I’m not white: I am faded black.

Check out the video below from anti-racism campaigner and activist Jane Elliot.  She sums up a lot of my own thoughts on racism, and inspired me to post this.

I’m not white: I am faded black. I am only this colour because my ancestors moved away from the equator.

We are all descended from the same black woman who lived 3 to 5 hundred thousand  years ago.

We are all, cousins, 30 to 40 times removed.

There is only one race: the human race.

The first people to walk this Earth who could be called “human” were black: we are all descended from ancestors in Africa.

But: until we can convince everyone of all of the above, we need to keep on shouting that #BlackLivesMatter.

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Looking for a D&D or other RPG club in Birmingham?

I’ve just completed the website for a new D&D and other RPGs club in Birmingham – the Role Players Guild – Birmingham.

We meet in Digbeth, about a 10 minute walk from the city centre, in the Ladbroke hotel.  Parking is on-street and easily available, and there is an on-site bar.  We meet every Thursday from 7 to 11 or later.

Come on down if you want a venue or club to play D&D or any other RPG!  Full details of where we are on our site!

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Can we just please be honest here: if you are happy to holiday in Dubai then you are happy with the institution of slavery

Dubai has been built by slaves. It is no longer acceptable to deny knowledge of this.  The insane pace of construction there has been achieved by conning people from Bangladesh and the Philippines and other desperately poor countries to come and work there with false stories of working for 3 years and being able to put your kids through school with the proceeds.  The reality is that once they land their passports are taken from them, and they are forced to work 12 hours days in 50°c heat, whilst living in non air-conditioned metal boxes, with no running water or washing facilities.  They then need to work for many years under these slave conditions to earn enough for the air fare home.

If you are a rich westerner going on holiday, you are stating publicly that you are happy with the whole institution of slavery. You are happy to pay the slave-owners of Dubai for the work that their slaves have done.

If you ever go to Dubai for any reason, you are telling the world that you do not have a problem with the abhorrent, inherent abuses of slavery, and you are willing to perpetuate it because you think it is the cool place to go to, to impress your friends.

So please: do us all a favour: stop pretending that you are going to Dubai for the lifestyle, or the architecture or because some Instagram idiot is being paid to plug it.  Just admit that you have no problem with slavery and would live to permanently live the life of luxury only possible by working other human beings to death in the worst conditions imaginable.

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New Zealand honours their dead in their own, awe-inspiring way

As an English rugby fan, I’ve always had goosebumps when the All Blacks play here, and they’ve performed the haka.

There is something primal and clean about the honourable challenge to a worthy foe represented by the haka, and the fact that is is Maori tradition that has been adopted by the mainstream – and mainly white – culture warms the heart of this passionate anti-racist.

After the events of Friday when a racist prick attacked peaceful Muslims at prayer in their mosque, the last thing I expected was to see spontaneous hakas being performed on the streets by schoolkids, biker gangs and lone men.  I shouldn’t have been so shocked though – after all the haka is not just a battlefield challenge – they are performed at weddings and funerals too, as a way to pay respect to the dead.

Seeing these has reduced me to tears: the way that the Kiwis have come together, and used the traditions of one minority to offer empathy and support to another minority is stunningly beautiful.  I wish these hakas had not been necessary, but I salute the noble souls that are performing them.

Here’s a biker gang peforming one.

Here’s a bunch of schoolkids, paying respect to some of their classmates amongst the dead.

Here’s some more schoolkids, spontaneously bursting into a haka.

Here’s one man on his own who just had to pay respect and honour the dead – regardless of the time of night or who was watching.

A boys school close to the site of the attack walked down the road to perform a haka.

If you hear about any others, please let me know so I can include them here.  I’m on Twitter as Brumguvnor.

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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.


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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 of 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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