8pm, 26th June, The Cowley Club, 12 London Road, BN1 4JA 01273 696104
Stanmer based growing group Fork and Dig It are launching a share issue with a difference: a share in this year’s harvest of organic local veg.
Fork and Dig it set up the popular ‘Veg Share’ two years ago, as Brighton’s first community supported agriculture (CSA) scheme. CSAs are a way for people to access quality local produce at an affordable price, by volunteering some of their time to grow it. The more produce is grown, the greater the size of each share!
All the produce is grown in Stanmer Park and certified organic by the Soil Association. The veg travels weekly to Brighton and Hove pick up points so as to keep ‘food miles’ to a minimum and guarantee freshness; or shareholders can opt for doorstep delivery. All profits go back into the group and there are discounts for people on a low income.
Fork and Dig It welcome also welcome volunteers on a drop in basis every Tuesday and Friday and the first Sunday of the month, to enjoy the group’s beautiful site at Stanmer Organics; learn about organic growing; and be part of this friendly community project.
Note to editors:
Fork and Dig It is a volunteer led community growing group based in Stanmer Organics, Stanmer Park, Brighton and certified organic by the Soil Association. They grow on just under 2 acres of land surrounded by lovely woods on the edge of the Downs.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) offers an innovative approach where a food or farm enterprise has members who own ‘shares’ in the harvest and therefore also share in the risk.
Local food- there has been considerable growth in the local food sector with organic box schemes, farmers’ markets, farm shops and more recently community supported agriculture.
The Soil Association is a charity campaigning for planet-friendly food and farming and has some of the most comprehensive standards for organic production and processing in the world.
Last week a drilling rig was set up near Balcome in Sussex to start boring for water samples, taking residents and the Environment Agency by surprise. This has galvanised the local community to set up “Rigwatch” — a gathering of people to monitor Cuadrilla’s activities.
Friends of the Earth South East Regional Campaigner, Brenda Pollack said:
“Shale gas will do little to tackle rising energy bills. It’s extraction will have a damaging impact on local communities and their environment, and pump more climate-changing emissions into the atmosphere.”
Carol Dawes from Brighton & Hove Friends of the Earth added:
“We totally support the people in West Sussex who are fighting fracking. This energy process will industrialise the Sussex landscape and undermine investment in clean, renewable energy.”
Dr Mariann Lloyd-Smith — International expert on toxics and contamination and advisor to the anti-fracking movement in Australia
Tony Janio B&H Council Conservative environment lead
Howard Johns — founder of Southern Solar and expert in local energy solutions
Tony Bosworth — Friends of the Earth Energy Campaigner
Fracking for shale gas is one of the hottest environmental issues of the moment. Experience from the US has raised concerns about contamination of water resources and air pollution. Proposals for shale gas drilling in the UK have led to vigorous local opposition,but the Government is determined to press ahead. Its supporters say shale gas is a key part of our energy future , but what will be its impact on the local environment, on tackling climate change and on energy bills
See lively introduction of the Dangers of Fracking
FOE’s report on Fracking is here: http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/briefings/shale_gas.pdf
AND A STORY NOT OF CUCKFIELD SUSSEX BUT OF COOK’S VALLEY USA AND THEIR EXPERIENCE OF FRACKING
This story is the first installment of Truthout’s Fracking Road Trip series on the wide-reaching impacts of the fracking industry.
The bluffs rise up gently from the rolling hills and farmlands of Wisconsin’s Chippewa County. For years, the bluffs stood silent as small farming communities grew around them. The bluffs are too steep to farm and most of the trees in the area grow on the tops of bluffs and around their rolling slopes and steep faces. It’s unusually cold for April and trees stand as silhouettes against a layer of snow.
This scene is quickly interrupted at the intersection of two county roads in the small township of Cooks Valley. A large bluff behind a farm has disappeared. The bluff has been blasted, churned up and turned into giant piles of sand. The sand will soon be trucked off to a processing plant, loaded back into trucks or perhaps onto a waiting train and then shipped to oil and gas fields in other states.
The sand will be mixed with water and chemicals and forced deep underground to break up rock and release precious fossils fuels. This isn’t the kind of sand you find at the beach; it’s silica, or “frack sand,” a carcinogenic dust and a key ingredient in the hydraulic fracking process which has facilitated a nationwide natural gas boom and, according to opponents, an ongoing environmental crisis. Silica particles are uniquely shaped and prop open fractures in the underground rock to free the oil or gas.
