Never where

February 25, 2021 § Leave a comment

Bromley Council is conducting an important consultation about the Albemarle Road cycle route scheme (see HERE). We need you to take 2 minutes out of your day between now and 3 March, to help us stop a move to kill the scheme stone dead – which could result in TfL declining to support any new active travel infrastructure in Bromley for several years. 

Recording 101

December 31, 2020 § Leave a comment


December 8, 2020 § Leave a comment

For the new Simone Giertz, accepting her own flaws and embracing grand, non-shitty designs are of a piece. “There are so many things that are amazing that are not perfect. And there are so many things that are perfect that are fucking boring,” she says. “Perfect is a corset. It doesn’t let you breathe. It doesn’t let you roll around. It’s a small pen to be in.”

Review of O’Reilly “Ethnographic Methods” (2004)

November 9, 2020 § Leave a comment

‘In fact, the most arresting feature of the book is O’Reilly’s constant defence of the need of rigour, critical thought and an honest reflexion on the limitations and benefits of the research methods used, of being aware of the causes of bias….In the end, one of the strongest impressions the book leaves is that it is not the sophistication of the methods used that gives scientific status to ethnography, but reflexivity and being aware of what you are doing and why. Something, by the way, that is applicable to any scientific discipline and is not always properly stressed.’
-Jordi Prats in Significance

History of South-East London

September 11, 2020 § Leave a comment

Just transition and Port Talbot

July 20, 2020 § Leave a comment


Two fantastic climate webinars

July 10, 2020 § Leave a comment

Thursday 9 July 2020

Friday 10 July 2020 “Organising on the Climate Crisis and Just Transition”, 1-2pm UK time, session in TUC’s Organise 2020 conference

  • Key point: transition needs to happen (as a result of decline of carbon-intensive industries and growth of green industries), and the key issue from the perspective of the trade union movement is who pays the cost of the transition – big companies, small companies, workers, communities living next to polluting industries, ‘the taxpayer’?
  • Both Sue Ferns and Sam Smith were excellent.
  • Lots of young people are totally on board with the need to address climate change, but have zero understanding of the role the union movement could potentially play in this colossal task. So one of the tasks of the union movement is to change this.

Further details:

Organising session

Abstract: The climate crisis is now urgent. The UK, along with many other countries, have adopted a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. A just transition is necessary to ensure that we do not save the planet at the cost of workers’ jobs and communities.
The Global South, meanwhile, suffers most from global warming, despite having contributed least to the problem. A just transition is needed for workers in both the Global North and the Global South. Climate change is a major trade union issue and, having galvanised young people like few other challenges in recent years, is an important organising opportunity for trade unions in the months and years ahead.

Chair: Tim Page, senior policy officer TUC, with responsibility for industrial strategy and energy and climate change. Tim represented the TUC at the COP25 UN climate change summit in Madrid in December 2019.

Speakers: Lebogang Mulaisi, labour market policy co-ordinator, Cosatu, South Africa, Sue Ferns senior deputy general secretary, Prospect and the TUC general council lead on energy and climate change, chair of the Trade Union Sustainable Development Advisory Committee, Sam Smith, Director of the Just Transition Centre. Before this, Sam was the global climate and energy leader for WWF.

That’s just how it goes these days

June 7, 2020 § Leave a comment

“Fire up the scanner and keep your eyes on it
Don’t speak unless someone speaks to you” (John Darnielle, Mountain Goats, “Home Again Garden Grove”)

Love in the time of COVID-19 – Part Deux

April 14, 2020 § Leave a comment


Working from home with a small kid

I’ll keep this super-short because if you’re currently working from home with a small kid (WFHWASK) you don’t have time to read anything long. In what follows I am mainly addressing my fellow WFHWASKers.

Here’s a good, upbeat place to start: well done, you’re doing great, and when this is over you’ll look back and see you had an opportunity to spend time with your kid/s that most working parents never get. When this is in the past, you’ll cherish your rose-tinted memories of this time. And even now, when in it’s in the present, there will be moments of pure joy. For me, one such moment was hearing my four-year-old daughter presenting a strong case for why we should only listen to the songs she wants to listen to: “because when I was in mummy’s tummy you chose all the music.”

