Is it possible to get a job in something you are both good at and passionate about?

The one area I can claim any expertise in is online and social media marketing.  I have run major websites, email marketing and social media marketing campaigns and always made a success of them.  More details about my qualifications can be found on my day job blog – the Online Marketing Expert.

I also created the official Bryan Talbot fanpage and I have now run it for 21 years – updating it at least once every 2 weeks.  I also set up Birmingham Freegle 14 years ago, and continue to moderate it every day.

What I am passionate about is green issues and social justice.  I currently run the online and social media marketing for Birmingham Green Party – and also help out with the West Midlands Green Party too.

My problem now is in trying to marry these two together to get a job I am both expert in and passionate about.

So – I am writing this blog post.  If you hear of any web editor roles, or online or digital marketing, or social media marketing for anything green and sustainable, please let me know!

My ideal job would be running the online and social media marketing for a green organisation in Birmingham.  I would be able to help with their online fundraising, getting to number 1 in Google, getting more people to join their cause and contribute their time.

I am also experienced in training people on anything related to online and social media marketing and of course, setting up websites to deliver targets.

I would love to work for a charity, or a workers co-operative, or anything involved in the environmental or sustainability movement, in Birmingham or within commuting distance.

 

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Why does Birmingham city council have such a huge problem with Freegle keeping waste out of landfill? – do they ENJOY paying landfill tax?

I have been running Birmingham Freegle now since 2004, and in all that time the sum total of support I have got from Birmingham City Council has been a meaningless award.

Why meaningless? – because it resulted in zero support or even publicity from the council, and so has not resulted in one single item extra being saved from rotting in landfill unnecessarily.

You would think that they would love a voluntary group that helped them keep usable items out of landfill in Birmingham, but no.  For the first few years that I ran Birmingham Freegle contacting the council was a monthly event.  As their silence grew deafening it became an annual event… – and now I am so tired of banging my head against the wall that my frustration has boiled over into the form of this blogpost.

See for yourself what happens when you search the city council site for the term “freegle”.

So: I am explicitly asking whoever is in charge of environmental affairs at Birmingham City Council: why can you not even mention or link to Freegle from the city council website?  This is NOT a rhetorical question either: I would like an answer.

And I will keep on publicising this post and pestering them until I get one.  And I will publish any and all replies here.

In the meantime, please join with me in asking Birmingham city council why they refuse to publicise a service that stops waste being put into landfill and allows people to get items and furniture for free.


Update: March 22nd 2017: Birmingham City Council after a judicious bit of persistent pestering listed and linked to Birmingham Freegle on their pages detailing where to recycle household waste in Birmingham and how to book bulk waste collections in Birmingham.

Success!!

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Refuting the pernicious right-wing myth that “cut-throat competition is the natural default state of human affairs. To think otherwise is naively utopian.”

To refute yet another lie peddled by the right-wing market fundamentalists: humanity has now spent about 200 years in a state capitalist competition. (and not even all of humanity).  However, we spent at least 99% of our history as hunter-gatherers in a tribal structure.  And in tribal structures you have to co-operate to survive.  Selfish idiots who try and gather all available resources (whether or not they can actually use them in their lifetime) would have been shunned by this kind of tribe.  That’s been the state of affairs for 99% of the 200,000 years we have existed as a species

So that means we have spent vastly more time on this planet in a co-operative, extended family / tribal societal arrangement where the kind of competition neo-liberalists try and insist is the default state of human affairs would have gotten you shunned and left to die on the savanna.

Don’t let them try and con you into thinking that the only way you can prosper is by doing each other down: this is the heart of their anti-trade-union rhetoric by which they destroy any solidarity between working people, so that any negotiations are reduced to a solitary individual versus a large corporation, with all of the power and resources held by the company.

The default state of human society is co-operation, solidarity and mutual aid: it is the artificial entities known as corporations who have turned us against each other for their own benefit.

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The Real Junk Food Project in Birmingham.

Most people who visit this site will know know I am passionate about all things Green and sustainable: I volunteer for Birmingham Green Party and I founded – and continue to moderate daily – Birmingham Freegle.

