Tag Archives: London

Cranes Soaring to Escape London

New Orleans  One thing that intrigued me in both England and Ireland over the last two weeks was the amount of construction in every city I visited.   These were not little small-time projects, but giant cranes building skyscrapers in most of the cities.

Manchester was out of control.  On the tram in Manchester going to the office, I looked out and could see seven or eight cranes in the distance with existing towers already in place way outside of the city center.  I asked the organizers what’s up, and they pointed behind me to the other side of the tram car, and there were another three or four right there as well.  Going into Leeds train station I counted eight cranes on the horizon of this smaller city.  Walking along my accustomed route to Bristol’s Temple Mead station in the last half kilometer, I was walking between multistory buildings going up with new construction on both sides of the street.  Sheffield almost the same thing.  Then again in Dublin, the members said there were building all over the city center.

I kept asking, “What’s happening?”  Are there new jobs or corporate relocations driving this?  The answers varied, but no one really knew.  In some places, Dublin and Sheffield particularly the fingers pointed towards construction of student housing where developers build privately for universities and cop an extra 25% on the rents to the desperate students.  In other cities, as we scratched our heads, there were no clear answers.  Land was cheaper, we speculated in the north, but that doesn’t factor enough for developers to risk millions and millions.  Most of the construction was high-end rentals or condos it seemed. The only real answer seemed to be that either there already is a mass exodus from the exorbitant cost of housing in London that is driving people elsewhere to have an opportunity to ever buy or even to rent something or that developers realize that London has become so crazy that the hordes are bound to be coming.  Either this is the biggest favor that London has inadvertently done some of the other cities or there is a huge bubble in high-end and quasi-commercial buildings.

One thing is clear from everyone.  Almost none of this is about building social housing or affordable housing so that existing residents in these cities can find decent housing.  In Dublin for example, organizers were telling me that many people are decamping from there to Glasgow because the cost of housing is cheaper there.

None of this seems sustainable or sound policy about how to grow and who to serve in growing, which seems to make a crash unavoidable.

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Please enjoy Grace Potter – Back To Me [Feat. Lucius]

Thanks to WAMF.

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Extinction Rebellion

New Orleans    Extinction Rebellion is an interesting burst of energy and protest pushing governments, initially in the United Kingdom, to act immediately to avert catastrophic climate change.   Bursting onto the scene less than a year ago with actions in the fall and now calling for non-violent civil disobedience during the final two weeks of April, they have been front page news in London.  Their hallmark has been hard hitting, disrupting and innovative actions, which I find interesting and worth following.

More than 1000 have been arrested in London so far.  The Mayor of London mobilized more than 2000 additional police to deal with the disruption.  Attempts to confine the demonstrations to the Marble Arch in London have been unsuccessful.  Demonstrators have blocked politicians from entering the House of Parliament.  Others disrupted Parliament by disrobing there with messages printed on their bodies.  Some have super-glued various parts of their bodies, including their rear ends, to public areas to make their point.  Bridges, roads, and the London Underground have all been blocked at various times.  With Extinction Rebellion’s encouragement, actions have been joined in several other countries as well.

Their website lays out their objectives, structure, and principles:

At the core of Extinction Rebellion’s philosophy is nonviolent civil disobedience. We promote civil disobedience and rebellion because we think it is necessary- we are asking people to find their courage and to collectively do what is necessary to bring about change.

We organise in small groups. These groups are connected in a complex web that is constantly evolving as we grow and learn. We are working to build a movement that is participatory, decentralised, and inclusive.

All are welcome who want to adhere to our principles and values

  1. we have a shared vision of change

  2. we set our mission on what is necessary

  3. we need a regenerative culture

  4. we openly challenge ourselves and our toxic system

  5. we value reflecting and learning

  6. we welcome everyone and every part of everyone

  7. we actively mitigate for power

  8. we avoid blaming and shaming

  9. we are a non-violent network

  10. we are based on autonomy and decentralisation

It’s easy to critique this kind of Occupy-lite effort for the climate.  They avoid any economic or political analysis adopting a “make the government act” program rather than going after polluting businesses or policies.  They are oblivious to class and gender.  They don’t worry with sustainability, staffing, or membership.  They focus on the Chenoworth 3.5% notion as if it were a biblical guarantee, rather than a shaky post-Leninist notion.

So what?  Climate change is disruptive to the future, so it needs disruptive tactics to meet the peril and make it immediate, rather than in the by and by.  I’m not saying, let a thousand flowers bloom, but it sure wouldn’t hurt to have Extinction Rebellion and some other hellraisers taking action to stop business as usual and increase the heat on policy makers and politicians by demanding – and acting on their demands – until they force a response.  Some may take potshots at Extinction Rebellion, but for now count me in the stands cheerleading and leading the applause.  Their actions are important and make a difference.

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