Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Environmental Education

Hello, this is my first time on this Blog. I have Blogged before and found it quite painless but I have never blogged for FOE. Although I have done most other things including dressing as a badger and playing the ukulele in a white coat. Apologies for all the Blogs in that first sentence. I will try to resist saying the word again.

Anyway, to business (not a toast). I wanted to say a few words about BEEP which is the mouth-sized name for The Birmingham Environmental Education Project. Which I am currently in charge of. BEEP is the education side of Birmingham FOE and is slowly taking over all the education based stuff. Assemblies in schools on recycling, environmental art workshops etc. BEEP re-launched in November 2007 with a very condensed lecture on Climate Change by myself and will be one of those names you hear more and more often over the coming months. BEEP this, BEEP that, sounds like Gordon Ramsey before the watershed.

Now the bit where we ask you to do something: BEEP is recruiting volunteer educators to conduct talks, assemblies and the like. You don't have to know much or have any experience, training and support is available. But your passion for the environment will come across loud and clear. Contact BEEP for more information at (replace AT with @). We are also looking for people who want information on the environment, either local or global. Drop me an e-mail.
And one more thing, the BEEP monthly e-newsletter will be starting in January. E-mail to sign up.
Thanks for letting me blog, sorry I let that slip out.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Lime Trees enriching our faith

Trees are beautiful, valued, sacred and necessary to the earth and to us, when we live in a city such as ours it can be even more important to value them.

To encourage such pride in our environment, our parks and our trees we held a Tree Planting Ceremony in Small Heath Park.

We braved the cold, but soon warmed up whilst planting 6 lime trees. Afterward we drank some warm spiced apple drink and listened to Muhammad Imran and Reverend Ray Gaston speak on the importance Trees have played / play in religion.

I loved being in Small Heath Park, it felt important to be there, not just because we were planting trees but to celebrate the parks and green spaces that our city does have. The Tree Officer from Birmingham City Council stressed to us that the biggest threat to these new trees is vandalism. I can only hope that the more we do in marking the significance of the trees and celebrating them that this message will spread throughout the community.

This event is part of a larger project of work focusing on supporting faith communities in the city in environmental initiatives; connecting faith and the environment. If you would like more information on this work then please contact Maud on

This day was supported by Friends of Small Heath Park, Midlands Islamic Network for the Environment, Birmingham City Council and Friends of the Earth Birmingham.

Maud Grainger
Faith and Climate Change Project Coordinator

Monday, 3 December 2007

Environmental aliens in the eyes of foreign students

When attempting to teach foreign students English in a communicative way, it is important to try to engage them with issues that really affect their lives. That means the future of the planet that they live on, surely. Well, if only it was that simple.

In my classes currently I have a lot of students from Saudi Arabia, for whom the concept of global warming is totally alien, as life could not get any hotter in their country with temperatures there in the fifties most of the time. There are also a few students from the Congo, who regularly regale the class with stories of eating monkeys and elephants as being a huge triumph for the villagers where they live and something to be proud of. Then there are the Chinese students, who are proud of their country's progress and can't wait for them to become the world's number one super power. For these people, the idea that taking a bus instead of driving a car is something that should be encouraged is bizarre.

The idea of the lessons is not to preach, but to stimulate debate that will force them to try to find ways of expressing their ideas more clearly. Of all the students we have, you would not be surprised to find out that the most environmentally aware are the Europeans. Funnily enough, from the people in my classes, it is not the Saudis (whose whole stay here is reliant on funding from their oil rich government and private companies) who are the least open to green ideas; it is the Chinese students. I have actually had a student from China saying to me in the past week that she really does not care what happens to the planet, as it won't affect her because she'll be dead by the time it has any real impact. It must be said that she was in a tiny minority, but I was still shocked.

The most common complaint we have from our students about life in Birmingham is that the public transport is awful and they waste huge amounts of time waiting for buses on which they feel unsafe when they do finally come. Yet the concept of public transport barely exists in Saudi Arabia and the students from the Middle East are actually impressed by the fact that life is possible without a car. In fact, a lot of them are very open to the ideas about trying to build a more sustainable lifestyle where car use is minimised, even though petrol costs about 1p a litre in their country. Congestion is a problem everywhere and almost everyone all over the world is desperate for a way to escape the jams and regain the time spent sitting in their cars for something more worthwhile.

If only we had a public transport system to be proud of in this city to inspire them, it would make for lessons less interesting for me, in terms of hearing about their nightmare journeys, but it would give them something to take back and say: “that is what we should be doing”. Let's hope that this can be achieved some time soon.

Joe Peacock

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Stop Junk Mail...

The Mailing Preference Service blocks junk mail in the UK. It really
works as companies are legally required to stop bothering you if
you're on the list.

Registration took me 1 minute 36 seconds and lasts for 5 years!
Just go to:

Click "next", enter your postcode, choose your house No. and type in
your email - all done, no junk mail for 5 years.

Wasn't that easy! :-)

Please share it with your friends and help stop the junk mail tide!

Andy Pryke

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Plastic Fantastic

In these days when any post is rare, it may seem boastful to say that a leaflet dropped through my door that filled me with excitement. No, it wasn’t a new menu for Papa Johns (my goodness they’re offering a free bottle of pop with every order over a tenner – our luck has changed) it was a work of genius from Birmingham City Council telling me all about recycling. The leaflet depicted a plastic bottle alongside a picture of an unlovely fleece that had been made from recycled plastic. My little eco-heart skipped a beat, but being inherently lazy I put the leaflet to one side to ‘read properly later’ and begun salvaging plastic bottles in earnest. I’d spent a few weeks staying in Tendring in Essex, where the local authority collects all metal, paper, cardboard, glass and plastic bottles and I was thrilled to think Birmingham had finally joined tiny Tendring in the twenty-first century.

Two million tonnes of plastic is thrown away each year – just 7% of which is recycled. The problem is not simply that our landfills are overflowing; it’s also the issue of the world’s finite supply of oil being used to make packaging which is used once and then thrown away.Birmingham City Council currently sits at a shameful 363rd out of 393 in the local authority league table for recycling. Lichfield makes it into the top 10 and elsewhere in the West Midlands, Warwick, Coventry, Solihull Walsall and Wolverhampton are all recycling more than mighty Brum.

