Archive for February, 2011

Tracking the Impact of Films: “The End of the Line”

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 28th, 2011

Source: The Ecologist

From “The End of the Line: how a film changed the way we eat fish” by Tom Levitt and Ali Thomas:

A new report highlights the lasting impact of The End of the Line in raising awareness of unsustainable fishing practices – and illustrates how radical new film funding models can work.

More than one million people have now watched The End of the Line, a groundbreaking expose of the consequences of overfishing, according to an evaluation of the film’s impact. The film was the first major documentary to look at the impact of overfishing on the world’s oceans with a quarter of the world’s fish stocks being exploited to extinction and a further half at, or close to, their maximum capacity. It highlighted how many of well-known species, including bluefin tuna and cod, are likely to be extinct by 2048.

Although initially watched by less than 10,000 people in the cinema, the film managed to reach a much wider audience of 4.7 million in the UK through a combination of media coverage, strong campaigning – and later – TV screenings. It also inspired a wave of coverage of unsustainable fishing practices, including the recent TV series ‘Hugh’s Fish Fight’.

A new report by the Britdoc Foundation said post-film campaign work around the documentary meant that for each film watcher, a further 510 people had heard about it. A quarter of a million people alone watched the film’s trailer on YouTube.

The team behind the film set up consumer focused websites ‘Seafood Watch Widget’ and ‘Fish to Fork’ to allow people to check on the sustainability of popular supermarket fish species. It also advised on restaurants selling fish species listed as endangered by the Marine Stewardship council (MSC).


Read the full article (there’s lots more great detail) by Tom Levitt and Ali Thomas

Building Low Carbon Britain: Report

Posted in Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 25th, 2011

Source: Forum for the Future

Building A Low-Carbon Britain:

Local authorities will have a key role to play in the low carbon economy of the future. This project aimed to help local authorities understand what a low-carbon economy means for them and to find opportunities for low-carbon innovation in a time of public sector cuts.

Building a low-carbon Britain, jointly produced with The Association of Directors of Environment, Economy, Planning and Transport (ADEPT), makes five recommendations or building blocks for how local authorities can prepare their areas and communities for a low carbon future. It presents four scenarios which explore plausible, alternative visions of a low carbon UK. You can download the full report here.

We hope that local authorities across the UK will use the scenarios to develop new strategies and policies, and challenge current practice, perhaps using them as starting points for their own low-carbon future visions. To continue the momentum generated by the study, ADEPT and Forum for the Future are planning a series of local events during 2011 to facilitate an exchange of ideas and information between interested parties. If you would like to attend the events or would like to know more about the project, please contact Zoe Le Grand.

Although the four scenarios are very different, we have identified positive strategic responses to each so organisations can either develop the best elements or avoid the worst. Where these responses work across multiple scenarios, they represent strong strategic options which are robust for a range of futures – in effect, the building blocks for creating a low-carbon economy.

The four scenarios are:

  • Community Action – where a “well-being” economy values meaningful work and low-carbon impact lifestyles, with a smaller, more localised state.
  • Technology and Choice – where low-carbon industries compete for business, with councils which invested early in reducing carbon emissions reaping rewards.
  • Emergency State Control – where the state replaces the market as the driver of change with economies forcibly reorientated in favour of carbon reduction.
  • Business Revolution – where the public sector is a “low-carbon facilitator” and ‘carbon efficiency’ has replaced cost efficiency.
Read about the strategic responses to the scenarios over on the Forum for the Future Page.

Sustainability: Longevity V. Maintenance

Posted in Opinion, Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 24th, 2011

Source: Wide Urban World

Photo of Teotihuacan © K Archdeacon

From “Were ancient cities sustainable?” by Michael E. Smith:

As an archaeologist, I have a very different view of sustainability than most scholars who study the contemporary world. For sustainability today, one of the standard definitions is that of Gro Harlem Bruntland: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” There is much debate and discussion about this definition and its usefulness, but the dual components of current practices and potential future outcomes are fundamental for most writers.

