I took the Big Lemon bus (which runs on waste cooking oil!) up to London yesterday morning, forcing myself out of bed about half a day earlier than I would usually arise. When we got to Hyde Park, Caroline Lucas, Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the fire and rescue union and a couple of others took turns giving motivational speeches from the top of a fire engine before we set off towards Parliament. Continue reading
We all know power is very unequally distributed in UK society, and this concentration of power at the top of the socio-economic ladder is much more extreme at the global level. Many places are ruled by completely unaccountable violent dictators and militias. I’m lucky to live in a liberal democracy. But just because other parts of the world are so much less fortunate, doesn’t mean we in Britain and the West should be content with the watered down versions of “democracy” that actually aren’t that democratic. Or liberal, for that matter.
I can’t speak for other countries that I haven’t experienced, but I know that in the UK although we have democracy, our politicians are not obliged to do what we want, nor what they promise to do. Most of them (especially the ruling Conservatives) appear to be much more interested with lining the pockets of their corporate chums and, indirectly, themselves.
Big Business gets to scrounge off the state constantly with tax breaks, unchallenged tax avoidance, direct subsidies and indirect subsidies such as topping up poverty wages with benefits – while the poorest are vilified to legitimise the speedy erosion of their rights. Austerity for the poor and socialism for the rich. The injustice of it all is breathtaking, to anyone who bothers to look.
I know, it’s a bleak picture. And it’s easy to understand why so many people in this country have become hopeless and apathetic. It’s easy to take a glance at the corruption, hypocrisy and deceit and decide that the elite is all-powerful and normal everyday citizens (who aren’t politicians and don’t run a big company or a big news outlet) are powerless.
It’s easy to see why you might think that, because that’s what the powerful want us to think. Citizen apathy is in their favour, big time.
But it’s not true.
I’ve just made a fantastic discovery!
I basically watched this film about urban food growing and distributing systems and became so inspired that I really wanted to be involved in one of the awesome local food projects exemplified in the film. I sent the link to my friend who’s also into this kind of stuff, and suggested we could try and start something.
I went and made a hummus, tofu and salad sandwich and devoured it happily, thinking about how I really wanted to do something but wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. I then realised that my city – being a pretty forward thinking place – probably already had at least one such local food project, that I just didn’t know about.
A very quick Google search confirmed this. The first site I clicked on was this page about a project called VEG – standing for ‘vegetable education garden’ which turns out to be in the exact part of the city that my friend I just emailed is living next year. The garden is run by a group called ‘Hanover Action for Sustainable Living‘. Hanover is the name of that neighbourhood, by the way.
How cool is that?
They run work days every Thursday, 2-7 pm! They also put on educational events.
Next term I have a compulsory volunteering module with my university, where I have to do at least 30 hours of volunteering with something related to sustainable community development. I don’t think you can get more relevant than this group!
It gets even better. As you’d expect, this community garden has compost heaps, and the local residents bring round their food waste to compost. I don’t live in Hanover, but other city residents can do this too and they even provide little compost bins similar to what the council gives out in some constituencies.
If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you might of heard my moaning about how my council doesn’t collect food waste, how I’ve contacted my MP twice and she hasn’t done anything about it, and how much I hate throwing away organic waste.
I finally have a solution!
It may involve carrying smelly boxes of vegetable peelings across the city on the bus and getting a few funny looks from fellow passengers, but it’s still a solution!
It’s a shame I only found this out an hour after this week’s workday finished otherwise I would have been straight down there today, as I’m going away back to my hometown for a few weeks this Saturday. But when I come back I’ll be all over this garden like humous over riveta.
Do any of you live in or near London?
Failing that, do you fancy heading over to the Big Smoke for a brilliant slice of theatre on the 29th May?
My best friend is the producer of Black Messiah; a brand new play about the black civil rights movement in America during the Seventies. Focusing on the short life of Bobby Hutton and his time with the Black Panthers (an extreme black rights group) this play opens up the discussion of human rights, race, faith, youth and activism.
As a young, white environmentalist, learning about the history of racism brings up two main feeling for me.
Firstly, it brings a great feeling of shame of my own race’s historic (and even present) behaviour.
Secondly, it brings a feeling of inspiration and hope. Let me explain.
In my constant fight against pessimism, I often take inspiration from both the black rights movement and the women’s right’s movement because these two heroic struggles prove that paradigms can shift. Society can change. No matter how dead-set in their ways people may seem, nothing lasts forever. When enough people take action and fight for what they believe in, they write history.
At this point I think this quote is relevant:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful,committed, citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” ― Margaret Mead
I think the arts and social activism are totally entwined, because social change doesn’t just happen in meetings and boring places like that – it arrives in the midst of living. Art is how humans express their ideas and open people’s minds, how they reflect the world, and how they pose ideas of other ways the world could be.
Creativity is one of those human aspects that we should really treasure, feed and celebrate.
Am I trying to suggest going to the theatre will help hurry along a just and sustainable society?
Possibly. Let’s just say it’s one of the more enjoyable steps along a very long road.
Anyway, enough with my trying to link everything in life to environmentalism.
When and where can you actually see this thing?
Wed 29th May, 7.30pm
Tickets £10 & £8.50 concessions
356 Garratt Lane, London, SW18 4ES
Box Office 020 8333 4457
Have a wonderful evening, lovely readers. ~