Twenty years ago today

Chico Mendes died exactly twenty years ago today, shot by landowners for organising rainforest workers and communities. An inspiring figure, he is not just a legend. He is now a musical … Amazonia.

The age of stupid

Liz Laine, who leads on sustainable energy at Consumer Focus from the new year, tells me she is one of the ‘crowd Pete Postlewaitefunders’ of a new film – The Age of Stupid. The film is due for launch in March 2009 and stars Pete Postlethwaite, looking back from the mess of a globally warmed planet to what went wrong in our age today.

The Directors are Franny Armstrong (McLibel) and John Battsek (One Day in September) and the complete costs of the film were raised by subscriptions from hundreds of people, who now have a share in the venture. I see Fred Mulder, Anaradha Vittachi, Mark B are in the crowd too. You can still buy Age of Stupid stickers, fair trade T-shirts and compost bin too to help out. The organisers hope to use the same model of ‘crowd funding’ to raise the costs for a campaign, ‘not stupid’, to go along with the film.

Smart activism!

New semantics

Have you noticed that nationalising the banks is now called ‘recapitalisation’ and part-privatising Royal Mail is called ‘partnership’…

Do and die

“Modernise or decline” is the title of the review by Richard Hooper launched today on the mail market. It is a self-styled ‘do or die’ menu for Royal Mail and it is genuinely an interesting mix – part privatise the mail operations, renationalise the pensions obligations and hand over regulation to the communications watchdog Ofcom.

Will it work? I don’t know. There must be questions about whether Post Office Limited floats free in future and how we avoid lame duck regulation in the run up to an important price review for 2010. It is right though that the future of post is bound up in communications – if we think of mail as information you send for the personal attention of someone else, then texting, email, IM, twitter and all are signs of a vibrant if fast changing mail market.

Personally, I guess it is right to press ahead quickly if this is what government decides it wants. It does at least offer a chance to reverse the long years of underinvestment in Royal Mail. One speaker at the launch by the way accidently referred to the name of the report as “Modernise and Decline”…

Do and die doesn’t sound quite so hopeful…

Goodbye Woolworths

For me, Woolworths is happy memories of toys and plastics stretching back to when I was knee high to a pic’n’mix counter.

In 1988, Nanci Griffith penned a song I recall – “Rita was sixteen years, hazel eyes and chestnut hair. She made the Woolworths counter shine.”

The Woolworths UK website now declares itself “curently undergoing essential maintenance.”

Goodbye, Woolies.

Big coffee

Starbucks – do you love them or hate them? header_logo1

Well, they may have tipped the scales a bit when Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks swung by London in recent days. He is promising that 100% of the Starbucks espresso coffee sold in the UK and Ireland will be fairtrade certified by the end of 2009.  That is the majority of Starbucks sales here. It is also part of a global plan to make them the world’s largest purchaser of fairtrade certified coffee.  Big coffee. Big love?