11 Dec 2014

Local Greens on film!

Did you know there is a tag on Stroud Community TV that let's you see all the local Green Party films. Recent additions include Molly Scott Cato MEP, support for the fire fighters strike action, launch of Parliamentary candidate Chris Jockel, local councillor Caroline Molloy in The Express Debate on the NHS and more!

You can find it at: http://stroudcommunity.tv/tag/green-party/

9 Dec 2014

A new kind of 'ward surgery'! Cllr Jonathan Edmunds leads Nordic Walking

Green Party District Councillor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe, Jonathan Edmunds (pictured), has found a novel way to engage with his constituents in his ward. Rather than running the usual sedentary surgeries, he has decided to run ‘activity days’, to meet local people, have informal fun and conversation  and gauge their ideas and thoughts on local issues that matter to them.
The inaugural activity day was a Nordic walk in Randwick woods, where participants learnt the techniques of this Scandinavian pastime,  that is growing in popularity in this country, before embarking on a walk into the hills to learn the skills that they had been taught by Ian Davies from local physical activity provider ‘Follow My Lead’. Nordic walking uses poles and adds two major benefits to regular walking, in that the upper body muscles are used and you burn twice as many calories, yet the support given by the poles make it feel easier.
Jonathan, is planning more activity days in the New Year, in the parishes of Randwick and Whiteshill and Ruscombe for residents of all ages, including more walks, bike rides, archery and forest schools days. If you are interested please contact Jonathan at JonathanEdmunds15@gmail.com.
Jonathan commented: “I was so pleased with the turn out for the first walk with over 20 people attending, including adults and children and even ‘Merlin’ the dog. I want to break down the barriers that stop people trusting politicians and show that we are there to truly help them. What better way that embarking on an activity together to bring the community together and have that good old fashioned fun at the same time!”

26 Nov 2014

How you can make the most of small spaces

Gunner Kenyon has kindly offered this article to Ruscombe Green. While based in the states he felt it would still be of interest to Green readers in this country....

According to the most recent reports provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 80 percent of the population of the United States reside in urban areas. There are many advantages to living in a city: short commute times, shopping convenience, entertainment choices, etc., but one major disadvantage reveals itself the moment one begins to hunt for a place to live. In cities, living-space can be a rare commodity.

As such, you may find yourself having to make the most out of whatever small amount of space you have. Here are 11 tips to help you do just that.

13 Nov 2014

Hinkley C and the BBC

Powerful letter from Dr Ian Fairlie, independent nuclear consultant (http://www.ianfairlie.org/about-ian-fairlie/) to the BBC - shared by Angela Paine, a leading campaigner to stop a new nuclear power station being built on the Somerset coast (http://stophinkley.org/) and local green activist:
Your programme on Hinkley C (http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04n67xn) was perhaps one of the worst-informed, biased and misleading I've heard in a long time.
Have you no independent researchers who could dig a little deeper on this contentious matter?
Why no discussion of the truly extraordinary construction costs - £24.5 billion - and rising? This is more than double the cost of the 2012 UK Olympic Games...for one power station. And the mindboggling price support subsidies, estimated at another £35 billion over the life of the station assuming it is ever built? These have been severely criticised - even by Conservative politicians and bankers.
And the fact that the EPRs [nuclear reactors] under construction in Finland and France are in serious legal, technical, and financial difficulties? Both projects being years behind schedule and £billions over budget?
And the fact that the EPR is an experimental design and may not even work in practice, given its over-reliance on myriads of untested computer programs?
You and your colleagues may say that nuclear is low carbon, but this is naive: of all the methods of generating  low carbon electricity, nuclear is the least economic, by some margin.
For heaven's sake, where was the balance in your programme?
Yours in anger
Sadly, another thing to be cross with the BBC about! If you heard this R4 'You & Yours' programme last week, please consider joining Ian in contacting them with your thoughts / complaints...