Cooks Valley may be far from the oil and gas fields, but like the rural neighborhoods in states where fracking rigs and gas pipelines have replaced pastures, the frack industry’s demand for natural resources has pitted neighbor against neighbor and turned this once tight-knit community upside down.
In the Shadow of the Mine
Jane Sonnentag is a busy woman. Several children bounce around her humble kitchen as she holds her youngest child and laughs as she recalls her father advising her not to marry a farmer. She did not take his advice, and now Sonnentag and her husband Louis are raising seven children on their 160-acre farm nestled between the rising bluffs of Cooks Valley. Sonnentag has lived in the area all her life and her family has farmed there for generations. Her farm, she says, is a “little piece of heaven.” But Sonnentag’s farm is not as heavenly as it used to be.
Since 2011, when a massive, out-of-state energy firm won a permit to set up shop in their neighborhood, the Sonnentags have lived in the shadow of a 234-acre frac-sand mine located on the bluffs behind their farm and home. Sonnentag explains that as many as 400 trucks, laden with silica sand or wastewater from a sand-processing plant, may roll past their home in a day. “I’ve got 400 trucks and seven kids and a yard this size … it’s not fun, you know, being by a stop sign, really,” says Sonnentag. “It’s like David verses Goliath, except I don’t have a slingshot.”
For generations, mom-and-pop–sized mines in Wisconsin have supplied silica for a variety of purposes, ranging from water filtration to road paving. But in recent years, the industry has grown exponentially as the fracking boom in other states such as North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania has increased the demand for silica across the country. Big mining and energy companies have swooped into rural communities like the Sonnentag’s to expand existing mines and break ground on massive new ones, turning Wisconsin’s western bluffs into giant piles of sand and its rural towns into centers of sand shipment and processing. There are now 70 active mines operating in Wisconsin, along with dozens of processing facilities. Three mines, each more than 100 acres in size, are currently operating within miles of Sonnentag’s home in Cooks Valley, a small township of less than 1,000 people.
EOG Resources, a massive energy firm and former Enron subsidary (known at the time as Enron Oil and Gas), operates the mine near the Sonnentags’ home. The company’s local office told Truthout to contact its Houston office for comments on the mine and its impacts on nearby farms, but a representative there failed to respond to several inquiries.
When EOG Resources was blasting apart the bluffs, Sonnentag says, the shock would shake her house. Once a blast knocked her to the floor. At times, dust from the mining operations would invade their farm. EOG Resources would dispatch a couple of water trucks every hour to wet down the dust and keep it out of the air, but the effort was “like taking a thimble to a dust bowl.” With dust blowing in the wind and hundreds of trucks passing their house everyday, the Sonnentags became increasingly concerned about their health. “There were not a lot of days we could go outside, because we have two kids who have asthma,” Sonnentag says.
Silica dust is a known carcinogen and has been linked to lung disease and cancer among workers, and the federal government has set limits on silica exposure for the workplace — but has not set limits on public exposure. The frack sand industry in Wisconsin routinely assures the public that airborne silica poses no proven dangers to the public, but without any federal or state regulation of exposure, the industry’s assurances do little to ease Sonnentag’s mind. What if silica is the next asbestos, she wonders? Her family never signed up to be “test dummies.” And what about the water? Pointing toward the mine, Sonnentag says that EOG Resources is currently trucking wastewater from its sand-processing plant, where the sand is treated with water and chemicals, and dumping it back into the mine. “I always thought my kids would want to live here long after we’re gone, but now I don’t know. There might not be any air to breath and water to drink.”
Regulators Stretched Thin
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) regulates sand mines as “nonmetallic mines,” a class that includes the small gravel pits and limestone mines that have long operated throughout the state. Tom Woletz, the DNR point person on frack sand, tells Truthout that DNR has regulated sand mines in this way for years, but now the frack-sand rush has brought much larger mines to the state. “The fugitive dust, that is a potential problem, and that’s what people are concerned about,” Woletz says.
DNR requires mine operators to monitor silica dust emissions and report them to the state, but DNR officials rarely visit the mines in person. Federal funding requires the agency’s limited staff to focus on major sources of air pollution such as large metallic mines.
