Is it time to break the law?
In this week's climate action newsletter - Chris Packham - and my own brush with the law. Plus buses, safer streets, #PeoplePoweredHomes and an inspiring visit to a new co-housing community.
Chris Packham posed the question this week - Is It Time To Break The Law? - in a Channel 4 documentary that is well worth an hour of your time.
Here’s a review of the documentary in The Big Issue, and here’s Chris talking with Robert Peston earlier this week.
I think Chris Packham is one of the great communicators of our time, and a man whose honesty & integrity is there for all to see, whether he’s talking about the climate crisis or about living with Aspergers.
Many of us who are deeply concerned about the climate crisis - and the inadequate response to the crisis - will relate to the questions Chris asks in the documentary.
What should I do?
And how far should I go?
Should I go as far as breaking the law?
It’s a question I’ve asked myself
Just before the Iraq invasion in March 2003, I got a letter inviting me to jury service.
I wrote back asking to be excused on the grounds of conscientious objection. Like many others, I was seriously troubled by the decision to invade Iraq.
My request to be excused was initially granted, and then someone higher up in the system (presumably having spotted all the news coverage) wrote to me, reversing the decision.
I appealed, and the case was heard by a Judge at Leeds Crown Court.
The Judge confirmed that I was required to do my jury service - and that I’d face a fine, or perhaps more, if I didn’t comply.
I thought about it, and decided to accept the ruling. I did my jury service as planned.
It wasn’t a decision I felt totally comfortable with - and I thought about it again this week, watching the documentary.
And it’s one reason why I have a lot of empathy for people who have decided, in a climate emergency, that they have no other choice other than to peacefully protest, and break the law.
Or young people like Louise.
I don’t think this means that each and every one of us needs to head out this afternoon to protest and break the law.
But I do think the gravity of the situation we are in requires each of us to reflect on what we can best do, in the situation we are in.
That may or may not involve protest. You may or may not go as far as breaking the law. But in one way or another, I think we’ve reached a time where we each need to find the best ways to step up.
Good news hunting 😀
It can be hard to stay positive, faced with relentless bad news, and with such dire leadership from our Prime Minister.
So I’m making the effort to seek out good news stories, and share some with you. Here are a few good things I spotted this week.
🚌 I was really pleased to see the first Bee Network buses running in Greater Manchester this week.
I grew up in Liverpool in the 1980s, and I remember vividly the chaos in the weeks after deregulation of the buses.
The longest taxi queues you’ve ever seen.
Things eventually settled of course, but like just about everywhere else outside London, the service we were treated to just got worse and worse.
The only bus you could rely on in my teens was the one that went past the bottom of our road every May, carrying my footballing heroes.
Let’s hope other cities follow where Manchester is leading. There are so many benefits to be had from better public transport.
Other good stuff I noticed this week….
♻️ A pilot of a Digital Deposit Return Scheme in, yes you’ve guessed it, Wales.
What is it about the Welsh eh?
🚗 And in more the grass really does seem greener news, it was great to see Wales roll out 20mph limits on a majority of streets that previously had a 30mph limit. Naturally it’s turned into the latest culture war hot topic, but I wrote here on Linkedin about the many benefits that can come from streets that are more welcoming to people on foot and on bikes.
🏠 Nearer to (my) home…. community land trust Leeds Community Homes have just launched their latest People Powered Homes community share offer to raise money to build permanently affordable homes in inner-city Leeds. I wrote here about my involvement in the early community engagement phase of this project to build homes in Armley.
LCH launched the share offer at Chaco - Chapeltown Cohousing - a recently built co-housing community in Leeds. I visited for the first time this week - it’s an amazing place.
📖 I had a lovely chat with social climate scientist, coach and writer Katherine Ellsworth-Krebs about that eternal struggle to work out what to do in response to the climate emergency. I’m really enjoying her newsletter - you can subscribe here.