1 Nov 2014

Jonathan Edmund's update to Randwick Runner

Jonathan elected May 2014
Here's Jonathan Edmunds letter to the local newsletter in Randwick in response to a request for information with details of Nordic Walks starting soon!
Many thanks to Julia Currie for providing me an opportunity to update you on my 4 ½ months as a District Councillor. I have indeed been attending both Parish Councils when the District timetable of meetings permits. I have enjoyed attending both Parish Councils meetings on a monthly basis to report back on District Council news and will be looking to support them as an active partner as time progresses. Indeed, it is great to be part of such a vibrant community and people who are committed to trying to make our local area better.
It has been an exciting and challenging time since being elected on May 22nd; meeting new people, learning how Stroud District operates, undertaking induction and training opportunities and most importantly beginning to work with fellow councillors of all political persuasions to actually take things forward and make a difference. The most rewarding aspect of the job is helping local people and I have already met a number of residents to deal with issues such as fallen trees, bedroom tax, rights of way issues and a number of planning applications.
At the District Council I am sitting on the Community Services and Licensing Committee. This committee covers numerous aspects from Licensing to the Cultural and Public Services such as the Museum in the Park, Subscription Rooms, Health and Sports Development and Dursley Pool and Sports Centre. We have recently approved the continuing funding of the Youth Work Strategy for the next 3 years and reviewing the draft Housing Strategy 2014-2019.
In September I was among 600 people who attended Gloucestershire Climate Action Network march in Stroud to coincide with other marches around the world and to put pressure on world leaders meeting at the UN in New York ahead of the climate conference in Paris next year. You can see my predecessor’s, Philip Booth’s fill of the march at: http://stroudcommunity.tv/climate-2014/. If you want to help out and put pressure on our politicians and business please contact GlosCAN at committee@gloscan.org.ukor go to www.gloscan.org.uk.
Supporting the local community, I feel is integral to my role. In September my family and I attended and took an active part in Randwick’s 50th Horticultural and Village Show and am Planning on attending the Pumpkin Trail on Saturday 1st November and the WW1 Commemorative Concert in Whiteshill on November 8th (go to www.wrpc.org.uk for more info). In September I attended the Tour of Britain in Stroud and am keen to develop an all embracing cycle strategy for the District, through work in my committee.
In September I attended Stroud District Council’s Development Control Committee meetings in September to voice my concern at the three supermarket applications on the outskirts of Stroud. I highlighted that to allow any of the three applications could possibly have a further detrimental effect on local retailers, the Farmers market and local producers. The impact of the existing out of town supermarkets on Stroud is clear to see, with over 23 empty shops and the others only viable because of the positive draw of the ‘farmers market’. Did you know that for every £1 spent in a local shop, 50p goes back into the community, but for every £1 spent in a supermarket, only 5p goes back into the local community (Local Works 2014). The Development Control Committee have now deferred a decision until March 2015, as any decision could have prejudiced against any future application for the Market Tavern premises in Town. Please get in contact with me to let me know your thoughts, whether you are for or against more supermarkets?
In forthcoming months I will be looking to develop my communication channels with a newsletter being delivered to you early next month and I will be sharing some thoughts on the ruscombegreen.blogspot.co.uk and via Twitter. From November I will be partnering with ‘Follow My Lead’(www.follow-my-lead.org.uk), who provide activities for all ages to offer a number of Activity Days for all age groups and levels of fitness and ability. These will alternate between Randwick and Whiteshill and Ruscombe Parish and will include activities such as Nordic walks, bike rides, ultimate Frisbee, archery and forest school days.
The first of these sessions will be a Nordic Walk from Randwick Village Hall on Sunday, November 16th, meeting at 11.30am. If you are interested in attending please get in contact, so I can give you more details. These sessions will firstly be fun, but also provide an opportunity for you to raise questions and ideas to me! In the meantime please do not hesitate to get in contact if you have any concerns, issues or need any support.
Kind regards,
Cllr. Jonathan Edmunds, Stroud District Councillor
t. 01452 396659  email: cllr.jonathan.edmunds@stroud.gov.uk

