April 27, 2018

I am now asking everyone unashamedly to vote green in a weeks time. Here in Birmingham it is rather special as the whole council are being elected at one go not the usual third. Almost noticed by the citizens of Birmingham the way this place is governed has undergone a tremendous sea change over the last two years.

Firstly there was the scandal of misgoverning that drove central government to appoint a commissioner for Birmingham. Then there was the failing Children’s services, again with an outside body appointed. That is now run as an arms length trust, rather on the lines of a Tenants Management Organisation (TMO) which was in the papers after Grenfell Tower. Then there was the election of a Metro Mayer with supposedly new powers but encroaching on the City’s existing powers also.

Now after a ‘review” by the Electoral Commission who were tasked with reducing the 120 councillors in Brum we have a totally different way of democracy quite alien to most of us here. Traditionally we have elected a third of the council each year with 1 in 4 years being “fallow”. This has meant there is unlikely to be a major shift in power in any one year, acting as a moderating force on the worst excesses of political parties. There are many historical examples where this has yielded an amount of cross party discussion and agreement – the NEC, ICC and Olympic bids among them.

Now we have 101 councillors (a vast reduction!!) and an all out election once every 4 years. So its possible for a party to sweep to power and then they know they have 4 years to do what they like without a real democratic brake. How does this make things more democratic? As the cabinet style of governing is unaffected by this it certainly won’t make anything more efficient – just saving 19 copies of council minutes! Or are these sent out by email now, so no savings there then!

So 3rd May 2018 is election day. As if the World; Europe; UK and England weren’t in enough mess we now can add Birmingham. Wow. People ask why I keep standing for the Greens. I usually answer so I can smile when we go over the cliff edge like lemmings – I did my bit. Well now I’m beginning to feel the cliff edge is in sight… and I’m scared.

There is a way back but it requires brave decisions .. and brave actions. The first is voting Green next Thursday.


Voting Local and Acting Global

April 16, 2018


On 3rd May we can Vote Local. Use that vote to Think Global.

This is the argument of perverse logic. Normally a politician when standing at a local election will argue for people to decide on local issues, sensible advice. But we live in extraordinary times and hence extraordinary measures are needed.

On 3rd May many English local authorities will hold their elections for councillors; most to hold office for 4 years and be responsible for virtually all the daily services we use. The turnout will be low – it always is in local elections – so about 10% of the electorate will decide the result. So for once your vote can make a real difference. But how?

With the UK, France and the USA committed to military action in Syria joining a plethora of nations already fighting there the chances of accidental war have escalated violently. A recent poll showed only 22% of people in the UK supporting this action. Clearly there is a need to make our Westminster politicians listen to the 78%.

We are set to leave the European union in March 2019. This will be the last significant nationwide election before that date. Again Westminster politicians seem intent on keeping all the decisions about this to themselves. Whilst they “consulted “ us in the original referendum now its business as usual with them deciding and us knowing our place. That 49% who voted against the original idea and those who thought they’d voted for something else need a voice and a very loud one to be heard in Parliament.

How does this affect our local elections? Well with the Conservatives arrogantly ignoring us, Labour being acquiescent in Brexit discussions and having no clear policy on peace in Syria and the LibDems disappearing altogether there seems no one to take a clear lead.

Except The Green Party who have consistently opposed all military interventions since the first Gulf War and are saying NO to bombing Syria (again). Except The Green Party who have tirelessly campaigned for a vote on the terms of any Brexit deal. With just one MP its hard to make Westminster listen.

But we can make them listen to us. We can say NO to bombing; we can say NO to leading us out of Europe on any terms. We can vote for The Green party candidate in these elections. They may not get elected but that cumulative vote will be added up and Westminster politicians will realise what that vote means.

Just like Margaret Thatcher did in 1989 when 15% voted Green. She passed the first Environmental Protection Act shortly afterwards. It does work and lets face it we’ve tried everything else to make them listen.

Use the only thing Westminster understands – your vote. Lend it to the Green Party and see them listen.

So on May 3rd Vote Green – the local solution to a global disaster.

Is Graphene the new plastic?

January 14, 2018

There’s an understandable outcry at the moment about the excessive use of plastic. I was going to say single use plastic but actually the outcry is just about plastic without any fine distinctions. Thats the way with outcries they’re a little bit indiscriminate. So in the eyes of the media now you’re 95 times used Tupperware plastic container is as terrible as 4 tonnes of totally avoidable plastic microbeads. Its now fuelled by the sight of a female Prime Minister weeping into her microphone trying to cajole us into being as green as she! Now where have I seen that before?

