Archive for April, 2012

Woody Harrelson on feeling like an alien and other wise ponderings . . .

It’s apparently from a 2003 film named Go Further that curiously slipped my I must watch all films that have a green message radar.  Anyway, I came across it on Facebook via Occupy Love and was so awestruck I thought I’d share it.  Appropriate for Earth Day methinks.

I sometimes feel like an alien creature
for which there is no earthly explanation
Sure I have human form
walking erect and opposing digits,
but my mind is upside down.
I feel like a run-on sentence
in a punctuation crazy world.
And I see the world around me
like a mad collective dream.
An endless stream of people
move like ants from the freeway
cell phones, pc’s, and digital displays
“In Money We Trust,”
we’ll find happiness
the prevailing attitude;
like a genetically modified irradiated Big Mac
is somehow symbolic of food.
Morality is legislated
prisons over-populated
religion is incorporated
the profit-motive has permeated all activity
we pay our government to let us park on the street
And war is the biggest money-maker of all
we all know missile envy only comes from being small.
Politicians and prostitutes
are comfortable together
I wonder if they talk about the strange change in the weather.
This government was founded by, of, and for the people
but everybody feels it
like a giant open sore
they don’t represent us anymore
And blaming the President for the country’s woes
is like yelling at a puppet
for the way it sings
Who’s the man behind the curtain pulling the strings?
A billion people sitting watching their TV
in the room that they call living
but as for me
I see living as loving
and since there is no loving room
I sit on the grass under a tree
dreaming of the way things used to be
Pre-Industrial Revolution
which of course is before the rivers and oceans,
and skies were polluted
before Parkinson’s, and mad cows
and all the convoluted cacophony of bad ideas
like skyscrapers, and tree paper, and earth rapers
like Monsanto and Dupont had their way
as they continue to today.
This was Pre-us
back when the buffalo roamed
and the Indian’s home
was the forest, and God was nature
and heaven was here and now
Can you imagine clean water, food, and air
living in community with animals and people who care?
Do you dare to feel responsible for every dollar you lay down
are you going to make the rich man richer
or are you going to stand your ground
You say you want a revolution
a communal evolution
to be a part of the solution
maybe I’ll be seeing you around.

Woody Harrelson

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Olympic Legacy

I used to love the Olympic  Games. Me and my dad, we loved watching the events together and cheering on the Brits . But the more I learn about the truth behind the glossy Olympic veneer, the more disillusioned I become.

We’re told that the Games leave a great legacy for the host country – that the economy will greatly benefit, that tourism will soar, that employment, investment and regeneration will thrive.  They convince us that the Games will encourage the whole nation to get active and that suddenly everyone will be transformed into healthy, keep-fit fanatics.  They sell us the idea of superb sporting facilities –  swimming pools, tennis courts and such-like that will be available for everyone to utilise post-Olympic games.

Well there is another line of thinking which argues that the golden Olympic legacies are mostly mythical, that there is a more sinister side to the Olympic movement and that beyond the hype, real lives are detrimentally and irreversibly affected.

Well let’s take a wee look:

Planning displacement/Forced evictions. How many people do you think were displaced in Beijing to make way for the games?  This report says it’s 1.5 million.  And this website goes into more detail.

Atlanta 96– what went on there?  Amongst other stuff, housing rights violations and – get this – the criminalisation of the poor and the homeless, many of whom were detained without trial for the duration of the games so they wouldn’t be an embarrassment.

London 2012 – how many evictions have taken place so far in London alone due to the building works?  What about the allotments that have been forecably taken to make way for the games?  The businesses that have lost their sites.  And the social housing estate, Clays Lane, that became subject to a compulsory purchase order, against the wishes of the tenants, to build the athlete’s village.

Ethics. London 2012 is so ethical that it’s own ethics chief resigned because of its connections, via Dow Chemicals, with the 1984 Bhopal disaster that killed thousands of its citizens.  When you consider just who the leading corporate sponsors are it’s hard not to be cynical . . .  BP, the aforementioned Dow Chemicals, Rio Tinto . . .  a trio of polluting multinationals with dire environmental records as official sponsors of the “greenest games ever”? Give me a break!

Democratic rights. Be in no doubt, preemptive arrests are very much on the cards at these London games for peaceful protesters.  Just wait and watch our PM trample on our civil liberties, empowering the police to make sweeping arrests before objectors even begin their peaceful protests at the games.  You’ll have to look hard though because it won’t be widely reported.

There’s more.

The Food. McDonald’s (hiss, spit), official partner of the games, have pledged to use only British chickens but what about the beef and the fish? And in any case, come on!  McDonald’s! The unhealthiest food in the world being ‘officially’ supplied at a major, global sports event!  Someone had a sarcastic sense of humour there.

The environmental impact.  The London games are supposed to be the greenest ever.  UK officialdom wants the London games to be an environmental showcase and wants us to believe that the environment won’t be touched at all by these games but nobody can tell me that there has been no major environmental impact.  It’s not possible.  I can’t even be bothered going into detail.  I’ve gone on enough and I’d be stating the bleeding obvious anyway.

