Category: Read. Watch. Go. Do.

Read. Watch. Go. Do 20/01/14

If you’ll allow me to ease myself back in gently, here’s a quick overview of what I think we should all be up to.

READ: Something written by a woman. Joanna Walsh started #readwomen2014 after creating these rather wonderful bookmarks featuring the likes of Gertrude Stein (pink), Rachel Carson (red) and Simone de Beauvoir (blue). As her Guardian article explains, even though women read more than men, fiction by female authors is often overlooked – and undersold – as ‘chic lit’ due to lazy cover art and marketing.

“you might like to do a Vida count on your own bookshelf; if you find an imbalance, consider whether you might have been a victim of inequality, missing out on good writing because of a pink dust jacket.” 

The year of reading women

You could get started with Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half book in readiness for February’s Blook Club. Next on my list is The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner.

GO: Eat in Edinburgh’s coolest restaurant/bar, The Devil’s Advocate. The macaroni and cheese was absolute perfection, and the espresso martinis will get you good and drunk. Don’t worry if you can’t get there for six months; it’ll still be Edinburgh’s coolest restaurant/bar such is the pace of my favourite of all cities!

DO: Sign up to Women in Renewable Energy Scotland (WIREs), if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. They have a fast emerging network of women in a young industry which employs women as only 28% of its workforce. The newsletter is good. November’s launch event in the Glasgow Science Centre was rad. And – because in the words of Madeleine Albright “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” – they’ve set up a mentoring programme. I’ll be both a mentor and a mentee over the next year and I’m very excited about the opportunities for career growth.

This has been fun. Maybe I’ll be back in the blogging world for a bit.

Read. Watch. Go. Do 29/04/13

I got a job! A really exciting, grown up communications job in a renewable energy company. April resolution achieved.

READ: My blogpost for Grateful Chorus on the Bank of England’s decision to remove the last woman from the nation’s banknotes.

WATCH: The Gatekeepers! Go to the cinema and watch this right away! This breathtaking documentary brings together the last six former chiefs of Shin Bet, Israel’s internal intelligence agency.  You have to keep in mind throughout that they are trained spies, but it’s still astonishing to see them talk so frankly about the failure of Israel’s fight against ‘terrorism’, citing a war which has “no strategy, only tactics”. I learnt a lot.

DO: Switch your energy provider away from the Big Six with their disgusting profit margins and lobbying for continuing to rely on fossil fuels. There are quite a few available, but the company I’ve always had the best experience with is ecotricity. They use customers’ bills to build new green electricity, turning bills into mills. Switching is unbelievably easy and the prices are absolutely comparable to the Big Six. They also have a crystal clear pricing structure with just two plans. Switching your energy provider is a big individual action against climate change.

Read. Watch. Go. Do 17/04/14

WATCH: Today New Zealand became the 14th country to bring in equal marriage. When the winning count was announced the gallery broke out into singing a traditional Maori love song.  On the day that the UK celebrates a politician who legalised discrimination against LGBT people in schools, I choose not to watch her funeral and instead to watch this.

Translated lyrics: “I have written you a letter, and enclosed with it my ring. If your people should see it, then the trouble will begin… My poor pen is broken, my paper is spent, But my love for you endures, and remains forever more.”

GO: Give blood! In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings the American Red Cross were overwhelmed with donations of blood from local people to help the hundreds who had been injured. It reminded me that I haven’t given blood in four years having been prohibited for giving for a year after travelling to some weird places in Egypt. And that’s ridiculous because the need hasn’t gone down. So I’m making an appointment with the Edinburgh Blood Donor Centre for next week (I have a cold at the moment and they said I need to wait until it’s at the tail end).

DO: Sign up to Show Film First which offers free tickets to screenings of films and plays around the UK. We’re going to see Brian Friel’s Translations for free at the King’s in Edinburgh this evening. Free culture!