Oh I know Margaret Thatcher picking up litter in Hyde Park just months after the Greens got 15% of the national vote in 1989. Its what they call a temporary Damascene conversion. Which brings me back to the subject, well graphene not Damascene. Its wonderful stuff the strongest best electrical conductor ever and thousandths of a millimetre thick at that. Currently it costs a small fortune involving quite a few arms and legs but I’m sure progress will bring it soon into use by all of us. Just think how small a bag would be in graphene? Oh no I forgot we don’t use bags anymore! No only plastic bags its OK to use millions of jute bags because they’re recyclable – just because we don’t recyclable them doesn’t make it anymore recyclable…

I can tell I’m loosing you so I’ll stop that fad and move back to safer ground; tin cans. Now everyone knows they’re recycled and we all carefully put them in the right container and ALL local councils recycle them don’t they? Well, er yes but in spite of all that the actual total recycled was only 60%. And that really is the most recycled thing in the UK. So our record on reusing things ain’t good.

Whilst on the history lessons can I just run through a few outcries – starting with DDT which was the saviour of our agricultural industry in the early part of the twentieth century until the wildlife died all over the place. Then more recently there was the internal combustion engine until we spotted the hole up there in the ozone so we’re stopped using petrol cars and went over to cleaner less polluting diesel cars – until we found out those are equally but differently polluting… When we discovered Electric cars. Here endeth the History lesson.

Now its the Maths Lesson! In 2016 we generated 337,656 Gigawatt Hours of electricity. This is equivalent to 29,033 kilo tonnes of oil (ktoe). All quite easy so far. Now in that year the transport sector used 55,767 ktoe and just the Road Transport bit used 41,450 ktoe. So if we all went electric overnight how much more electricity would need to be generated just to get us all to Margate? All you need to do is divide one number by another number but because I’m kind I’ll give you the answers.

For all transport we have to generate 1.92 times (nearly twice as much) more electricity and for just road transport only 1.43 times as much. So you see the new plan to save the world by driving electric cars, vans and lorries has a little flaw – it can’t be done! Yes even if we insulated all our buildings and reduced the electricity use by 50% it wouldn’t get near the extra amount we would need for transport. So why don’t we just skip the gearing up, the panic buying, the lousy cheap deals we’ll be left with and start the outcry now about how these cars are turning the heat off our pensioners and sick people in hospitals where the lights are going out because of electric vehicles on our roads!

Oh and while we’re about it can we have an outcry about the third world exploitation needed to get millions of graphene bags made by Gucci?

But if you’re not into outcries why not just use less? Less plastic, less transport, less electricity and share what we have. Its just an idea……

Little bits of green and quotes from a great man

January 9, 2018

For almost a year I’ve been putting little quotes from Pope Francis letter called Laudato Si into the Church weekly Bulletin. This letter is about how we care for “Our Common Home”, planet Earth. Alongside that I’ve added little tips about how we can be a little more green in our behaviour from reusing our plastic bags to smiling at each other. I did attempt a while ago to start putting these into this blog but as with all my resolves, it kinda fell by the wayside. So here I am again but this time I’ve got a table with ’em all in and I’ll attempt to dump it into the blog.

Watch out this could explode……

Here goes….

