Wednesday, 15 May 2013

The No Money, No Waste Man.

I've just been reading an article and watching a short documentary by the Guardian on a tremendous guy called Mark Boyle who after 6 years studying Economics at Uni decided to go it good-life style and live without money.

The article found here and the documentary viewed here goes back 4 years now but his website the free economy community is still very much alive and kicking. 
It offers a space for like minded people to trade tips on how to reuse and rebuild their consumables as well as how to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Mark's initial inspiration came from the influence of Gandhi who urged his followers to be the change they wanted to see in the world. So after a few business ventures Mark sold everything and retreated to a caravan plotted in an organic farm in Bath, England. His desire to reuse what is called 'waste grub' is what fascinates me the most. As you will see from the video, he loots (for want of a better word) the garbage bins of supermarkets and recovers vast amounts of perfectly edible produce. Carrots, grapes, meat and herbs are just some of the goods he finds. It is astonishing to see how much food is wasted, not through rotting but by the best before, sell before, eat before stamp inevitably restricting the common sense of an individual who is starring good food in the face. As Mark will tell you in the video, it is illegal to take items from a garbage bin as it still technically belongs to the supermarket. However the media attention for such a case being brought to court by someone taking their garbage food is extremely rare, primarily because supermarkets don't want you to know just how bad throwing good food away has become. To illustrate the copious amounts of waste our supermarkets make, Mark cooked 150 people a 3 course meal on his first day as a no money man using nothing but garbage grub.  

Having recognised this anti-ecologic behaviour our industrial society has coined, Mark now refuses to have no part in it. Although recovering waste grub is one effective way of putting food on the table, Mark also grows his own crops and generally reaps the benefits from them throughout the year. He has become entirely self sufficient however still enjoys an organic pint at his local with friends and uses a solar powered laptop and mobile phone (accepts incoming calls only) to stay in contact with the world.

Many stumble at this point and criticise how a man, defunk from society can partake in the industrial inventions of modern technology. However solar panels are an example of how our modern inventions can in fact provide a sustainable way of life for the future. Using a laptop and mobile in a renewable way surely redefines their predominant purpose; to be consumable and destroyed. In fact his second hand, solar paneled laptop is truly now reusable in its whole artefact and its daily use. 

I urge you to watch the video and read his article as linked above, its a real eye opener. 

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Monday, 8 April 2013

Bed Town update

So Kenji and I are on day 21 now and only have 10 days left of our little project! 

For those of you who don't know, 31 Bed Town is a sort of game I'm playing with a friend of mine who lives in Japan. We each take a photo a day for 31 days and compare them at the end. Bed Town is a reference to the kinds of towns that we live in and is a Japanese term for a town which is more or less, a sleepy town; somewhere which isn't the city but isn't a village either. 

I think that this is my most interesting day so far...

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Where is Spring?

Spring in my garden this time last year, 2012.
As 2013 develops, it is fair to say that us Brits have been robbed of the relief and beauty of Spring time.

Tomorrow, the clocks will go forward and our days will become longer. This is the official marking of British Summertime however our current snow and sub zero conditions beg to differ such progression. Instead we see grey skies upon greyer skies with drizzle and bitterly cold winds accompanied by thick layerings of snow and sleet once again grinding Britain to a halt and clogging up our news bulletins. 

But this is not simply a bit of general British weather moaning, although I do accept that we enjoy a bit of that. This is absolutely devastating weather which has resulted in mass wildlife fatality and a drearily bleak outlook on life. 

Over 500 puffins have been battered by coastal winds in the East of Scotland making this the biggest Puffin mass fatality since 1947. Lamb Ewes have also died being trapped under snow and hardy farmers brought to tears because of their losses. It's pretty striking stuff made worse by the fact that the Met Office forecasts another month of below average temperatures. Spring's wildlife is on hold, early hatchers such as Robins and Blackbirds have failed to appear and insects are suffering greatly not to mention hibernating animals who cannot survive such cold conditions nor stay hibernated. Experts at the National Trust believe that these animals have survived for many years and will overcome this hardy time however what is the impact on us Humans?

"In winter we become trapped, not just in our own houses, but within our own minds. Spring gives us a chance to escape. It is not just about personal rebirth; spring offers a lucidity that is quite wonderful," - Matthew Oates, National Trust.

Read the Guardian article on where Spring has disappeared to here. Meanwhile, I'm off to buy a SAD lamp. 
I'm sure Monday's announcement will be the defining of the Tory government since the coalition was messily elected. 

renamed '31 bed town'

Kenji and I discussed the title of the project and came across a fitting description by accident.

Through our conversations Kenji described to me that his town did not have such stylish architecture as it was merely a 'bed town'. I asked, what is a bed town? He explained that a bed town is an expression used to describe a town which is a quiet place, somewhere to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and a location potentially a bit dull. A bed town seemed a fitting description to such a place, however I believe the term may have derived from the common English saying 'sleepy town' which describes pretty much the same thing. Through its literal translation, bed must have been included along the way. 

