Where am I? Coo-ee!

This post is a general catch-up on what’s happening in my life at the moment and where I see it going in the short term.  I’ll start with me and work out as usual.

I’ve reduced down to one day fasting from two, because I’ve managed to motivate myself to start jogging again.  With that and the cycling I was edging towards 10 stone, which is a little too low.  I’ve also been reading Sophie’s World, to get a very basic grounding in philosophy – more about that in a later post or two.  I’m intending on grounding my next activities on my insights from this work.

The family are well, with Tall and Small back at school again.  Small is particularly pleased about her new school shoes – it took all of our parenting skills to coax her into taking them off before going to bed.  They made up a fantastic competition last night that involved everyone winning.  Tall had to take as few hops as she could to get from one end of our short landing to the other, and had to do fewer than Small.  Small on the other hand had to try and hop as many times on the same route, and had to hop more times than Tall.  So they both always won.  Genius.  Bubs was happy as well, as he just walked around while everyone counted – great fun.

There has seemingly been a very encouraging response to my pre-requisites for taking on the Transition Town Berkhamsted leadership role for a third year.  For once I was unable to attend our monthly Green Drinks social event at HERE, where they had some very fruitful discussions. As a result, I am very pleased to be able to say that if I’m wanted, I will accept the nomination to be leader again this coming year.  I’m looking forward to the 15th so we can get started – this year will be big.

Then we get to the UK and international level, where we are closing in on the 3/4 May for Power Shift UK, part of the Global Power Shift.  Emily and Lindsay in particular, plus Claire and Susan, have put in a humungous amount of effort in organising every last detail.  The list of speakers and workshops is very exciting, and the aims of the conference to plan the connection of the diverse UK climate movement look very attainable as a result.  It has been a huge strain on those who have put in such a lot of time and energy, and the outcomes will be all the better for it.

If you haven’t already done so, please do register to attend the event.  It’s free.

John Bell

Ordinary Bloke


Whet your appetite for Sunday of Power Shift UK

Power Shift UK is just over a week away.  While the Saturday will have a load of fantastic workshops and talks on the subject of diversity and the climate change movement in the UK, the Sunday will be for all attendees to work together on how we will convert all of that into action.  While this will be largely an open discussion (Open Space for those who know their facilitation methods), the visionary Claire Morris has written up her thoughts on the topics that might be developed.  If this looks exciting and you want to be part of it, please register now as time is running out.  To whet your appetite, take it away Claire:

1.  Raising and Sustaining Consciousness: How to persist with bearing witness to the severity of the crisis, while sharing real vision, to reach a tipping point in public opinion/social action?

2.  Balancing the narrative and messaging: How to caringly communicate the terrifying destruction but also the possibility for the future if we choose now to work for a thriving world?

3.  The Energy Crisis: Rolling Power Cuts by 2020?  How can we ensure a swift but just transition to 100% renewable energy that is fair, accessible and affordable for everyone?

4.  Reclaiming the Food System from global to local control: How to popularise community farms and agriculture to the point where they are accepted and mainstreamed in the UK?

5.  Building the integrated Global Movement: How to grow a publicly visible, fully participative social movement to apply a critical mass of pressure, to radically shift social/political will?

6.  Divestment from Fossil Fuels & Reinvestment in Renewables: How to stigmatise and dismantle the Fossil Fuel industry & raise up every opportunity to invest in Renewables?

7.  Pushing out every story into the Mainstream Media: How to make a concerted effort to broadcast on TV, radio, newspapers and blogs every community success story and act of resistance?

8.  Uniting on clear, proven, bottom-up solutions everywhere! How to bring people together to implement new systems in our communities from food to energy to tree planting to insulation!

9.  Empowering the masses: How to engage disenfranchised, marginalised or voiceless people, make actions relevant and engaging, and trace the benefits back to the kitchen table?

10.  People Power and Staying Connected and Supported: How to set our individual concerns in the perspective of local needs and wider groups to address problems powerfully collectively?

11.  Overhauling our values: Community, Solidarity, Justice: How to replace greed, fear & insecurity with strong values that build us up: love, peace, compassion, empathy over apathy?

12.  Badgering MPs, local politicians and Government Depts: How to pressure and converse with all levels of government to demand the restructuring of most national systems & policies.

13.  Creating the safe spaces for Real Democracy, collaboration and creativity: How to make platforms/assemblies where people can innovate, debate, plan & work together for change?

14.  Re-Skilling for resilient, adaptive, creative communities: How to nurture “worthwhile work” that rewards and enriches life, and relearn traditional skills and new knowledge to thrive?

15.  Education in and out of Schools: How can we ensure that the truths, and uncorrupted information about global, national and local trends, are taught honestly and openly to people all ages?

16.  Growing personal resilience, determination & inspiration through reflective and mindful practice: How to sustain ourselves through quietness & inquiry into our own responses?

17.  Strengthening and resourcing Grassroots Resistance: How can we as a broad movement support and participate with activists around the country committed to resisting fossil fuels?

18.  Challenging Consumerism, Capitalism and the Status Quo: How do we stand up to the powerful structures and lobbies that block progress, & assist those that are calling for change?

19.  Strategies around COP20, Paris, 2015 & “The Global Deal”: How can we make the best out of the United Nations critical climate negotiations, as well as in the lead up and aftermath?

20.  Engaging with current regulatory and planning systems: How should we interact with current processes in the UK for environmental regulation and the threats to this (e.g. TTIP)?

I’m looking forward to it – hopefully see a lot of you there on 3/4 May – please register now!