Archaeology deals with human society over long time spans—centuries and even millennia. For me, a sustainable society is one that lasts for a long time. In central Mexico, Teotihuacan society flourished for five centuries or more, while many of the societies that came later were only around for a couple of centuries before collapsing. Teotihuacan was far more sustainable. People sometimes wonder why Classic Maya civilization collapsed, assuming that their society and practices must have been defective. But the Maya cities lasted even longer than Teotihuacan. My own society in the USA has lasted less than half as long as the Classic Maya, so perhaps the Maya had a more sustainable society than we have today.


Read the rest of this article by Michael E. Smith.

Visioning 2032: Short Films on a Sustainable Future

Posted in Visions by Kate Archdeacon on February 23rd, 2011

The Victorian Eco Innovation Lab (VEIL) has launched a series of thirteen one-minute films at Federation Square, which will run within the regular content on the Big Screen over the next few months. The films are responses to some of the questions VEIL has been asking since the project started in 2007:

What could a sustainable neighbourhood in Melbourne look like? How could we transform a number of our existing urban communities through design ‘interventions’?

If we are to develop low-carbon resilient suburbs in Melbourne, we need to have some vision of what a desirable future living scenario is, and the changes we can make today to set us on a path there. The films are a glimpse of that potential future. The animated films are a culmination of four years’ worth of work by students and staff from Swinburne University, RMIT University, Monash University and the University of Melbourne, as well as from Melbourne design professionals. Each presents a different area of sustainable design innovation. These include new infrastructure schemes for water, food, energy and public transport, along with innovative design strategies for suburban development and new local employment opportunities.

The films can be seen here, on the VEIL website, or they can be downloaded from Vimeo (once you log in).

SustainableCitiesNet is a project of the Victorian Eco Innovation Lab.

Dr. Vandana Shiva on the Future of Food

Posted in Opinion, Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 23rd, 2011

Source: Permaculture Research Institute of Australia

Dr. Vandana Shiva shares a lucid discussion on Monsanto’s inexplicable view of nature as the enemy of mankind, and their determination to sell us ‘liberation’ from it. Aside from being an impossible battle, it’s also a wholly misguided one, based on a self-interested, short-term-thinking profit mentality, rather than the much needed acceptance of, and cooperation with, biological realities we need to see instead.  Films by Cooking Up A Story.

Watch the video, in three parts, on the PRI website: “Vandana Shiva: The Future of Food”

Cargo Bicycle Library: Sharing Sustainable Transport

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on February 22nd, 2011

Image: illustir via flickr CC

The Watershed Bike Library contains a fleet of specialist cargo bikes and trailers to allow cyclists to carry things that might otherwise require a car – from shopping, to kids, household items and more.  (Bike Sydney has a great article on the statistics for the Bike Library’s first 150 days of operation.)

Check out the fleet:

Gazelle Cabby cargo bike

  • A large capacity bike perfect for hauling kids and shopping
  • The Cabby tub seats two children with seatbelts and has maximum load of 75kg

Xtracycle Radish cargo bike

  • A highly versatile cargo bike
  • The Xtracycle has a long wheel base, a large wooden platform behind the seat, and super size panniers
  • Not suitable for transporting children

General purpose utility trailer

  • Connects to most standard bicycles
  • Perfect for carrying shopping and heavier loads
  • Not suitable for transporting children

Pacific kiddie trailer

  • A child bike trailer equipped with seats and seatbelts to carry one or two children
  • Mesh front screen and fold up rain cover
  • Maximum load of 36kg

Bikes are borrowed from and returned to:
The Watershed
218 King St, Newtown NSW 2042

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Saturday from 10am – 4pm and Thursdays from 10am – 7pm
Telephone: 9519 6366

The Watershed is a sustainability resource centre in the heart of Newtown.  A joint initiative of City of Sydney and Marrickville Councils, it is part of an ongoing commitment to supporting sustainable environments within the urban community.  The Watershed is free and open to the public and offers a variety of services such as a library, free workshops, practical ideas for everyday sustainable living, educational and business programs.  We hope that a visit to The Watershed will inspire you to take action for a sustainable future.

Urban Winery Uses Local Fruit

Posted in Models by Kate Archdeacon on February 21st, 2011

Source: Springwise

The Infinite Monkey Theorem is urban winery operated by one mad scientist working out of a converted Quonset hut on a back alley in the Santa Fe Arts District of Denver.  It makes no pretensions about having a vineyard of its own. Rather, “we buy the best grapes and we make ridiculously good wine,” in the site’s own words. It’s primarily local fruit that’s used, according to the site, and the results of IMT’s efforts are now available in 125 local restaurants, wine bars and stores.