Week Date Para No Laudato Si Quote Tip Notes
1 5/3/17 – Pope Francis issued his encyclical, Laudato Si’ in 2015 to urge us to look after Our Common Home. Each week we’ll be quoting from that and giving tips to help us all live simply 1st Sunday of Lent
2 12/3/17 1 St Francis reminds us that our common home is like a beautiful mother who embraces us Spend an hour outside, appreciating the gift of creation
3 19/3/17 206 Purchasing is always a moral – and not simply economic – act Eat less meat, buying British meat. This means animals have been well looked after. Cows also cause climate change.
4 26/3/17 179 .. cooperatives are being developed to exploit renewable sources of energy … Use a renewable energy company like Ecotricity but there are other companies – check greenelectricity.org
5 2/4/17 153 Many cars, … circulate in cities, causing traffic congestion, raising the level of pollution, and consuming enormous quantities of non-renewable energy Have a Car Free Day once a week but once a month is good too.
6 9/4/17 138 It cannot be emphasized enough how everything is interconnected. Start with one small step – recycle one bottle, reuse one bag or turn off one light. Palm Sunday
7 16/4/17 – The full text of the Encyclical Laudato Si can be found on w2.vatican.va Easter Sunday
8 23/4/17 208 We are always capable of going out of ourselves towards the other. Smile and say Hello to the people you see today – smiles travel miles!
9 30/4/17 232 Around … community actions, relationships develop or are recovered and a new social fabric emerges. There is no Planet B. We only have one world – lets learn to share it.
10 7/5/17 – Nothing Printed
11 14/5/17 202 .. it is we human beings above all who need to change. Why not use a Fairphone? Its a smartphone with a conscience, check out thephone.coop where you can buy one or sign up for an ethical package.
12 21/5/17 12 Saint Francis invites us to see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us… Always have a bag with you – for shopping or to carry home any waste packing
13 28/5/17 139 We are faced not with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Contraction and Convergence means us using less so there are more of our worlds riches to share with others
14 4/6/17 231 Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. “This week we must use our vote thoughtfully and wisely to spread God’s love.
” General Election 8/6/17
15 11/6/17 21 The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth If you see litter on the street, why not pick it up and put it in a nearby bin?
16 18/6/17 52 We need to strengthen the conviction that we are one single human family Try to greet everyone you meet with respect and warmth because they are part of our family
17 25/6/17 25 Climate change … represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day Insulate your loft. There should be over 250mm (10 inches) of insulation there. It saves you money, keeps you warmer and helps reduce climate change.
18 2/7/17 242 St Joseph … can inspire us to work with generosity and tenderness in protecting this world which God has entrusted to us Make do and Mend. Jobs repairing our things are mostly local, requiring skilled craftsmen like St Joseph
19 9/7/17 82 Yet it would also be mistaken to view other living beings as mere objects subjected to arbitrary human domination Plant some wildlife friendly plants in your garden leaving some flowers to go to seed for birds.
20 16/7/17 47 When media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. Spend some time away from newspapers and social media
21 23/7/17 236 He comes not from above, but from within, He comes that we might find Him in this world of ours. Turn the sound down. Switch the TV and radio off, seek out a quiet spot and sit down.
22 30/7/17 209 An awareness of the gravity of today’s cultural and ecological crisis must be translated into new habits Bottles of water travel miles; why not fill up your bottle with tap water?
23 6/8/17 165 We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels ….. needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Buy local fresh vegetables, in season without packaging. Produce from overseas are usually flown in using fossil fuels
24 13/8/17 85 “From panoramic vistas to the tiniest living form, nature is a constant source of wonder and awe. It is also a continuing revelation of the divine” Offset the carbon used by your holiday flight – try the carbon calculator at http://www.climatecare.org
25 20/8/17 102 Humanity has entered a new era in which our technical prowess has brought us to a crossroads Don’t leave the roof rack/ box on your car after the holidays as it increases fuel use.
26 27/8/17 139 Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature,… Take a holiday in Birmingham – walk along our wonderful canals! Start at Somerset Road.
27 3/9/17 140 Although we are often not aware of it, we depend on … larger systems for our own existence. Watch the film The Common Good at: http://www.cafod.org.uk/climatereflections
28 10/9/17 117 Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature …. is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. In the office think before you print – but if you have to print at all, print double-sided.
29 17/9/17 167 The 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro … proclaimed that “human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development” Defrost your fridge and freezer on a regular basis.
30 24/9/17 165 We know that technology based on the use of highly polluting fossil fuels …. needs to be progressively replaced without delay. Only buy the most fuel efficient products – A rated.
31 1/10/17 1 “Laudato Si’, mi Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord” Buy a copy of Laudato Si from the Piety Stall, £4.95 or download it from http://www.vatican.va
32 8/10/17 206 A change in lifestyle could bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield … power. This is what consumer movements accomplish by boycotting certain products. Both Cadbury’s and Sainsbury’s are withdrawing for Fair Trade.
33 15/10/17 160 What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? Use renewable energy and change your light bulbs to LED; they save energy and money!
34 22/10/17 162 Men and women of our postmodern world run the risk of rampant individualism Do something for the community – volunteer, for ideas see http://www.bvsc.org or http://www.do-it.org
35 29/10/17 222 Christian spirituality proposes a growth marked by moderation and the capacity to be happy with little. One solar light can change a young persons life – see http://www.cafod.org.uk/campaign/power-to-be
36 5/11/17 205 Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start, Why wouldn’t you want to help a company called Sunny Money? see http://www.solar-aid.org
37 12/11/17 204 Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction. This Christmas make your gifts; even a letter telling friends and family how much they mean to you
38 19/11/17 202 Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. Draw your curtains at dusk. It keeps the heat in and stops cold draughts; every little bit helps.
39 26/11/17 65 The Bible teaches that every man and woman is created out of love and made in God’s image and likeness As Advent approaches find a quiet place and spend some time in silence – let God talk.
40 3/12/17 244 May our struggles and our concern for this planet never take away the joy of our hope. Don’t put off the resolution to the new year – make the resolution and act today. 1st Sunday of Advent
41 10/12/17 228 Care for nature is part of a lifestyle which includes the capacity for living together. Put out food for the birds even if the squirrels eat it – they too have their place in creation!
42 17/12/17 219 The ecological conversion needed to bring about lasting change is also a community conversion. We need others if we are to achieve anything, learn to work cooperatively.
43 24/12/17 222 We need to take up an ancient lesson, found in different religious traditions.… It is the conviction that “less is more”. Take a book to the charity shop then someone else can read it – and the charity gets some money!
44 31/12/17 241 Mary, the Mother who cared for Jesus, now cares with maternal affection and pain for this wounded world. Walk an extra mile; a day or a week. Its another way to meet people!
45 7/1/18 84 The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Recycle your Christmas Tree at http://www.careatchristmas.org and help St Mary’s Hospice.
46 14/1/18 30 Our world has a grave social debt towards the poor who lack access to drinking water, Share your cup of coffee – with the homeless. Text “BHAM18 £2” to 70070 to give £2.
47 21/1/18 169 Reducing greenhouse gases requires honesty, courage and responsibility, on the part of those countries which are more powerful and pollute the most. Try turning your central heating thermostat down by 1 degree.
48 28/1/18 165 Until greater progress is made in developing renewable energy, it is legitimate to choose the less harmful alternative Holiday by train because its air travel that generates most CO2 – see http://www.interrail.eu for train travel throughout Europe
49 4/2/18 189 Saving banks at any cost … only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system ..which has no future and will only give rise to new crises … Why not change to an ethical bank? Check Triodos Bank or Reliance Bank. Money doesn’t have to mean greed.
50 11/2/18 191 we need to grow in the conviction that a decrease in … production and consumption can at times give rise to another form of progress and development. Harborne has many charity shops – share your possessions then the charity gains and someone else enjoys that book or designer handbag!
51 18/2/18 204 Obsession with a consumerist lifestyle, above all when few people are capable of maintaining it, can only lead to violence and mutual destruction. Switch to paperless billing; its easy and it stops “important” paper cluttering your home 1st Sunday in Lent
52 25/2/18 203 Since the market tends to promote extreme consumerism in an effort to sell its products, people can easily get caught up in a whirlwind of needless buying and spending. Shop secondhand – Charity shops; repairing your own clothes and swapping with friends – its called wardrobe shopping!
53 4/3/18 98 Jesus lived in full harmony with creation, and others were amazed If these little tips have helped you – share them with friends then we can all make a difference.