With more than a passing nod and wink to this esteemed website, in 2006 Birmingham Friends of the Earth ran the Birmingham’s Total Rubbish… campaign to highlight the Council’s dire recycling record. Petition-postcards told the shocking story that the city’s total amount of rubbish is 551,442 tonnes per year and rising.

Such was the support for this campaign that in the space of a few months over 1,500 postcards were signed and delivered to the Council. Who didn’t just chuck them in a landfill - as some had feared - but instead announced a doorstep recycling scheme for all homes not in multiple occupancy by spring 2008. (So that’s the second city finally coming up to the standards of rural Essex just four years later). Since the arrival of the new glossy leaflet I’ve saved an array of plastic bottles from landfill and last week (after a few carefully chosen words from my other half) decided the time had come to dispose of them.

I read the glossy leaflet again, properly this time. It told me which types of plastic could be recycled, what happened to them after recycling (the unlovely fleece), but not where or how you could recycle plastic in Birmingham. Undeterred, I rang the Council’s recycling hotline and spoke to a Very Nice Young Man who tried hard to be helpful. He told me that plastic recycling is only operating as part of a pilot roll out within a limited area, which doesn’t cover my postcode. And, after talking to his boss for long enough for me to fear for his job, there is NOWHERE in Birmingham for wannabe plastic recyclers to take their waste. He also, interestingly, mentioned that he’d never spoken to anyone who was as interested in recycling as I was - which is a tad worrying seeing as presumably his entire department is employed to focus on ensuring that waste is re-used. The council’s leaflet made no mention of ‘pilot schemes’ or select postcode areas. So, what was the point of it? Surely Birmingham City Council wouldn’t try to present a false image of their recycling record so that lazy readers like me would be fooled for a while? That would put them on a par with a moment of madness of the Solihull Conservatives who in election leaflets this year claimed that 80% of waste in the authority was ‘recycled’, when in fact it was being ‘burned’.

I’ve since found out that you can recycle plastic in Warwickshire and am now trying to work out if driving to Leamington Spa to drop off the plastic is worse than just not recycling it at all. I have to decide quickly though as if the bottles don’t go, I’ve been told I will have to.

Libby Hayward

Ed: thankfully plastic can be recycled at a few places in Solihull too... not as far as Leamington Spa!

Poem: View from the canalside

there's hardly a single place i know
and it fills my heart with grief and woe
for i can't find brummagem

william dobbs, 1825

we drop down out of sight
down to the water's edge
where the cold black inpenetrable water sits
snake oil patterns swirling on its surface
many a secret does it hide
way down in its depths
as we walk
the gravel crunches under our feet
and the damp morning chill makes us shiver
toadstools and fungi
exalt among the damp foliage
the breeze dislodges rusty leaves
one by one
silently they fall
to float on the canal
or to collect in crunchy piles
to my surprise
this hidden artery is a hive of activity
panting cyclists and runners breeze past
pressing us into ragged single file
on the opposite side of the water
at the bottom of a private garden
two empty chairs and a table
await their next view of the sunset
uncollected conkers litter the far bank
out of the reach of greedy schoolchildren
meanwhile hannah preoccupies herself with a pretty snail
attached to a broad green leaf
she is a little upset that she can't take it home
but cheers up
when she gets to put it to bed on a grassy verge
now the canal converges with the railway
fluorescent yellow workmen grumble and goad
huge victorian brick arches restrain a high bank
beside the two parallel tunnels
a red and green barge with a complaining engine
passes smoothly by
hannah gives the owner one of her cheery waves
as the boat slides nonchalantly into the tunnel's jaws
96 metres long
says the sign
our voices echo as we stamp through
mind your head, hannah
says funny uncle john
and everyone laughs
(hannah is three foot nothing!)
it is a relief to see daylight again
when we are disgorged from the other end
the landscape slowly becomes more urban
residential gardens give way
to tall sharp-angled buildings that climb skywards
at holliday wharf
canada geese couples court
under the watchful eye of steel cranes
then exotic golden figures catch our eyes
half woman half swan
peering out at us through a set of doors
a lunchtime special at kinaree is too inviting to refuse
i discover that the waitress and chef are from hat yai
on the thai-malaysia border
where i spent a half-remembered night way back in 1991
later we will continue on through gas street basin
through centenary and chamberlain squares
to the museum and art gallery
but for now
filling our hungry bellies is our only thought

Dave Watton

Monday, 1 October 2007

ASDA: Consulting the public or a forgone conclusion?

ASDA has recently been putting surveys around the Selly Oak and Weoley Castle area about plans for two supermarkets. ASDA are asking for public opinions on two sites: one in Selly Oak opposite Battery Retail Park and one in Barnes Hill, in the Weoley Castle area.

Under close examination the Selly Oak option looks highly suspect as a viable project. The planned supermarket would be opposite Battery Retail park, which already has a supermarket onsite and has approved planning applications to redevelop the area. So its very unlikely that the Council would want to allow another development in the area. In contrast, the Weoley Castle area has no nearby supermarket neighbours just a thriving local shopping centre.

When you to look at the plans of Selly Oak they are not well developed with the car park not clearly defined and some car-parking spaces not even big enough for a mini! Also in the plans are triangular retail units - not really practical for a viable shop. There are no plans for a petrol station or recycling facilities in the Selly Oak plans whereas the Barnes Hill these have all been planned and laid out as well as proposed road changes.

So why are ASDA asking the local community about these two proposals? To make residents and Councillors feel like they are being given a choice, thereby backing the Council into a corner and making the council feel obliged to allow the Barnes Hill project. I argue that if they present two plans, they have a better chance of getting the Barnes Hill supermarket than just presenting it as a standalone application. It is not a choice of yes or no, it’s either one site or the other.

There have been other supermarket sneaky tactics happening around the UK for the developers to get what they want. In Birmingham we have seen a lot of these tactics. At the Swan Centre in Yardley the plans for a new Tesco were passed by the City Council but at the last minute the plans where adjusted to allow them to build on an area of the local park opposite for extra car-parking. As this was a last minute change the council allowed it as they needed some development at the Swan and if they delayed it again, it would mean that the area would be further delayed in re-development. In Hodge Hill, playing fields were not allowed to be used for football matches for years so that the land can be considered as less important as a community facility and therefore open it up for development. Local residents there are still campaigning to save their children’s playing fields despite the Tesco plans having already been approved by Birmingham City Council.

