Archive for December 5, 2008

“An affirming flame”

Or, an affirming dalek.

After last year’s gloom I decided to come up with five positive actions that would make me feel better. These were:

1) Take a dressmaking course, and learn how get more use out of my beautiful Singer treadle machine than just as a really nice table.

More or less done. I did the course and have managed to do things with the sewing machine. I could have done more, but I’ll still tick this one off.

2) Do something with the piles of scavenged curtains we have lying around to make my house warmer and more efficient. (Possibly contingent on the above!) Nag bf to put up curtain rails and get second draught-excluder for the back door.

I don’t know that ‘make one curtain then swear lots and give up’ really counts. Nope. Hmm. I got a draught-excluder, though.

3) Grow something (other than herbs) that actually gets big enough to eat, unlike my winter spinach which is still alive, but not getting any bigger due to the cold.

Yep, this one gets a big tick. The container garden was a success. The weather was crap, but that was not my fault.

4) Try and find some people in my area who are interested in these sorts of things, so I don’t conduct my social life entirely over the internet. Have been meaning to go to my local FOE group or Green Drinks since I moved, and never got a round tuit…

I have joined FOE and become their finance co-ordinator. Never made it to Green Drinks, but I did make it to a nearby Transition Towns meeting. I also got to know the nice lady who has hens and a fab organic garden better, but she moved to Ireland. *sigh* Tick!

And, more prosaically, 5) get a bit better at my job, so it takes me less time and I have more time to knit and garden!

Well, this one was so successful they employed me full-time, which means I actually have less time to knit and garden now. So tick as it stands, but not in the overall scheme of things. I have now officially applied for the MA (form sent off) and am planning to Wwoof over the summer to get my head back in a place where I actually enjoy things.

And in the mean-time? I was rather depressed at buying all my Christmas presents, which was demonstrably less fun than last year’s mittens-knitting-last-minute-panic (no, that’s not sarcastic, I mean it!!) instead of making them. I remembered having wanted to knit my brother a dalek. I can’t think what to get him, so I’m going to damn well get some wool and make the boy a dalek. Can I knit a dalek in 20 days?

I don’t care. If I can’t, he can have an Amazon voucher for Christmas and a dalek for his birthday in January! 😉

And, in other good news, the decision on Heathrow has been delayed, which gives me the teensiest, teensiest sliver of hope that common sense might just prevail… just…

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December 5, 2008 at 9:16 pm 2 comments

“Waves of anger and fear”

And though her eyes are fixed upon
Noah’s great rainbow
She spends her time peeking
Into Desolation Row

I think it must be the time of year. I vaguely remember having a similar period of gloom last year, on a Friday evening, when Scientist Boyfriend was off revelling with other pensions consultants, about the total failure of the powers that be to do anything about the fact that our society is, hmm, somewhere between wildly unsustainable and on the brink of catastrophe. I think I am mostly disappointed by how we have totally squandered the chance we had since climate change and, to a lesser extent, peak oil went ‘mainstream’ about two years ago to actually make some real change. Aside from a bit of faffing around with lightbulbs and recycling boxes (and there were plenty of idiotic newspaper columnists who tried to convince us we were too busy and important to even to these) precisely zilch has changed and now, I sense a collective sigh of relief that now the recession means we can’t afford to, erm, not run cars or take foreign holidays.

Admittedly, this is not strictly true – we do have the world’s first climate change law and feed-in tariffs for microgeneration, but I have noticed no substantial change in the overall political and social climate, which still seems to regard ‘being green’ as essentially a middle class luxury, to be tacked onto the daily business of living, rather than an opportunity for social justice and a possible, nay necessary, lifestyle for everyone. Furthermore, the government’s climate change committee has been recommending clean coal and suggesting that, “It’s possible for the world to cut greenhouse gases while still not cutting aviation by anything like as much, even increase aviation emissions,” while the government is also re-opening the debate about GM crops.

There are plenty of wonderful individuals doing their bit in many inspiring and diverse ways, but I feel this is in spite of rather than because of any external incentives to do so. Most of us feel lonely and like we’re swimming against the tide, at least at times,and even if we enjoy what we do, we feel, well, like everyone thinks we’re a bit odd.

So, the long and the short of this is that, despite everything I’ve said about how the mainstream environmental movement drives me potty and the relative merits of political action versus individual and community action, I’m finally angry enough to go on the climate march tomorrow. I’d like to say something about how this was because I’ve been reading things like George Monbiot’s The Age of Consent and have become convinced that protest is useful and that we should all put aside our differences to fight for something big and meaningful in this insane world. However, that would be a lie.

I’m just really, really, really pissed off. I do not want to spend the rest of my life paying higher taxes to pay back the money we’ve spent bailing out the City. I do not want my parents to have to get flooded every year. I do not want oil to get to $300 a barrel before we’ve come up with plan B. In short, I loathe knowing that I’m going to spend the rest of my life clearing up the mess the previous generation made and trying to explain to my own children why it happened.

(I would also like to know why there’s an orange paper hat, presumably from a cracker, on the coffee table. Hmm.)

So, yes, I was going to say that if anybody else was going tomorrow, or rather if anybody else was half-wanting to go but frightened of going on their own, we could maybe meet up, but I’ve left it so late we’d only have 12 hours to co-ordinate! But, if you want to try, leave a comment or email me at sproutingbroccoli [AT] gmail [DOT] com. I’m actually going with a friend from FoE, but until I knew she was going I was intending to hook up with these people, who seem very un-scary: http://ourtimeisnow.org.uk/

Defenceless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair
Show an affirming flame.

W.H. Auden – September 1, 1939

December 5, 2008 at 9:03 pm 2 comments


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The Heritage Crafts Network

Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Food is that rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure."

Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

"I am, of course, firmly opposed to consumerism and corporatism in all its forms, and I believe that we are deeply confused about material needs and wants. Now let me explain how books and yarn are totally different than the material things that other people want ;-)…."

Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."