Tag Archives: green party

Super Sunday

10 Jul

1. I saw Mark Thomas perform his current show Extreme Rambling – Walking the Wall at Glastonbury and was just blown away by him. He is an incredibly talented comedian and author, but what got me was what a brilliant actor he is. His show definitely isn’t what I’d call stand -up, it’s a one-man show where he brings different characters to life through his body and voice. I was really mesmerised and it was the first time that I had really started to understand the Israel / Palestine conflict. That might seem really blinkered of me, but I never learnt about it at school, and whenever it came into the news I just never had a real grasp of the history or context. So, I decided to change that and I have nearly finished reading Mark Thomas’s book of the same name. A really, really enjoyable way to educate yourself.

2. I’ve been on a bit of a reading kick recently. I’ve also finished this coming-of-age novel,  The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. It’s incredibly 90s and incredibly good. The devastating news is that Emma Watson is going to star in the film version next year which just. isn’t. on.

3. On Monday I spoke at Mutiny Presents Work on Trial about green jobs and got some interesting questions from the mainly Marxist audience about the relationship between work, the environment and the future we want to see. A different perspective but all food for thought. It was great to be on a panel with Sian Berry from the Green Party too, who talked about the idea of the Citizens Income. I hadn’t heard of it before but it’s definitely worth checking out.

4. I am really lucky in that someone that I really admire has agreed to be my mentor and we had our first meeting this week. It was just really nice to get an objective eye on the work I’m doing, some really sound advice, and a few prods to remind me to take care of myself as well! Sometimes, you do need someone else to remind you to do that!

5. IPPR has published an update from the San Fran trip on their website here. This picture was taken at the ever-inspiring Richmond Build. Look how embarrassing I am right in the middle, blocking out poor Jim from Oxfam! Dear me. Nice shoes though, right? 😉

6. In a roundabout way this week, I stumbled across New Bohemia Signs, a hand-painted sign company based in San Francisco that seems to account for much of the reason why the city is so beautiful. It’s the little things.

7. And in conclusion – SLIDES INSTEAD OF STAIRS. I feel this is what my life is building up to. So super.

hanna  ♥

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Feminism vs Environmentalism

12 Feb

I’m a feminist and an environmentalist. I like it that way. I always thought the two ideologies were mutually reinforcing – feminism is a social justice issue, climate change is a social justice issue (since it impacts those who are already vulnerable the most). Climate change disproportionately affects women (links here, here & here), but at the same time there is also evidence to suggest that increasing women’s rights across the globe will do a lot to mitigate against the effects of climate change. So far, so reinforcing.

But then I came across these articles on French feminist academic Elisabeth Badinter. I’m a little behind the times, but last year she published a book, Le Conflit, La Femme et La Mère (The Conflict, The Woman and The Mother), which argues that environmentalists, among others, are pressuring women to be perfect mothers and essentially driving them back into the domestic sphere.

“Between the protection of trees and the liberty of women, my choice is clear,” she says. “It may seem derisory but powdered milk, jars of baby food and disposable nappies were all stages in the liberation of women.”

Reusable nappies, the modern insistence on breast-feeding, the trend for local and organic food and made-from-scratch meals are, to Badinter, a modern form of oppression leading to a limitation on women’s personal freedom and the “tyranny of motherhood”.

Now, Badinter’s views are strongly worded, but it has made me wonder whether she has a point. The washing machine, microwave, supermarket, ready meals and other such time-saving, energy-intensive inventions have historically freed up women’s time and, to some extent, encouraged their entry into the workplace.

Cécile Duflot, leader of France’s Green Party, rejects the Badinter thesis saying, “Greens have always been feminists and always defended equality in the sharing of household tasks. There are indeed men who like to cook for their children, but for Elisabeth Badinter, it is unthinkable to imagine that cooking for a child means anything other than an obligation.”

Of course, I imagine there must be joy to be found in breast-feeding, or cooking for your child. But I think Duflot is slightly missing Badinter’s point here. Duflot asserts that green feminists are for the sharing of household chores between husband and wife, however I think Badinter hits upon the reality – that, surprising as it may seem, household tasks still fall to the woman to complete.

According to the Office for National Statistics, women in the UK spend nearly 3 hours a day on average on housework (excluding shopping and childcare). This compares with the one hour 40 minutes spent by men. Another survey found that 80% of women compared with 17% of men are responsible for looking after the children or arranging childcare facilities. I know that personally, I did a lot more housework when I was living with a boy than I do now, living alone. A problem shared is not necessarily a problem halved.

