Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Green Tories ? - an oxymoron

Letter to Beverley Guardian
Dear sir

I wonder if our local Tory MP, Graham Stuart, was  one of the group questioning the Prime Minister on his lack of commitment to green policies?  I have asked him, but somehow I doubt it.  Perhaps he would like to let the readers of this paper know where he stands on this crucial issue.

Whether David Cameron actually used the words ‘green crap’ or not,  that phrase sums up  what is now quite clear:  his complete U-turn on aspiring to be ‘the greenest government ever’.  He is utterly dismissive about real green issues and the radical agenda that is so desperately needed now.   In the face of climate change, and devastation of nature and communities on an unparalleled global scale, he can think only in terms of what suits the corporations which fund the Tories (and cause the devastation) – resulting in our being stuck in the same old  paradigm of fossil fuels, fracking, more and more cars on more and bigger roads,   stupidly fast  trains cutting swathes through the countryside for a few minutes’ saving on journey time (does the frantic rat-race really need yet more speed?), factory-style agriculture which kills the soil and  soaks the land and water supplies with chemicals which end up in our bodies, selling off our public services like the NHS and schools,  blaming the poor and vulnerable for the crimes of City bankers and corporate tax dodgers - not to mention promoting sales of arms worldwide  - often  to regimes which use them on their own citizens.

The only way out of this economic , social and environmental mess is through REAL progress:  a transformation of the economy through a transformation of our values - and that needs political leadership.   The Greens work for this on a European and global level.  We need modernisation and sustainability in the best sense:  millions of new jobs improving all our buildings to  insulate them properly against the cold,  a determined  push for all  the varieties of renewable energy, better integrated public transport and  urban cycling strategies ( like they have in places like Copenhagen), promotion of local foods and local communities and excellent public services. 

This, though, takes vision and political courage – something which is in very short supply in all  the (almost indistinguishable)  puppet political parties who  dance to the corporate tune of ‘growth’ on our small and finite planet.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Green European Candidates - York

Yorks and the Humber candidates Denise Craghill and Shan Oakes speaking at the People's Assembly day of action against austerity. 

Bonfire of Austerity - York - Nov 5th


York Station - 5 Nov - leafleting

 Don't re-privatise the East Coast Main Line - it aint broke!

Sunset 4th November

Taken from near Hotham, East Yorks: wind turbines on the left, coal-fired power station (Drax?) on the right

3 Norwood - November


Gan's 84th birthday


The Knaresborough ravens


Autumn - Beverley Westwood


Fracking is a dirty word

FOE stall in Beverley 19 October

York - Recycling milkfloat

St Nicholas Fields does the quiet recycling run in the narrow Bishophill streets outside the eco-house . Round the corner is The Golden Ball community pub...also a community veg plot, and community garden with community composting  -  all in the heart of the city - a wonderful place!

Goole College

Democracy Day -  Green Party stall: good discussion with students at Goole.  If only more schools and colleges would have days like this!  Labour and Ukip also came -  no sign of Tories or Lib Dems.  Most students were shocked to learn about Trident and used my NHS NOT TRIDENT T-shirt to ask the other parties their policy on it!

Jungle Book

Indigo Moon Theatre shadow puppets perform Jungle Book at their Hull venue for Warter Primary School


Thursday, October 10, 2013

This Beautiful Summer

This Summer -  a few highlights:

Friends of the Earth Base Camp Hartington Hall - July - camped and it was hot and dry!
Green Party meeting at Richards eco-house in Hull - fantastic
Sleeper train to our friend Olly the astronomer in SE France ( Les Granges - marvellous place )
Stayed with family and friends nr Lucca in Tuscany
VERY hot 3 days nr Rome with Alex and back on sleeper
My 60th birthday in a shack in the woods at Bivouac North Yorkshire - lovely place and cafe
Beverley Town Council election : Tories got in  -  people are like turkeys voting for Christmas
Our grandson Hugo born!
A wonderful day on Beverley Westwood with 2 small granddaughters just running free
Yorkshire and the Humber Green Party development day - York
Book Group -  Iain Banks' 'Crow Rd'
Green Party Conference Brighton - stayed with Heidi and Shona - brill
Gardening and running with our family in Oxted
Cornucopia Festival Burton Agnes Hall East Yorkshire - wonderful atmosphere and weather
Book Group - 'Orlando' by Virginia Woolf

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bike ride

- with cousin Keith & Bethan and their tandem on west side of North York Moors. Shared this lunch spot in a churchyard with tiny frogs and a bumble bee nest.

