Archives for category: Community action

Wearing her BFOE ‘chief fixer, troubleshooter, painter, drain unblocker, gofer and dogsbody’ hat – after a 16 year stint with Warehouse tenant Localise WM – Karen Leach writes

Recent visitors to Birmingham Friends of the Earth Warehouse notice that it is looking pretty fine as we have now managed to complete the last major renovation stage: a refurbishment of the ‘Top Office.’ It has a much better workspace and we owe a big debt of thanks to many volunteers.

We’re just finishing refurbishment of the last room, suitable as an office for two people or a therapy room if anyone is interested in joining the Warehouse as a tenant.

Ethical retail row along the ground floor

Sprocket Cycles has a variety of new and used bikes for sale, including mountain bikes, BMX, road bikes, fixed gear and single speed, city and touring bikes, and children’s bikes. Sprocket specialises in Dawes bikes, but has other brands in stock too. Its website says: “We will shortly be stocking Frog children’s bikes (frogbikes.com). We have a wide selection of tools and components to help you keep your bike on the road”. For opening times and directions click here.

The Warehouse Cafe is back up and running as a worker co-operative. We selected this operator because they proposed not only a quality vegetarian cafe but also a brilliant programme of the sorts of activist events and arts space that this building should be all about, with more of a ‘cafe bar’ feel in the evenings. The new team are now delivering on this promise – please come and check out the cosier atmosphere, the food, the beers and wines, the coffee, the radical bookshop, the stunning vegan baking, the workshops and the talks. It won’t disappoint you. Read on here.

Another exciting new tenant is Well Rooted Wholefoods CIC – a new vegetarian and vegan wholefood shop in the old reception which donates a portion of profits to existing food based charities in Birmingham. Rachael and Susan stock a range of wholefoods, household cleaners, snacks and tinned goods, sourced ethically. They are also keeping Warehouse staff and tenants well supplied with flapjacks and are open Tues-Sat 10am – 5pm. More information here.

Good ‘accessibility’ news: a lift has been installed so that everyone can now visit both floors of the Warehouse.

 

 

 

 

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In June 2018, Birmingham City Council cabinet met and worked through an agenda of around 1080 pages covering important items requiring a decision to be made.

Amongst these were two which were very important for Birmingham’s environment. The first was making a decision to move ahead with a ‘clean air zone’, the second was proposing “improvements” to Dudley Road that could cost around £28 million.

BFOE responded to both consultations giving critical support to the first but expressing deep concern with the second.

The plans for Dudley Road are a throwback to 1960s mentality that supported the free movement of car and other vehicle users.

The plans are to widen the road to a full dual carriageway and some junctions to 5 lanes width. There were also some half-hearted ideas for cyclists sharing (busy) pavements with pedestrians as well as some segregated cycle lanes. There were no measures to encourage the use of buses or walking or to improve the generally poor environment along the road. Moreover, the increase in vehicles along Dudley Road would lead to more cars entering the central clean air zone.

David Gaussen, Adam McCusker and Martin Stride demonstrate against the widening scheme. Birmingham Friends of the Earth

BFOE discussed these proposals at our meetings and agreed to start a campaign against the plans. While taking our petition round we realised that local people and businesses did not seem to be very aware of the plans and were not supportive of them.

We also emailed Cllr Waseem Zaffar, the Cabinet member for Transport and the environment.

BFOE were then were invited to a meeting with council officers in March to discuss this. We had naively hoped that the council would use the Birmingham Connected policy as the foundation for the changes but this was rapidly found to be untrue. We found out that the officers were not aware of the five very progressive core aims of Birmingham Connected.

They did offer some limited improvements for cyclists and mentioned that the traffic lights would be set up to allow priority for approaching buses. We were told that the scheme’s financial viability had partly been shaped in order to attract funding from the DfT which is heavily biased in favour of cars and other vehicles.

Feeling disappointed by this meeting, we have written again to Cllr Zaffar, but have received a reply which in essence suggests that there will be a lot of growth in population in this part of Birmingham and that therefore road widening is the only solution.