The menu at the Real Junk Food Project Birmingham

The menu at the Real Junk Food Project Birmingham

I recently found out about the absolutely amazing work that the Real Junk Food Project in Birmingham does, and I was simultaneously amazed and horrified.

Amazed because they pick up food from supermarkets in Birmingham that would otherwise go to waste and give it to anyone who wants it… – whether they can afford to pay for it or not.

Horrified because Birmingham wastes over 700 tons of food every single day!

What the Junk Food Project does is just outstanding: simultaneously addressing the issues of hunger and wasted food.

But I cannot help but think of what an utter indictment of consumer capitalism it represents.  Think about it – why do the supermarkets throw out all of this in-date food in the first place? – because they can.  The costs of it are passed onto their suppliers and they do it because they think that their customers will not buy something that is going out of date in 3 or 4 days.

These are just some of the boxes of food distributed by the project every week that would otherwise be wasted.

The profit motive wins out over conserving food – and in case you needed reminding, we have just 60 years of topsoil left.  Capitalism decides that it is better to throw away perfectly edible food rather than distribute it.

If the food we produce was just distributed evenly there would be no hunger.  Instead rich people make more money while poor people starve to death.

I think that the volunteers who run the Real Junk Food Project are utterly humane, decent and good people that we need more of.  They’ve seen a problem and are addressing it.  (and fair play to the supermarkets – they are giving them the food they would otherwise have thrown out.)

But as long as corporate consumer capitalism exists, profits will be more important than people.

Now my anger has been sated by ranting about this issue, please do not let that stop you from visiting or donating to the Real Junk Food Project in Birmingham.

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Introducing Birmingham Freegle

Do you ever find yourself throwing out items that are still usable, but you just no longer have room for? – or someone has bought you a newer version of an item and so you no longer need the old one?

And have you ever wished there was something better that could be done with the old item than throwing it into landfill to rot? – well there is, and that is Birmingham Freegle!

The idea is very simple: at the point you decide you no longer have a use for an item, you offer it to someone else for free.  If they want it then they come and get it from you.  Likewise, if you want something but can’t afford it then you are more than welcome to come onto the site and ask for it.

The idea has been around for some time – it started off as Freecycle in the USA, and I heard about it on the news: I thought that there had to be a local group already established in Birmingham, but as it turned out there wasn’t – and so I started it!

Then Freecycle in America went through some organisational changes and us Brits decided we didn’t want to be part of their set-up any more, and so we split-off and came up with the name Freegle for the UK side of things.  The basic idea stayed very much the same though.

There are 30,000 members in the group and it launched in 2004.  I don’t know how much waste has been diverted from landfill as a result of it – but it is more than would have been the case had the group never existed.

And the amount of waste avoided by keeping just one item out of landfill is huge: you do not have to mine and process the raw materials to create a new version – you do not have to manufacture, transport, sell or market it – all on top of the pollution and waste created when a perfectly usable item it just thrown in the ground because someone has bought a new, upgraded version.

Over the years of running Freegle in Birmingham I have learned that someone is almost always interested in the items you thought no one could possibly want.  My mission is to make everyone in Birmingham think “hmmm – could someone else use this if I gave it away for free?” as the moment they are about to throw away something that still has use in it.

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If you hold any hope for the future of industrial civilization, remember that someone, somewhere decided these plastic overshoes were a good idea

Whenever I take my youngest son to his swimming lessons I see these ridiculous plastic overshoes people are told to wear, and I am filled with a deep despair for the future of civilization.

Why on earth does such a small thing provoke such a disproportionate response I hear you ask? Because someone somewhere made the conscious decision to try and make people visiting the swimming pool use plastic overshoes (made lest we forget from oil) instead of just asking people to go barefoot.

On one hand you have to admire the rank capitalist chutzpah on display here: they saw an opening and went for it.  Telling people to just go barefoot to stop tracking in dirt from outside? – feck that! – let’s sell them a product made from rapidly depleting oil, that they can use a maximum of three or four times!