Bed town quite accurately describes Reading, Berkshire in my eyes. Many London commuters settle in Reading due to its short travel time yet its inhabitants do not mean that it embodies London at all. For instance, don't expect anyone to stand on the right when on an escalator and its quite normal to ask someone what the time is on the street. But at the same time, don't go asking them how they're weekend's been or when the next Farmers market is due to be on the green. Its a funny mix of townies and village folk. Yes it can get a bit dull as its never quite in the epicentre of cosmopolitan city life yet appears to be in its own sudo city bubble if anything, where local news really matters and travel news is the prime topic on the local radio. 

I'm slowly learning that Kenji's town of Kashiwa-Shi, Chiba is a few hours outside of inner Tokyo yet has similar qualities to Reading in that its a bit of something, short of everything. Its an exotic feeling to think that life in a town in Japan might be some what similar to your own, however I feel that this notion is a bit far fetched... so far, until I have been there, I find it hard to see to that Kashiwa-Shi is as normally average as Reading. 

The photos continue...

Monday, 18 March 2013

31 photos of I wonder what...

Ever wanted to travel abroad and live in another country? I have this thought everyday, I'm always wondering what it would be like in..... where ever. I usually have this thought when the weather is grey, which in England is pretty regular! A lot of the time I get images from all over the world right into my Facebook newsfeed, where I am fortunate enough to be friends with some very talented and accomplished photographers. Images like the front garden of a Texas home, a sunset beach in LA, horrific snow in Canada, sushi in Japan, street scenes in Australia, architecture in Italy, rickshaws in Delhi . I could go on. With each image I wonder to myself, what would it be like to be there right now, taking that image, living that life?
As much as I'd like to physically travel there, I enjoy that wonderment and am happy with that feeling alone. Of course my desire to travel will be for-filled one day, but for the moment I do enjoy looking, being a tourist to an image which is probably quite mundane to some one who lives there, but its utterly fascinating to myself.

Some one who shares this interest is my good friend Kenji Uchiyama. He's an English Language teacher in Kashiwa-shi near Tokyo, Japan and has never been to England. He really really wants to, I can't quite fathom why, however I really REALLY want to go to Japan, I'm sure he's not sure why I want to either! I live in Reading, UK just outside of London, its a quiet but busy part of Berkshire, known for its Henley Regatta and also because our motorway service station reads 'Reading Services' and really catches tourists out... like it some sort of stopping point to grab the best selling novel.

We've decided to play a little game for a month- 31 days. Each day we will take a photo of something in our lives and share it with each other with the hope of collating the images into some sort of slide show.

It will be interesting to compare our lives. We both work full time, have similar interests yet live completely different lives... or so I think. The aim to gain a window into each others every day lives.

The only rules are that the images have to be taken on our phones that very day and old photos cannot be used. We will collate them here on my blog under the page '31 photos of I wonder what' until we think of a better name! .. possibly 31 windows?

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Ken Robinson, 'Schools Kill Creativity'.

Ken Robinson, PhD and academic, talks for TED in 2006 on why the school education system is killing creativity. Michael Gove needs to give this a watch. 

I have a confession to make... I am obsessed with TED talks!

From Kid President's 'Everyone needs a pep talk' to Cameron Russell's 'Looks aren't everything' to Amy Cuddy's 'Your body language shapes who you are', you name it I'm watching it and this next talk is no exception.

If you've been reading the British news today, you'll have noticed one story about Michael Gove, the education secretary who has made a U turn on his plan to do away with the GCSE's in the British education system.

His new plan was to introduce something called the International Baccalaureate Certificate by 2015 which would, in a nutshell, focus more on Mathematics, Sciences and Languages and essentially do away with more creative subjects such as Dance, Drama, Art & Design etc.

Now I'm not an expert on education but I do have some experience of said qualification. Having studied the International Baccalaureate for one year in Sixth Form, I noticed one problem that I was having... I was getting a grade 2 in Maths but a grade 7 in Art. Let me give you some back story to that...

The IB is graded from 1 to 7 and a grade 3 is the minimum amount needed to pass that subject. In contrast, a grade 7 is like an A* and is achieved by only 5% of students who sit the exams (in 2006).

So on one hand I was an under achieving student and on the other I was a marvel. However because the Baccalaureate openly has a bias view of subject importance and tends to favour the academic subjects, I was often just a dire student, ignored by my teachers and eventually dropped out after one year.
The issue for me wasn't the fact that I wasn't naturally good at Maths, it was simply that my creative success could not be used a measure of my ability in within the IB. That my time in Art class was redundant in comparison to my time in Science.
In fact, in the IB you can actually substitute a creative subject for a more academic one, such as Drama for Physics, but this cannot be done in reverse. This seems incredibly unjust, no?

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Samira Hashi

Interviewed the lovely Samira Hashi yesterday

Thursday, 8 March 2012