We have previously been very impressed by Cllr Zaffar speaking at a number of transport meetings and heard him strongly arguing the case for better public transport and measures to persuade a switch from our car dominated environment to one where people were encouraged to walk, cycle or use public transport.

We still believe there is time for the council to think this through again and will continue campaigning against these environmentally damaging plans.

 

 

Written by David Gaussen as a member of Birmingham Friends of the Earth

Source: http://www.birminghamfoe.org.uk/what-we-do/issues-we-work-on/transport/dudley-road-improvements/

 

 

 

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West Midlands New Economics Group

Thursday 27th June, 5-7 pm

Open meeting: FOE Warehouse, 54 Allison St, B5 5TH

 Woody will give a presentation entitled “The Population Issue in Context”

There is a written script but this will not be circulated in advance.  Various diagrams and charts will be handed out during the talk.

The sub-themes will cover:

  • recognising our concerns as still a minority position;
  • how best to respond to what is coming;
  • the sheer scale of human impact;
  • breaking down the factors;
  • human population as a factor;
  • the position of Population Matters reviewed and some radical challenges to its assumptions
    and strategies.

 

A round table discussion

All welcome.

Contributions of £2 to cover the cost of room hire

 

 

 

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West Midlands New Economics Group

Andrew Lydon will open a discussion on the Yellow Vest movement in France.

Open meeting, Thursday 25th April 5-7 pm: FOE Warehouse, 54 Allison St, B5 5TH

Andrew has been closely following parts of the Yellow Vest movement, mainly through social media. He also visited one of the Saturday actions in January in the northern French town of Arras.

Part of the march performed a little ritual in front of the Bank of France building in Arras. Andrew Lydon visible on the extreme right of photo.

A round table discussion – all welcome. 

Contributions of £2 to cover the cost of room hire

 

 

 

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A Moseley reader recently reflected that neither of the administrations have governed the city well. Is it simply too unwieldy?

The micro, self-reliant, self-helping project

Early in his career, Nick Cohen worked for the Birmingham Post and Mail. In the New Statesman he wrote: “I would often cover the glaring inadequacies of the city council. The micro, self-reliant and self-helping project seemed, and often was, preferable. Birmingham City Council is the largest municipality in the country. But its strength has been sapped by decades of centralisation and confidence undermined by the espousal of the pseudo-democracy of management consultants.

The award-winning Bureau of Investigative Journalism has carried out a major investigation, assisted by journalists all over the country.

It discovered that councils are selling thousands of public spaces – from libraries and community centres to playgrounds and pools – using some of the proceeds to fund further service cuts and redundancy payments.

Birmingham was the biggest spender – in terms of funding redundancies through selling assets

Though Birmingham City Council only provided partial information about sale prices and incomplete information about those receiving these public assets, we are told that between 2014 and 2018 Birmingham Council sold 334 public spaces.

To see what your council has sold, enter the name of your city into this interactive map.

The MP for Perry Barr, where the council has sold off land and buildings and spent the proceeds on making workers redundant, said, “We should never have been selling the land that we have inherited from our forefathers […] It just takes the future away from our children and grandchildren to come and that is really devastating.”

Dick Atkinson, whose work in Balsall Heath has been well-documented, advocated a return to Birmingham’s original ten villages. Many would agree that the experienced and successful Bournville Village Trust could oversee and guide the setting up of ten such village trusts with appropriate capital and income –– leaving a reduced council staff to co-ordinate city-wide services such as refuse collection and transport.

 

 

 

 

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Localise West Midlands has run peer mentoring schemes in the past and for the past two years we have been part of a national coalition looking at ways of getting peer mentoring and other mutual learning schemes off the ground.  This coalition includes Transition Network, Regen SW, Permaculture Association, and Renew Wales.

Localise West Midlands are currently carrying out a feasibility study, which is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, which aims to discover how best to share learning, looking at tools, such as peer mentoring, which can be used to support greater growth and success within the community economic development sector.

