Friday, December 19, 2014

Midwinter musings

The best thing about this time of year for me is connecting: with people now, but also memories of Christmases past and people far away or gone,  candles, old films and music .  When I decorate the tree I seem to go back to my childhood, and some of the decorations do too!   My tree is usually not a tree but a few evergreen branches brought in and decked out in the ancient tradition of protecting and celebrating  the ‘woodland spirits’ (or, in other words, nature)  in the depths of winter.  This year it is a small tree which can be planted in the New Year.

The worst aspect for me  is the commercialism:  I warn my  grandchildren about the ads which suggest  that mass produced pieces of moulded plastic will be magical – only to disappoint.    Many children get  buried in the piles of new toys showered on them, often by adults who can ill afford it.   They quickly get ‘present fatigue’  – just looking for the next one to open.   I read of an Australian Mum who has decided not to buy  her children presents this year but give donations to charities instead.  I did this one year with the older grandchildren, and they do understand from an early age about fairness and sharing with others.  Surely,  small wrapped toys and books in a ‘stocking’  make the event magical without going OTT?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Moving on

Moving on: its now 6 months since we made our big move to Knaresborough...and its been exciting!  Now we have installed solar pv panels on the roof and a wood burning stove with an oven and hot plates...a major step on the road to waving bye bye to fossil fuels altogether..

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Moby Dick

“for there is no folly of the beast of the earth which is not infinitely outdone by the madness of men ”
Herman Melville, Moby Dick
I recently finished this amazing book.  I began it at Cornucopia Festival,  since there is the skeleton of a whale at Burton Constable Hall which was washed up on the shore near there in the nineteenth century.   Melville refers to this whale specifically in his book.
Melville's epic shows us the insignificance of humans on the face of the oceans - but also the havoc men wreak in their manic pursuit of 'wealth' and status.  We lusted after the oils of whales, stripping these noble beasts of their lives in order to 'keep the lights on' -  and to get rich - and because we have a strong impulse for excitement,  'adventure' - and revenge.
And we are now continuing this madness - but with vastly improved technology which makes us far more effective in our folly: endlessly drilling,  poisoning, destroying and fighting over our small planet to extract  and exploit the riches on and beneath its surface. 
 Now, however, we do not have the excuse of  ignorance.  We know now that there are choices to be made.  Will we make those choices in time - or will we continue with our insane hunt  - to the bitter end - to our own destruction? 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Letter to Horsforth School

Dear Sarah

Thank you very much for inviting Friends of the Earth to give the assemblies this week.  Its been a very enjoyable and interesting experience for me and I hope the students have learned a lot.  They certainly seemed to be interested and concerned about the issues we touched on.  One boy in yr 9  thanked me afterwards and said he was very interested and asked if a 13 yr old could really write to the council or MP (I had emphasised that it’s all our responsibility to DO something to stop the rot).  Of course I said yes.  Another girl (poss yr 8) very sweetly came to say sorry she had had to leave the room for health reasons – and she didn’t want me to think it was for any other reason.  Another boy asked where the nearest FOE group is  (Leeds – but no reason why students shouldn’t start their own local one)

It would be great if more schools invited FOE speakers  since it was worrying to discover that the  students seemed unaware of this well established organisation and most of these crucial issues, and I guess this will be the case with most young people at the moment.  I spoke briefly with Ms W and offered to come back to discuss things in more depth with your school council or any other group.  I also suggested the school might want to set up a hustings before the election in early May so that students can see and hear at first hand what each political party has to say about these issues.  Possibly parents and  the public could be invited too.   I did emphasise to the 6th form that all these issues ARE political and they should get informed.  As you probably know, FOE is not aligned to any political party, but their policies are virtually identical to Green Party policy. You will see that I am a Green Party candidate for May’s election – but I didn’t mention this to the students since I was giving the talks on behalf of FOE.   I was, however,  in two minds about mentioning this, since I feel it’s important that young people  (particularly girls) know that politics is a route they might be interested to follow as a response to their concerns.

On a practical note – I wonder if the school might want to reimburse my travel expenses which amounted to about 30 pounds for the 5 days (train and bus).  I have tickets if that would help.

I left a poster with reception showing bee-friendly flowers and wonder if the school might consider making a wild flower meadow!   The Woodland Trust is offering free trees to schools at the moment.  Last but not least, regarding solar panels – please see FOE’s current project to encourage solar on school roofs: I know you have some – but maybe there is room for more?!

Please convey my thanks to Phil the techno wizard for his help and to everyone else who made my visits so pleasant.   Thank you again, Sarah,  for making the effort to invite us: having been a teacher myself, I know it’s a big effort to go beyond the excessive day to day workload to make external arrangements!

Very best wishes

Shan Oakes
For Friends of the Earth

Friday, October 10, 2014

Letting go and moving on ..

We moved 4 months ago – from our beloved old 3 Norwood, Beverley to a smaller newer house with a bigger garden in Knaresborough – to be nearer the children and their children and to eco-renovate a house and experiment with permaculture. Of course we miss our mates in Hull and East Riding but it feels really good to have made the move even though the prepping to move was very stressful. It's good to be in a smaller cosier 'container' as we were rattling around a bit in 3 Norwood. Yes – there comes a time when it just feels like the right thing to do – the kids love the space outside and its great to have a new place to discover…and lovely to link in with lots of new greens of all sorts!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

NHS march: Jarrow to London

This is the Ripon to Harrogate leg, with Shan speaking at the
evening meeting on 21st August along with marchers,  Lindis Percy and
Richard Turner. Pic here with Richard and Rajan Madhok  (who did the whole march!)