I think we have to stop the march of the supermarkets as its going to kill off the High Street. The supermarket power and monopolisation of the food sector results in the closure of local shops and this has so many implications:
- On the local economy, rather than creating jobs, they result in fewer jobs overall once local shops have closed. Supermarkets employ fewer staff per square metre of retail space they own.
- Supermarkets take money away from the local economy. Research by the New Economics Foundation found that every £1 spent in a local shop is worth four times more to the local economy than every pound spent in a supermarket. Local shops typically invest far more in the local economy than big businesses with shareholders and suppliers abroad.

You only need to go out to the now moth-balled Maypole shopping centre to see the damage a supermarket can do to a local shopping centre. We have to join together to show our Councillors that we are not prepared to allow huge superstores that do not have local interests at heart to come in and dominate our communities.

Mary Horesh

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Fortnightly Bin Collections

At a time of increased political apathy one issue has the residents of Walsall up in arms. The topic: fortnightly bin collections. For some reason the Borough's bin collections appears to have become a local human rights issue, with visions of horror such as maggots, the potential advent of bubonic plague, and maybe even mutant life forms growing in your wheelie bin.

The tabloids have continued to scaremonger with stories of people getting infections from dealing with their rubbish although I am highly suspicious as to how they came to this conclusion. A large petition was handed in at the town hall and the lead story in our local paper this week was that plans to implement fortnightly bin collections have been scrapped.The article stated that when surveyed, two thirds of Walsall residents were against fortnightly collections.

No details were given about how the survey was conducted, over what period and who was involved, and as a resident I would have liked to have had my say. I wonder if anything was done to reassure people about what the service would mean? Maybe more information on composting and recycling could have been given.

The issue could have even been tied in with an increase in what is collected in our recycling bins (currently neither plastic of any kind, or glass are collected). I feel this is a wasted opportunity which could have been dealt with as a really positive thing. Instead people are frightened and feel that they are facing a reduction in service to which they have predictably responded "no way, I pay for that" without considering the wider issues.
Sarah Wiley

Friday, 21 September 2007

Friends of the Earth Conference Fun

The weekend before last was Friends of the Earth's annual Local
Groups Conference at Reading University, which some of use from BFoE
attended - in fact it was our largest ever contingent - 11 people in
total! The weekend consisted of workshops, seminars, talks,
presentations and debates, as well as a few socials of course!

Tony Jupiter (Executive Director of FoE) spoke a couple of times,
given an overview of the last year. I found him a particularly
engaging speaker. He talked about our success over the past year
with the Big Ask campaign, which has resulted in the Draft Climate
Change Bill from the Government, which should be transformed into law
by early next year. He also pointed out that whilst it's great news
we've come so far, so quickly, we still need to keep up the pressure
on MPs to ensure that the final legislation is strong and meaningful.

A first this year was a guest visit from Hillary Benn (the current
serving Environment Minister), who gave a speech to the conference.
He encouraged us (and the environmental campaign movement as a whole)
to keep asking questions and putting pressure on the Government,
because it does help drive awareness and policy forward. Despite
this encouragement, he did dodge a few issues in the question and
answer session. Most notable was the exclusion of international
aviation emissions from the Draft Climate Change Bill, although he
did raise a chuckle at the question; "isn't not counting aviation
emissions a bit like going on a diet, and not counting the chocolate

I also went on a workshop on low carbon homes, which was very
interesting. As people may have heard, the Government is to insist
on all new houses build from 2016 onwards being zero carbon homes.
Great stuff you may think, but we found out that 25% of all U.K
carbon emissions come from households (rising to 50% including
personal transport), and that by 2050 there will be a 23% increase in
the number of households, but 87% of all homes will be ones that are
with us today! Clearly the new zero carbon homes are to be welcomed,
but what is the Government doing about all our existing carbon
spewing homes? Not a lot it would seem!

To round off, there was also the annual Earthmovers awards, where we
heard all about the fantastic local groups, campaigns and people that
are part of the Friends of the Earth network. BFoE was even
nominated for Group of the Year (many thanks to Louise Hazan the
Midlands Network Developer for nominating us), but alas, we were
beaten to it by Leicester FoE - maybe next year ehh! But
nevertheless, it was great to see some well deserved awards handed
out, by none other than FoE's Hugh Ellis, who always manages to raise
a few laughs with the audience.

We all had a great time, learnt new things, and although feeling a
little tired by the end of it, we're positive and ready for another
year of worthwhile campaigning!

Ben Mabbett

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Climate camp: police standards of a banana republic?

At this years recent climate camp at Heathrow, activists from around the country gathered to protest over the proposed third runway expansion. I joined them in their protest against the third runaway and against the destruction of the planet that we are all witnessing.

There was a heavy police presence at the climate camp, many protestors complained of police attempts to harass and intimidate the campaigners. Police were using anti-terror laws to stop and search protestors. I myself was detained under the terrorism act and searched, my camera taken off me. The police literally attacked me for my camera, four of them grabbed my arms in an attempt separate the camera from my grasp. They were unable to since I am extremely strong – it’s down to my mums chapattis- finally after negotiating with them, they let me go and I gave then my camera because they told me I had to under the terrorism act. The police proceeded to delete some of my pictures. I told the police I was a journalist but they carried on anyway and when they finally handed back my camera, the police denied deleting any pictures! When reading through my form that the police handed me, the reason stated for me being stopped was ‘fits profile’ when writing this the officer stopped and showed hesitation but then continued adding ’of protestors at climate camp’. It seems that the government and police fear eco-terrorists, this would explain the use of draconian laws to stop and harass climate camp campaigners.

However there was a friendly atmosphere within the camp and the mood remained up beat. We were joined by the independent journalist Johann Harri, and the author George Monbiot. Workshops ranged from activism to super gluing techniques. One of the workshops that was well attended was the ‘faith and environmentalism’ workshop which was run by Ifees (Islamic foundation for ecological and environmental studies). People were intrigued to how religion and spirituality can play a role in environmental activism.

The climate camp was more than just compost toilets, tents and vegan food, it had a very serious message. Activists recognise that climate change is just a number of problems that we are facing at this current point in time. As governments spend billions on war, leaving peoples to suffer with the consequences of depleted uranium, where corporations are able to act with impunity, there seems to be no accountability to the people of this world. At the climate camp many activists acknowledged that the root cause of all our problems is Capitalism. In my opinion, it is the capitalist market that allows corporations to influence and control governments, allowing them to pollute the Earth. It is the capitalist system that breeds the oppression and injustice around the world. We are witnessing a battle for the world’s resources. The world is running out of oil and there is an ever increasing demand for clean drinking water. We must first acknowledge the threat that we are facing as a society and human race, and then set out to tackle the root causes.