Read. Watch. Go. Do 08/04/13

READ: This Guardian comment piece on the danger of applying the ‘do not speak ill of the dead’ dictate to such influential public figures. The following paragraph, and a later comparison to the tone of the discussion last month when Chavez died, make this piece worth reading on the day Thatcher died and half the country’s commentators went into overdrive criticising people on the left who are celebrating or using this as a time of reflection.

Margaret Thatcher

Whatever else may be true of her, Thatcher engaged in incredibly consequential acts that affected millions of people around the world. She played a key role not only in bringing about the first Gulf War but also using her influence to publicly advocate for the 2003 attack on Iraq. She denounced Nelson Mandela and his ANC as “terrorists”, something even David Cameron ultimately admitted was wrong. She was a steadfast friend to brutal tyrants such as Augusto Pinochet, Saddam Hussein andIndonesian dictator General Suharto (“One of our very best and most valuable friends”). And as my Guardian colleague Seumas Milne detailed last year, “across Britain Thatcher is still hated for the damage she inflicted – and for her political legacy of rampant inequality and greed, privatisation and social breakdown.”

GO: Tickets have nearly sold out for the National Museum of Scotland’s latest ‘Late Night’ event – Dino Night! On 17th May, for only £10, you can enjoy adult face-painting, a silent disco, booze and paleontology lectures. Yes?

DO: Apply for Young Friends of the Earth Europe’s annual summer camp in Lofoten, Norway. It runs from 28 July to 4 August and the contribution asked for is only 20 euros – they reimburse up to 100% of (non-flying) transport from anywhere in Europe. The camp is happening all the way up in the Norwegian Arctic Circle as it’s focused on raising awareness and taking action to prevent the drilling for North Sea oil off the coast of the Lofoten Islands.

I wish I could go but I’ll be in the South of France for a hen do (booked my Eurostar and train this morning for less than the cost of the easyjet flight!). I’ll have to console myself by watching Young Friends of the Earth Noway’s adorable invitation song:

Read. Watch. Go. Do. 30/03/13

It’s been an unexpected fortnight including a funeral, a Speyside wake, applying for a job that makes me feel a bit icky and a family member slipping on the ice, breaking their ribs and puncturing a lung. They’re out of the woods, but we’re hoping for a calmer, healthier April. And a great job please.

WATCH: Winter’s Bone is available on BBC iPlayer at the moment. It’s a pretty good introduction to the wonder that is Jennifer Lawrence. An incredible actor and someone you could enjoy a pint with. I’m just waiting for her to get political a la Matt Damon and my crush will be unstoppable.

GO: Be organised and book tickets for Leaving Planet Earth as part of the Edinburgh International Festival in August. A site-specific production from the critically acclaimed Grid Iron, the evening involves a bus ride to a mystery location (Ratho) for a performance about future humanity’s migration to New Earth. Can’t wait.

DO: It’s still snowing in Scotland. Defy the calls of ‘Merry Easter’ by planting some seeds for a summer harvest. Because you believe summer will come. One day. I’ve got tomato, cucumber and basil seeds potted up in old yoghurt pots and a couple of empty Quality Street tins from Christmas (I will know I’m an adult when I actually buy plant pots).

Read. Watch. Go. Do 14/03/13

READ: Sarah Nicole Prickett asks Where Are All the Women? in a Vice article which rejects the concept of ‘ladies’ as opposed to girls or women. In a funny and filthy rant, Prickett calls out ladies who ‘dine out on the upper echelons of what is called equality, concerned mainly with Democrat victories and amicable co-existence with men and “the status of women,” so long as it doesn’t upset the status quo.’  She hits the nail on the head when criticising the faux-empowering language of ownership when ‘Ladies tell girls to “own” their bodies, skirting the capitalist implication by which everything “owned” can also be bought and sold. Women understand that our bodies are borrowed against time. So we use them: lavishly, well.’*  

New Scottish blog A Thousand Flowers launched on International Women’s Day and includes lots of angry, sweary feminists writing about topics such as Wanker of the Week and the death of Hugo Chavez. Tarzan Girl’s piece on the endemic sexism in the Glasgow University Union GUUdbye ya pricks is a helpful background piece to the recent controversy after members of the GUU debate team verbally abused female debaters from Cambridge University.