24 Oct 2014

Fending Off Flooding

Following on from the previous post on this blog about river flooding generally, Sarah Lunnon, Green Party Gloucestershire County Councillor and resident of central Stroud, writes about issues right here in the Stroud Valleys, and some of the Green solutions now being implemented following her persistent campaigning on the issue:
"As I write this, the rain is beating on my windows and the autumn leaves are falling; and I am thinking about the brooks, streams and River Frome winding through the district and the town.
Where previously the flood problems have seemed intractable, today I feel optimistic, as I think of work about to start in the upper reaches of the Slad Brook and Painswick Stream. Small-scale, low-cost operations will work with natural systems, creating small ponds and 'beaver dams' to retain and slow down water in the catchment - work that, as it builds year on year, will provide those of us living downstream with protection from the 'pulse-type' tropical rainfall that has been increasing in recent years.
This work is a Rural Sustainable Drainage System (RSuDS) and is the result of 7 years of cajoling and terrier-like persistence. I am proud to have achieved funding for a 3 year post by the Rural Flood and Coastal Committee, and funding of works by Shire Hall, with office support from Stroud District Council. The problem of living alongside fast-reacting, steep-sided catchments will not disappear; but this RSuDS project is a big step in the right direction."

20 Oct 2014

Keep an eye on your river

c. Russ
With rainfall heavy, Stroud has already seen a few flash floods causing traffic hazards and getting into buildings this autumn. There could well be more to come, and as climate change increases climate chaos, our weather systems will get ever less predictable.

That makes it important to be able to get up to date information on what is actually happening.

The Shoothill GaugeMap is the first interactive map with live river level data from over 2,400 Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales river level gauges in England and Wales.

it gives details of all 11 gauges in Stroud District.

The extensive network of river level gauges across England and Wales covers all the major rivers as well as many smaller rivers, streams and brooks. The data displayed on each of the river level gauges on GaugeMap is recorded at 15 minute intervals by the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales.


19 Oct 2014

Still fighting Hinkley

Last month, the country’s first new nuclear power station in a generation – at Hinkley Point – cleared a major hurdle after an agreement was reached between the European Commission and Whitehall. However, Green MEP Molly Scott Cato has pledged to keep fighting the power station.
But the news angered and dismayed opponents, including the Green Party, the Stop Hinkley Group and Greenpeace UK, who vowed that the fight against the EDF plant would go on. More Here: http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Campaigners-bid-block-EU-deal-Hinkley/story-23039980-detail/story.html
Stop Hinkley have now written to competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia, who is in charge of state aid, urging him to reconsider and claiming that the subsidy deal had been “stitched up without any sort of competitive process”. [http://www.stophinkley.org/Temporary/Dear%20Commissioner.pdf]

Dale Vincent, of Stroud's Ecotricity, was reported in the Guardian as considering making a legal challenge over Hinkley, and it seems there could be German protest as well.

So, rumours of Hinkley's success may be premature, and the fight is a long way from over. we can only hope that sanity, and law will prevail, and the massive government subsidy of this unsustainable industry will not be allowed to go ahead.

17 Oct 2014

Stroud events

Here’s the current list of things we know about that are happening in the near future.  Where relevant, we’re also listing events a bit further afield that you might be interested in, too. These are local events that are (unless it says otherwise in the listing) run by assorted local groups – these are all independent of the Green Party.
If you are aware of other talks, events, workshops or other community activities in the coming week or so, please do mention them in the comments. If there’s an event you would like our support in promoting, please email the details to brynnethnimue (at) gmail (dot) com.

We came across these free courses across Glos (incl Stroud) about how to develop more inclusive and welcoming communities' – find out more here. http://yourewelcome.us5.list-manage.com/track/click?u=47b99467fcb8e6e744a31cd15&id=e47f9787cd&e=53288c959b

Songs of Change – meets on Tuesday nights at Paganhill Maypole Village Hall. We are led by Sophie Sterckx (formerly “Greatorex”). This is an open group drawing on songs from about peace, the earth, equality, etc. 