All in all, I enjoyed my self, and will defiantly be attending the next climate camp, that is as long as I am not detained or arrested for fitting the ‘profile’. Perhaps the Muslim community was just a testing ground for the anti-terror laws the real target was any voices of dissent – activists of any kind.


Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Out of the armchair (2nd hand of course)...

In the last few months I have decided to increase my support for environmental issues beyond being an armchair supporter,(mind you even that's second hand so I'm trying) and have started attending Friends of the Earth meetings and getting involved with campaigns and events. Something I hadn't reckoned on as part of my Foe participation was the overwhelming volume of emails I would receive and whilst making me feel quite popular my inbox is feeling the strain. One email was about a transport survey by Transport 2000 which I decided to take the time to fill in. I am sometimes a bit reticent to fill in endless surveys, questionnaires and petitions when I never seem to find out the outcomes of these , but as my husbands bike had been stolen from our local train station I had an axe to grind. Especially as in the words of a high street bank advert he was told "it doesn't work like that" when he asked if the CCTV footage of the "secure " bike facilities where his bike had been kept would be viewed. Ooh it still rankles can you tell. Anyhow back to the point. On Friday morning I was eating my museli and reading the Walsall Chronicle when would you believe my comments were listed on the front page under the headline "Station Listed Amongst Worst." Ok my description was "One woman said" , but I know its me, and how exciting to know that all this information we give actually goes somewhere. So does this mean I'll be more receptive to those clipboard wielding types on the high street hmmm maybe just maybe as long as: it isn't raining, my bags aren't too heavy, I'm not running late for work.

Sarah Wiley

Friday, 3 August 2007

Flooding... nothing but despair?

Thought I'd write something as I work at the Environment Agency so
I've been on the inside of one of the organisations dealing with the
recent horrendous floods in Warwickshire, Worcestershire and of course
Gloucestershire (which fell within our area). Fortunately for me, I'm
not actually in the flood team or I'd be walking around, like they are,
with large bags under my eyes! However because of the sheer scale, we
still got involved, helping to man the control centre in Gloucester and
supplying information about flooded sites, which might need to be
monitored for pollution.

Having seen the hours people were putting in, it was sad and
frustrating to see how quickly the criticisms began (a press ritual).
This was rainfall on a ridiculous scale and I suspect that no amount of
planning and response could have averted all flooding. There were also
the bizarre stories such as the people who tried to steal temporary
flood barriers, while they were still up and holding back the water.
What were they thinking? One of the reasons that the barriers for Upton
are kept some distance away is because people try to steal them for
scrap so they have to be kept at a centralised secure depot. It's quite
depressing really.

So now the worst seems over. Hopefully planners will rethink approaches
to developing on flood-risk land and hopefully far more money will now
come from government to spend on flood defences.

So that's work, but on the campaigning side, awful as it's been for
those affected, I'm hoping it's a wake up call to the government (and a
lot of the public) that climate change is costly in many ways. Will it
finally sink in that money spent now to minimise climate change will be
money saved in the long run? If it doesn't, then I really will

Kate Nancarrow

Friday, 27 July 2007

Global Company seen from the inside... stuck in the past

I went for a job interview recently. The particular company has operations in the US and UK and is the world’s largest retailer in its field. It sells relatively small but valuable items through several chains of retailers, and by mail order.

The job was advertised as ‘Environmental Administrator’. It should, it transpired, have read ‘Environmental/Insurance Administrator. This was, apparently, due to an HR error.

The ‘environmental’ part of the job – the lesser part as it turned out – was principally concerned with waste recycling notes, and the maintenance of databases on greenhouse gas emissions, energy usage, and fuel used by the 200 strong company vehicle fleet. As distribution is handled by a courier firm, I could not determine exactly what these vehicles are used for.

The interviewer was very frank with me. The board was only as interested in the environment as it had to be to avoid getting fined. To date, the company had done only the minimum it legally had to do and no more. It was, I was told, likely that a more progressive environmental policy would be developed, but I was left with the impression that this was mainly to avoid any adverse publicity.

I asked if the job might involve presentations to parts of the company on issues such as energy saving, for example. I was told I could try but the board would not be very receptive. Apparently there were members of board who would fight tooth and nail against any environmental initiatives not essential to prevent prosecution. The interviewer told me that he could get any idea past the board providing he could show it would turn a profit in twelve months.

The job description mentioned liaising with NGOs. The primary reason for this, it was explained, was to keep them off the company’s back and stop them imposing fines.

The company’s website says that they seek to uphold their environmental principles and have, in the last few years, developed and tested environmental performance indicators. The US part of company recently carried out an energy audit and has begun retro-fitting premises with energy efficient light fittings.

I commented that this seemed to be a lead that UK operations needed to follow. It seems, however, that the UK and US parts of company ‘don’t really talk to each other that much’ so this is unlikely. What I was told during this interview certainly belied the impression given by the company’s website when explaining how it addresses its environmental responsibilities.

This all left me very dubious about the value of working for a company with such an attitude. I thought about it overnight, then rang them the next morning and told them to take me off the candidate list. This was the trigger for coming along to my first Birmingham Friends of the Earth meeting.


Thursday, 12 July 2007


Making Muslim Brum Beautiful!

Swathes of Brum can be and sometimes are categorized as “inner city squalor” comprising entire neighbourhoods of industrial age terrace houses. Each street sports its own stylistic variation in design, brickwork and Victorian fantasia, yet all are tantalisingly the same to all but the connoisseur or those that live there. In their ensemble they constitute a kind of national heritage of working class typicality. A museum of the mundane. Most of these same neighbourhoods, abandoned by the working class of pre-war Britain, are now occupied by post-empire immigrants, the majority of whom are from the Muslim world.

Birmingham boasts large communities of Pakistanis, Bengalis, Yemenis, Somalis, North African and other Asian inhabitants. Together they make an impressive global Muslim mix. A ghetto, if you see it that way, but remarkably multilingual, multicultural and multicoloured, broadly united (or factionalised) in a common religion. The community is now well into its second generation. The sons and daughters of the factory workers who came to Britain and built the numerous mosques of the city are now often as well or better educated than their English peers and are perfectly in tune with the here and now in urban UK. As Brummy as the rest in their own way, they mostly hold tight to their Muslim identities. It is these same young people who make the Clean Medina Campaign.