So I completely get Badinter’s point – the green movement’s push to get us all growing our own vegetables, to shop locally instead of at the supermarket and to take public transport instead of whacking all the kids in the back of the car, can seem like an extended joke designed to take up women’s lives and leave little room for independence.

Even for those of us without kids, Seeds and Stitches (where I first stumbled across Badinter) describes this pressure to be eco-fabulous very well:

“Home made Christmas and Birthday presents, restricting the clothes I buy for 3 months and (admittedly failed, sob) attempts to grow vegetables. I am on a never ending quest for life improvement… We must work, have a fulfilling relationship, be really creative or crafty, cook like Nigella, have photogenic babies, open an etsy shop selling vintage wares, have Apartment Therapy worthy homes and dress stylishly.”

It’s enough to make you want to be a French feminist academic. That’s right, crack open that red, pass me a fag and a great hunk of brie.

But. Although I agree that the current burden-sharing within households leaves MUCH to be desired, I am (of course) not ready to give up on environmentalism. I believe in making things, I believe in public transport, I believe in healthy and nourishing food. I also believe that our real work in solving this dilemma is recognising that equality between men and women, a sharing of the burden, is going to be essential if we are to mitigate against the effects of climate change without making the situation of women around the world worse.

So, if you are a woman, don’t write off environmentalism, instead become an out and proud feminist. If you are a man, same deal, but shout even louder. We need equality, and we need everyone on board if we are to be successful, fair and free in this fight against climate change.

Adopt an MP – a Caroline Lucas update

16 Oct

If you are a new reader, you should know that I have officially adopted Caroline Lucas MP, as part of the UK Youth Climate Coalition’s Adopt an MP campaign. And the adoption is taking very well! I have stalked seen Caroline twice this week – on Monday at the TUC Alliances for Green Growth conference and at the Climate Rendezvous, hosted by Climate Rush. I almost went to see her again last night host an evening with Peruvian activist Hugo Blanco on Latin America and the Ecosocialist Alternative, but I went to the pub instead. I have to say, Caroline is so hard-working. She seems to always be dashing in and dashing out again, but always completely on the ball and so enthusiastic. She isn’t just any MP, she is the only Green Party MP and that means she is the face of the UK Green Party movement. That’s a lot of responsibility, but I think she does it fantastically.

Here is the transcript of her speech to the TUC conference. Some of the points I got from it were:

  • We can not continue to measure a society’s success by GDP, we need to acknowledge that increasing levels of wealth are not making us happier and start looking at different measurements (check out NEF’s Happy Planet Index).
  • A less consumption-obsessed society is crucial if we are to meet the requisite cuts in emissions, as no amount of energy efficiency initiatives or technology will compensate for a world that is growing ever larger and making more and more energy demands.
  • We need to really start pushing for government regulation and back off the individual behaviour change. We can only achieve so much without proper regulation.
  • We need a shared vision – not one about shivering in a hair shirt in a cave, but one that stresses warmer homes, better public transport, cleaner air (all things that can only be achieved with regulation).

The Climate Rendezvous speech was similar, but peppered with fun anecdotes and infected with the enthusiasm in the room (she was wearing a red sash too – photos to come soon). She said:

  • Westminster looks like Hogwarts.
  • That our political system is completely archaic compared to the European parliament (she used to be a MEP). We have all kinds of weird traditions like having to vote at midnight, and having to vote for and against something if you want to abstain, which just makes you look like an idiot.
  • That a suffragette once hid in a broom cupboard under the stairs all night on census night, so she could write on the census that her address was at Westminster. This would have gone unremembered but Tony Benn took his own hammer and nails and put a plaque on the cupboard to commemorate it!
  • That sometimes she walks the long way round from her office to the chamber, because it takes her through a corridor full of photos of suffragettes and memorabilia, which makes her feel fired up by the time she gets there.
  • That when she thinks about how urgent taking action on climate change is (we have the next 5-8 years), the bristles stand up on the back of her neck.

It really struck me that she is not at all in it for the power (of course, I’m not sure if you could be, being a part of the Green Party). The fact that she has to fire herself up as she walks along the corridor I think is symptomatic of how much she has taken on – the entrenched, old-fashioned, archaic traditions of Westminster – as a progressive, passionate woman. She simply cares about it A LOT. It is so nice to see a politician be like that.

Gosh, I have really just swooned over her, haven’t I? What if she’s secretly married to Jeremy Clarkson? That would take the shine off a bit!