The study is being carried out in urban, suburban and rural West Midlands (Coventry, Birmingham, Solihull, Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton plus Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Staffordshire & Shropshire).

Peer learning is one of the best ways to help people turn their good ideas from dreams into reality. Learning from someone like yourself who has travelled a similar journey to you, is often more powerful than formal learning.

The aim is to transfer knowledge from experienced or specialist practitioners to those seeking to build a successful community enterprise. The study seeks to find out how practical such tools are and what factors affect their success.


The study takes a broad view of the community economic development sector. Parts of the sector we particularly wish to cover include:

Community Energy Schemes
•Community Food Growing / Cooking Schemes
•Community Organisations providing services to deprived or under-served communities (urban, suburban and rural)
•Community Transport Schemes
•Community Employment Training Schemes

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* The survey closes on the 30th April 2019.*

This survey should take around 20 minutes to complete and to thank you for your time, we are offering participants the chance to win a £50 Marks & Spencers voucher. (Please leave your email at the end of the survey to be entered).

 

To go to the survey click here:  

https://david883665.typeform.com/to/jBWXaI

 

 

 

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Eve Jones invites all to join a peaceful, lawful march this Saturday to ask Birmingham City Council to declare a climate emergency and to introduce sweeping measures to combat global warming and mass extinction:

1. Debate a climate emergency motion at full council;
2. Pledge to make the city of Birmingham carbon neutral by 2025;
3. Call on Westminster to provide the powers and resources to make this target achievable;
4. Work with other local authorities on methods to limit Global Warming to less than 1.5°C;
5. Work with partners across the West Midlands to deliver this goal;
6. Report to Full Council within six months with the actions the Council will take to address this emergency.

Meet outside Waterstones by the bullring and march up New Street to Victoria Square, where the protest will take place. Meet at 12.30pm outside Waterstones or 1pm at Victoria Square.

Though the UK government admits we are failing to meet Paris Agreement targets which would keep us below a 2 degree rise, two weeks ago, when the House of Commons debated climate change for the first time in two years, 610 MPs stayed away. This seems at odds with the level of threat which we face, which is why we want our government to take urgent action now before we are forced to endure the consequences

The biggest price is already being paid by the very poorest of the world’s citizens and by nations least able to protect themselves (see Cyclone Idai in Malawi and Mozambique, for example) and even here in the UK it has been reported that our agricultural harvest was already 20% less productive in 2018 due to unusual weather-patterns. Eve ends:

“When we march on Saturday, we want to show Birmingham City Council and the people of Birmingham that we are united as a city and speak with one voice. We want groups from all of our communities to come down, make themselves visible, and make their voices heard”.

Read more here: www.facebook.com/extinctionrebellionbirmingham

 

 

 

 

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 West Midlands New Economics Group

Thursday 28th March 5-7 pm

Open meeting: FOE Warehouse, 54 Allison St, B5 5TH

Margaret Okole will open the discussion. She writes:

Recent years have seen several cases of mass action in response to issues which people feel strongly about. Examples in this country are the poll tax riots, Stop the War, and the Occupy movement. The relatively small scale poll tax riots are credited with bringing down Margaret Thatcher; the Stop the War march, despite involving a much larger number of people, failed to stop Tony Blair declaring war; the Occupy movement, which began in the US in 2011 and spread to many other countries including the UK, gained a lot of attention in the UK from 2011 to about 2014 but does not appear to have made any dent in the “capitalist” system (for want of a better word) which it blames for rising and intolerable inequality.

Extinction Rebellion seems to have a lot in common with the Occupy movement in its international focus and its organisation or lack of it. The interesting question is whether it can achieve any more than Occupy has done.

I will aim to first compare these different actions and consider why they did or did not succeed.

Secondly I will look at how Extinction Rebellion is organised (clearly it has drawn from the Occupy template) and what methods it uses. Here I will give a subjective account of being involved as a member. Finally I will speculate on whether Extinction Rebellion can achieve its aims.