Imagine if local wineries bought up all the excess grapes people grow as shading in their backyards?  Super-local wines!  KA

Livewell Report: Reducing GHG Emissions, Improving Nutrition

Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on February 18th, 2011

Source: Food Climate Research Network (FCRN)

Macdiarmid J, Kyle J, Horgan G, Loe L, Fyfe C, Johnston A and McNeill G (2011). Livewell – a balance of healthy and sustainable food choices, WWF-UK, Godalming, UK
This review of the report is by Tara Garnett, Food Climate Research Network:

WWF has released its Livewell report, that looks at whether it is possible to eat a diet that is both lower in GHG emissions and more nutritionally balanced than current dietary norms in the UK.  WWF-UK’s One Planet Food Programme (2009-12) has set goals to reduce UK food-consumption related emissions by at least 25% by 2020 and by 70% by 2050, based on 1990 emission levels. The report does three key things:

  • it assesses the current ‘normal’ UK diet against government recommendations with respect to fat, protein, fruit and vegetable intakes, and so forth (the Eatwell plate)
  • it looks at whether it is possible to develop a nutritionally balanced diet which is 25% lower in embedded GHG emissions than the norm today (ie. the 2020 target), and illustrates what this might look like by developing a one-week sample menu
  • it looks at whether it is possible to develop a nutritionally balanced diet which is 70% lower in embedded GHG emissions than the norm today (the 2050 target).

The research was undertaken by the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health at the University of Aberdeen. The report’s GHG data is based, with adjustments, on the FCRN-WWF-UK commissioned How low can we go? Report but all the nutrition analysis is completely new.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dig Bristol Get Growing Campaign

Posted in Events, Movements by Rob Eales on February 16th, 2011

A new urban food growing campaign is being promoted on our companion site, Sustainable Bristol

Images via Bristol Local Food organisers of the Dig Bristol Get Growing Campaign

The Dig Bristol ‘Get Growing’ Map promotes alternatives to traditional garden or allotment growing, as part of the city-regions’ campaign to get more people involved in urban veg production.

Do you want to get mucky in a Community Garden? Or learn to look after chickens at a City Farm? Ever wanted to pluck your own apple from a Shared Orchard? The Bristol ’Get Growing’ Map has put all this information in one easy to use online map, making it simple for people to find peaceful city sanctuaries and social garden spaces on their cities’ doorstep.
The Dig Bristol urban growing campaign is run by Bristol Food Network, an umbrella group, made up of individuals, community projects, organisations and businesses who share a vision to transform the Bristol city-region into a sustainable food city.
The site covers the cities of Bristol, Weston Supermare, Bath and Thornbury and the region of Bristol.  There are opportunities to volunteer for “a community garden, city farm or orchard” and resources where you can find information about a community growing project that is right for you.  Sounds great!
Dig Bristol Get Growing Campaign

Hester Street Collaborative offers compelling example of pro bono community design work

Posted in Models, Sustainable Cities by Rob Eales on February 14th, 2011

Via ChangeObserver

Image by Hester Street Collaborative

Ernest Beck writing for a “series of models of how architecture and design firms do pro bono” describes how one firm approaches the complex issues surrounding “designing for the public good”.

The article describes in detail how the firm approached its engagement with the community in order to “sustain the commitment” for infrastructure required for serious work.

From Hester Street Collaborative By Ernest Beck

For Marc Turkel, Morgan Hare and Shawn Watts, partners in Leroy Street Studio, a small architecture firm in New York’s Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood, the solution has been a two-pronged approach: to integrate community design elements into a practice that services a broad cross-section of clients, and separately, to nurture an autonomous nonprofit unit, the Hester Street Collaborative (HSC), that spearheads community design programs. Taken together, they form an unusual model in the field of design and social change.


The architects put together a design education program that included building a sculpture garden with the students. “The idea wasn’t to create the next generation of architects and designers, but to allow students to improve their environment,” Frederick explains.

It’s a great article about the how the development of different approaches to complex problems can be successful as well as a great example of how a business can engage with a local community that it is part of.

Read the article