Monthly Archives: April 2008

blogging brings about BBC action network closure

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This month the BBC’s action network who previously attempted to get like minded people and groups together, has to admit defeat as bloggers take over. The BBC site has been running for five years but can no longer keep up. It’s nice to know we make a difference. Here’s their goodbye speech.

Dear Action Network members,

We are sorry to announce that the Action Network website will be closing on Wednesday 30 April 2008.

Action Network, which helps people get involved in their neighbourhood, has been running for five years. It was one of the first user-generated websites to embrace online democracy and help people publicise their campaigns and articles online.

But in the last few years blogs have led to a revolution in online publishing. Today there are 71m blogs on the web and more and more of our campaigners are enthusiastically blogging or joining social networking sites to get their message out.

At the same time other fantastic democracy websites have launched, such as TheyWorkForYou and E-Petitions, which are being used by our members along with all the other tools available on the web.

Although we’ve continued to update our site with new features, we now feel that the pace and innovation of online democracy means that our members can access a wider range of web tools, and have more control of their campaigns, outside Action Network.

So, sadly, Action Network will be closed at the end of April, and we will be providing information to our members on how they can find new homes for their campaigns (see the link to FAQs).

However in line with the BBC’s public service remit, we will continue our commitment to help people engage in civic life and national debate with two new initiatives.

The first will be to launch a new service which will give people access to all the BBC’s content across tv, radio and online on a range of topical issues. Many of these topic pages will reflect the same issues that have been central to Action Network, from healthcare and schools, to public transport and policing.

Each topic page will offer the latest news stories on an issue, including TV and radio programmes, while linking to the wider debate through people’s blogs, campaigns and websites.

Many of the Action Network guides and briefings will be moved across to the BBC News Online website and will be found in the new topic pages – and will continue to help people understand how political systems work and how to get involved.

The second is a wider digital democracy broadband project, ultimately aiming to provide video of debates and speeches from our main institutions, information on your local and national representatives, guides to issues and the institutions, and easy ways for anyone to plug in and take part.

For more information on the Action Network closure we have provided a list of FAQs which we hope will answer all your queries.

We wish you the best in your campaigning.


international downshifting week 19 – 25 april

“If you are looking for a little help to slow down your pace and enjoy life more, this is the place for you!

Our campaign was formerly known as ‘National’ Downshifting Week. This year, as a result of the strong support we’ve received from around the globe asking if other countries can officially ‘join in’, we’ve simply decided to rename it
‘InterNational Downshifting Week’!

Now everybody can get involved and form a united and global movement that supports living and working more sustainably and strives for a proper work / life balance!

Our campaign remains packed full of really simple ideas that will help you ‘slow down and green up’ and it’s almost time for her 4th outing. I cannot wait to get my teeth into it and this year I’ll be working hard to keep my carbon footprint down to a minimum. I hope to enthuse you with ideas on the many ways you can slow down and green up in your home, community, business and school.

So keep an eye on our website and Green Family Blog for further details and good luck with your own personal downshift!”

Tracey Smith

Creator of InterNational Downshifting Week

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why aren’t all bikes like this ?

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On the streets of India and China these types of bike are common place. Cheap utility vehicle options are born more out of economic reason rather than an ethical or environmental one, thats understandable but why have we not adopted the same route?

I must admit I’m a bit bias because I love these things, but also I can’t see why more bikes arn’t built this way over the conventional bicycle style. I want to see a larger range of utility bikes on the market at affordable prices. It’s not just that there useful the environmental impact speaks for itself. Being a non car person I still often have to rely on car owners to move anything bigger than what will fit in a rucksack, which is very annoying but one of these would make life much easier as well as giving me back a sense of independence.

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What bothers me most is that it’s probably the western fear of looking odd. The last thing most people want to do is stand out. How many times have you heard people say “I’m not walking down the street carrying that!”

I know you can get trailers and panniers for conventional cycles, which from a permaculture point of view I have to say is better than having to scrap an old bike for a new one but I want custom built utility cycles to replace conventional cycles. I’m sure the environmental impact would be staggering. I know that I don’t go shopping on my bike for two reasons, one is that everything on my bike is quick release so it’s easy to pinch bit’s off it even when it’s chained up. Two I’ve nowhere to put my shopping! A trike with a box on the front would solve all my worries and it would’nt fall over!!

Here are the ones I like that are on the market at present. I’ve not posted links as this is not an advertisement.

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I want to make one similar to this one above.
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The main hurdle at present is that they are on offer but not at an affordable price, most start at the £1000 mark! The solution then is to customize existing bikes to what you need. Last month I was given a lift through the centre of london on a customized bike. It had a seat on the front which could also double as a box and a smaller seat at the back, so you could have two passengers. I’m in the process of doing this myself, any tips are welcome and I’ll post the results, even if they are a shambles!!. I see so many scrap cycles just dumped and they are always going on freecycle.

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turning an old demijohn into a cloche

I discovered this method by accident a few years ago while trying to clean an old bottle. I found an old demijohn outside and well past being able to clean it and more wanting to try this out!!

It’s dead simple, get a washing up bowl and add really cold water enough to cover the bottom of the demijohn, about a couple of inches. Leave it in there for a while to make sure the base is nice and cold. Then just boil the kettle and pour in the boiling water. If your lucky it should crack instantly and the bottom just drop out. If not give it a twist.

There you have it instant mini green house, the best part is you recycle something thats otherwise useless and it won’t blow away like plastic bottles.


Escape the Fantasy April 21 – 27

The idea is simple: take your TV, your DVD player, your video iPod, your XBOX 360, your laptop, your PSP, and say goodbye to them all for seven days. Simple, but not at all easy. Like millions of others before you, you’ll be shocked at just how difficult – yet also how life-changing – a week spent unplugged can really be.

check out the website before next week!!

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