“Some of these mines are never going to see a DNR air inspector at all unless there is a complaint,” says Woletz. “We could use more people on the ground to make sure that these people are doing the appropriate things.” A state budget proposal could add two more compliance officers to the DNR staff, and Woletz says DNR could always use more people. But much of the responsibility to keep silica out of the air in rural neighborhoods falls on the industry, he says, and DNR can’t always be there to hold its hand. “There’s some really good [operators] out there, and there’s some that have a ways to go,” he says.
In 2012 alone, the DNR issued violations to at least 15 frack-sand operators in the state, according to state records.
Under state rules, a mine located near a child care center or a neighborhood operates under the same pollution standards as a mine located in the middle of a forest, according to Woletz. In many cases, it’s up to the county or local government to regulate trucking, mine locations and land use. With some residents supporting local measures to protect their homes and farms and other residents eager to cash in on the sand rush, local controversies over sand mine regulation have created brutal divisions in communities that would otherwise be models of Midwestern neighborliness.
“There are family members up in Chippewa County that may never talk to each other again, ever,” Woletz admits.
That’s a familiar story to Sonnentag, who was involved in a local push to regulate the sand mines in Cooks Valley under a local ordinance that was opposed by local landowners, including her neighbors. “Sand has dictated everything in this town … pitted neighbor against neighbor,” she says. The best man at her wedding will no longer talk to her. He wanted to start a mine on his land, Sonnentag says, and saw her family and other supporters of the ordinance as standing in his way.
“It’s unfortunate, because he’s no closer to getting that mine started than I am to becoming a vegetarian,” Sonnentag says with a grin.
A Fractured Community
Sleet is turning the snow to ice outside of Sonnentag’s house, but her kitchen, busy with young children arranging pots and pans on the floor, is warm and cozy. Sonnentag chats with Victoria Trinko, who lives a few miles up the road on a small farm located across the street from a frack sand mine. The two women are discussing the local politics surrounding the ordinance they fought for years to put in place in order to regulate the sand mine operations.
“It’s really split our community apart,” Trinko says.
Earlier that morning, Trinko had returned to her home after volunteering at a Sunday pancake breakfast. She says the turnout was good considering the cold weather and a bit of friendly competition from another pancake breakfast at a local church. She takes a seat in her living room, where she has agreed to be interviewed by Truthout. A picture of her daughter, who is now studying abroad, hangs above the mantle. The conversation quickly turns to sand.
Trinko is the Cooks Valley Board clerk and kept notes on the battle over the ordinance, which was first drawn up and passed in 2008 after residents learned that sand mines might open in the neighborhood. The ordinance addressed noise from blasting, hours of operation, silica dust control and the number of trucks allowed to rumble down the roads.
Landowners who wanted to lease their properties to mining companies or open their own mines quickly hired a lawyer and sued the town to defeat the ordinance. It amounted to a “zoning ordinance” and was not properly filed with the county, they argued, and a local judge agreed.
“So we appealed,” Trinko says, “and that made them all angry.”
What followed was three years of litigation and showdowns in the local town hall. At one point, the town board was accused of embezzlement; at another, the pro-mining landowners tried to take over the board and dismiss Cooks Valley’s village powers, which, under state law, grant the township the authority to pass ordinances.
“It’s gotten really, really nasty,” Trinko says.
Neighbors have sued neighbors, and Trinko herself was sued (along with two board supervisors) over open records laws. Meanwhile, the town board continued to appeal the challenge to the mining ordinance, which eventually landed at the Wisconsin Supreme Court. As clerk, Trinko had been keeping notes throughout the whole fiasco, and eventually, she had to hand them over to the highest court in the state.
“I was very proud of myself, I guess, or satisfied, that my paperwork held up in the [Wisconsin] Supreme Court,” Trinko says with a smile.
In 2012, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed an appeals court decision and ruled in favor of the Town of Cooks Valley, and the township was finally allowed to begin enforcing the regulations it originally passed in 2008. As the battle over the ordinance wove its way through the courts, however, three mines were established in Cooks Valley, including those near the Trinko and Sonnentag farms. To date, the township has only completed the permitting process for one mine under the ordinance. A draft permit prepared by the township for the EOG Resources mine includes mandatory air monitoring and a $112,500 fee to be paid to the Sonnentag family, so they can build a new house, across the street and farther away from the mine’s trucking route.
For Trinko, the matter of sand mining continues to be a big part of daily life. As town clerk, she receives permit notices and posts them in public places such as the local bar. But there are more personal issues as well. In 2011, after the mines began digging into the bluffs, Trinko said she could “chew on dust” when working outside her house. Soon she would have a sore throat, but not the cold that usually accompanies it. She says the symptoms disappear when she travels to visit relatives in other states.
