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Thursday, 11 October 2018

Food – high tech & low tech ………. Can all be part of the solution – as we stop the acceleration of our demise ….

The proverbial and literal fires may have been really lit up on 7 BILLION people as the international scientific community believe we must all accelerate efforts to stop global warming.

The real issue is not lack of intelligence, or skills - its a capacity that overwhelms millions of individuals when they think/believe they can not do anything to improve given situations like global warming etc.

Best practise must be shared everywhere - a few billion more trees planted, a few trillion indigenous wildflowers/flora and fauna can be propagated within 24-36 months! Its just about mass un-coordinated voluntary efforts to make it all happen.

Food miles is one of many of the heaviest burdens internationally we suffer. All countries across your world have shown interest in local food growing. One recent example is In LA: Los Angeles (yes California) a pioneering group who have grown the majority of their own food in close proximity of the City of Angels.

Imagine 100,000 locations all over the world doing this? The immediate causal positive impact of reducing fuel/chemical/resource intense use producing less methane/CH4 …. then also adding a few billion baby trees whose teenage years in the 2030's will suck in peta-tonnes of Carbon dioxide CO2.

Every small step can mean so much. Connected communities can mean stronger, peaceful, crime deterring diverse communities of rich culture, sharing skills - sharing responsibility - sharing the international benefits.

This is YOUR time now - not to prove to 7 billion others - yet to prove to yourself your contribution is invaluable!!

What can you do?






Thursday, 24 May 2018

Water Butts – is it really a balance for floods and droughts?

Water Butts – is it really a balance for floods and droughts?

The worst thing about being human is also the best thing! We don’t react/act proactively until the proverbial shit hits the fan! Yes when it comes to fires, over the years we’ve built our communities to have sprinkler systems, quicker access via route planning for Fire Engines, materials that are more resilient to fires/heat damage etc.  Yet all too often we should try and make efforts to deal with problems before they start.

At present UK is having a dry spell with a lot of bright hot weather of direct sunlight bathing the countryside and urban areas of Britain. Within a fortnight our agricultural systems, small holdings, community gardens, back gardens etc. see the early signs of strain as water disappears quickly and we don’t have sufficient back up resources.
Water saving measures is something we often forget. Caught up in standard 70-80 hour weeks that many citizens face up to on a regular basis means our minds are stretched thin juggling multiple tasks, coupled in recent years in explosion in social media that stretches us that little bit more. We forget things, priorities jump queues and non-immediate threats slide down the triage …..
With hot perfect ideal spring & summers becoming potential droughts – it’s time we put some checks & balances into play. If it was mandatory in every city/major town that each household must have a water collection measures – be it;
·       Nature: Water Butts – for gardening, community gardens and expanded managed green spaces
·       Domestic/office: Rainwater collection for toilet flushing, showers etc.
·       Industry: mass retention points for cooling etc.
The opportunities are significant. During drought periods to have a few million litres in water butts ready to bail us out. It’s not really that hard considering that 1 million litres = assuming 150 litre water butt capacity = just over 6,600 water butts; just a few dozen extra Water Butts in every town & city will make a significant difference. What is London has to add in 10,000 new water butts – major fresh rain water resource to help us in the hot/dry season!!
Yet what about the opposite and it floods? Would all these empty water butts help absorb some of the heavy downpours which does hit UK at times. Yet if the 1 million Water Butts are half full at the time have they prematurely outlasted their usefulness? Where else can we put rainwater storage? On every level of high rises? Can City Farms LINK be centres of clean natural rainwater (harvested) resource? If a transport accident resulted in contamination hitting the river eco-system; would 1,000,000 Water Butts who are directed to flush into the river system help dilute the contaminated river? This blog is not presenting solutions – rather inviting you to think about the logistics of rainwater harvesting, when to store, when to use, when to utilise in emergency etc.
When it comes to flooding a more comprehensive approach should be recommended (not just artificial basic mechanisms to capture/hold the rainwater). The excellent Transition Chepstow LINK (part of Transition Town Network) LINK have added in trees to areas renowned for high flooding (and commuter disruption with it) which has helped significantly reduce the pooling/flooding areas due to the hundreds of extra trees grown by the Transition Chepstow volunteers – which has obviously resulted in absorbing excesses of localised rainwater and reduced the significant level of local flooding.
COSTS: always the thing we don’t want to hear! Yet how can you on a basic and very localised start get your rainwater collection initiative started? Recovery of used/discarded Water Butts may be one format forward – be it looking at business junkyards or council skips/recycling centres, using Freecycle LINK, asking amongst your own community if they are imminently about to thrown any water butts out if you can freely recover them?
It all starts with small steps. You may be surprised in your own locale at how many people would wish to get involved in such a project. Its up to you to reach out and find everyone.
Is smart-micro-water-grid and analogy or reflective of an electricity-micro/smart-grid? Can the two work in tandem together – or as a three with heat-smart-grid, or local-food-smart-grid? Is this all the cusp of something bigger to come which we all need to initiate in our own areas ……?
What can you do?