WATCH: Ash Beckam is so gay. She doesn’t want to hear you use so gay as a criticism. The words that you choose matter. When you use ‘gay’ in a pejorative way the effect that it has on the gay kid in the room or the kid with gay relatives is that being gay is ‘less than’ or ‘inferior to’. And our bar cannot be that the day you just get through life or the day you don’t get harassed qualifies as a good day.

GO: An event entitled Policy and Prosecco? I’m in. On 28th March Alan Miller, Chair of the Scottish Human Rights Commission, for a discussion on human rights in Scotland.

DO: Sign Avaaz’s petition to the EU to ban the bee poisons in pesticides. The final vote is on Friday and both the UK and Spain are expected to vote against, after some serious lobbying from agricultural chemical companies. Sign up and help Avaaz to lobby the UK’s shitty, shitty Minister for Environment Owen Paterson to do the right thing. As Caitlin Moran said on twitter “I have signed this petition about saving the bees because I, for one, don’t have time to pollinate trees.”

*There’s a brief mention in her article of a Canadian feminist and twitter user taking an abuser/troll to court which I don’t know anything about and so can’t speak for Prickett’s opinion on that point.

Read. Watch. Go. Do 28/02/13

READ – The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones

Published in 2009, Jones offers a solution to America’s two biggest problems – the economy and the environment. I am LOVING this book – it’s ambitious, solution-focused and forthright in demanding that the environmental movement make significantly more effort to include people of colour and poor people. It sets out a roadmap for communities and governments to get people out of joblessness and jail and into green and decent jobs which revitalise the U.S economy and reduce carbon emissions through a green-collar army of urban gardeners, solar panel engineers, wind turbine factory workers and home insulation fitters.

I’m half way through but already inspired by the potential application in Scotland.

GO – Rich Man’s World? The global crisis and Scotland’s role in fixing it Edinburgh, 2 & 3 March, Augustine’s church

The world is in crisis: the richest 1% have made a killing while the rest of us have been left to pick up the pieces. From the decimation of public services to the climate crisis; global debt to the erosion of rights at work, people across the planet are demanding change.

This free event is co-hosted by Jubilee ScotlandJubilee Debt Campaign,Democratic Left Scotland and People & Planet. It will bring together people – young, old, hardened organiser or new kid on the block – from across Scotland to discuss our role in the global movement for a just, sustainable future. Book your free place now.

DO – Become a Global Poverty Ambassador DEADLINE 5PM FRIDAY 1st MARCH

Since the beginning of 2010, we have been taking the story of progress to schools, conferences, communities and universities around the UK. It’s an inspiring story and 2012 we searched for selected 150 leaders in their communities to be Global Poverty Ambassadors to tell this story in their communities.

Now, in 2013, we are looking for 150 leaders from across the UK to become Global Poverty Ambassadors.

As an ambassador you will be provided with high level training and exclusive opportunities to engage with some of the world’s most prominent leaders in the fight against extreme poverty.

In 2012, the Global Poverty Ambassadors led campaigns to bring an end to Polio, change the face of aid in the Isle of Man, support the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and many more, whilst delivering the ground-breaking 1.4 Billion Reasons. 2013 Ambassadors will focus strongly on three key campaigning areas: food, transparency and gender equality.

In the next twelve months we will see unprecedented opportunities to reduce poverty – April’s Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi, the G8 in Northern Ireland and the announcement of the new Millennium Development Goals will shape the future of the world’s poorest people.

This is your chance to join with us and take a lead in the movement to end extreme poverty within a generation.