Archive for February, 2010

Workshops in sustainability

Friday, February 26th, 2010

I realised a couple of days ago that I am probably not going to be able to make a complex series of lectures and related workshops work.

What I will do now is concentrate on the workshops. I would like Ideas & Information to be able to offer a programme of workshops in sustainability in Oxford, and leave the lectures/discussions to somebody else, perhaps.

I am looking for collaborators for this, people skilled in foraging, preserving, butchery, and such useful skills. If anybody is reading this and thinks they’d like to work with me on this, please do contact me at jasmine @ ideasandinformation dot org dot uk.

Foraging; hunting; making cheese; butchery; making wine; preserving food; urban gardening; basic cooking; recycling; and clothes altering are on the draft list of possible workshops that could be offered. I would also be interested to do something like an introduction to the seasons for food. Perhaps it could be a monthly thing, where we cover what is in season, at its best, what is coming in, and what is going out. Also, I am interested in herbs and wildflowers, and I think it’d be nice to have a day of being in a meadow or something, looking at the plants.

I’d like it if anybody reading this feels they’d like to be involved in such a workshop, or has ideas for other workshops, do let me know (jasmine @ ideasandinformation dot org dot uk).

Further posts will be made on any progress.

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

On Saturday, I read an email from YouGov about TellYouGov. It is described as a service to make sure your opinion on any topic is counted in a meaningful way.

Positive or negative sentiments about any topic can be expressed using Twitter, email or SMS (for only the cost of the SMS itself), and are displayed almost immediately on the website. The index page of the website shows the most recent comments; on the separate pages for each of the topics people have so far spoken about is all of the comments in the last 24 hours.

The leaderboard has a strange filter system for organising the topics of the last 24 hours (or 48 hours, 1 week, 2 weeks or 1 month) that I can’t understand but, basically, what’s near the top is the most spoken about.

The first sentiment I offered was by text. It was about cyclists, it was a negative comment (“Cyclists – They should wear helmets and have decent lights on their bicycles. Knowing something about how the road works would be good, too.”) and, surprisingly, it was one of a flurry of comments about cyclists. I didn’t know that anybody felt so passionately about law-breaking cyclists as I do.

Immigration, the BNP,  the Robin Hood Tax, climate change, supermarkets, customer service, recycling, food, jobs, litter, Aldi, the police, “nanny state”, work, mortgages, volunteering, Jamie Oliver, schools and palm oil are all of the other topics I have commented on.

I have also expressed sentiments about cheap meat, the working week, sustainability and Money Saving Expert. Annoyingly, none of these appeared. There is something about the system YouGov is using that means some comments do not get through; I don’t know what it is. In the case of the first two, I should have (and later did) marked them as “food” and “work”. In the case of Money Saving Expert, there were already comments about it, so I do not know why my own didn’t register. I don’t know what happened with the sustainability comment.

I like that there are no usernames displayed, and no conversations take place, though comments are often related to each other. I don’t like that it is only possible to see the last month of comments on any topic. I suppose it would be undesirable to keep all comments indefinitely, but I wonder if they might be able to go through the comments on each subject every day and compile the most interesting or something.

The website is a good idea. I like YouGov’s surveys, but with surveys there is no way for the person doing the stats to know exactly what your opinions are on the subject polled, unless there is a comment box somewhere. Even if there is space for comments, that’s perhaps not what they are most interested in. With TellYouGov, the people who might ordinarily commission polls have an extra source of honest information, information they might never get if from a poll’s resultant pie chart.

For instance, on the subject of cyclists, a lot of people are concerned or annoyed by some cyclists’ abuse of the law by not wearing a helmet and by cycling on the path. If the right person was looking at these comments (and those about the police not properly enforcing laws and even breaking some themselves), perhaps something good would come out of it. For this reason, TellYouGov could prove to be quite powerful. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen much in the way of blatant advertising, and I don’t think that it will be very useful for this purpose.

Idea #1 – urban farming

Monday, February 15th, 2010

One idea and a thought before I go to bed: “Paris, just one century ago, grew more than 100,000 tons of crops; it ended up with so much that the surplus was shipped to London”.


Monday, February 15th, 2010

Last year I grew two sunflowers. One was a yellow and red paquito, and the other was an irish eyes. There was another sunflower I had, as well, that was in a packet of flower seeds to attract birds. It was a yellow single stem dwarf sunflower, perhaps a sunspot. I liked that one the most, although it didn’t last very long.

Watching the sunflowers grow, and watching the heads open up, I found exciting, and it was always a pleasure to look out of the window and see them all there.

Everybody should feel the same excitement, so I plan to grow around 30 sunspot sunflowers in coir pots and give them away (hopefully I will get hold of some buckets to give for potting on). I hope to put up some leaflets about this.

If you would like a sunflower, do contact me at jasmine at ideasandinformation dot org dot uk, and I will let you know when the seedlings are ready. I can’t remember when they are supposed to be sown, but all will become clearer when I get the seeds…

Pig Business

Friday, February 12th, 2010

There is, hopefully, going to be a screening of the film Pig Business, with speakers, a discussion, and a roasting pig.

The film is about factory farming and the impacts it has. This is to be the first Ideas & Information event, chosen to be the first because I thought it would be reasonably simple to organise a film screening. I thought that if there was food it would encourage people to come along, and if there were notable speakers and a discussion it would be more of an event rather than simply a film screening.