Thorp Perrow near Bedale

Wonderful place with lots of beautiful trees, owls and falcons

Martin Deane at the anti-cuts march at York last spring

Here's Shan with her tin tray as part of the cacophony band at York at the
end of the last Lib Dem conference.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fracking arrests heard at Beverley court

Green Party members, Jon and Val Mager, who were the first to be arrested
at Crawberry Hill anti-frack site, have their cases heard - 28th May.
Charges have now been dropped.

Police working for Big Oil - Beverley anti-frack day

They arrested Darren for singing! ...and very painfully.
Beverlonians were shocked. He was released later without charge. The
police are extremely confused: but the brighter ones are increasingly
realising they are now working for Big Oil instead of for us, the people.

We do NOT want fracking - anywhere!

East Yorkshire - hare on the wolds. Protest - Beverley County Hall -
July 30th.

Dinksbumps: low carbon removal of garden waste

Simon taking a huge load to the garden waste depot in York on the Dinksbumps

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Newark byelection

...another event clearly showing how mad our voting system is and how well rooted is 'the establishment': the only party offering sanity at a time of planetary crisis (the Greens) is beaten by tactical voting for a party promoting infinite growth on a finite planet in order to stop an even worse no possibility of hope. If we dont change this hopeless system Britain will become more and more of a basket case.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Complaint to BBC

Your coverage of the Green Party was clearly restricted.  This is bias.  Green policy is the only coherent and positive alternative to the old establishment parties.  UKIP were covered ad nauseam.  The Green Party is growing very fast and Green councillors around the country are doing fantastic work and yet you ignore it.  This is undemocratic, unfair, and extremely damaging.  Decent journalism would consider the real alternatives in politics.  You are clearly an arm of the establishment and therefore not worth watching any more.

I am too tired after the election campaign (unfunded by corporations, unions or fatcat donors) to write any more - but I have no doubt you will be bombarded with similar complaints, since I have heard many people voice this issue..

Friday, May 16, 2014

Police protect mega-business from dangerous locals

 1984 or what?  Locals  Jon and Val Mager ( former director of education and teacher) arrested at Crawberry Hill yesterday for peaceful protest.  They were kept in custody in Hull until midnight!  A fork lift truck was driven at and injured one of the Protectors who had to be taken to hospital.   When did mega-business take over the world?  When will we take it back?

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Fracking: protectors arrive in East Yorkshire

Today a camp was established at Crawberry Hill, west of Walkington, south
of Bishop Burton, on the rolling Yorkshire Wolds, to help draw attention to
the dangers of fracking. The 'protectors' of land and water (or protestors
against fracking) invite people to come and discuss the issues and support
their effort. It's been a wet and cold day today, so I wish them a warm dry

Friday, May 9, 2014

Fracking - Harrogate

I was one of the speakers on wednesday at the FOE event in  Harrogate at the Friends Meeting House. This activity is unnecessary, unpleasant, unwanted and being unrolled in an underhand way.. the only benficiaries are the fossil fuel companies and their shareholders.  They will drill and run away, too oily to be prosecuted for the damage they will do to our land and water....we have to stop it before it starts.  The Greens are the only party opposing fracking.  Vote Green May 22

Fracking in East Yorkshire?

This is Beverley Westwood and the Yorkshire Wolds where they are about to
start doing exploratory drilling for oil and gas....Do we want this ?

...and Dinksbumps arrives in York 5th May!

Simon Rigby rode his prototype Dinksbumps from Bath to York in preparation
for the cycle fest to celebrate Le Grand Depart in Yorkshire (early July) -
and cycling in general

The swallows have arrived this week

....North Yorkshire. Swifts too - but they are virtually impossible to
catch on a still photo as they never land (except to whizz into their nests)
They are the high flyers with longer wing spans and very high pitched
voices. They need untidily roofed houses to nest in which are getting fewer
all the time...

RSPB Blacktoft Sands, and Waterways Museum, Goole

What a great day!   I was invited to the reserve as an MEP candidate.  I took my Mum along as she is keen on birds, and to try out the disabled access.  On both counts the reserve did us proud…..Amongst other species, we saw a marsh harrier,  nesting avocets AND a very busy water vole at close quarters!  A wheelchair was produced when my Mum couldn't make it in the strong wind to the further hide, and we had a long and fascinating talk with Pete, the RSPB Humber Reserves Sites Manager.  

On the way home through Goole, we stopped for lunch at the Waterways Museum – another excellent place to visit.  It's all about life on the waterways, has an art gallery on an old barge – and they grow their own veg for the cafĂ©!  Both highly recommended for a family day out.  

European cooperation is needed to support fantastic projects like these in the face of industrialised farming, austerity and globalisation.

Candidate for the Greens in Yorkshire and the Humber in Europe in 2014

'the price of freedom is eternal vigilance'

tel 01482 86208501482 862085 or 07769 60771007769 607710