And before I get a backlash from corporate-capitalist apologists, let me remind you – these are explicitly for keeping the pool hall tidy – not to keep any foot infections away from anyone else.  I am assuming that anyone who did have such an infection would wear these overshoes… – but that’s not the stated aim of the management of the pool in asking you to wear them.

When I am at the pool it is amazing to see so many people blindly follow the instructions and put them on.  And not one person – member of staff or general public- has ever objected to me going barefoot.

But still – instead of just asking people to take of their shoes and socks, our first response to to use a disposable product made from rapidly declining oil stocks.  (and also never forget – any item that is disposable means that the costs of disposing it are transferred from the company that made it to the rest of society.)

Nothing better sums up – to me – the short term, limited thinking of our society than what these ridiculous bloody over-shoes represent.

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Book recommendation: Island in the Sea of Time

I am getting increasing numbers of requests for books to recommend to people, and so I thought I would start to blog about it – and link directly to the books I mention through Amazon so that if someone does buy one as a result of my ramblings, I will make a couple of pennies from it!

First up is the incomparably excellent Island in the Sea of Time by S M Stirling. In this book the island of Nantucket in the present day is flung back to the year 1500 BC – and apart from that initial fantasy element the whole story is grounded firmly in reality. This is part of the reason I like this book so much – the characters are all modern day people that you can relate to… – and they are suddenly thrown into this extreme situation and as a result you can sympathise with them that much more, and the danger seems more immediate, probably because they relate to it much the same way that we would.

This is the start of the whole Islanders trilogy – and after that comes the Dies the Fire trilogy – and after that comes another series of at least four more books… – so if you like this one then be reassured that there is a lot more to come!

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The cafetierre coffee mug!

cafetiere-mugI use one of these at work: why? – mainly because life is too short for revolting instant coffee! Over the years I have developed a distaste for the instant muck and now drink proper, ground, organic Fair Trade coffee whenever I can.

Hence this mug: it is a mug combined with a cafetiere so you can get good coffee at work.  So many people ask me about it that I decided to blog about it and also link to in on Amazon so you could get your own if you wanted to!

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Right! That’s it! – time for Princes Harry and William to go marry some gorgeous African princess!

I cannot begin to describe how much the election of Barack Obama has moved me – and I am white! The country that fought a war over slavery – the country where black people had to fight on the streets for their rights has gone and elected a black man as their president!

Suddenly America is no longer a pariah – suddenly I find myself wanting to volunteer to help make President Elect Obama’s vision come true; suddenly I think that there is hope for the environment after all.

I was literally in tears when I saw it; and even now two days later I can find myself choking up when it hits me again.

And then a new realisation hit me – that now America is doing better than the UK in terms of race relations and making up for the bigotry of the past. And let me tell you – this feels very weird! I have been used to being proud of Britain for what we have done – the way that anyone here seems able to make it regardless of race – the way that we seem to be anti-racist. (I know that there is still racism around; what I am trying to say is that to me, the husband of a black woman and the father of a mixed race child, the perception is that things are getting better.)

And this is just not right! – we need to catch up to America and overtake them again! We need to do more – and if we elected a black prime-minister then that would just equal them; no – I am afraid that there is only one thing for it; Prince Harry needs to get out there and marry some gorgeous black or Asian or Chinese or Malaysian or Maori woman so that the next heir to the throne is mixed race!

Can you imagine it?! – Britain having it’s next but two king or queen someone of multiple heritage! – how cool would that be? – and how much would it say to every black, asian or other minority that you are part of this nation; this is your home – and of course saying the inevitable and obligatory fuck you to the racists!

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Every gold medal won by a black British athlete is another "FUCK YOU" to the BNP!

I get a profound shock of savage joy every time a black British athlete wins a gold medal at the Olympics, and then proudly grabs a Union Jack and does a victory lap with it – such as Christine Ohuruogu’s recent 400 m win.

It says “fuck you” to the BNP on so many levels;

  • that a black person beats people of all other races, thus shattering the myth of the Aryan master race.
  • that they consider themselves naturally British and are ecstatically proud to carry the Union Jack
  • that every single right minded person in the country is also proud of them, and sees them as first British – then as an Olympic medal winner, and – oh yes – they happen to be black!
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