Active Hope Day
 Sunday 19th October
 Time: 11 am to 4 pm; Venue: Stroud
Tutor:  Fiona Ellis
Cost: Sliding scale: £20 to £10;   

Faced with challenges of climate change, an unstable political world and the tension of living within an increasingly stressed world, it's good to have space to reflect and explore feelings about all this. Joanna Macy’s work over many years has shown this workshop process strengthens people in their choices and resolve about how they live their life or do their work.

Active hope is about the kind of hope you need to carry on, when you do not have certainty about how things will be in the future for you and the next generation.
An opportunity will be made available to discuss the interest in the group meeting regularly

Fiona trained with Joanna Macey in the 1990s and recently again with Chris Johnstone , co authors of “Active hope” and “Great turning time”, and in her professional work is a facilitator and training consultant working with groups for over 30 years. She has lived in Stroud for 20 years.

To book:  e mail:
erik.w@virgin.net  or ring 07725 900666

Your Musical Memories.
This month at 2.30pm on October 23rd “the most musical family in Stroud”; the Hughes Family; will be returning to Stroud’s Subscription Rooms to play for you. Felix on his ‘cello and Jed on his double bass will be accompanied by their mother Mary. Felix  recently performed in concert at St. George's Hanover Square, London with his teacher Guy Johnston to an audience which included the Duchess of Kent, and has been invited to play for her at a dinner party in London next week. Jed and he have been busy performing Schubert's 'Trout Quintet' to packed audiences in both Tunbridge Wells and more locally in Hardwicke. Felix and Jed also continue to study at the Royal Academy of Music Junior Department in London on Saturdays. Jed’s older brother, Toby, who previous delighted Your Musical Memories’ audiences on his double bass recently won the String Section Final of the Royal Overseas League competition in London, at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the Southbank and was invited to be guest principal bass of the Northern Sinfonia Orchestra. The concert on October 23rd will also feature Stroud’s wonderful singer Elizabeth Oxley who will be singing songs that will delight you. Elizabeth has runs a new choir for over-50s in Cirencester for Age UK. She also enjoys running Singing for the Brain sessions in Stonehouse for people with Alzheimer's and offers private music tuition and welcomes opportunities to sing for a variety of audiences.  So come to Stroud’s Subscription Rooms on the afternoon of Thursday, September 25th and enjoy music that will touch your heart. Tickets are only £5.00 (which includes refreshments) and can be booked at the Subscription Rooms’ Box Office, telephone number 01453 760900. (When booking, please mention if you use a wheelchair as the number of wheelchairs allowed in the Ballroom are restricted due to fire regulations.)

‘Make one take one ‘ 
a Great Crested Newt craft workshop

Saturday 25  October  10am – 12.30pm
Stroud Valley Eco shop  Cost £5 adult/£3 child                  
Come and join us at this fun workshop where an experienced crafter will teach you how to make a cuddly felt newt. You will make one newt for our charity and you will also be able to take away with you the materials to make one at home for yourself. There is some fiddly sewing involved so this workshop is recommended for adults and children over the age of seven. Please note that all children must be accompanied by an adult for the duration of the workshop.  

P. S. Booking is essential so please telephone Stroud Valleys Project on 01453 753358.
Apples in the Park and Twilight Pumpkin Trail

Apples in the Park and Twilight Pumpkin Trail
Our popular Harvest Celebration day with apple pressing takes place at the Museum in the Park again this year. Bring some of your own apples and turn them in to delicious juice. In the evening there is the delightful Twilight Pumpkin Lantern Trail and competition.
Bring along a carved pumpkin and get to follow the pumpkin trail around the Park. Stroud author, Jamila Gavin has kindly agreed to be our judge for this year. www.jamilagavin.co.uk. Jamila has published over forty books since her 1979 debut, The Magic Orange Tree. Coram Boy, a novel for teenagers, was published to critical acclaim in 2000 and won the Children’s Whitbread Award, as well as being short listed for the Carnegie Medal. Her most recent publication is Blackberry Blue, a collection of six original fairy tales.  Most recently she was nominated for the 2015 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s Literature. We are really looking forward to welcoming her as our judge this year.

