Tuesday, April 07, 2015

I'll send a postcard

Hello all you lovely people!

This blog won't have any updates for the month of April as I am going to Myanmar (Burma) for three weeks. Its probably for the best, as I'd probably start ranting about the upcoming General Election...and no one wants to read that!

While the blog may be taking an extended nap, I'll still be active on the wonderful world wide web via the mediums of Twitter and Instagram where I hope to share what I'll be seeing, eating and experiencing. So hop on over and follow my adventures if you fancy.

My Twitter name is @MeecoYoueco (easy enough)
My Instagram name is @babybiohazard (don't ask!)

It might interest you to know that to ease my environmental impact of flying for this trip, I have planted trees with Trees for Life.  Trees for Life is Scotland's leading conservation volunteering charity. Their vision is to restore the ancient Caledonian Forest to the Scottish Highlands. Filed with majestic Scots pines, birch, magical rowan, juniper and aspen, the Caledonian Forest was once the UK's equivalent of the rainforest but has been reduced to just a tiny fraction of its former range. Most of the surviving forests now consist of old trees reaching the end of their lifespan, with no new trees replacing them because of overgrazing by deer and sheep.Working with a number of partners and private landowners, Trees for Life are securing the future of the Caledonian Forest by planting native trees, removing non-native species and fencing seedlings to protect them from overgrazing.

You can help them by buying trees for all and any occasion, celebrating a birth or remembering a life, non-materialistic Christmas presents or even buying a grove as a wedding gift. You can also help Trees for Life by volunteering and helping plant the trees.  For more information about Trees for Life visit their website here. 

You may have heard the phrase 'carbon off-setting'? In a nutshell it is pretty much what I have done, bought a tree to offset the carbon I am about to emit by taking flights to Myanmar. Many feel that carbon offsetting is a form of 'green-washing' or easing you green conscious by simply buying your green credentials without really changing your behavior. I think in some cases this is true for individuals, companies and corporations and I definitely don't believe it is the only way forward to achieving sustainable and resilient communities.

Yet if you read this blog, you will know I always advocate that people need to make realistic changes they are happy to live with and stick by. These choices are hard and none of them are 100% green-proof (unless you achieve living off-grid and completely self-sustainably, which has and continues to be done, but this might not be the right choice for some people). No one has the right to 'green police' you. Everything we do in life has an impact somewhere on something or someone, it could drive you to despair thinking about it, which it is why it is important to make choices right for you and respect yours and other people's choices. Helping to plant some trees gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, looking forward to the day I'll be able to walk in their forest, under their shade...and who can argue with that really?

See you on the flip-side my friends!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Banner at the ready!

My banner is ready for tomorrow's Bairns Not Bombs Scrap Trident March in Glasgow. Assemble George Square for 10:30am. March at 11am and Rally at 12pm.

Rally speakers: Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland; Patrick Harvie MSP, Co-Convenor, Scottish Greens; Katy Clark MP (Labour); Cat Boyd, Radical Independence Campaign; Sasha Callaghan, Disability History Scotland; Nuala Watt, Human Beings on Benefits; Ann Henderson, Assistant Secretary, STUC; and singers Karine Polwart and Penny Stone.

For more information on the march tomorrow click here and sign the Scrap Trident Pledge too! 

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Is there an election happening?

All of you lovely people living in East Edinburgh might be surprised shortly to find my face on a General Election campaign leaflet. I was approached by the current MP for Edinburgh East, Sheila Gilmore MP of the Labour Party and asked whether I would be happy to help her re-election campaign as a local and engaged constituent who has gotten in touch with her on numerous occasions ranging from fracking, the Lobbying Bill, TTIP and the NHS. She asked whether I would be willing to appear on her election campaign leaflet with a supportive quote outlining how she’s helped.

I strongly believe in voting. So strongly in fact that despite being a European national with the right to live and work in the UK and vote in local and Scottish elections, I still paid over £1,000 and spent many stressed-filled hours over the minutia of my application to become a British Citizen for the right to vote and participate in the General Election. There are people and predominately women in the world who don’t have the right the vote or who risk their lives to exercise the right to vote. Celebrities and anarchists tell us there is no point in voting, only full-scale revolution can bring about the changes we need. While the ideologies they express and the revolution they aspire to would be idealistic, realistically we're not there yet as people are still too scared and comfortable in their ways of living, me included! Having said that, we are also not at the stage where not voting ‘in protest’ at the system is a viable options because it paves the way for continuation of political parties perpetuating the status quo or parties proposing worse. The success of extreme and intolerant political parties is based on the fact that people who support them go out and vote. Those of a liberal tolerant inclination shouldn’t be surprised things aren’t changing if they’re not voting ‘in protest’ or because they think their vote won’t make a difference. Imagine if the reverse were true, how different the world would look then?

I also believe in a participatory democracy both as a constituent but from my representatives as well. If I demand their attention, I shouldn’t be surprised when the reverse happens. As far as I am concerned and regardless of party politics, Sheila Gilmore MP is a good MP. She was approachable and available. She listened and genuinely responded. She kept me updated. In 4 out of 5 times, she shared my concerns and gave me the understanding that like me, she wants to make the country we live in a fairer, equal, environmentally sound and safer place. Despite what I will be voting in May, I decided to help Sheila Gilmore because she helped me during her term as MP. Because I’ve engaged with her as a person trying to make a difference and not an abstract, goliath impersonal political party.

I’m not telling you what to vote or who to vote for or even to vote for someone. Remember you can always spoil your ballot! I’m saying make sure you’re counted, make sure you participate in an exercise others only wish they could. Be counted, participate, do your own research, don’t pander to fear, trust your instincts, be heard and perhaps maybe help bring about the change you want to see. 

UPDATE: If you need a place to start, I recommend the website Vote For Policies, which allows you to compare policies from each party in their own words and make an informed decision about who to vote for. It takes the format of a survey where you choose the issues important to you, the policies are laid out without any political party colours and then the results are revealed to you. Hope this helps!