Colourful lunch - summer at last!


Pics were demanded - here they are : Bill looking proprietorial,lots of spuds liberated from under the sink, S gathering rasps, an aubergine plant (bought at local greengrocer's and looking very exotic). My favourite is the bendy willow wigwams for the beans and sweet peas which were begged from someone pruning their tree. With any luck they will take and we will have a willow plantation! Just put in some wild straws too.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Insects and lies

There is evidence that neonicotinoids marketed by the likes of Bayer, Syngenta and Monsanto (of genetic modification fame) are killing bees...Yes, of course its not ALL farmers who use this kind of stuff, but many do - and so do many ordinary gardeners.  We've reached a point where its seen as 'normal' to use poisons in farming and gardening.  Look at the common use of slug pellets ...and when did you last see a thrush ?  I find it laughable (and of course very sad) that humans see themselves as so separate from nature that they think its fine to soak the planet in poisons - whilst assuming it won't affect them!

Monday, May 27, 2013

New Allotment

out of the blue came the letter from the Town Council - 'you have an allotment - plot 48b - you can start right away'.
- suddenly we are people who can grow stuff...well, serious stuff! - so Luke dug and we planted some chitting spuds from under the sink
we broke off the old raspberry canes and stuck them in the ground.
we dug some more and planted onions and garlic (released from a pot in the kitchen).   Chris pulled up the long tough grass growing round the strawberry plants and gave us baby brassicas and a chestnut tree in  a pot 
we filled carrier bags with dandelion clocks and seed heads - '1 year's seeding 7 years weeding!' said Steve
Sue gave us a key to her new shed and showed us her sherry, glasses, kettle, and the red and green grass cutter her dad had given her (no petrol, no electricity)
Steve said - 'Oh you're growing'll have to cover them or birds 'll have 'em - you can borrow my cages'
'Don't you need them? ' 'No - I've got club root - can't grow brassicas - you can't get rid of it'
we cut Steve's grass path with Sue's mower 
Margaret had some palettes and Bill built a compost stable - also using the bricks at the back of the plot.
Now our allotted plot looks quite 'meant' ...... allotment
The blackbirds approve of the digging as it unearths worms - but I'd like to do some we're going to start a small tree nursery with the tiny oak trees  dug out of the grass at the playground near Thirsk, Chris's chestnut and some birches rescued by Luke.
Candidate for the Greens for Yorkshire and the Humber in 2014

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Lost cat found!

I have just witnessed a lovely thing: the reunion of a woman with her lost cat.  He had been missing for a week so she had leafleted the area and received a call that someone had seen him.   I came across her calling for the cat, in a back street in Beverley, and then saw a grey cat sitting  behind her, mewing.  She turned and saw the cat and couldn't believe her eyes!  She picked him up and buried her face in his fur and kept saying 'My cat! My cat!' through her tears.  I know the feeling as I once lost my cat for 2 weeks... Such a relief. 

They eat horses dont they...?

Horsemeat hidden in food products....which raises the question - what else is going on?  Its clear, isnt it, that if you trust 'the market' and close down or decimate all the watchdog organisations such as the Food Standards Agency  anything goes...

....'The price of freedom is eternal vigilance'

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Developers push to build on green land

Today and yesterday the public enquiry heard the appeal of Linden Homes against the refusal of  permission for them to build on land to the north of the market town of Beverley.  The government has set up a presumption in favour of new build, but Beverley, like towns all over the country, is holding out.  Even the Tory-led East Riding Council can see that all this building is not good news, but the Condems are desperate to have 'growth' by any means...and they see the construction industry as the answer. 

They are so wrong.  As a resident and Green Party member I pointed out that flooding will increase if more land is covered in concrete, since drains already under pressure will take additional surges of run-off water,  and that more suburbs do not contribute to a sense of place or to the local economy.  Executive homes are not whats needed ...whats needed is every bit of green land to stay that way as we need to grow food locally in light of climate change and peak resources.