Sunday 26 October
Apple pressings : 11 – 12.30pm & 2 - 3pm
Pumpkin drop off : 11 – 3.30pm
Twilight Pumpkin Lantern Trail and Competition: 5.30pm - 6pm
The Museum in the Park courtyard, Stratford Park, Stroud        
Cost: Donations to the collection box.
Stroud Valleys Project on 01453 753358 for more information.

P. S. Bring up to one carrier bag full of your own apples to be pressed. You might even get to press them yourself. Please note - if you want to take some juice home then you will need to bring your own clean bottles. During the day you can drop off any carved pumpkins for the twilight Pumpkin Lantern Trail which is taking place early evening.

15 Oct 2014

Power and inequality

All situations of inequality come down to issues of power. Those who have less access to resources – be that money, food or shelter. Those who are denied a political voice. Those whose rights are restricted because of sexual orientation, religion, race, mental health and the like. Those who are not able to participate in the decisions that shape their lives. Those who are not taken as seriously. We often see inequality manifest in a lack of opportunities, in silencing and in loss of money, but this is all about power, or the absence of it.

Every time someone suffers from inequality, someone else benefits. It may be that they get a bigger share of the resources and the money. It may be that their voice in the decision making goes unchallenged, and their vote makes more difference. It may be that they are not obliged to change.
If we want to tackle inequality, we have to look at that power dynamic. We have to ask the awkward questions about where we might be complicit. How do my shopping choices, as a white western woman, impact on inequalities in the global market? How can men in positions of power deal with the limits on their scope to represent the other half of the population? Those of us whose biology and identity corresponds neatly have advantages over those whose situations are more complicated.

To be normal confers a certain kind of power. If you fit comfortably into your culture, you look right, talk like everyone else, share the same values and beliefs... you have a power advantage over anyone who doesn’t conform. Some societies use that power to force conformity and drive out difference. Even going so far as to kill and imprison people who are different.

If you are a wealthy, well educated white man in a suit walking into a place of power – a court, parliament, a board room, even the local council... the chances are that you will see plenty of other white male faces and suits, and hear them talk your language. Even if you don’t agree, you start from a place of similarity. Walk into that space as a person who does not match the norm and you are already on the back foot.

Power over is a key part of how our culture works. Through laws, social systems and money, we have a whole way of life that gives a set of people power over others. The people with power have the money, always. The people with no power have no money, the two go together. We have a history of giving men power over women, Christians power over other faith groups, white people power over people of other ethnicities, the abled have been given power over the disabled. For much of history, the rights of some to make life altering choices for others has been widespread. Our laws may have changed in the last century or so, but many of the cultural habits remain. Most especially, we still have the collective idea that status means having power over someone else.

If we want to end inequality, what we have to end is the culture of power over. We need to give people the power to do, not the power to control other people. We need to recognise that when people are empowered to act, that doesn’t diminish anyone, whereas in a system of power-over, someone, always, ends up being reduced and disempowered, silenced and kept away from opportunities.

This post is part of the http://blogactionday.org/ discussion of inequality.

5 Oct 2014

Pre-paid benefits cards

There's talk of bringing in pre-paid cards for people on benefits, rather than giving them money to spend. There are a great many reasons for resisting this move, here are a a few, feel free to add more objections as comments. This is not jut an issue for people on benefits, this is an issue for all of us.

Stigmatising those on benefits by making them visible, and therefore vulnerable to bullying.

The assumption that people on benefits can't make responsible shopping choices is unfair and degrading.

Some things you have to pay for with cash - what will happen to people who need bus fares for job interviews and signing on?

This move benefits big business (who will be able to manage handling the cards) at the expense of smaller, local businesses. It will take money out of certain areas of the economy. Independent traders are under enough pressure already.

Often the cheapest option is the second hand shop, the car boot sale, and other places you'll have no hope of using this kind of card, making life more expensive for those who have least.

The government would like us to think everyone on benefits is a lazy, irresponsible scrounger. These cards reinforce that story.

They put the power to decide where money is spent (arguably public money, as in it is money belonging to the public and money the public funded to be available) in the hands of those in power. So expect these cards to work with large companies, It takes away the right to choose what is necessary, the right to have preferences, and the right to get the best deal you can. Even the right to make ethical and health choices. Maybe what you need isn't on the supermarket shelves. It divides those on benefits from those who are allowed to choose. We should not be comfortable about this.

