Transition & solutions - Dec 23
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Carrots in the car park. Radishes on the roundabout. The deliciously eccentric story of the town growing ALL its own veg
Vincent Graff, Daily Mail
Admittedly, it sounds like the most foolhardy of criminal capers, and one of the cheekiest, too.
Outside the police station in the small Victorian mill town of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, there are three large raised flower beds.
If you’d visited a few months ago, you’d have found them overflowing with curly kale, carrot plants, lettuces, spring onions — all manner of vegetables and salad leaves.
Today the beds are bare. Why? Because people have been wandering up to the police station forecourt in broad daylight and digging up the vegetables. And what are the cops doing about this brazen theft from right under their noses? Nothing.
Well, that’s not quite correct.
‘I watch ’em on camera as they come up and pick them,’ says desk officer Janet Scott, with a huge grin. It’s the smile that explains everything.
For the vegetable-swipers are not thieves. The police station carrots — and thousands of vegetables in 70 large beds around the town — are there for the taking. Locals are encouraged to help themselves. A few tomatoes here, a handful of broccoli there. If they’re in season, they’re yours. Free.
So there are (or were) raspberries, apricots and apples on the canal towpath; blackcurrants, redcurrants and strawberries beside the doctor’s surgery; beans and peas outside the college; cherries in the supermarket car park; and mint, rosemary, thyme and fennel by the health centre.
The vegetable plots are the most visible sign of an amazing plan: to make Todmorden the first town in the country that is self-sufficient in food.
(10 December 2011)
Suggested by EB contributor Marcin Gerwin.
Buying Local Yields More Jobs, Stronger Communities
Michael Shuman and Jeff Milchen, Amiba (American Independent Business Alliance
According to the National Retail Federation, Americans will spend an average of about $700 per person on holiday season shopping this year and, despite the hype surrounding Black Friday, the busiest shopping week immediately precedes Christmas. But rather than enduring long lines and sparse service at chain stores, we urge you take a different approach: seek out your local independent merchants and service providers, meet your neighbors and fully integrate your values in your purchasing decisions.
This is not a call to “get out and shop” -- far from it. In fact, we encourage you consider many great gifts that don’t increase consumption: a meal at an independent restaurant, tickets to a local concert, durable locally-made goods. Most of all, consider the many benefits of patronizing local independent businesses for whatever you choose. Among the benefits:
* You’ll create local jobs. And not just any jobs. While chain outlet’s create mostly positions for clerks and cashiers, local businesses are hiring accountants, graphic designers, webmasters and many other positions the chains (or online giants) centralize at corporate headquarters. A multitude of small entrepreneurs provides a more vital and durable financial base than dependence on a few large corporations.
* Local businesses typically require less driving, consume far less land and have a lighter environmental impact. Because they focus primarily on local markets, local businesses place a high premium on being easily accessible by local residents. They tend to bolster community character and vitality, rather than segregating residential areas from clusters of big box development.
* Part of what makes any community great is how well it preserves its unique culture, foods, ecology, architecture, history, music, and art. Local businesses celebrate these features, while chains tend to homogenize, following a corporate template rather than respecting local architecture or customs.
(16 December 2011)
Suggested by Post Carbon Institute, who writes:
"Post Carbon Fellow Michael Shuman is research director for the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies and author of the upcoming book from Chelsea Green and Post Carbon Institute Local Dollars, Local Sense: How to Shift Your Money from Wall Street to Main Street and Achieve Real Prosperity. Jeff Milchen is a co-founder of the American Independent Business Alliance, which helps communities develop effective buy local/independent campaigns and many other pro-local initiatives."
Recommended Holiday Reading for the Caring, Agitated Mind
Ralph Nader, Common Dreams
1. America Beyond Capitalism by Gar Alperovitz (Democracy Collaborative Press and Dollars and Sense, 2011). If you want to see how community economies are spreading to displace the sales and influence of companies such as Bank of America, ExxonMobil, Aetna, ADM and McDonalds, this is your book. Democratic credit unions, local renewable and efficient energy, community health clinics and farmer-to-consumer markets are some of the possibilities outlined in this optimistic book.
2. Retirement Heist: How Companies Plunder and Profit from the Nest Eggs of American Workers by Ellen E. Schultz (Portfolio/Penguin Hardcover, 2011) ...
3. This Changes Everything: Occupy Wall Street and the 99% Movement ed. by Sarah van Gelder of YES! Magazine. (Berrett-Koehler Publisher, Inc. San Francisco, 2011). Sixteen short essays viewing the Occupy initiatives around the country from a variety of perspectives. Very lively, forward-looking, and filled with interesting insights.
4. The Vertical Farm - Feeding the World in the 21st Century by Columbia University Professor Dickson Despommier (St. Martin's Press, New York, 2011). Scientific American writes "Imagine a world where every city has its own local food source grown in the safest way possible, where no drop of water or particle of light is wasted, and where a simple elevator ride can transport you to nature's grocery store - imagine the world of the vertical farm." This mind-stretcher shows how to feed people and save the environment - see if it is too good to be true!
5. Technology, Globalization, and Sustainable Development - Transforming the Industrial State by Nicholas A. Ashford and Ralph P. Hall (Yale University Press, New Haven, 2011). This is a big picture, big book integrating the design of multipurpose solutions to the sustainability challenge so that economics, employment, technology, environment, industrial development, national and international law, trade, finance, and public and worker health and safety are taken into account. If the piecemeal frustrate you, try this whole meal.
6. Amglish In, Like, Ten Easy Lessons: A Celebration of the New World Lingo by Arthur E. Rowse with illustrations and caricatures by John G. Doherty (Roman and Littlefield, Lanham, Maryland, 2011). ...
7. Crude Awakening: Money, Mavericks and Mayhem in Alaska by Amanda Coyne and Tony Hopfinger (Nation Books, New York 2011). ...
8. All That We Share: A Field Guide to the Commons by Jay Walljasper (The New Press, New York, 2010). You may not know all of the commonwealth in our country that belongs to you and other Americans. Sure we own the valuable public lands- one third of our country - and the public airwaves. But the finest writers in this burgeoning field of awareness point to much more. But what we own - the immensity all around us - we do not control. Control has been the preoccupation of corporations that strive to turn our government against the core concept of the commons. Engage these engrossing pages and see how we can recover the commons for the good life and for our posterity.
9. While We Were Sleeping: Success Stories in Injury and Violence Prevention by David Hemenway. (University of California Press, Berkeley, 2009). ...
10. Consequential Learning: A Public Approach to Better Schools by Jack Shelton (NewSouth Books, Montgomery, Alabama, 2005) ...
Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer, and author. His most recent book - and first novel - is, Only The Super-Rich Can Save Us. His most recent work of non-fiction is The Seventeen Traditions.
(22 December 2011)