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Ready to give up? When something can be made from nothing !! Keep talking, writing, blogging, tweeting ..... sharing!

Too many times we get wrapped up, side-lined and deferred by life. Who would have thought producing 500 words a month as a simple blog would be such a challenge? 24 months has passed since the 'volunteer burn out' entry was produced in January 2016 - and 2018 begins in a few short days ..... A lot can happen in 30 days (as politicians will say "a week in politics is a long time!") yet in 24 months significance rebuilding has been undertaken by Davius and it's ongoing very long term projects from 25 years ago to present ..... the progress is excruciatingly slow - yet when progress is not reported; many assume things are dead - when they are in fact potentially thriving on a micro level.
Would Big Data models of reporting in a few decades be able to show the real in-depth vast dynamics of just one community of 500 - 5000 people? Is reporting in the current day effective in really getting an absolute factful and true account (don't those two cancel each other out?) of what is really transpiring in a given social phenomenon or entity?
This insignificant tiny blog writer has failed the few people who read these blogs by not being consistent with them - as when blogs started in 2011 at least half a dozen were put a year then .....  now what? 1 in 24 months? How did this happen ....? No discipline to allocate 1 hour a month to blog-it-up? Is there any point blogging? Is it supporting the local and global reinforcement that we wish to tackle the massive global challenges of abuse-of-power, wars, trafficking, disclosure, global warming etc - or is blogging about selfish self-promotion - in itself a self-destructive process?
The only thing that can be reaffirmed is that you are NOT alone. What positive 'small thing' you do will have some positive causal impact if you talk to your neighbours, build local relationships and engage with your community; be it families, faith groups, local businesses, local voluntary bodies etc. you will be inspired by the fact that many of them will wish to collaborate - or at least share in the information/news/updates about what is happening in your area! People will continue your efforts from vast distances away from where you originally began the process.
This has been achieved - in districts that are wrongly perceived to be ghetto's - when in fact where individuals have made the effort to go out and find everyone, give them information (like contacts local police, councillor, or health entities - or invitations from community, libraries, voluntary tasks) then build it up into a regular newsletter (hard copy as many are not digitally proficient or have internet access), support the formation of sub groups that can all tackle individual problems in local waste, planning, noise, anti-social activity ..... believe if people are armed with the process to deal with local issues - they can all be empowered to do something about the local problems and create a connected, socially stronger and safer community !! If you believe in the process - you can mobilise a district, encourage everyone to work together - as long as it is done for the spirit of the community; not your own selfish agenda as people will figure it out in the end !!
The immediate challenges we face all have always been at crisis point (global warming, the harvestable soil disappearing in the mid to late 21st Century, starvation, homelessness, crime and anti-social behaviour) - yet quickly forgotten by our immediate problems (all spun from a warped economic model, sense of vacuous appearance focused on vanity not real health, a manipulated media system, aspirations facilitated by social mobility which encourages only falseness, pretentious and snobbery) which has only caused more social decline than social progress. To this it should be encouraged that we actively keep reaching out to each other - communally, locally, globally ... and beyond. 
We are all held to account - not by a legal system, Government or council guidelines - yet by our peers - be it community; our friends & families, our neighbours ... the ones that should be there to keep us in check, help us reflect, aspire and ensure we are objectively and fairly moving forward together! 

Friday, 29 January 2016

When volunteer burn out culls many prospective strong sustainability initiatives!