The logic is that without this intervention. feckless poor people will spend their money on booze, drugs, fags and gambling. Anyone who has ever experienced addiction (and some of us are psychologically pre-disposed to it, and incredibly vulnerable) will know that forced 'cold turkey' is one of the worst things you can do. Some drugs have to be stepped down from carefully, or quitting can actually kill you. Addicts to anything, forcibly denied the means to access that, do not make the best choices, so without a great deal of support in place to deal with the consequences for those who would be affected this way, it's a grossly irresponsible non-solution. It is also wholly unfair on the many people who are not affected by these issues.

There are a number of conditions where people opt for self-medicating (perhaps unwisely, but often in the absence of any other available interventions). Depression and anxiety can drive people towards alcohol and cigarettes. Long term pain can lead people to adopt all kinds of measures to get from one day to the next. Addiction, when it's not a disease in its own right, very often comes about as a consequence of disease, and needs to be treated as such,

The best way to help people tackle addiction, is to help people tackle addiction, not to punish everyone on benefits for the 'crime' of being poor.

if you agree, there's a 38 degrees petition... https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/re-think-pre-paid-benefit-cards

3 Oct 2014

Keeping it out of landfill

Landfill is one of the worst solutions to waste. Burying resources in the ground, impacting on landscapes, releasing methane over long time frames and wasting valuable resources... Without a doubt, the worst thing in all of this is when perfectly usable items end up in landfill. If something is valuable, then it’s worth the effort to sell through local papers or ebay, but it’s the low-value items that it can be more tempting to throw away.

How can we avoid this?

If you have furniture to get rid of, Dursley Lyons have a weekly sale, raising money for good causes...The Furniture Sales  normally take place at the Lions Store in May Lane, Dursley GL11 4JH, 08.30-11.30  every Saturday. If you have items to donate for a Furniture sale ring 01453 544471.
Charity shops are an obvious solution to disposing of still usable things, and are always glad of donations, so anything more portable can simply be dropped off with them. You get all the warm fuzzy feelings of helping a good cause, plus the feel-good of keeping items in use.

Stroud District has a Freegle -  A great place to give away unwanted things. Freegle is especially good if you have trouble moving things around – people simply come to you and take away the stuff you didn’t want, so for bulky items, this can be especially good. Get involved with freegle and you might pick up a few handy things you wanted, as well.

Last on today’s list, but by no means least, we have a jumble sale tomorrow (Saturday) 2-3.30 at the Maypole Hall in Stroud.

1 Oct 2014

Keeping up with Molly

Molly Scott Cato has a new website, so you can find out more about what she’s doing in Europe – do visit http://mollymep.org.uk/

You can also keep up with her on Twitter - @MollyMEP

Or by ‘liking’ her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/MollyMEP

There may only be three British Green MEPS working on our behalf, but they work very hard indeed and are involved in a whole array of issues. Our Greens are part of a much bigger Green Group in the European parliament, which helps get Green issues heard.

28 Sep 2014

Stroud against climate change

This time a week ago, Stroud marched, alongside hundreds of thousands of people around the world, raising awareness of climate change and calling for sustainability.

Stroud District Green Party were of course there to support the event.

You can see footage from the day from Stroud Community TV.

Gloucestershire Climate Action network sent us this array of links and images from the day. GlosCAN are wholly independent of the Green Party, but we wholeheartedly support their campaigning.

GlosCAN on Facebook

Article, Stroud Life



67 photos, Stroud Life

Article, Stroud News and Journal

People's Climate - worldwide photos, including 5 from Gloucestershire Climate March 

London, People’s Climate March

London, People’s Climate March roundup video 

New York

Watch the archived live video stream, and see photos

Links via Facebook to video and pictures from the world’s major events on Sunday – London, Berlin, Bogota, Istanbul, Paris, Rio, Delhi, Melbourne, Johannesburg, Lagos, Amsterdam.