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From Protest to Progress, what’s next for capitalism?

22 Mar

Last night we, Itchy and Bacon went to a debate organised by nef, the new economics foundation which discussed the Occupy movement and the ways in which we as individuals and collectively as part of various social movements can move away from the current economic system which is not working for the 99%.

It would have made sense to Storify the event, although the network coverage wasn’t great and it wasn’t really a tweeting crowd, so I’ve done a little blog.

The headline speaker was Ross Jackson, the author of Occupy World Street, a global roadmap for radical economic and political reform who spoke of how current global financial practices are driving economies to the brink of collapse and his plan of action to allow countries to regain control of their own economies through what he calls ecological economics, through a new WTO and a new World Bank, sovereign trade and the reduction of capital flow.

All of which will be led by a handful of small countries that are ready to break away from the current system with the support of global social movements. This is of course a very simplistic way of describing his strategy, but outlines the barebones of a real alternative. Here are a couple of quotes from Ross which really stuck out:

‘Economics is politics in disguise’

‘Capitalism has many different meanings to different people’

‘The World Bank, the WTO and the IMF are currently the biggest barrier to sustainability’

‘A massive gap between ideas and what’s happening on the ground’

‘Current system doesn’t recognise limits to growth’ (See the Impossible Hamster)

Fanny Malinen from Occupy London was very positive and upbeat about the future of the Occupy movement and did stress the important of institutional reform. Here are some quotes, Occupy isn’t going anywhere:

‘The Occupy movement shows that global and local movements are part of the same picture’

‘Main strength is the diversity of the movements (and the people involved)’

‘Not just a protest, it is a process’

‘Not just about the physical place (St Paul’s etc)’

‘There has been a significance change in discourse’

‘It’s about where next’

Danni Paffard from Move Your Money UK and UK Uncut explained why it’s so important to have ‘Protest and progress at the same time’ and why a large part of the campaigns she’s been involved with are about ‘educating’ people about the current system and how you can make tangible steps such as ‘Moving your Money’ as part of ‘creating dialogue for what we actually want’. Dannie was almost animated when she described how she’s often asked ‘what’s wrong with the banks?’

‘Everything!’

‘Lots of us believe we live an ethical life, but who has your money!?’

‘It’s such a massive problem, it’s almost intangible’

March is move your money month, you can pledge to move your money now. We’re moving our money this month.

Tony Greenham, Head of Finance and Business at nef was the final speaker. Here are some quotes which made my brain throb (in a good way):

Capitalism is a relic’

‘The idea of trickle-down is a mirror’

‘The idea that you grow your way out of poverty is a complete joke’ 

‘Set up your own currency system, set up your own local energy system’ 

The whole debate and vibrant questions from the audience (mostly much older than us) were filled with hope, doubt and inspiration to be part of a movement which is working towards an economy for the people and the planet. It seems a reassessment of our current value system is a crucial place to start.

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Blog Action Day: Food waste

16 Oct

Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event which brings together bloggers all over the world to blog about the same global issue on the same day. This year it coincides with World Food Day, which aims to highlight poverty and hunger together with a call for less food waste and action to curb speculation on food commodities.

I have been thinking about the very issue of food waste for a while especially since working on the feature documentary PLANEAT with documentary king Christopher Hird . When I came across Tristram Stuart’s critically acclaimed Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal I could barley step foot in a supermarket or comprehend the impact of food production and consumption on the planet.

In 2009 Tristram with the dedicated work of volunteers and a range of organisations put together an incredible event, Feeding the 5,000 in London’s Trafalgar Square to show the real scale of the problems with our current food system and our domestic habits. Five thousands meals were prepared from food that would otherwise have been wasted because it was approaching its use-by-date, or which had been rejected on aesthetic grounds by supermarkets. I was at the event to take some pictures for the PLANEAT blog and my main memory except the queues of people in the snow was the shock of people saying, “What’s wrong with the food?” and then realising it would all normally be in a landfill. Have a read of some scary food waste facts on the website.

This year another Feeding the 5,000 will be held in a few weeks on the Friday 18th November, see you there.

Food waste is just one issue of many which can be changed through campaigning and taken into our own hands by choosing to grow our own food and source our food ethically in a society where we do have that luxury. For more on the impacts of food speculation have a look here and for some details of where to shop ethically in London have a read of Jellied Eel.

Endangered Species

27 Feb

I’ve always been interested in feminism, although no expert I believe it’s a subject that we should be more actively engaged with.

At the moment I’m reading Natasha Walter’s ‘Living Dolls: The Return of Sexism’ which investigates how the traditional words often associated with feminism such as ‘choice and empowerment’ are now being sold back to women in our highly sexualised society where an increasingly narrow vision of feminism and sexuality is seen as the norm. In her own words;

‘I once believed that we only had to put in place the conditions for equality for the remnants of old-fashioned sexism in our culture to wither away. I am ready to admit that I was wrong’

Natasha Walter is best known for her groundbreaking book ‘The New Feminism’, published in 1998 which aims to separate the personal from the political by making feminism, also know as equality accessable to all.

A more controversial thought leader within this arena, Susie Orbach the psychotherapist, writer and public figure who wrote ‘Fat is a Feminist Issue’ which famously exposes the links between sexual politics and female dieting is back in the public eye with Endangered Species, an international summit which challenges, ‘…the toxic culture that teaches women and girls to hate their bodies’.

The London section of this summit is coming up this week on Friday the 4th March at the Royal Festival Hall. Below is the winning poster which challenges the body beautiful culture and is now on the cover of DIVA magazine and billboards across London.


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