“Muslim” Brum is notoriously strewn with litter: Haram horrible and nothing to be proud of. “…You wouldn’t think that keeping clean is part of Iman (faith) and that we’re supposed to be Khalifah of our patch and watch it nice; Keep it clean, keep it green….” Proclaims the rapper in the film

The Green Medina campaign intends to prompt a self generating and self sustained movement to clean up the dirty, haram horrible inner city areas of Birmingham all which happen to be predominantly Muslim areas. At present every one blames every one else for the swirling rubbish. The council blames the people and the people blame the council. The “Clean Medina” Campaign is a spontaneous people’s “Just do it!” effort. The film of the campaign intends to pull the triggers of people- motivation which hopefully will make the campaign self sustaining. Shift the Muslim mindset from houseproud to streetproud. Bash the trash! Our Medina will be cleaner! Allah Akbar!

The campaign is designed to appeal to the Muslim psyche. Islamic principles and imagery constitute both motivation and modus operandi. Indeed the great cleanup is presented as a veritable jihad. At the same time a very contemporary “living in the UK” look is retained, designed especially to appeal to young people, “defending their patch”

From the concept of a “clean Medina” the campaign goes further to become a “Green Medina” campaign as the tidying up gears up into recycling. In an area by area, street by street approach, the mosques become the focal points of both tidying up and recycling operations. Operations are organized on a mosque by mosque basis: Friday preaching, followed by Sunday Standby!....Action! . Each clean up operation is filmed, and becomes mini festival.

The campaign derives its momentum from the principle that an event or a campaign is no more – nor less – than what the media says of it. Accordingly the media products (i.e. the proposed film and related media products, music, jingles and slogans for use on local radio promotions, posters and printed materials, etc) are being prepared first. As the film is about the campaign the campaign has to be “engineered” appropriately in order to be filmable. It might be unclear from the outside whether “Clean Medina” is a grass roots operation which is being portrayed in a film or that the entire operation is nothing more than a contrived film set. Both angles, of course, are true, until the campaign gains its own momentum as outside media and bodies begin to take an interest. The media thus produced serves to enhance the momentum of the campaign and its tone. At the same time cleaning up and recycling become “the thing to do” for Muslims. It is particularly young people who are targeted.

The Launching operation will hopefully be ready to go by late August. A film set is set up in the street, outside Birmirmingham's oldest neighbourhood mosque in Sommerville Road, Small Heath. With all the paraphernalia of performers, props, cameras, extras, “cast of thousands” fully choreographed, Smollywood-style(Small Heath) a litter-picking battle scene will take place before the cameras and your eyes. As recycling bays and wheelie bins are rolled in front of the mosque, the battle for Brum will unfold in the immediate neighbourhood on the streets and on the pavements and on the front yards of houses. Of course the entire “cast” takes part followed by multiple camera teams. The tone is ‘hip hop’ and stylish. Rappers rap, choruses chant and egg on, rhythms trance and dance the street warriors. As each house front is cleaned, campaign publicity is slipped through the letter box, which exhorts the householder to send recyclables to the mosque, where recycling bins will have already been installed. Food will be served on set for stars, unit, all comers, long beards and the beardless. We’ll keep you in touch for the day a week or so in advance. Watch this space! Come! Enjoy! Pray for good weather.

Ayman Ahwal, 12th July 2007

Tuesday, 26 June 2007


Yesterday I arrived at the Warehouse (BFoEs Building) to begin work supporting the faith ambassadors scheme. It was an unusual first day as it was not all that long ago that I worked here as the daytime campaigner. Luckily I already knew where to make tea and the route to the office, as the Warehouse was unusually quiet having temporarily lost many regulars to Glastonbury! (They are all safely back with us now)

In June 2006 Birmingham FoE along with the Environment Agency, Birmingham Sustainable Energy Partnership, Friends of the Earth and support from the City Council launched this project with a multi faith conference that was attended by over 100 people and many different faith communities were represented. We hoped back then that this project would be succesful and our hopes were soon realised. We received lots of postive feedback and it was clear that there was a demand to provide support for faith communities to take action.

The work has achieved success beyond all our initial expectations. With a successful speaker evening, introduction of the ambassadors scheme, the exhibition which continues to tour venues around the city, and the arrival of a full time employee (me) means we can look forward to scaling new heights; reaching out and supporting faith communites taking action to combat climate change.

I hope that that we will soon see the results of this work through the ambassadors ventures and that we can work to raise the profile of this work both within our city and beyond.

If you want to know more about thisproject or to get involved, please contact Maud at the Warehouse. Contact details available from the website.

Maud Grainger

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Slavery and Climate Change

This year, the Vale Festival, held on Birmingham University Campus,chose the "Humanitarian aspects of Climate Change" as its main theme.The Vale Festival officially supported Friends of the Earth "Big Ask"campaigns and hundreds of postcards were signed on the day, asking for a strong climate law.

This is the text of a speech I gave in the evening of the festival to thank all those who had signed postcards:

"200 years ago, in 1807, Britain led the way towards the abolition ofslavery by passing a bill to abolish the slave trade.

This was achieved only through intense lobbying by thousands of people(led by William Wilberforce), thousands of people who signed petitions asking for the end of the slave trade.

When slavery started, it was perfectly acceptable that one person could own slaves, but within a quarter of a century, at the end of the 18th century it was intolerable.

But we are today facing a new, potentially even bigger, challenge:
Recent studies have shown that if Europeans, on the basis of current lifestyles, were to live without using any kind of fossil fuel energy(that is energy based on the burning of oil, coal or gas), it would take them on average a hundred slaves working full time to give them the services provided by electric appliances, cars, washing machines, central heating and so on. In a way, we are now all slave owners. At the moment, it is morally acceptable to fly for a weekend to NewYork City, but I strongly believe that there will be one day when this will be considered as perhaps worse than being a slave owner, for depleting natural resources and destroying the climate.

By signing petitions against Climate Change, you are joining thousands of other people who are asking for a strong climate bill. Britain is likely to be, again, the first country to pass a bill setting aframework for the abolition of this new form of slavery, the first country to set targets for the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.This is a great historical moment and 2007 will be remembered - if the law is strong enough - as the year that saw the first victory against Climate Change.

