Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Back from Glastonbury

The Glastonbury festival is absolutely unique. It is the one festival where the music is almost incidental to whether or not you have a good time. There is music everywhere and most of it you just stumble upon. Blur was a major highlight, but apart from them, just wandering around was the best thing about it for me and all my plans to see this band or that went out of the window (or would have done if I'd had any windows.

The four lock-ups run by Birmingham FoE volunteers did a great job of keeping people's stuff safe and providing miles of free loo paper (although most people gave us very generous donations for it) to desperate punters. I haven't found out how much we raised yet, but the indiocations are that it was a very good total and will again provide invaluable financial assistance for our group. A huge thank you to everyone who came along and especially to the organisers who made it possible.

We also had some very fetching masks and displays about the food
chain campaign at the stalls and got some postcards signed. Personally, I would have liked to have been able to do some
campaigning away from the business end of the lock-ups. Greenpeace had a whole field for doing that with a mock airport and model Sipton village. I also had my face painted blue by Oxfam for their climate change campaign and saw green police everywhere, which was fun. Hopefully, next year we can get in on the act and talk to people about our campaigns a little more.

It was still very much worth going and gave everyone a great break, while being able to do something useful too.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Quiet Before the Storm

All is quiet at Worthy Farm in Glastonbury. The 170,000 customers have not yet arrived with the beer, tents and revelry.

Birmingham Friends of the Earth has arrived here early to setup and manage four of the property lockups for the festival.

The organisation earns a large proportion of its yearly income for providing lockups for everybody's valuables and Glastonbury reduces the amount of crime that happens on site.

We can only do this because of the motley crew of volunteers who come together once a year to raise money for a good cause whilst having a great time.

We are now huddled round a campfire, braced for the rush of people coming through the gates tomorrow and the storm/lightning/thunder that is expected on Friday.

nt of propertyare

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Launch pad next Thursday - 18th June

Concerned about the environment?
Can you make a difference in Birmingham?

If you've been reading our blog for a while and want to get involved with our campaigns, come to Launch pad, 18th June 7.30 pm.

At: The Warehouse, 54-57 Allison Street, Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5TH

Birmingham Friends of the Earth invite you to Launch pad, an evening to give you a flavour of the current campaigns we are running around Birmingham. You may just be starting getting interested in campaigning, or someone that wants to get updated our campaigns. By the end of the night we can guarantee you will have done something to make Birmingham a better place. The Campaigns we are covering are:

Get Serious
Campaign to put pressure on Birmingham council to make sure they are making serious steps to make Birmingham greener.

Vote with your feet on Dec 5th
Time is running out to keep us safe from climate change. At the UN climate summit in Copenhagen this December world leaders will decide how to tackle Climate Change. Working with other groups in Stop Climate Chaos, we want the this march to be the biggest march and send a message to the world leaders that the time is now to act.

20's plenty
We are calling for the default limit on all residential roads in Birmingham to be set at 20 mph to make them safer for cyclists, pedestrians all road users and residents. Following the success of this campaign in other cities our 20's plenty campaign is hitting the streets here to get the message out to public and community groups. Help us make this happen.

Fix the food chain
The food chain in the UK is a mess. All over Europe we feed our animals soy feed that comes from South America where the rainforest is being destroyed and people are being thrown off their land. We want to turn this around. Come and get involved in the campaign to make sure we have planet-friendly farming in the UK.

We hope to see some new faces there. Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Joe and Mary (Campaigns Coordinators)

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Video support for our 20's plenty campaign

The campaign we are running for 20 mph speed limits to be introduced on all residential roads has been gaining support. We now have a residents' group interested in helping us in Billesley and media interest is also building.
Several media students and bloggers have made films about it and here are links to a couple of them:



We still need people to come and help us with the campaign, so any support people can give with getting the message out there and showing Len Gregory and the other councillors that this is the way forward would be much appreciated.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Railway plans not sustainable

Railway track owner ‘Network Rail’ (NR) has published, with the train operators club ATOC, a new document called ‘Planning Ahead’. The slim volume, available on the Network Rail website (networkrail.co.uk) at http://www.networkrailmediacentre.co.uk/imagelibrary/detail.asp?MediaDetailsID=2285, claims to be a vision of the next thirty years for rail.

Why NR is spending money on strategy documents (when that role is a Government one), is a puzzle. The bonus-paying ‘company’ not only does not have transport planning expertise, but it is also struggling for funding. NR’s track record in the West Midlands is patchy as lack of capacity on the Wolverhampton to Coventry route means the local trains run on the skippy principle (missing some stops) that is also proposed for other routes.

A possible funding source for Black Country Rail improvements, the RSS, was soured by a statement that ‘Network Rail’s view is that rail is to move people to and from large cities quickly’. That statement is hardly in tune with a local rail network and local stations as part of economic revival.

Piling on the grief, NR have sneaked a paragraph into the internet version of their West Midlands Route Plan advocating that Longbridge’s freight branch railway be grubbed out (having cooperated in moves to deny Frankley a passenger train service). Unhelpfully too, despite strong support and a report backing up its feasibility, NR are not programming-in the Kings Heath local stations plan.

To be charitable, perhaps different parts of NR have different agendas. For the West Midlands, NR’s agenda is not sustainability focussed.

John Hall