Today is the start of the fourth week of my wife and I WFHWASKing, and I’m watching suspiciously to see what this week’s “phase” will look like. Here’s how it’s gone so far: week one was “@$?%*^&! there’s no way we can do this, I’m so tired!!!”, week two was “ok we’re starting to figure out a routine here, maybe we can survive this,” and week three was “how long are we going to have to keep inventing new activities for her?”

One reason I have it good: my wife is amazing, and we have now accumulated enough years of parenting experience to know some of the tricks.

Another reason I have it good: my colleagues have been fantastic. Really, really fantastic. I hear lots of stories about people whose colleagues and managers have not been so fantastic. So I’ll conclude with some half-joking, half-serious advice to colleagues of WFHWASKers.

  1. Don’t say “I hope you’ve got a garden for her to play in, at least,” because the answer might be “no, we don’t.”
  2. Don’t say “I remember when my children were that age,” because when your children were that age we weren’t all stuck at home 24/7.
  3. Don’t say “Others have got it worse,” because we know that.
  4. Do say “Read the HR guidance, do what you need to do to look after yourself, and I’m here if you want to talk about it.”

Stay safe and good luck! And I’m here if you want to talk about it!

A response to a friend

Thanks for sending your piece of writing. At first I wasn’t sure how to respond but now I have decided to respond with a piece of writing of my own. Unintentionally, my piece of writing has also been prepared in slightly similar circumstances to yours: I woke at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep, and here I am at 4am, writing this.

I don’t want to second-guess your reasons for writing and sending your piece, but I think it’s worth noting that you haven’t sent something like this in the past, and that the current situation we are all in is extremely – unprecedentedly – weird and strange. I think we’re all trying to make sense of it, and are doing so in circumstances that push us to face and live with what is within us. Me writing this to you, right now, is part of the process of me trying to make sense of this time we’re living in, and it’s the fourth written attempt I am making to process my thoughts.

The first written attempt was an email I sent to about 5 anthropologists I know, and in that email I tried to argue that COVID-19 is like an anthropologist in the sense that it makes us re-consider our taken-for-granted everyday behaviours and ways of seeing things. (I also wrote that COVID-19 is not like an anthropologist because anthropologists don’t tend to kill people, and no one pays any attention to what anthropologists say or do. I didn’t get much of a response to my email.)

The second written attempt was a journal I started writing (it’s on my blog, which effectively means I’m probably the only person who has read it). From conversations with friends and things I’ve read, I think a lot of people have started some kind of COVID-19 journal. A very clear, strong impulse drove me to start writing the journal and then at a certain point, after about two and a half weeks of self-isolation, the impulse faltered and I became unclear about why I was writing it, and stopped. My third written attempt was a blogpost I wrote for my organisation’s intranet about the challenges of working from home while looking after a young child. I’m glad I wrote that piece, as I know it helped me get a clearer sense of the life I’m living right now.

All that I have written so far, here, is me trying to say: I don’t know why you wrote what you did, but the current situation has driven me to write, too. One last thing I want to write before commenting on your piece of writing is that the impulse that drove me to pick up my laptop and write this to you now came from reading The Left Hand of Darkness, which has been my main COVID-19 reading.

It’s not a novel about COVID-19, but there is something in it that resonates with the experience of self-isolation. The main character is an envoy, representing his civilization, his organisation, on an alien world. He is among people but isolated because he is the only one among them from a different world. At a later point in the book, the part I am reading now, he and one of the aliens are traveling on foot across the icy polar region at the northern extreme of the world. What struck me about this part of the book, as I read it just now, is the characters’ constant watchfulness: over their food supplies, their energy and health, their direction of travel, and their relationship. Because one false move in any of these areas could mean the difference between life and death in the extremely hostile environment they are in.

Without wanting to sound melodramatic, there is some similarity with what all of us are living through with COVID-19.

Vertical gardening – pea frame

April 13, 2020 § Leave a comment

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