Super Sunday

26 Sep

1. This is Emmy the Great. Er… I LOVE HER. She makes lovely music. She wears big knitted things. She is half English, half Chinese (’tis all about the half asian invasion). And she is now a big fan of Climate Rush! I have heard on the grapevine that she is looking for a “climate action presence” at her gigs next year, so we might be climate suffragetting it up at an Emmy the Great gig near you. How bloody cool is that?

2. Frozen yoghurt and napping on the beach on sunny Wednesday was pretty super.

3. I was really moved by MummySam‘s craft project this week. She is sewing journal entries, expressing the feelings that come up in trying to raise a child with Asperger’s. Do read her blog about it here.

4. Here is a short video of me being a Green Dragon at the Wipe Out Waste Awards last week. There will be a longer video soon where we were all encouraged to look super scary and evil so I can’t wait for that one! The bit where I stand up and do a funny twizzle is where I am explaining that my jacket came from a charity shop!

5. I bought a typewriter. “Hipster idiot” you may be thinking but AHA you are wrong. For I have no illusions of typing away on this into the night (although Cormac McCarthy wrote all his novels using just such an Olivetti 32 so it can’t be half bad) but I am going to use it to make nice business cards and badges etc for my upcoming craft project. Plus it looks soooo pretty.

6. Ed Miliband is leader of the Labour party! I actually think that’s quite super. I wish we had less “career” politicians and more who had gained experience contributing to their community in some way, but I think he’s a nice guy, he listens and he’s always made time for us at the climate change conferences as UKYCC.

Funny anecdote – back in 2008 at the conference in Poznan,we had our first meeting with him (where he bought us all beer! Way to get the youth on side). He was 3 months into the job of Energy and Climate Change minister and seemed very unsure of himself. Obama had just been elected, and Ed lamented that we had no one in the UK like him. I said that the opportunity was there for him, the door was open and all he had to do was walk through it. He actually put his head in his hands (!) and said, “I know, I know. You’re right.” I don’t know if he would remember that exchange, but it’s funny to think that we were probably witnessing a slow realisation in him that he needed to step up.

7. I have been listening to She & Him: Volume Two on repeat for the last couple of months. You may have heard Zooey Deschanel’s silver tones before in that much lauded film, Elf. This is her folky two piece band and I rahlly like it.

hanna ♥

Does this mean I can have a baby shower?

25 Sep

Writing the piece for Call4 this week on UKYCC‘s Adopt an MP campaign reminded me that I had yet to get my act together and adopt mine. So, having confirmed that my new MP was indeed Caroline Lucas from the Green Party (inner cheer!) I looked up when her surgeries were and lo and behold, within a few hours I was sitting opposite her and her aide, chatting about climate action and the coalition government.

Things you might like to know:

– She is very lovely. And her staff are very nice too (bonus points).

– I asked her about Chris Huhne’s battle with the Treasury to save DECC and to what extent any cuts (or the scrapping of it entirely) would affect the UK’s ability to keep on track with our climate commitments. She responded that in light of George Monbiot’s recent article (which basically says that all current and previous attempts to curb climate change have failed) perhaps we need to scrap DECC and see climate change for the national security issue it is – moving its whole remit into the MOD. She was only half-serious, but I see her point. She predicted however that it wouldn’t end up getting scrapped, as it is such a symbolic department – but it might get hollowed out.

– Much more of a serious issue to Caroline was the scrapping of the Sustainable Development Commission earlier this year, which had been carrying out valuable environmental auditing work. Caroline told me that the SDC had saved the government £300m through their work, over the 10 years that they had existed. The cost of running the commission? £4m per year. So scrapping it…. kind of didn’t make any sense on any level. She also made a very good point – how can the coalition ever deliver on their promise to be the “greenest government ever”, when they no longer have any auditors to tell them whether or not they have achieved that aim?

– Other things we touched on briefly were those who were doing their environmental bit in parliament (Chris Huhne, Peter Ainsworth *applause*); how, through green job creation, we can have an economic recovery and tackle climate change at the same time; how our government is getting sidetracked by nuclear; and how she wanted to learn more about the Canadian tar sands and might put forward some parliamentary questions about them (yay!).

So that was my first meeting with Caroline Lucas! I have an enviable job on my hands – tracking an MP who basically thinks a lot of what I think, where no persuasion or lobbying might be needed. What I would like to provide though is a boost, links or contacts where I can and one more voice cheering her on when she stands up in parliament. I’m looking forward to the next few months!