Well that’s not so bad; is it? Looking at it from my viewpoint (and knowledge) by each number 1 – 53 there is a date followed by a number. This number is the paragraph number from the Encyclical (Letter) the full text of which can be found on http://www.vatican.va. The next sentence is the quote courtesy of Pope Francis and the second sentence is a tip courtesy of Simpson!

Maybe just stick this somewhere on your computer and look at a bit from time to time!

Normal service will be resumed next week!

New Year Resolves — to be a better year!

December 28, 2017

After 70 years on the planet, some of them conscious, it seems you’ve made any number of new year resolutions but truth to tell – I’ve never made any. Nope not even one when I was young and fancy free. What does that mean Fancy Free? I’d hope never to be free of fancies whether fantasies or cakes. But back to the start. I never made new year resolutions because I didn’t see the point and everyone made such a noise about them. You see in spite of the seemingly arrogant exterior I’ve always known i’m fallible and full of mistakes so I don’t need another lesson in humility, thanks.

Where this is leading you may ask? I know, I just did the same But then I looked at the title and remembered 2017. And I thought; apart from 2016 when the rot set in what could be worse? I suppose we could have a nuclear war about N Korea, a country with a puffed up ambition. Remind you of anywhere? They want to strut the World Stage, aloof, proud and alone. Just like somewhere else. They want a seat at top table all the time in spite of being a small country with a weak economy and a population constantly misled by their politicians.