Trinko now believes she has developed asthma from living near the sand mines. She saw a breathing specialist who told her that the breathing problems were related to her living environment, but the specialist refuses to go on the record with reporters due to the ongoing controversy.
Trinko says her daughter is worried the air pollution may be shortening her life, but she wants to stay on her farm. It has been in her family since her father bought it in 1936. Trinko points out the window to a bluff rising beyond the next pasture.
“That bluff … that’s where my dad grew up,” Trinko says. Frack-sand mining and processing continues nearby, and another facility in the area is under development. “It would be very sad to see all the trees disappear. Plus, I am breathing this stuff.”
Scott is back for one week only and He and Rob are back to their old selves. Two charming University of Brighton students let loose on the airwaves. Covering everything from films to news, the Brighton university students mix wit and charm whilst doing their best not to swear and offend. Listen here to their latest show
Just a few weeks ago 1,127 people were killed when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed, the majority were female garment workers who make the clothes that are sold on our high streets. It would be comforting to think that it was just an isolated incident or a tragic accident. Sadly, it was the result of systematic neglect within the fashion industry which War on Want has documented for many years.
To find out all the latest on this campaign and what you can do to help ensure this never happens again, you can get updates from War on Want here: http://www.waronwant.org/campaignupdates
You and more than 90,000 people signed our petition on Change.org calling on brands to sign the Bangladesh Safety Accord and pay compensation.
Thanks to your amazing support over 40 global retailers have bowed to pressure and signed the landmark safety agreement. We’re now at the start of a 45 day process which involves Western brands, factory owners, trade unions and labour rights’ organisations thrashing out how the Accord will be implemented on the ground in Bangladesh – ensuring the factories with the worst safety record get renovated first.
Retailers have already pledged around $50million to get the process off the ground – this was part of the deal when they signed the Accord. We’re also persisting with our demand for compensation for bereaved relatives and garment workers, now left without any income, who are struggling to survive. To date only Primark has agreed to pay long term compensation. So last week we protested outside Mango and Benetton stores in London’s Oxford Street wearing funeral clothes and carrying a coffin. We’ll continue to embarrass these retailers in front of their customers for as long as it takes for them to do the right thing.
You can keep in touch with the latest on this campaign from War on Want here: http://www.waronwant.org/campaignupdates
Not only do we need to push for change in Bangladesh, we need the entire fashion industry to be better regulated, to ensure that retailers can’t simply move production from Bangladesh to exploit women elsewhere. We want the greatest possible protection for the women who make our clothes.
.@Primarkjobs @Mango @Matalan: ensure safety for workers & compensate victims of building collapse
Radio Free Brighton’s Maria McEvoy examines the issues around the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay with consultant neurologist and human rights campaigner David Nicholl, Joy Hurcombe of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign, Clara Gutteridge Human rights lawyer formally with reprieve.org and her fellow RFB reporter Missie, who is working with young people from Priory School amnesty group who are joining the campaign. Listen here
Update: Brighton & Hove MP Caroline Lucas called for the Prime Minister David Cameron to personally intervene and phone President Obama now to secure the release of Shaker back to the UK and his family. Watch the video at bit.ly/104K63
Read on if you want to find out more about this story
FORMER GUANTANAMO CHIEF PROSECUTOR LAUNCHES FAST-GROWING ONLINE PETITION TO CLOSE GUANTANAMO
- Col. Morris Davis, former Chief Prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay from 2005 to 2007, launches petition on Change.org calling on President Obama to take concrete steps to close Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.
- Over 75,000 sign onto Col. Davis’ petition in less than 24 hours, following President Obama’s vow in a press conference on Tuesday to renew efforts to close Guantanamo Bay.
WASHINGTON, DC – Colonel Morris Davis, who was the Chief Prosecutor for Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo Bay from 2005 to 2007, has launched a rapidly growing petition on Change.org calling on President Obama to fulfill his promise to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center.
As the Chief Prosecutor for Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo Bay. Col. Davis personally prosecuted Osama Bin Laden’s driver Salim Hamdan, David Hicks, and Omar Khadr. Davis stepped down from his post due to disagreement over the use of certain interrogation techniques. Since leaving his post at Guantanamo, Davis has become one of the prison’s most outspoken critics. On Tuesday, he started a Change.org petition calling on Obama to fulfill past promises to close the detention facility and to transfer the 86 detainees cleared for release.