This is not a blame game, although if irrational minds could turn to such activities when people set on each other. With support that Davius has put behind recent voluntary groups it was saddening to find a lot of initial links from only 12-18 months ago have all dissolved.

Why? People being ignorant? Far from it – the reason a lot of links amongst groups have dissolved is due to many voluntary entities have sadly dissolved after real efforts in the early days. For many – the local entities were set up by just one person, and over several years were maintained by people flying solo. They may have been cheered on by their community – yet trying to get support off the community with volunteer contribution being next to zero.

This is not an attack; rather a reflection with hundreds of thousands of families stretched to their limits the last ten years, very few can contribute towards local positive initiatives due to lack of time etc. So regrettably a lot of sustainability/community initiatives are set up by just one person. Invariably after a few years many good people across UK give up on their projects. This is a real tragedy as some of their projects could have really taken us in a new direction. No names – you can find out who they were in your own locale.

For group collaborations such as Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, AECB local groups, Transition Town groups, Community Food/growing Markets, Community Renewable, Housing Community Projects just to name a few – it is very hard to maintain core group structures as responsibilities have to be maintained upon collapsing numbers.

So how to improve this situation? How will make the sacrifice when so many in this era are so stretched already? What is the magical solution to improve so many voluntary or community entities?

Is there a magic administration software package that can stream line the process? With legal frameworks, constitutions, reminder prompts of meetings – or will this not work in the real world where we all have responsibilities, setbacks and unpredictable events that sway us.

The only thing we can all do is persist …. If you have a good idea for human innovation, community process and/or environmental regeneration – keep at it. You may have the saving grace that helps the whole country start moving.

However – a warning from the experienced ones from multiple voluntary initiatives …. A little power for just one entity within the voluntary group can break the natural progress and overall group dynamic.

You have been warned ….

All that said and done – on a positive …. What can you do?

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A new economy?

As UK goes through a continuous periods of austerity throughout the remainder of this decade, and the remainder of the plant has their own practices to deal with their ongoing recession. Even when economies were ‘good’ many Governments still ran up huge national debts …. How can these ever be minimised? If ever? Can you really affect your government? Or is it more feasible and realistic to focus upon your locale?

What can we really do to improve the economy in your local area? Realistically you cannot change something – like a disaster on the other side of the planet. Yet you can affect your own locale for the better – and contribute ideas to how things should be undertaken.

Communities want to be stronger. Too many times in our isolated world where you only know the immediate neighbours on your street and not those ten doors down. This does create some element of disillution where people think they live in challenging areas, ghetto’s or disconnected communities – yet if you reach out and start finding out who your neighbours are? What they think of locale? What would they like to see improved in the area? You can all begin working on a community plan.

Yet how to empower that community? What realistically can you do in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years? 25 years? Could your community be a lifeline that begins creating your pension? A savings plan for the children and grandchildren? With so many people working into their 70’s and 80’s in this day – many people are keen to be better involved in their community. Employment and community initiatives enhance local links for many who feel somewhat disconnected.

What do we need?

Water, food, shelter, sex – the basics. If our local economy provided housing, food, energy and other basic needs (local social good links so that people can actually meet each other) then perhaps our communities would be genuinely stronger.

On the energy front the UK is finally beginning to embrace ‘community owned energy’ (even though some trail blazers started this in UK decades ago and suffered the wrath of backward and archaic systems in life which were long overdue for an overhaul.) and this is something that could really develop local benefits as funds from PV, wind, micro-hydro, CHP, anaerobic generation could really help your locale.

Same goes for housing co-operatives to infuse a much needed demand for real skills in UK (which the skills deficit is heavily cited by many industries – yet we seem to act too little too late to address the skills deficit challenge.) with building, carpentry, electricians, engineers, plumbers, manufacturing, processing etc.

Possibly more importantly than above two is food production. In the face of the recent years flooding problems many have suffered in UK, farms under water etc. we should focus on micro-growing as well as large scale agricultural production (with lesser impacts) and look to creating a new industry of soil integrity support mechanisms.

What do we want?

NO we are not chanting – what do we want? When do we want it? Too much (materialistic demand it would seem) – hence we are in such real trouble with backlash of economic yo-yoing, flooding/droughts, wars etc. etc.