So here’s to a 2018 when we exit brexit; when Trump is trumped and poverty is dumped. There is hope and its actually wrapped up in those almost unthinkable events of 2016. Because if the unthinkable can happen in USA and UK once, then surely it can happen again? In spite of being lead by a lily livered leader and a bunch of delusional politicians we could find our voice again and shout no. And instead of insulting all those who look to this battered isle for a better life we could say welcome. And then there’s each other. We could stop looking the other way and say “Hello”.

Now there’s a New Year worth resolving for…..

Another Advent of broken resolves

December 24, 2017

Here we are on the last day of Advent waiting for the excitement of Christmas tomorrow. We Christians on the first day of Advent in preparation for our Saviours coming make all sorts of resolutions to be that much better this year. We might want to care a little more for the less fortunate – maybe even putting it into action. We will definitely say our prayers with more devotion. We will not gossip about others. We will just be better people and not even get drunk at the office party – again!

Our Advent is going to be a real turning point – this year. And yet here we are at its end and we’re still the useless kind of folk who can’t even spend 5 minutes more thinking of others. All that shopping and all that drinking and we really haven’t lived up to our resolutions made just 4 weeks ago. Is there any hope for us?

Well yes there is. And that is the BIG miracle of Christmas. God came to us not where we feel we ought to be but where we are; warts and all. The point of Him taking on human form – in its most defenceless way – was to embrace us with His love. Its a forgiving, bottomless love that surpasses all our understanding. Certainly try as we might ( and we may not have tried hard enough!) we would struggle to be as nice and loving to people who continually betray us, time and time again.

But God does. And the pictures we all goo and ooh about of the little baby in the manger. Its only the most wonderful expression of unconditional love you will ever know. And its all ours to enjoy and share.

Thank you, Jesus.

On Solitude

December 13, 2017

Not a subject I know much about to be honest. Brought up one of eight children in a terraced house with 3 bedrooms and an attic; going on to university halls of residence, student flats and then a family house with 4 children of my own. Quiet has been a word I could never spell! Not that I’m complaining because to be surrounded by so much unconditional love (albeit often the rough sort) is wonderful and fuels the boundless optimism that has supported me through life. Its just I’ve not a clue about what it feels like to lonely for days on end and while I’m immensely privileged to be able to say that it kind of colours what I have to say further on.

There’s something written about loving your neighbour as yourself hence you need to love yourself first. Not a selfish love but one that recognises your own true worth. We are all in some way special and we need to understand how we are each special before moving on to the equally special people around us. It seems to me as a cog in a hectic wheel that to understand yourself you need some peace and quiet. Believe me I’ve tried to reflect in the midst of my daily life – but never with much success. So here’s to solitude.

When I was at school the catholics at the end of term would walk over the “Forest” to Mount St Bernards Abbey, a Cistercian setup just a mile over the hill. The others would attend end of term assembly with all the rubbish that attends it whilst we would have a pleasant walk, a very spiritual mass followed by chatting to the monks and wondering round that marvellous space, another pleasant walk back and bingo! It was that brush with monastic life that suggested how you could achieve solitude – a productive solitude. Not that I wanted the monks life of getting up at 5am for prayers, more prayers and yet more prayers. Perhaps it was the walk over the forest (rather aptly called Charlies Rocks but thats another story). Certainly outside / trees / the greensward has held its spell over me for all my life.

So solitude to me is sitting somewhere preferably on the grass with the sun shining outside in the countryside or a green space listening to whatever happens by – birds, silence or an aeroplane. I wish as a christian, I could say it was in deep prayer but its more about listening and well just being. I’m sure many traditions that have comtemplation and meditation at the their heart will be able to say this so much more eloquently but there comes a quiet time that creeps over you if you can just find that space, that time to be.

We are coming up to Christmas with its own special message of peace, humility and reaching out to help the ‘other one”, be it homeless man, refugee or just plain pregnant lady starting her pains. It can / well nearly always is a busy rather hectic time so finding space for silence is heroic. But maybe that’s why it comes to us all that now is the time to do it. There’s always a church on the High Street in among the shops. If not there’ll be a small municipal park with a couple of trees to guide us to ourselves. So don’t worry about Aunt Hattie; pop into that church / park / gurdwara and just sit there.

That’s it; that’s the solitude we all need to find our extra special own selves. Then when we have that we can do anything – even deal with daily life!!

Little steps to being green.

November 17, 2017

Have a Car Free Day once a week but once a month is good too. There are two big issues wrapped up in this little exhortation. The first and obvious one is to leave the car at home. Showing that you can manage without a car even if its a very temporary state of affairs. By getting out of the car you are doing more physical exercise, you are using less fossil non renewable fuel and maybe most important – you can engage with people you meet.

