Author: <span class="vcard">tomchance</span>

Last night’s Growing Southwark meeting was graced by British-Armenian designer Vahakn Matossian, who explained his Fruit City project and his beautiful picking tools. When I first got involved with OpenStreetMap I started to make my own private map of apple trees and blackberry brambles in public places. I spent one or two summers eating about four fruit crumbles a week! I love his map, and although it might lead to some sources drying up due to demand, that will hopefully just lend weight to public calls for more fruit trees and bushes to be deliberately planted in our streets and parks. I’ve started to enquire about the chances of getting some fruit trees in small parks like Warwick Gardens and Holly Grove in The Lane part of Peckham/Bellenden/Camberwell. Jenny Jones has been doing the same in her ward – South Camberwell. Maybe Vahakn will get the production line going for…

Read More Urban fruit freebies in Southwark

I took some time out of my brief in-between-jobs holiday to speak to some students from Alleyn’s School in East Dulwich. The Geography Society invited me to talk about climate change and the Green Party. What do you say in 25 minutes to young people who areĀ  amongst the highest consumers in Southwark, but also potentially dedicated citizens who can do a lot to tackle the problem? I think my talk got a bit confused, but perhaps that’s OK because I really wanted to help them understand just how complicated the whole topic is. Beware the doomsayers who claim there’s nothing we can do, but also beware optimists who offer the solution in the form of ten easy steps! On reflection, these would be my two main messages to young people. First, recognise that climate change fundamentally changes the way we think about politics and our personal lives. Just as…

Read More Climate change in 25 minutes

Hove town hallA couple of days in Hove at the Green Party Autumn ticked all the usual boxes, though this year jokes about beards were given a fun edge by Sue‘s buzzword bingo game. Thankfully a lot of the unfortunate posturing around Green Party Executive (GPEX) elections died down as it became clear that most members couldn’t be bothered with it, leaving space for some good policy debates.

Science and technology finally got its day, with two fringe events giving the nerd core a chance to work out how we can avoid this kind of (quite valid) coverage. I’ve high hopes that we can begin to overhaul some fairly ancient and shaky policy, not least because we got such strong and wide agreement that policy should be – golly – based on scientific evidence, as should decisions about NHS treatments. But never mind that “on the back foot” stuff, I’m most excited about the possibility of putting out some really strong messages around science and technology that should resonate strongly with scientists, technologists and the general public. Read More Green conference fun & games in Hove

Sustainable Communities Act coverWhen we got together to discuss the Act at the Peckham Settlement back in April, I got quite excited. I’d lobbied for this back in the day, and now a previously dispirate bunch of activists from around the Borough were discussing its implementation with Southwark Council, supported by the Active Citizens Hub. What happened in the next few months showed just how low the Council’s opinion of its electorate is, but also offers a chance for activists to set the agenda over the next year. Read More Southwark fudges the Sustainable Communities Act

With the autumn conference weeks away, some of the candidates have started to make noises to get voted onto the Green Party Executive (GPEx). As a soon-to-be-ex member of GPEx I thought I’d share some thoughts on criticisms that candidates are making in their bid to replace standing members. Read on, they’re quite long!

If Jason and Rupert replace Tracy I really hope they continue her very strong work on building up that “glossy” stuff they don’t seem to like. The election broadcast video won us amazing plaudits from the media; mailing lists, twitter and blogs were flooded with positive comments from friends and onlookers. It’s easy to say “we will focus on everything” but much harder to square that with a very limited budget. Read More Some thoughts about the Green Party Exec elections

People & Planet, WDM and Platform have just launched an audacious campaign against the Treasury, seeking a judicial review to transform RBS from the UK’s largest “dirty development” investor into the foremost green finance institution. Check out the Financial Times story for the lowdown (it made the front page!) and lobby your MP to sign the Early Day Motion supporting this move. AS Jonathan Porritt said at today’s SDC Breakthroughs event, the Treasury has held the UK back for too long. It is years behind the public, and even business, on climate change. Using our 70% public share in RBS is exactly the kind of initiative that could unlock the green new deal, using the skills and experience of RBS staff to finance investment in low carbon industry and infrastructure. I’m very proud of P&P! After contacting your MP and pestering the Treasury, support People & Planet to help them…

Read More Help turn RBS into the Royal Bank for Sustainability

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like mainstream journalists and celebs are starting to talk about the Greens in a totally unprecedented way. With a few exceptions we’re seen as credible, with good policies and a great leader. Notwithstanding the occasional backlash, we’re definitely on the way to establishing ourselves as the fourth “main party”. Just the increased number of nods to the Green Party shows that – in our largely first past the post scene – fewer people think Labour will always be the only viable progressive force in British politics. Caroline evoked a lovely analogy at the recent Compass conference to sum up the change in mood: we no longer need New Labour’s big tent to bring all progressives together. From now on, we should have a campsite of many small tents, cooperating to progress environmental and social justice, and competing where we disagree. Maybe 2010 will…

Read More A campsite of smaller tents

Gavin Baker, a really fantastic free data activist from the US, nudged me recently about his post on the position of different European parties on open access to research. Scott Redding, one of our Green Party candidates in the elections and also doing amazing work getting more online activism for the party, gave a fairly strong statement on his intention to support the cause of open/free data. So where do we stand? It’s easier to explain by talking about our wider policy and activism around intellectual property. So here’s an update on a previous post: The Green Party in England & Wales has very strong, explicit policy on intellectual property with specific statements on open source software, public data (especially maps) and open data generally. Lots of Green MEPs and candidates have signed the Free Software Pact; In Liverpool City Council, Greens have passed a motion encouraging the use of…

Read More European Parliament elections, the Green Party and free stuff

In preparation for the Peckham Mapping Party this Wednesday evening (3rd June) I tried out the house numbering system in OpenStreetMap known as the Karlsruhe Schema around the south east corner of The Lane area of Peckham. Well, mapping and leafletting again with the all-important Euro elections on Thursday. With all the buildings, points of interest and house numbers it’s getting pretty crowded! It will be good if this is picked up by the search function on the OpenStreetMap homepage, so one could search for “15 East Dulwich Road” and get at least the right end of that rather long road. All that time in the sun left me completely wiped out, though. I’ll be glad when the elections are over so I can spend a few consecutive weekends and evenings with no leafletting on the horizon. Just the Exec meeting in June, and lots of local events to do…

Read More Addressing Peckham

What a bank holiday! Saturday morning out leafletting for the European elections with Jenny Jones, followed by an afternoon in the wonderful Bussey Building with the Peckham Power Company. Never mind the sandwiches, the sun brought out a great mix of people, including a policy expert from DECC no less. Anna from the PPC took us through the mix of energy we currently use — nice to see people quite so shocked by the proportion of energy ’embodied’ in the stuff we buy; next, the mix of energy we could physically generate in the UK; and finally some realisation of the challenge both for the UK and for Peckham in responding to the triple crunch of the recession, climate change and peaking fossil fuel reserves. The recipe for Peckham and The Lane area? That’ll be lots of refurb, solar thermal & PV, a ground-source heat pump system under Peckham Rye…

Read More Power for Peckham