To find out what Extinction Rebellion’s aims are, go to https://rebellion.earth

A round table discussion

All welcome. 

Contributions of £2 to cover the cost of room hire

 

 

 

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August, who lives in Moseley, sends a first-hand account of Birmingham students’ march against climate change. 

He writes:

More than five hundred Birmingham students bunked off school today to march against climate change.

All Birmingham-based photographs reproduced with permission: copyright August Goff

Youth Strike 4 Climate coordinated young people from various educational establishments across the city who met up in the city centre.

They marched from Victoria Square, down New Street, through Pigeon Park and back to Victoria Square to protest against the inaction of governments to tackle climate change.

The march was organised by Katie Riley, a Birmingham student. She spoke at the rally, saying:

“Educate the youth of tomorrow and the parliament of today because people who don’t know what climate change is about don’t know how dangerous it is. Some people think the topic is dull and boring because the curriculum makes it like that. So, we need to change how people view climate change in order to get the change we deserve.”

Councillors from local political parties attended, as did Jess Phillips, Labour MP for Yardley.

Similar events have taken place in 100 British towns and other cities including London, Edinburgh, Canterbury, Oxford and Cambridge, calling for urgent action to tackle climate change, cut emissions and switch to renewable energy.

A few hours later a message was received from Irish colleagues, sending a podcast with messages from two 11-year-olds, Eve O’Connor and Beth Malone, who are involved in the schools climate strikes movementThousands turned out in Dublin and demonstrations were held in many towns.

 

 

 

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In February, the Mayor of London issued high pollution alerts across social media, bus stop signs, road-side displays and at Tube stations. It’s the tenth time Sadiq Khan has used the system since becoming Mayor and shows why he’s working hard to tackle London’s toxic air.   

We’re now just one month away from the launch of the Ultra-Low Emission Zone in central London. The 24/7 ULEZ begins on 8 April to help clean up London’s dangerously toxic air. It will replace the current T-Charge and operate within the Congestion Charge Zone.

In central London. The 24/7 ULEZ begins on 8 April to help clean up London’s dangerously toxic air. It will replace the current T-Charge and operate within the Congestion Charge Zone. ULEZ is a world first, it’s expected to cut harmful emissions in the zone by up to 45% in just two years. The Mayor is calling on London’s drivers to check if their vehicles will meet the new tighter emission standards.

SCRAPPAGE SCHEME OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Applications are now open for £23m van scrappage scheme to help London’s microbusinesses and charities get ready for ULEZ. Funding will help them scrap older, polluting vans and minibuses and switch to cleaner vehicles. The Mayor will later launch a £25m scheme to help low income Londoners scrap non-compliant vehicles

E-FLEX – FLEXIBLE SMARTER EV CHARGING

The Mayor wants to help more people switch to electric vehicles (EVs). That’s why we’re now working with partners on a vehicle-to-grid charging project that rethinks EV batteries as a two-way energy source. It uses bidirectional chargers that both charge the EV and make smart use of unused electricity in the battery when it’s stationary. We’re now looking for commercial fleet operators with EVs to join the trial.

SOLAR TOGETHER HITS 500

Solar Together London uses group-buying to help Londoners get high quality, affordable solar panels on their homes. The scheme’s now reached 500 installations, helping to supply London with more low cost, renewable energy. To find out more about the Mayor’s ambitions for solar in London, see his Solar Action Plan..

MAYOR’S ENTREPRENEUR WOMEN4CLIMATE MENTEES

Ten talented Mayor’s Entrepreneur applicants have received mentoring through C40’s Women4Climate programme over the last year. The mentoring has helped them develop their business ideas and get their careers off the ground. Seven of the group also went to the recent Women4Climate conference in Paris to represent City Hall. Mayor’s Entrepreneur awards take place on 25 March. We’ll be revealing details of the winners soon.

Read the eight sections about Birmingham’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) scheme, which will come into operation on 1 January 2020, here.

 

 

 

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