Thank you for making it possible to happen".
Jean-Francois Mouhot

Monday, 4 June 2007

Rail for Kings Heath

Enthusiasm in Kings Heath can be infectious and when it comes to talk of having a railway station so that this important centre in South Birmingham rejoins the National Rail Network, there is need for an isolation ward.

The people of Kings Heath are not being unreasonable or unrealistic in their ambition for rail. Trains run past on what is called the Camp Hill Line. For years the request was made for a station and cash-starved British Rail pointed out that the Camp Hill Line leads to New Street station in the City Centre that simply cannot take any more traffic.

Some years ago, the heaving New Street Station was a factor in the decision to put back the railway from Smethwick to Birmingham New Street station and to divert trains from places such as Kidderminster to the new stations of Snow Hill and Moor Street. There seemed to be a new direction for Birmingham’s railways and a study commissioned a few years ago, the West Midlands Multi Modal Study, looking desperately for a way to expand the railways, ruled that a Snow Hill Network is part of the answer.

It is the Snow Hill Network that lies behind the Birmingham City Council study that would connect Kings Heath to Snow Hill (and in the other direction to Longbridge and Bromsgrove). Unsurprisingly the study found no great problems with the idea as the biggest ‘challenge’ will be to build a viaduct near Camp Hill locks on the canal. From the Friends of the Earth side, it seems a pity to build more infrastructure to encourage people to travel.

The balance has to be struck though as low speed rail can move a lot of people and really does not use much energy. People are going to move from home to work and surely the important thing is to put some efforts into journeys that accommodate benign walking and cycling.

The word from the people on Kings Heath High Street is that they want to have a railway station. As individuals we can also pass the message to the railway owner through their website

The role of Friends of the Earth is to encourage people to take an interest in changing the world – for the better. For the Rail Campaign, it is many individuals making a small effort that can turn the signals to Green. Don’t forget to send your comments to Network Rail.

John Hall

Friday, 25 May 2007

My two weeks at BFOE

Chris asked me to write a Blog about my two weeks here at BFOE.
In the weeks coming upto my work experience I was a little apprehensive about the whole thing, worrying whether people would be friendly towards me, and whether I would fit in.
On Monday morning I was welcomed by Tamsin who I had met a while before then. Throughout the day I noticed how relaxed the enviroment was to work in and felt a little more comfortable.
Everyone here is so passionate about their work and it is really inspiring. If I've had any queries or wasnt sure about something, or even wanted to know about something, then I would ask someone who would explain exactly what it was I wanted to know, without hesitation or being distracted. I've found that the people here are all so friendly and make time to talk me through jobs they want me to do, or even things they're doing themselves.
Throughout my two weeks I've done four different painting jobs. I hope it's brightened the place up a little!
I found the whole idea of coming out for two weeks on my own, without my friends a rather daunting thought. After spending all of mytime here at BFOE I have become more relaxed and a lot less nervous. If the atmosphere here is the same in any working enviroment then I would gladly leave school now to be at work!
The people here are literally the nicest, friendliest group of people I think I've ever met. I honestly mean that too! Everyone here has accepted me and tried to make me feel welcome. Even the customers are extremely friendly.
I will miss it here and thats all I have to say except thank you to everyone for having me and looking after me!

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Plastic and the Albatross

Last week there was another depressing wildlife programme about the destruction of the once paradise islands of Hawaii. The most worrying thing however was what was floating in the seas around the islands. It was found that thousands of young albatrosses were dying because a large part of their diet was plastic. There was a display laid out on a beach of the plastic objects found in the stomachs of dead baby albatrosses - i cant remmber all of them but there were 50+ plastic lighters, hundreds of plastic utensils, plastic toys and all sorts of flotsam of our disposable culture. there is a very real chance that plastic alone could cause the extinction of that particular species.
Meanwhile in the playing field next to my house, every weekend i pick up the left overs from the football games and teen drinking binges. i clean a small area behind one football net and often collect 50+ bottles 20+ cans and a variety of less recyclable detritis. Its not as if there aren't solutions like bins...(duuurr!) but surely making all drink containers returnable is the answer - because even if the serial litterers cant be arsed, there is an army of small kids and sad old gits like me who could make a small fortune collecting and returning bottles and tins; and they go straight back to the maufacturer via the retailer (if you can go straight back somewhere via somewhere else that is..!)
Anyway whatever gets your goat dont just get angry, get active!

nigel baker

Friday, 20 April 2007

Environment or Creation?

This is my first post on the B'ham FoE blog, a nice new tool. Hopefully over time it'll be clear to readers of this blog that 'treehuggers' come in different shades, flavours, ages and persuasions so if you care about our shared planet (Environment or Creation?), then do consider coming along to our regular meetings and add your 2p (or 2 pounds, or a prayer ...).

Personally I'm most excited about B'ham FoE's campaign on Faith & Climate Change, including a major project on 'Climate Change Ambassadors'. The dream is to get an Ambassador at every place of worship in Birmingham (but who says we have to stop there?) ... Hindu temple, Sikh gurdwara, Jewish synagogue, Christian church, Muslim mosque, etc, etc..., we have it all in diverse Brum. I think it's a great project for the planet (or do we call it Environment, Creation?), a great project for community cohesion (as Ambassadors from different backgrounds exchange experience), and a great new way to help people realign their daily lives with their faith values. We're currently in the process or recruiting someone to coordinate this exciting new development within B'ham FoE (with thanks to BEP funding) and the aim is to start with 10-15 Ambassadors. They'll get all the support possible: latest info on the state of the planet, what is possible to be done in their place of worship without wrecking planet or purse, get togethers to share what works and doesn't to convince a congregation and hopefully along the lines also see that what we share is so much more than what divides us.

I believe everybody wishes generations after them the best on this Earth, but how often do we actually think about what that requires from us? It's not about going 'back to the cave age' and doing without any comforts, but it does take more than a prayer. The science can be complicated (especially when does who want to distract us from the truth get involved!), but you can leave that aside and just do what is good and be happy (waste not, want not; or as I like to be reminded "Eat and drink, but waste not by excess, for God loves not wasters." Qur'an, 7:31). Try it this upcoming 'national downshifting week' starting this Saturday ... just shift down 1 gear at a time, trying to become angelic overnight is the sure way to kill your intention and efforts.