We just have to hope that the investigator can see what is going on: settlements under seige from developers egged on by an amazingly unwise and short-sighted government.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Government-funded Hawkers

Yesterday an 18 year old knocked on our door saying he was on a programme to help him get work.  He wanted to join the navy and wanted to sell us stuff.  It was raining so we asked him in and gave him a cuppa.  He told us his history:  adolescent unit due to fighting in school in Hull;  qualifications in bricklaying etc, but now on some govt scheme for young offenders based in Nottingham.  They are bused all over the place (we live in East Yorkshire).  We said you'd better show us your wares.  We looked in dismay at the contents of his bag.. ironing board covers, 'screen cleaners' and other rubbish.  We didnt want any of it, but to help him we bought 2 veg peelers and a drain cleaner (if you buy 3 items he gets a bonus) - each £9.99 and made in China.  The drain cleaner broke on 1st application......

So the question is:  WHY is the government funding youngsters to  hawk trashy products (the components of which are wrenched from the long-suffering environment) when they could be supporting schemes to train them to do useful green work ?  I wonder if its because that would take a bit of effort?  Is this what we want our taxes to pay for?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eco-house - York

Fancy a break in our homely Victorian eco-house?  It supports our green campaigning and lots of charities.  The lamp is made from a plastic milk bottle by a friend.  .  The house is very cosy - it now has secondary glazing (wooden frames made by local chippy Brian), additional internal walls built by Mike from Driffield, and most furnishings come from charity shops.  Energy is saved through having lots of pots and cutlery so that the dishwasher can be completely filled before running, and  (despite the Tourism inspectors' modernist requirements) we refuse to have an electric drying facility - instead we have washing lines outside in the yard and an airer (or kreel) in the kitchen.  There's solar water heating (backed by gas) and electricity from Good Energy (100% renewable power).  There are recycling bins in the kitchen including a compost bin which can be emptied down the road in the community garden - which is a good place to meet the neighbours as they come to empty theirs!  York's a great place to visit and we do discounts for people who dont bring a car (the house is very central and a short walk from the rail station). 

Flooding on Beverley Westwood, East Yorkshire

More flooding in Beverley late December,  despite the  installation of the new  expensive water tanks 'downstream' of this shot.  Springs could be seen bubbling up just behind me - which I'd never seen there before.

...Mrs Scrooge

...a retrospective shot: small demonstration of reusing cards -squeezed in between the (very inadequate) rubbish bin and a lampost in Beverley's Christmas Fair.  I was challenged by the fair organisers and assured them I wasn't selling anything - in fact I was giving away fudge - and non-consumerist ideas!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Trees and politics

HEYwoods should be helping to warn the wider public of growing ecological problems - and the implications for humanity.  Unfortunately many people don't want to know and/or think it won't affect them personally ('not in my lifetime' they so often say).   However - it is the the duty of local (and national) government to try to inform and educate.
I feel we should not underplay the seriousness of  ash dieback  - because it's just one more symptom of a planetary disease.  Trees are the most visible lungs of the planet, and I feel it's no coincidence that many  tree species around the world are now diseased and succumbing to the increasingly disastrous effects of the activities of our species.  It's  been a love-hate relationship between humanity and trees -  in the ancient past we lived amongst them,  and then we venerated them.  We are healed by their presence and we copy their shapes in our architecture (cf  the columns and vaulting of our cathedrals) ,  but as our numbers and technology increased we began to decimate them  for building and burning, and simply making space and light  for crops, animals and buildings.  Our life spans are so short compared with trees that we fail to see the long term view - and they are unable to explain to us (Tolkein makes this point through the Ents in The Lord of the Rings!)
No wonder green activists are often called 'tree huggers' - trees symbolise the much bigger picture that the green movement tries to make everyone aware of.
In terms of what should be done locally: yes we need urgently to plant trees,  aiming for diversity and resilience as well as use... permaculture in fact.  We also need to educate, because the underlying problem is rampant 'growth' -based politics  which - on a finite planet  - is working to annihilate not only trees but all of us. 
So I would suggest that we start to plan for the creation of a woodland park as a permaculture show-case  (alongside all the other planting which is necessary).  This would be highly appropriate for Hull and East Riding  - not least to increase its tourism 'product' !
best wishes to all for 2013
Shan Oakes
Hull and  East Riding Green Party
Beverley & East Riding Friends of the Earth