Lockdown 3 #2

February 5th, 2021

I imagine that many of us are now losing strength, optimism, patience with the multiple effects of the coronavirus pandemic on our lives.

Somehow we need to hold on to the knowledge that this crisis is connected to the climate crisis; and preserve some strength to ‘fight the good fight’ against that existential threat.

And there are some wonderful, positive, uplifting projects happening around the world to give us that emotional strength (they could do with our support too, with a little time and/or money!).

The last ‘episode’ of David Attenborough’s Perfect Planet series (please watch it and spread the word) highlighted some of these, including the Great Green Wall on the edge of the Sahara desert. This is an African-led movement with the ambition to grow an 8,000km natural ‘wonder of the world’ across the entire width of Africa. A decade in and roughly 15% underway, the initiative is already bringing life back to Africa’s degraded landscapes at an unprecedented scale, providing food security, jobs and a reason to stay for the millions who live along its path.

There are complications involved, of course, not least the thorny issue of international aid – that is why my Facebook and Twitter (Emily Thwaite #grandmaglobal) political posts are never far away from the subjects in this blog:

please keep signing petitions and emailing your MPs about the tricky stuff…..

Here’s a lovely video, though, featuring Malian singer Inna Modja (billed as Buena Vista Social Club meets Year of Living Dangerously..), to return to the good stuff! https://youtu.be/IDgDWbQtlKI

Continuing on a musical/arts level, the group Possible is organising an online Climate Cabaret to create and perform work in response to climate change – part of their bid to bring climate conversations to wider audiences (they’ve already produced climate-themed boardgames..).

If you’d like to join this, or want to suggest someone (from musicians to drag queens, poets to dancers..), contact Skye at wearepossible.org

This year Fairtrade Foundation is running a ‘Choose the World you Want’ online Festival, promoting the message that in order to tackle the climate crisis, the farmers and workers behind our everyday essentials need a fairer deal.

On Wednesday, February 24th at 7.30pm actor Adjoa Andoh is joined by digital artists, musicians, writers and others to discuss how creativity can be used to power up climate campaigning. There is also an event called The Climate Change Garden (how to grow sustainably and why it matters) bringing the Permaculture Association’s Chris Warburton-Smith together with eco-chef Tom Hunt and a Fairtrade farmer sharing the reality of how climate change is affecting the sustainability of their own farm. This is on Saturday, March 6th at 11am. On the previous evening (March 5th, at 7.30pm)  there will be a Quiz Night, with a special guest appearance.

If you’re interested in any of these events, contact Stefan Donnelly at hello@fairtrade.org.uk

I wonder if you took part recently in the RSPB garden bird count in the UK…Sparrows are the  ‘dominant species’ in our garden, but we do also have regular wren and robin visitors. My son and his girlfriend counted in their local park, as they don’t have a garden (their count included a parakeet – they’re in London!)

Now, there’s a flower count survey coming up – organised by the National Trust, from Friday 12th to Monday 15th February. The photo I’ve used today (poor quality, sorry!) is of saplings covering hillsides in Derbyshire, England. Each one has been planted by hand, part of the Clough Woodland project to establish new woods in the cloughs (valleys) of the Peak District. They count towards the 20 million trees the National Trust has pledged to plant by 2030. These trees are a mixture of native species, including sessile oak, silver birch, rowan, hawthorn and hazel. Each sapling has a guard to protect it from grazing animals. Once the trees are established, the rangers will remove the guards and allow the trees to grow and spread, free from human interference.

International Tree Foundation is suggesting a special Valentine’s Day gift you could give this year – planting trees: “show your lasting love and become part of the restoration of this beautiful forest”. Your gift of twelve trees (so much better than a dozen dying roses….) will grow in Kenya’s Imenti Forest – a beautiful stretch of wilderness and a vitally important elephant migration corridor. Plundered throughout the 20th century, Imenti became a hotspot for wildlife poaching. Today, with thanks to the love and commitment of many people, Imenti is becoming a healthy, diverse and wonderful forest once again.The 12 trees will only cost £12; and a picture postcard will be sent out, to give to your Valentine.You can email esther@internationaltreefoundation.org

Sticking (a pun..?!) with trees, Britain’s rarest native tree is being planted in an unloved city grassland to restore it as a community wildlife habitat. The black poplar is in decline with only around 7,000 growing wild in Britain. This rare hardwood will be placed near to a “tiny forest” being planted in an area the size of a small tennis court.The plot in Southmead, Bristol (near my grandson’s home) has been cleared of rubbish by a team of local volunteers. Tiny forests are based on forest management methods developed in the 1970s in Japan, where many different species are planted closely together in urban areas. The first “tiny forest” in the UK was planted in Witney, Oxfordshire, last March.

The Bristol tiny forest will include a community orchard and forest school and a mix of British native trees, including English oak, hornbeams, beech, lime trees, silver birches, spindle, hazel and dogwood.

I’ll end today with a couple of more ‘heavy’ things…

I noticed in the local paper, Stroud News and Journal, a piece about Dale Vince (founder of Ecotricity), one of our ‘local heroes’ – he has drawn attention to an advert by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board which is basically anti-vegetarian/vegan….It’s trading on people’s interest/hope in vitamins being a source of protection from coronavirus. With the catchline ‘To B12 or Not to B12’, it suggests that meat is the only source of this vitamin, a commonly held mistaken belief. In fact, B12 is present in dairy products and eggs; and in yeast extract, fortified breakfast cereals, veggie burgers and veggie margarines.

And, more concerning really, the B12 in the meat which dominates supermarket shelves is often actually there because of supplements given to animals raised through intensive farming.

Finally, a ‘call to arms’ – please contact the West of England Combined Authority (democratic.services@westofengland-ca.gov) to add your objections to the plans to expand Bristol Airport: the threat hasn’t gone away, sadly….

Take care – keep strong!

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