You can make a difference, together we can change the world (or was it Environment, Creation?)! Or as Confucius reminds us: "Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated".

In peace, Rianne

PS: 3 May is local election day. Don't forget to use that opportunity to elect those you think will support implementation of your priorities of a greener, cleaner, more sustainable Brum!

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

On loan from Manchester FoE

First impressions of Birmingham FOE

As everyone knows as a student you have incredibly short I thought I would use mine to do something more interesting and worthwhile than the usual minimum wage office job. I didn't really know what to expect when I made my way here on Monday morning, I knew there was an actual office and that people worked for Birmingham FOE full time. it was an exciting prospect to really devote 7 or 8 hours a day to thinking, reading and commenting about environmental issues something I usually don't have enough time for.

The building was surprising, I'm not sure how I imagined it but it really is a warehouse. so many areas to explore, a child would have great fun playing hide and seek in here...and discover a ghost in a hidden corner. (or a badger costume!)
Chris introduced me to everyone and they all seemed delighted to have me here, definitely made me feel welcome and involved. Margaret's cake also deserves a mention, with real lemon juice and zest! Scrumptious. I have also enjoyed trying all the different herbal/fruit teas, coincides well with my current no-caffeine experiment.
I knew Monday would be a long day, with the meeting in the evening, but it just flew by!

Learning how to write press releases was definitely beneficial and I really enjoyed that. Although I am in Manchester FOE I am quite new to all this, many gaps in my environmental knowledge wanting to be filled. Once again friends of this earth have been more than happy to help me out. Reading the climate change strategy and researching for information on waste and recycling has been demanding but brilliant to be able to understand it, particularly all the % targets/achievements that are so eagerly used. Chris has answered all my questions no matter how ridiculous!

My first week at BFOE has been great, I have been spending time on various different things and generally getting used to how it all works here. There are so many different projects on the go, much to learn but I already feel more 'in the know' and that I am contributing, in some way, to the campaigns. I'm really looking forward to the next two weeks!

Jules Niehoegen (on loan from Manchester FOE)

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Great Climate Change Swindle

To anybody who didn't watch the Great Climate Change Swindle program two weeks ago you may be thinking the title of todays blog relates to the meagre green budget. If you did watch the program though, it may have come as a suprise to you that anthropogenic climate change doesn't actually exist. To anybody that reads the Canada Post, it will not have come as a suprise at all. For years we have been told that Climate Change isn't happening, but very few people know why, and now thanks to a Marxist the light has been revealed to us, in the same way we were enlightened to get Breast Implants (I know i have mine).

Okay, this really kicked off in the media, there wasn't a day last week when i wasn't woken up in the morning by John Humphries (Today Program on Radio 4), talking about the Great Climate Change Swindle. One morning I believe it was the Producer of the program (Hamish Mykura) who woke me, proclaiming that the program was a mere polemic that represented the minority of scientists, although after trawling through the net, i couldn't find any evidence of Channel 4 advertising it as such, nor any mention of its polemical status in the program. Instead i would refer to the programin the same way that one of its participants Carl Wunsch (Professor of Physical Oceanography, MIT) did;

"Channel 4 now says they were making a film in a series of "polemics". There is nothing in the communication we had (much of it on the telephone or with the film crew on the day they were in Boston) that suggested they were making a film that was one-sided, anti-educational, and misleading. I took them at face value---clearly a great error. I knew I had no control over the actual content, but it never occurred to me that I was dealing with people who already had a reputation for distortion and exaggeration."

The whole letter can be found here

Anyway, I thought this would be a great chance to put an overview out, giving you many of the debunkings of the debunking. I can't tell you how sad it makes me hearing people at work telling me climate change doesn't exist because of evidence put forward by old papers that have since been proven wrong by peer reviewed papers.

First up is the George Monbiot's article in the Guardian yesterday (if you haven't read his book yet, i can recommend it), i like the point about cherry-picking results, and feel like writing a paper on how i am the worlds greatest athlete. Hamish Mykura, has written a response to this in todays Guardian , i will write more on this at the weekend, when i have time to take a look at the papers cited.

Secondly, we are back to which is science news tastic, the particular article of relevance is Swindled!

This is a direct response to the program;

This is what the majority of climate change scientists believe about Solar Flaring (difficult to read, but worth it);

This is how to counter arguments about climate change;

And this is where the agenda should be;

The others are the articles published in the broadsheets, the Guardian here, the Independent here and the Times here.

So what can you do about it? Complain to these guys , seriously, the program was totally biased and irresponsible, in fact send this email to everyone that has watched this program.

Enjoy reading and/or complaining, and remember, next time you run a stall, you will most likely be asked these questions, do you have the rhetoric?

Phil Burrows

Birmingham Climate Change Strategy

Birmingham Strategic Partnership's public consultation on the draft Birmingham Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan ends on 31st March 2007 - next week!!

You can view a pdf of the draft Strategy document and complete the electronic questionnaire - or just pledge your support for the principle of a climate change strategy for the city - at the BSP website, Alternatively, you can send your comments to:

James Botham
Birmingham Strategic Partnership
26 Waterloo Street
B2 5TJ

Fax: 0121 303 9492 E-mail:


Monday, 19 March 2007

Urban wind turbine for Kings Norton

I was really pleased to go to Primrose Hill Primary School in Kings Norton last Thursday where they unveiled their new very fancy wind turbine.

Primrose Hill School is within the Three Estates area of Kings Norton and its intake generally goes not have a privileged intake, although to go that school, I reckon the school makes up for it. I would have loved to have spent my primary school days there.

This is no toy wind turbine - this is pretty big: 50 feet tall (15 metres in new money?) and 8 foot blades (2.5 metres) in length. It is enough to provide a third of all the school's energy needs and is connected to the national grid so no electricity generated at night, for example, is lost.

What's so impressive though is not that some Government officer went to the school and told them they want to put a turbine there. It was the School's own staff, Head Teacher and Chair of Governors (Birmingham Friends of the Earth's own Nigel Baker) who pushed this forward. With the help of Phil Beardmore, Mandy Ross and others from the Birmingham Sustainable Energy Partnership, Primrose Hill got a 50% grant from the Government. This left some serious fundraising to do at the school. Despite not being in a wealthy area, the school managed it. All credit to them.

