Blog posts by jo_hamilton
As you might have guessed from the title, less of the C in this case means bicycle.... alas my staus of 'never having a bike nicked' virgin has come to an end. It's put a few things in perspective though. I'd decided to go to London for the weekend, and cycling through the city without the knowledge of cycle routes made me feel *extremely* grateful when cycle lanes did occur, and even more grateful for the relative peace of cycling in the countryside and Oxford. So it was with a sigh that I emerged from a stunning exhibition at the Tate Modern to see an empty place where my bike had been. Rats. Still, nothing irreplacable was lost to me, and even better it was covered by insurance. Phew.
Back to the practicals - an evening tinkering with spare bikes at home has proved successful, so I've got a bike to get me to the station, we've got our first bulk wholefood order in with some friends - so less shopping to do, and the last week cycling at night with the bright moon has been magical.
A month into country living, and instead of 'car-less' I'm saying 'car-free' - it's going well. It's interesting the reaction though - with lots of 'wow that's brave' comments. People used to be called brave for going to war / leading revolutions - but now it's ... not owning a car. I'll look out for the honours list next year!
Trains are great - when they run and when they run on time. For those familiar with the Cotswold line service, they'll know that this doesn't happen too often. I could rant for ever about the abysmal service, but suffice to say that my train journey to Devon for Christmas ran on-time, there were seats, it was a great experience. Imagine if this was the norm...
Whilst I'm pleased the icy roads of last weekend didn't last, it's now time to invest in some weaterproof trousers. Milder wetter winters mean more drizzle - fine if you're prepared!
Bye bye car
Timing wise it was perfect - dumping the car at the garage, cycling to the train station to go down and join the thousands marching in the London climate change march on December 8th. Our car is now kapput, we live 12 miles from Oxford and have decided to try country living without the car - and to share the solutions this opportunity presents us with.
A key choice determining our choice of (rented) house was proximity to public transport - we're 4 miles from a train station - so it's back to the bike and train commute everyday, which I've been doing when I can anyhow, but to know there's no alternative gives it a different edge.
Icy roads make the journey exciting in the morning - but I've seen some spectacular dawns, and it's a great start to the day. Trains that ran on time would be nice - ours don't, and I've seen the numbers falling as a consequence. I've discovered that a folding bike is very useful at times, but having a bike at each station is my staple. Luckily fo rme, my employer has the Oxford Cycle Workshop come every week, so I can get free labour on my bike for repairs - bargain as it came from a skip in the first place!
We're figuring out the best way to do the things we used to rely on a car for - bulky shopping (new years resolution: get a local organic veg-box delivered), and will investigate informal car sharing options. For now though it's a blessing - and I'll be sharing the highs and lows of the journey online.
I went to the camp after work on Friday evening, to find around 1,000 people, organised into smaller ‘neighbourhoods’ discussing what they’ve learnt over the week, debating the various solutions, and planning the different marches and demonstrations that were unfolding over the weekend.
The Oxford neighbourhood alone included teachers, local council workers, researchers, scientists, community development workers, students, families, a Buddhist group..and many more. For some this was the first time they’d come to a climate change event, let alone anything like a camp. The variety of workshops, including everything from Domestic Tradeable Carbon Quotas to decentralised energy, from Climate Science Controversies to Tango and Salsa (just to relieve the pressure of talking!) had given plenty of food for thought and action – not only at the camp, but also to refuel people to be able to raise awareness and take action locally.
As I helped on the welcome desk on Saturday morning, a local resident visiting the camp asked me ‘But where are the activists?’. I’m not sure what she expected an ‘activist’ to look like, but as I explained that everyone here was involved in some way in taking some action on climate change, the penny began slowly to drop. Being a climate activist is not an exclusive category - everyone raising awareness and taking action on climate change is an activist, and however much some media might like to portray it as such, there’s no dividing line.
One march on Saturday morning went between the camp and nearby Sipson village, which is threatened by the expansion of Heathrow airport. Today Sipson is a typical small village bordering Heathrow, the incessant noise from the planes taking off and landing being a background to daily life. In one possible future, this village will be demolished and paved over to make way for Heathrow’s third runway. Another possible future is the village standing as a symbol of our turning point in policy: the time our policy makers woke up to the changes they needed to make to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
I pondered these future options as I stood on the proposed route of the Heathrow’s third runway. Both of these futures are currently in our hands. All of our hands. Meanwhile Hurricane Dean threatens the Caribbean. Meanwhile people plan their next climate change outreach event.
** For more info on aviation and climate change, see the report 'Predict and Decide: Aviation, climate change and UK policy' : http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/predictanddecide.php **
Yesterday evening I was in Wantage fo rthe Wantage and Grove Green people's showing of An Inconvenient Truth..to about 80 people. What great work and a great turn out. The questions afterwards were very mixed..from people saying that the film was pure propaganda....to the questions about what to do...to questions asking about the role of nuclear power. It triggered us to think that we need to have more of these answers at hand on the website too...so watch this space. i've also just had a chance to delve into the forums, and delighted to see lots of discussions happening there. More soon..tomorrow Oxfordshire goes large is unleashed at the Botanic Gardens!