“As the Chief Prosecutor for the Terrorism Trials at Guantanamo Bay, I saw many things that I regret seeing. Since its beginning Guantanamo has been costly, inefficient, and morally wrong,” said Col. Morris Davis, who launched the campaign on Change.org. “Now there are over 100 inmates on hunger strike to protest their current situation. Obama must uphold the promise that he made on Tuesday and close Guantanamo Bay Detention Center before someone dies.”
In less than 24 hours, over 75,000 people have signed onto the petition, and it has been covered in the Guardian, BBC, and The Huffington Post.
The petition is part of a growing grassroots movement around the issue. Witness Against Torture has coördinated people around the country to fast in solidarity with the hunger strike, hundreds of letters have been written to the prisoners, and hundreds of phone calls have been made to the Department of Defense, White House, and US Military’s Southern Command.
As of May 1, over 100 inmates out of 166 total prisoners were on hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay. The hunger strike began with a few men in February in protest of current prison conditions, and it is estimated that 21 are currently being force fed.
“Col. Davis is using Change.org’s tools to successfully connect with thousands of people who support his petition to close Guantanamo Bay,” said Emilia Gutierrez, campaign manager at Change.org. “It’s clear his campaign is resonating with people.”
Journalists interested in setting up an interview should use the contact details at the top of the page.
Live signature totals from Col. Davis’ petition:
Journalists in contacting the US Department of Defense Press Office should try:
United States Department of Defense
For more information on Witness Against Torture, please visit:
For more information on Change.org, please visit:
Change.org is the world’s largest petition platform, empowering people everywhere to create the change they want to see. There are more than 35 million users in every country who use our tools to transform their communities – locally, nationally and globally.
And from journalist Andy Worthington: Free Shaker Aamer from Guantánamo
86 cleared prisoners remain in Guantánamo, out of 166 prisoners in total, and although President Obama faces hurdles in Congress when it comes to releasing prisoners, and has also contributed to the failure to close Guantánamo, as he promised on taking office in January 2009, by backing down when faced with criticism, there is no fundamental obstacle to the release of Shaker Aamer. His ongoing imprisonment is deplorable and unforgivable, and both the American and British governments ought to be profoundly ashamed that he is still held.For Shaker Aamer’s story, see:
Also see my archive here:
Please sign the e-petition to the British government here (UK citizens and residents only):
There is also an international petition here that anyone can sign:
Also see the website of the Save Shaker Aamer Campaign:
This was February’s Free Public Science Lecture at Sussex Uni — awesome.
Listen here to
Gone in a yoctosecond: a rough guide to the Big Bang
26 February 2013
Speaker: Professor Mark Hindmarsh, Professor of Theoretical Physics
- School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Massimo popped into the studio to describe the music and to let us hear the wonderful Baroque flute. LISTEN HERE
To hear the full concert click here.
’English’ Suites BWV 807 and 808
Partita BWV 830
Sonata for flauto traversiere and cembalo obbligato BWV 1030
Robert Goodman, baroque flute
Massimo Redaelli, harpsichord
Tickets £7 (£5 concessions) in advance by ringing 01273 603459 or at the door on the night.
Put on your wellies and enjoy autumn with an action-packed programme of activities at Wilderness Wood ;
NEW: Woodskills Bushcraft courses
Woodkids activities ranging from Fairy Gardens to Monster Hunts & Castaways every weekend & each day in half term
Fungi Forays to find & learn about woodland toadstools & mushrooms
Cut your own Christmas tree reservations from 27th October (members) & 1st November (general public)
Or simply explore a network of woodland trails around the 62-acre ancient woodland, let off steam in the woodland adventure playground, and enjoy a delicious selection of local and organic food & drink (including Sunday roasts) in the lovely timber-frame Barn café.
All activities must be booked in advance — call 01825 830509
Sun 18 Make your own Charcloth (Bushcraft)
Sat 24 Woodland Monsters
Sat 24 Supershelters (Bushcraft)
Sun 25 We’re Going on a Bear Hunt
Fri 30 Christmas Tree Lighting Party
For more information and how to book please see www.wildernesswood.co.uk/
Norman Jacobs presents a film on Gustav Holst’s The Planets exploring the background and musical influences on this piece.