When you’re in the car and see someone you’d like to chat to its usually plain impossible unless you’re in mid Wales where people are more patient and the car behind wants to join in the conversation as well! But on foot; or on a bike; you can stop, chat, make a date and no one is inconvenienced and it only takes a few more moments. This is how communities are built – social human interaction. The proverbial “cup of sugar”.

That’s the obvious point about that little tip. A less obvious one centres round the last part of the exhortation – “once a month is good too.” Its about being less strident, less aggressive with our steps to being green. So many people seem to want us to live in teepees on a Welsh hillside, growing our own saucepans and knitting our own sandals. The truth is if you keep hitting people over the head they will develop coping mechanisms and in time just ignore it. Being negative is actually no fun at all. But if you take the little that folk do and build on that; praising them for the very little step they make; setting new goals that are achievable then they are encouraged, we feel better and together we improve. I think it was some deep intellectual philosopher who suggested we ‘accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative and don’t mess with Mr Inbetween.”

Which kind of brings me to my next exhortation which I think needs no explanation at all.

Start with one small step – recycle one bottle, reuse one bag or turn off one light.

Is the World turning Green?

November 9, 2017

As Syria joins the rest of the world in ratifying the Paris Accord on Climate Change isn’t it about time we all did a little more green action? There is a misconception that to be “green” you have to wear knitted sandals and sport a two foot long beard (and that’s just the women!) but life’s not like that. Giant journeys start with one small step and so it is with saving our common home, the Earth. If we all did one new thing, one small green step, then quickly we would move to a more sustainable better way of living.

Green action doesn’t just mean spending money on windmills or buying more expensive organic meat. There are many ways of reducing our footprint on the planet like pulling the curtains at dusk to keep the day’s heat in. These only require us to think a little more or change our daily routine – switching off lights when we leave a room etc. I got a bit fed up reading all about these expensive or life changing ways to be green so I came up wth a few of my own. Over the last year I’ve been sharing these on my local church bulletin each week; prompted by Pope Francis’s letter in 2015 called Laudato Si or Care for our Common Home.

Some of these ideas may seem not very directly green but its important to realise that being green means being human, fully and in all the deep senses of that word. So its as much abut being at peace with yourself as using recycled materials. The only way we will save our home is by cooperating together so we need to get to a place where we can all do that. That means we don’t fight; we respect each other; we realise just how marvellous we all are. So my little green hints have as much to do with mindfulness as energy efficiency.

So why not read my twitter over the next few weeks to see these little hints? Especially now as we can use 280 characters not 140! Wow, all the extra words…. And for those not twitting I’ll collect them together and make some kind of bloggy thing!

Don’t Vote!

October 11, 2017

Try Consensus instead. This from the man who’s urged everyone to vote all the time. But why? Well look around you; listen to the way politics is done today. Look at the antipathy and the violence of the language. People seem to be at war with one another. And its not just brexit, Trump and Putin who are doing it. So there has to be a different way of doing things.

That different way is talking round the table. That different way is trying to persuade someone of your argument knowing that without their approval you cannot move on. Listening to their argument knowing that they earnestly believe in it and want it to happen. Talking, listening and staying at the table until you have reached a joint way of making things happen. A way which is neither your ideal nor theirs but some middle way which gives all those at the table some ground, some ownership. This is called consensus. And don’t tell me its difficult, its impossible and no one can make it work because I know how difficult it is. And I know it can work and when it does the world seems a better place and all those difficulties you expected just disappear (with a little push).

I know because its the way the Green Party chooses to do its business only resorting to votes when that consensus totally escapes us. Its an amazing exercise because you know that to get your way you have got to take the others with you. Which means you have to listen hard to them to see what common ground you have that you can both build on. Then there’s the tentative steps forward constantly looking out for mines which means even harder listening, exploring with an open mind what could or could not be acceptable. It takes longer than a show of hands but it lasts longer than a show of hands too.

I’m not suggesting Teresa and Jeremy try it now. I’m suggesting when you go to your next scouts or church committee you try it there. Just once or twice suggest we don’t have a vote on this – lets all try and agree what to do. Without doubt everyone will shy away from it with countless reasons why not. Stick with it even just the one decision and maybe look at it next time. Which decision made the most sense? Was it the consensual one?

We have to try to change the way the world does business. We only have a few chances; why not take them?

Don’t vote but I may come back to this message nearer an election!!!