Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Biosolids Conference

I'd  had very short notice of this event  (see my last post) so, even having perused the website, I'd not fully realised that biosolids means the organic 'fruits' of  sewerage.  I'd had in mind  the broader concept of biomass.  Euphemism getting in the way, perhaps, but apparently the experts in this large and fascinating field stick together and use familiar words with different meanings :  their 'cake' is not edible!   The invitation was to give a keynote speech about a green vision for the economy.  As I was short of time I'd adapted  a speech given by Caroline Lucas.   Luckily I was able to arrive an hour or so before my slot to eat and talk with stallholders (selling sludge management machinery, consultancy etc) and listen to other presentations. It was a steep learning curve. I discovered they are (in general) a green-minded group, so I chopped out of my speech the bit about climate change.  They are very aware of greenhouse gas emissions (as the photo of the presentation by ADAS shows).  They  want government to stop backtracking on renewable energy, and they say that regulation often gets in the way of greener ways of doing things as it's too inflexible.  Apparently the policy makers don't listen: e.g. they promise to meet at a plant and then change the venue to London, so they never really get to grips with the industry's issues.  Clearly, better communication between all sectors is needed (as it is with everything).  I'm really glad I had the opportunity to meet the biosolids gang...and I now have an invitation to speak at Leeds University, and a few contacts in this crucially important and, it seems,  misunderstood field. see

Sunday, 18 November 2012

London: GPEX , and Guerilla campaigning

Green Party Exec Meeting 17th Nov, Development House;
and Guerilla Campaigning - Leon, Kings Cross Station.  We were very surprised to see this stack of Coke at Leon which purports to espouse wholesome values ...maybe they don't know that Coca-Cola sets up plants in places where it can pay staff very low wages (we saw a plant in Uganda), uses up all the water, and then sells the sugar-based product to people, making out its good for them.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Athens in November

....a few tourist shots on top of the Acropolis:  most of the dogs we saw in Athens seemed large and knocked out like this one - its clearly stressful guarding the Parthenon and all the other world heritage sites.
The crocuses are on the wonderfully named Areopagus  - the rock from which St Paul spoke to the assembled Athenians

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Aspects of solidarity

With Greek Greens at Athens Council of European Greens.
Truck drivers inspect ferry docking procedure at Brindisi this morning
Nov 14th European Day of Solidarity against austerity - Brindisi

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The debates get under way

 Issues emerging in the first full plenary of the EGP

  • the serious impact of the austerity measures on the community and the economy - leading to societal breakdown and a reinforcement of a system which has already demonstrated failure

  • the importance of integrity and good governance as a key factor in any programme to move forward

  • the need to show that the economy cannot be relaunched, rather it should be re-tooled systematically.

  • a Green electoral platform can only have traction with an electorate if it makes clear what alliances it is prepared to participate in

  • corruption not unique to Greece within the EU

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Athenian graffiti


Athens - demonstration last night

Everybody was out on the streets marching or supporting the marchers and awaiting the vote in was very much the ordinary people, not 'troublemakers' as the media would have us believe. Yes, Syndagma Square got the tear gas treatment from the police but the people kept marching - despite the rain.  Some comments were:  'salaries are being cut by 50% and prices are going up - you can't live'  (woman who works in research institute who is staying in Greece only to support her elderly parents) ;  'you just can't live on the reduced salaries..if you get ill you can't afford treatment - even if its available' (woman who works on Parthenon restoration);  ' lots of the decisions don't even bring any revenue to the government...its illogical, unprecedented and insupportable ....and its encouraging the rise of the far right' (Aristides, a human rights lawyer).  People are angry that the Greeks are being portrayed as shirkers to justify these draconian measures:  ' They want to make Greece like a failed Balkan state'.... Someone else not on the march, who had seen the event on TV, thought a military government is the answer.  But people agree that the current government is useless, without a mandate, and is reneging on all its promises.....The proposed measures have no logic in economics or common sense.  'New ideas are needed' (a taxi driver). The European Greens Council this weekend must get its progressive message out there....there is noone else with the radical vision to get Europe out of this mess. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Nov 6th Athens anti-austerity demonstration

Today was a HUGE demo against the austerity measures ... the Communist Party (separately) and then unions and other groups (one group we spoke to was people with MS) marched.into Syndagma  (constitution) Square.   The march took at least 3 hours to pass a single point.   No violence.  Tomorrow's is expected to be even bigger.  We aim to get translations of the many photos we took of the banners from  Greek colleague Constantine who is also here for the European GP council.

Travelling to Athens for Council of the European Green Parties

Bill on top couchette, impressive recycling at Milan station.  Overnight ferry from Brindisi, Italy,  to Patra, Greece: truck drivers take in the island views.  Turbines on hill tops (taken from bus to Athens).  On arrival at bus station someone sprayed  something smelling of sick over our luggage - we think in an attempt to distract us -  but we remained in possession of all our stuff.  Glad to say,  since then,  everyone has been very friendly!

Train trip to Athens

Saturday 3 November 0530 Milan - arrived on sleeper from Paris: what a magnificent station!!   Imperial Rome 30's style ... and thousands of starlings in trees outside making a sound like heavy rain.