Generally we only react when disaster strikes (a totally normal human trait!) yet what we need is consistency of good practice (and not wait until it’s too late) to address food production, community production, manufacturing, flood/drought reduction, energy black outs, peak oil.


You’ll all have your opinion on the outcome of COP21 in Paris …. Where do we go from here? Less reliance on technological innovation – more reliance on human innovation.

What can you do?

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Divestment – great on the large scale – yet what of all the little co-operatives?

Divestment is a word that has been banded about as a trend in the mid 2010’s and with some successful campaigns encouraging industry and Government to support a switch in support towards more ‘sustainable’ resources.

Can we really pull all funding away from these ‘bad sources’ of coal burning/oil exploration? Will divestment really make a fundamental shift in such a short term? It would be na├»ve to believe that hundreds of millions of sterlings, Euro’s, Dollars, Yen will switch over in a short amount of time that the carpet will be pulled under from all these dirty technologies?
Unlikely …..
It may be premature to mention that nuclear and fossil fuels have ‘lost the race’ as transition is not as easy as many believe. With pension schemes from big UK firms looking to potentially switch investments towards massive projects such as Swansea Tidal Lagoon (and Cardiff and Newport Lagoons) yet what about all the smaller co-operatives that have been screaming out for funding for the last twenty years? Will they continue to be overlooked?
There are many heroes that it would not be right to forget about who pioneered community renewables and investing in local areas yet were unsuccessful in their initial renewable energy applications at the turn of the century (Awel Aman Tawe  in Swansea and Arts Factory  in Ferndale) yet hopefully their reinvented practises will flourish this time around as the 2010’s recognises greater need for co-operatives in renewables, housing, food, skills etc.

Divestment is important, yet what was holding it back a decade ago in boom periods? After all the media pomp has quietened ….. will we remember the investment in small co-operatives? Or will we look towards the larger impressive projects?

What choice would you make?

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Food Waste and resolving our complacency with the wasted food mountain.

The food waste issue is mentioned in the UK mass media again – it is something we all face on a regular basis. This time the emphasis is upon the calls for supermarkets to end their BOGOF deals in the interest of reducing the millions of tonnes of food waste.

The BOGOF deals (Buy One – Get One Free) psychologically primes us that we are making great savings when we are out shopping and doubling our purchases for prospectively half the price of costs ….. yet the reality is the food will not be eaten quickly enough and will go off and inevitably end up in the compost bin/black bin.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves: Do I really need to buy this? Or is it an issue of people believing that food is useless once it hits the expiry date? Can we risk keeping food an extra day or two for consumption after the expiry date?

The different sources of information may not always be consistent with each other – yet it is plausible that ten’s of thousands of tonnes of food is wasted each year (by many countries).

What can we do to reduce this waste stream contributor?

Grow your own:
Is it possible that growing your own food will give us a new found respect for food? Understanding the cycle, the process, the responsibility or growing it, harvesting and eating it?

Home Composting:
Is it not a cop-out to just assume “It’s okay – we can throw it in the composting bin?” It’s a more benign manner to dispose of excessive/expired food stuffs.

Composting is important – in fact: it is critical to return the nutrients to our soils. Yet it should not be abused! The more localised the composting can be done with zero to few miles travelled - If composting was fully comprehensive (where primarily some composting is done on-site of the domestic home, the restaurant, the office place, the college campus etc. then excessive amounts were picked up by council services) then it can be an even more sustainable process for us to support (than sending it long distance to be composted elsewhere.)

Yet to reiterate: please do not abuse composting as a fall-back just as we become more complacent with our fridges food stock.
Food Banks:
Again – an important part of society; these social enterprises have risen up in a post-economic downturn era to support record numbers of families and individuals who have been forced into economically compromising conditions. Yet we should not just abuse Food Banks strained resources by piling on food which we should ourselves not be wasting – as if it goes off whilst Food Banks are trying to distribute them; it is hardly fair on that social enterprise nor the desperate end recipients.
A constant burning food torch:
What we need is a constant reminder; posters may be an idea? Yet will become an irritation until ignored …. perhaps community mass composters? Or will we get more complacent with these? Any ideas? Local food growing programmes where everyone gets involved to remind us of how precious food is and how many of us may take it for granted as being on tap? For now all we can hope for is the media keep reminding us periodically … yet we need something else in play.
What can you do?