On the launch day itself, teacher Eleanor Hoad organised a fantastic energy bazaar with various organisations coming along and lots of interactive activities set up to capture children's imagingation and teach them about the environment at the same time. To be honest, our stall, manned by myself, was pretty lost when other people had fancy light boxes, free chocolate, paddling pools and bikes to power machines. It was still worthwhile though and engaged people in an area we generally don't go to with street stalls. The bazaar glamourised renewable energy as it should be.

Local MP Lynne Jones, who has often supported Birmingham FoE in the past, gave a great speech about the importance of developing energy efficient schools as they are the foundations of the future and renewable energy is an essential part of that! She urged the school to go further and become carbon neutral. It just happens that the school is already looking into getting solar photovoltaics!

This school has cut carbon emissions by around 33% in one year. Suddenly makes Friends of the Earth's "Big Ask" for 3% cuts in emissions per year on a national basis seem very possible!

All credit has to go to Primrose Hill for their initiative, leadership and creating such a prominent and positive symbol that the Three Estates area and school children can be proud of.

Chris Williams

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Prising me off the sofa

I've recently started attending Monday night Meetings at the Birmingham FOE Warehouse although I've been paid up member for at least 10 years. The one thing that's prised me off the sofa is you guessed it , Climate Change, and whilst I'm aware that BFOE gets involved with a number of other good (and related) causes, local Railway lines , Bus lanes , recycling to name a few this is the subject that most motivates me.

In the wake of last year's Stern Report on the economics of climate change and the more recent IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) scientific analysis of how far gone we are, it appears that denial is no longer an option for all but the most hardened Climate Change refuseniks, they won't act till the Thames is lapping up to the Houses of Parliament .

But by then it'll be too late !

There seem to be 2 divergent views of the world . One you can see anytime you watch a holiday program with its globe trotting presenters happily describing the latest fantastic secluded beach or resort. No mention of what we're doing to the planet with our lifestyles , it's business as usual. Contrast this with the future as seen by author James Lovelock where by the end of century (with a 6.4C deg rise in temperature) he envisages the end of Life on Earth outside the polar regions !

The Stern report which says that action to prevent Climate Change is far cheaper than remedial action post change destroys the Bush argument for refusing to ratify the Kyoto protocol on economic grounds ; doing nothing will hurt far more ! The IPCC report's similarly uncompromising findings leave little room for complacency .

Yet it seems to me that if people and government have the will humanity can change its ways . New technologies, recycling, energy-saving measures, insulation, efficiency, Councils and Governments leading by example and providing stick and carrot incentives to both the individual and companies. Green politics are now more mainstream than they have ever been and Greenies are no longer considered eccentric . If the will is there things can change , a good example of this being the way ecomomies transform themselves at time of war . But the will has to be there !

On an individual level some things are comparitively easy. Walk more or use the bike, turn things off when they're not in use, switch to a Green Energy provider (but a genuine one !!) , insulate your home, try wearing a jumper if you're cold. Perhaps harder for us to countenance consider holidaying without flying, change an old boiler for a more efficient system, use the car less !

On the broader level bringing about change is probably harder , pressuring the Council, Government and Industry for change ! This is fairly new to me and I confess I find it daunting but I think it's a challenge worth facing !

Andy Welch

Friday, 23 February 2007

Brush with the media

This week was a bit different. On Weds I was interviewed by a nice journalist from the Financial Times. He'd got my name through Head Office and local Foe as being a environmental campaigner who lives in Edgbaston constituency. Edgbaston is apparently a 'swing' ward when it comes to close elections so they wanted to do some case studies on what people think of Gordon Brown as chancellor and as potential Prime Minister. My interview was about my thoughts from a green perspective.

It was one of those things, where at first I thought, great, what an opportunity to get my views out there. Must say yes. A millisecond after saying yes though, reality sank in and I starting thinking what a heavy subject it is, how many people might read it, what if Gordon Brown reads it - aaaah, I generally weirded myself right out! So thought I'd better get my facts straight....

The main problem was I couldn't actually think of many green things that Brown has done. I had to get digging. In the end I did find some positives: higher land fill taxes, the fuel tax escalator (later abandoned), the Stern Report, grants for some energy saving installations etc. But overall it's not too impressive considering he's had nine budgets to change things. I think it's been a big missed opportunity. So I mentioned some of the not so good things and things that he'd have to do for me to take his green credentials seriously.

We chatted for about half an hour or so, and I've no idea how much or what will be printed. It will go out when the pre-budget report is launched. They want a mugshot which should be amusing. So far, not too scary then. Plus I have a PR friend who's been trying to get their company in the FT for years with no success. I somehow managed it without even trying!


Monday, 12 February 2007

The First One

so I was nominated to write the very first birmingham friends of the earth blog as i was ranting in our campaigns meeting, and in some danger of causing the meeting to go over the new strict half hour limit ( this is our new exciting format designed to stop us all getting tired and bored listening to each other rant, and instead get on with actually DOING things . . . . like writing blogs . . . . hmmmm) so anyway, we heard all about a stall that phil and nigel had done at the opening of the new Co-op bank in Solihull. Or was it Sutton Coldfield? somewhere begining with S on the edge of Birmingham? apparently the punters had form-filling fatigue due to all the bank accounts they were opening and couldn't be pursuaded to fill in Big Ask postcards about climate change
but still, its the Co-op bank innit? its good, its ethical, its miles better than all the other banks and half paid for the tindall report. We like to be associated with the Co-op bank, and they like us - with all our green integrity I guess. The ranting ensued when it was suggested that the goodness of the Co-op might actually extend the the quality of their service - which it doesn't, well certainly not smile anyway, who take ages to reply to emails *edits rant, as would be bad form to be boring here too*

but its not all about quality of service is it, its about that reflected Goodness, and making a responsible choice about what your tiny bit of cash is being used for, and just adding your tiny bit of support, saying 'i care about this', well, a bit anyway - all those tiny tiny choices that we try to make everyday, hoping they'll make a tinytiny bit of difference, maybe influence one other person to think again, maybe maybe

all feels a bit tenuous sometimes? a bit unlikely? but its what we do isn't it, and hope that our form-filling fatigue won't stop us responding to yet another consultation, or our ranting won't exhaust our energy for pursuading and cajoling our councillors and MPs into making braver choices, and we'll carry on emailing and writing even when we don't get much response

it is important . . . isn't it?

and now I feel the need to go and DO STUFF, true to our new plan, and will sign off - I hope this will be the first of many blogs from BFOE!