Posts Tagged ‘survival’

OilSpill

90,000 gallons of crude oil are polluting the Gulf of Mexico – Image credit: Telegraph

Shell’s second spill in two weeks: why are we silent? (Article by Shannon Lawn)

Truly it doesn’t make the news any more. It barely circulates Facebook.  If we get ‘compassion fatigue’ do we also get ‘disaster fatigue’?

As an alleged communication expert, I feel something is not being done right. You’re unlikely to bother to open the report … probably because you can guess it says, in a heavy tone, We Must Do Something Or We’re Doomed.

This is hard to pay attention to. Even though the writer is clear, logical and (I have to assume) well informed. But I suspect we’re into ‘boy who cried wolf’ effect. Also what can we do? Everything is run by and for Them … big corporations, government… Never before have people been so empowered to communicate. We’ve never been so aware of our controllers – nor ever felt so powerless.

Hey, it’s not that we don’t care, right? We’re just keeping our heads down. We’re desperately hanging on to our rotten jobs, we’re exhausted from the daily slog of keeping going… There’s a lot of sea, isn’t there? Does this sort of thing really matter? So many other horrors nag at us, from barbarous acts of terror to the permanent background threat of losing our home if we can’t keep up payments – all the payments, all the time…

Distracting, isn’t it? And of course you and I sitting at our laptops are not gagging on the stench of oil, our food isn’t smothered in poisonous gunk or unfit to eat because of the pollution it’s absorbed. Although you might want to wave a Geiger counter over anything coming out of the Pacific these days: that Fukushima radioactive waste water is spreading far and wide! But hey, as a friend says, we all gotta die of something!

It took a no holds barred TV report and Bob Geldof to focus useful public attention on the Ethiopian famine. And now we mock Live Aid…

For you and me, the ocean environment is largely out of sight. We can count the (lack of) bees and birds but we’ll never see dolphins choking to death… When green fields get covered in shoddy houses we understand the loss of productive farmland and wildlife habitat. When sheets and gobbets of crude oil disperse for hundreds of miles under water we have no concept of that destruction. 

So … Which celebrity naturalist / pop star / hip film maker will take on the thankless task of inspiring the fight for our oceans?

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Chloë of the Midnight Storytellers

Library Blues

I’ve supported the Friends of Gloucestershire Libraries campaign for about a year. It’s been utterly brain scrambling and I would not have been capable of following matters through to court, in the amazing way that FoGL core team has done.

However, we have to work with the world as it is. My local library was to be cut to 3.5 hours of staffed opening a week. If it can open for 12 or 21 staffed hours, that’s better. If it also becomes an easy access point for public services, that’s great.

..If it moves into a broom cupboard instead of its current shoebox, that will be difficult. LIbrary users will have to get used to pre-ordering books from the Online Catalogue. Not impossible.

We can’t keep fighting Gloucestershire County Council: they have too much bullying power. Democracy is dead in Gloucestershire. It took a High Court judge to stop GCC steamrollering on with their first destructive plans. They’ve made so many librarians redundant, they couldn’t run a full service if they wanted to. They still won’t answer their taxpayers’ questions. I don’t understand why GCC behave so arrogantly… They just do…

And I don’t want to see any more of my friends with health damaged and careers at risk because of the stress of trying to stand up to GCC. Library supporters must find more subtle methods. We shouldn’t have to, but the point is to win the war not every battle.

Good negotiations start when participants find points of agreement. Regardless of anybody’s previous actions or statements.

It should be easy enough to agree that we all want a Library Service that meets its users’ needs and which can take advantage of modern technologies.

I believe the library service should also draw on different funding sources, including commercial sponsorship.

Hospitals, air ambulances and schools can’t cope without support groups. It’s all shamefully wrong but it’s the real world. Library users will have to organise along the same lines.

At least there’s a proposal for a Mobile Library with Public Services. So a health advisor or similar could travel round with the librarian.

I’m keen to support this. I’ve suggested a Magnificent Mobile project designed to increase its usage, with costs shared among council, public services and community minded businesses and organisations.

Victorian philanthropists paid for many good works including libraries. In some cases the money was dirty. But the money did good things. Since rich = bad in the UK these days, let’s see if these outcasts can rehabilitate themselves by pouring money where it’ll do good. Developers, supermarkets and other big companies with image problems are ahead of the game: they have budgets for social responsibility… What do you want for your library? Who’re you gonna call? Because – let’s be clear – your council and your national government have other priorities.

I’m equally keen to support serious development of Online Library services.
A lot of access problems (not all) can be solved by hardware and training given to disadvantaged people; the groups are identified; funding can be part GCC, part donation.

If Gloucestershire’s remaining libraries are to squeeze into smaller premises, users must get the habit of online ordering. Many people do it for films, groceries and other shopping. LIbrary service must maintain a good delivery system.

Thinking about isolated people, I hope existing Library Clubs can continue. I further suggested ideas for online community activity (eg reviews and recommendations, so people can be involved in choosing library stock).

Young people gravitate to electronic media. GCC online library service must be well made and up to date. Right now it’s limited and clunky to use. But children and young adults are the people whose literacy and job prospects we most want to support. Don’t we?

Of course you can easily shred my ideas. But I don’t give a twisted d*mn for anybody’s politics: I joined FoGL to help stop our library service being destroyed, and I’m staying to try to help it adapt.

Until you get elected to Gloucestershire County Council, you can’t stop what they do to our future. We can’t change other people’s behaviour. But we can change our response to it.

So until we sweep the polls, perhaps if we can put our fury and frustration aside and show overwhelming goodwill – it might just turn out that GCC can’t do anything except follow our lead.

photo by Gill Fothergill

“Cotswolds are closed today,” said my landlord the farmer. He’s out playing with his snowplough – a man in his element: big tough machines and huge amounts of stuff to move!  People for miles around are grateful, as we stare out across where arctic whiteout has replaced the fields.

How happy I am to stop in the warm, fire blazing (saving LPG!) and snuffles medicated.  Hundreds of thousands of people all over Britain are struggling to keep up daily life, let alone get into the Christmas countdown…

This was the weekend shopkeepers and many other businesses were counting on to keep their financial heads above recession.  Friday and today were supposed to be the Great Chrismas Getaway.  Instead there is frustration, pressure, struggle… Crowds overheating, queues shivering… With all my heart I hope people find the patience and invention to reach safe places, with friendly faces.  Deliveries will be late, shopping will keep till better weather – we’re humans, that means good at adapting. It’s a survival skill, and we’d better remember it. In every aspect.