To sum up, basically, they’ve sold us a tale of turning the nation into health and fitness fanatics but does anyone really believe that people will get off their backsides en masse and get jogging because they been so inspired by nine-minute sprinters or record-holding marathon runners?  No, we will all watch the games from the comfort of our lounges (or if we’re lucky, from a seat in the stadium) and then we’ll forget about it!  And I’m sure all those super-duper sports facilities that they say the citizens will inherit really will be fantastic – if you can afford the membership fees!

Sure, there will be economic benefits but they will be short-term and there’s little evidence to say that these benefits actually reach those most in need and much historical evidence to say that existing entrepreneurial types and wealthy stakeholders usually reap the most of the rewards.  They say that tourism will benefit and yes, if the games were to be held in Backendofnowhere I’m sure that many ordinary citizens would greatly benefit from increased tourism (or perhaps not depending on your view but you get the point).  But the games are always held in major cities, eg, London.  Tourism is London’s biggest industry and it’s booming, so where will the added value come from?  It’s so small, it’s more likely to cause greater pressure and utter turmoil.

The misrepresentation, the myths, the corporate spin, the total greenwash. Folks, the social and environmental impacts of the games are considerable.  The Olympic legacy is not all rosy but is in fact, pretty much all fallacy.  It certainly does not result in all-round sustainable urban facelifts or jobs for life or booming economies.

So, whose boycotting the games then?

Tree People – we need you now!

It seems that our unmandated government really has it in for our forests.  They have thus-far failed to slip through a bill that would allow them to sell our woodlands to private firms who would subsequently turn them into a profit-making  commodity.  So now they’re going to revise planning laws making it easier for developers to, well, develop on them.

If we are to believe our government (snigger), these proposed new planning policies will have no impact on our green and pleasant land but their promises will soon be put to the test according this article in today’s Guardian. The writer tells us that Oaken Wood in Kent is potentially at risk due to an application for a quarry extension and this highlights some serious concerns.  From the article:

At stake, under a single application for the extension of an existing quarry, is 32 hectares of ancient woodland, home to rare lady orchids, firecrests and nightingales. Under pressure from conservation groups including the Woodland Trust, and thanks to the efforts of local campaigners, Eric Pickles, local government secretary, called in the controversial application in July last year. It is scheduled to go to public inquiry in November. . . .

. . . . Today, ancient woodland covers just 2.7% of England and is home to more wildlife of conservation concern than any other terrestrial habitat. These woods are irreplaceable and require protection.

For goodness sake folks, you heard him! We don’t have much ancient woodland left in England and when it’s gone, it’s gone! Our woodlands are important on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start but to paraphrase Earl Attlee when asked what plans they had to improve ancient woodland protection in the final version of the National Planning Policy Framework, he said it’s not possible to put an economic value on ancient woodland because it is irreplaceable.

It all takes me back to a time, many moons ago, when I camped out in a beautiful ancient woodland with a bunch of tree-hugging eco-warriors in an effort to stop it from being bulldozed to make way for the M65.  Well, I say camped-out . . . taking food, drinks and blankets each day to the protesters and generally playing a supportive role would be closer to the truth but hey, I was there with the likes of  Swampy, suitably clad in wellies, camouflage trousers and an attitude.

The protesters weren’t all stereotypical tree huggers with dreadlocks and doc-martens but they became known by the locals (who mostly supported them it has to be said) as the Tree People. And these guys were fantastic.  They were radical and inventive and totally committed.  They’d lived in those self-built tree-houses for months and they were determined not to give way.  The stakes were high and their determination was downright heroic. They constructed a woodland network of ropes and tree-top walkways so that they were all connected making it very difficult for the axe-men to chop even one tree down without risking the life of a protester.  As non-violent resisters they suffered many injuries at the hands of the burly security men but they never gave up.  At one point militant-me had a very heated debate with the sheriff of somewhere-or-other (probably not Nottingham) but, being  the mardy-pants that I am, I backed off when two large, grumpy-looking policemen started to walk towards me with intent.  Yep, I was passionately proactive and I really believed in the cause but those coppers looked big and mean and there’d already been several arrests.

Anyhoo, needless to say, we were unsuccessful in our efforts. The inevitable forced eviction took place and those yellow-hats stood smugly by as the activists were dragged ruthlessly from the their tree-houses.  Subsequently, and very sadly, the beautiful woodland, where deer used to roam and wildflowers grew freely, was razed to the ground. And now a dirty, great big concrete motorway sits in its place.

I might have turned into little more than a keyboard warrior since then but I’ll tell you this folks – if our few remaining woodlands are put under serious threat of demolition because of these proposals, I WILL GET OFF MY LAZY ARSE!  I will reclaim my activism mojo!  I will tie myself to a tree and I won’t budge until those bloody useless, self-serving, arrogant set of nobs in government do something positive and permanent to protect our magnificent and vitally, vitally important woodlands.

I kid you not.