’s Buzz Tour because of his connection with Transition Cambridge and neither of us spoke much of politics. Yet when I met him in the days running up to the election, I was on the Green Party campaign bus and he was speaking to hundreds of people on the street explaining why he wanted to get elected. At the last election Oscar became Cambridge’s only Green Party city councillor, having never been a councillor before.
In his maiden speech last week, Oscar made two proposals that were passed by the council, one about TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) and one in defence of human rights. As a result, Cambridge has joined 18 other UK cities in pledging against TTIP.
I am fortunate enough to be sustained along the road by warm hearted people and friends new and old. In Farringdon after a exhausting and painful ride I met Lesley in The Rookery, an organic café and hairdressers, where two Frappes, a deep conversation and two hugs later I was recharged and ready to roll.
Coming into Oxford over the lock I heard someone shouting “Eve!” and was shocked to find my friend Ben on a boat, passing the lock at exactly that time. In Oxford I visited the newly opened Wild Honey for the first time and saw the wide range of ethical and organic products as well as yoga classes.
Oxford’s Lush hosted me again for the afternoon so I could sell our book and tell people about the journey. They also gave me a gift of some of their beautiful makeup that I had an eye on. Lush’s makeup confused me – it’s healthy liquids in little coloured bottles and looks like nail varnish but actually it’s lipstick, eyeliner or eyeshadow depending on the brush attachment that you choose. Now with confidence about how to use it I’ll be enjoying some girly beautification.
The day finished off with a cosy film screening with friends. It was such a pleasure to show the film to the bees Rupert and Miranda for the first time!