John Bell

Ordinary Bloke

Less work means more

Funny how life works out, isn’t it?  The business is going through a lull, resulting in more time for organising a workshop for Global Power Shift, getting the next steps on the B-Hive sorted, developing an idea for tackling misinformation in the press and moving to a farm…

An email went round in my business circles recently, stating that the Department for Transport had identified a potential problem with the software I have specialised in.  I felt a little down for a few days, as the work dried up, but realised what an opportunity had opened up.  I now have a few weeks of time on my hands to devote to the other aspects of my life.  The opportunities for the climate change work are opening up.  Glad to have more than one iron in the egg basket.

The disparate group of young activists involved in the UK team of the Global Power Shift are starting to get organised, and I’m giving as much support as I can.  Would you believe I am almost the grandad of the group.  I am helping organise a weekend away to allow them to spend a decent amount of time together to develop the general direction of opening up the climate change movement to a more diverse and non-traditional cross-section of people in the UK and to sort out their own governance.

The date for this weekend is 26/27 October, which coincides nicely with a trip to Wales to see my folks.  We’ll be taking the kids to a Halloween party at the Leisure Centre my mother is running in her retirement.

With Transition Town Berkhamsted, we’re starting a series of talks called the Ashlyns Lectures.  They will be one per school term at the local secondary school.  We had comedian Mark Stevenson lined up for 5 Feb, but then had the opportunity for Polly Higgins to come in during late Jan, which seemed a pity as it would be too close to Mark’s talk.  But as luck would have it, Mark had to postpone, which opened up the door for Polly.  The real coincidence was that Mark suggested a revised date for his talk, which happened to be the already-booked provisional date for the third Ashlyns Lecture on 21 May.  Thank you Mr Fate, whoever you are.

You may have noticed that climate change is getting more press recently, in the run up to the release of the 5th IPCC report on 27 Sept.

Don't let them do it to you

Don’t let them do it to you

  This has led to a spate of factually inaccurate, misleading and biased articles appearing in the primarily Murdoch-run papers and news channels.  We shouldn’t allow this propaganda to get out there unchallenged.  While jogging in the woods it came to me that we could set up an easy mechanism for people to make official complaints about these articles, based on the science.  It’s early days, but conversations with John Cook at Skeptical Science, Avaaz, The Tree, Friends of the Earth International and The Climate Reality Project seem to be going somewhere fast.  Watch this space.

The lull has also offered me the chance to organise the next steps on the B-Hive town consultation I have been involved with.  The architects are meeting tonight to pull together the ideas of the townspeople.  I’m also setting up a meeting of all of the Transition Towns in the area to get ourselves organised – that’s 20 Oct.

Then there is the potential community purchased of Ballspool Farm in nearby Kings Langley.  I’ll get involved with that if it looks promising enough, to help lead to my dream of creating a self-contained community of like-minded individuals which treads lightly on the environment but is also capable of living through any kind of breakdown in society.  Yes, that could easily happen.

John Bell,

Ordinary bloke

It’s Started

I imagine this is how some people felt years ago before going into a battle.  A kind of serene calm has taken hold of me, with the inevitability of what is about to ensue washing over my consciousness.  I know that humanity will eventually be persuaded to take meaningful action on climate change – that is inevitable, as nature won’t let us do otherwise.  What we need to do is all we can to bring that date as near to now as possible, to limit the damage we are causing to the lives of our offspring.

Alongside the work with Transition Town Berkhamsted, I have been networking with members of national organisations to see how I could help direct activity to be more coherent and co-ordinated.

I’ve spoken with and am very grateful for the time of the many people to whom I have spoken and got acquainted.  I am constantly left gob-smacked by the level of knowledge, eruditeness and enthusiasm of the folks involved in helping us move on to a fairer world.  In no particular order, thank you to Melanie Coathe of RSPB, Michael Davies of StartUK, George Marshall of COIN, Guy Shrubsole of Friends of the Earth, Ben Brangwyn of the Transition Network, Ed King of RTCC, Chris Church of the Low Carbon Community Network (LCCN), Becky from 38 Degrees and Nicolò Wojewoda of 350.org.
There are a couple of very interested leads among there.  LCCN ran a conference about a year and a half ago with the purpose of bringing together these disparate organisations, and are planning on running another in the Autumn.  I have spoken on a couple of occasions with Chris Church, the current chair of LCCN, and I may well get involved in helping to organise this conference.  One of the foci of the conference is to be supporting the leaders in climate action.
The other very promising lead is with 350.org.  They are an organisation that grew up in the States, where the focus has been on persuading organisations, funds, cities, colleges etc to divest their investment portfolios from fossil fuels, with the realisation that if climate change is to be defeated there will be £trillions of related stranded assets (i.e. investments that cannot be redeemed, e.g. the perceived value of fossil fuel reserves).

350.org are organising a Global Power Shift – a co-ordinated international grass-roots movement to address climate change and our response to it.  The first phase (to which I will not be going) is a global conference in Istanbul, bringing 500 climate leaders together to determine the strategy for the movement.
The next phase will be national Power Shifts within individual countries.  I met Nicolò, the UK co-ordinator, at a demonstration ahead of the G8 conference in London (we were attempting to persuade US Secretary of State John Kerry to not approve the Keystone XL pipeline, which would link the very dirty tar sands in Canada to refineries in Texas).

Subsequently I have joined the UK national team of 350.org, and will be involved in helping to map the context of the UK, coming up with ideas for campaigns, developing and sharing ideas for regional events and developing a media strategy.  I need to decide which of those areas to focus on – which would I be best at and enjoy the most?
The LCCN opportunity and the 350.org one could work together – the LCCN conference could be a way to launch the UK Power Shift.  We’ll see what doors open.

John Bell,

Ordinary bloke