History

Between 2014 and 2015 the CHE organised a series of library conversations:

January 2014: Audio Chatcast: Alternative currencies – can we create our own money to build local economies that sustain us?

Leading the discussion, and sharing his knowledge is CHE’s Walton Pantland, who works for Unite, the biggest union in the UK. Walton is joined around the table by CHE colleagues and members of the public who also contribute.

Walton is South African, and before coming to Scotland worked with trade unions and community groups in South Africa. He wrote HIV-Aids manuals for COSATU and the ITF, and worked on projects for Workers’ World Media Productions and Ditsela.

February 2014: Burning the planet at both ends: how can we cool it? The struggle for the global commons- with Justin Kenrick

What connects the torching of indigenous communities in Kenya and Osborne’s ‘Sermon on the Pound’?

The Kenyan government is currently torching thousands of homes of indigenous Sengwer communities in the name of conservation. The global clearances continue despite the fact that the poor in Kenya do have lawyers – for the courts are simply ignored. Can aligning communities struggles, national concern and international campaigns counteract local, national and international elites attempts to capture resources from those who have maintained their resources for centuries? Can the independence debate enable us to focus on, rather than distract us from, responding to the state of the world? How?

Justin Kenrick received a BA in Social Anthropology at Cambridge and his PhD in Social Anthropology at Edinburgh. He was a lecturer in social anthropology at Glasgow from 2001 to 2009. He left to work with the Forest Peoples Programme to support Central African Forest Peoples’ rights, and to work on parallel processes of community resilience in Scotland (www.pedal-porty.org.uk and www.holyrood350.org).

February 2014: Beyond Post-Politics and ‘Soft’ Urban Fixes: Developing A Politics of Space- with Neil Gray

Neil Gray is currently developing the idea of ‘territorial inquiry’ as a means of militant co-research adapted for urban life. He is contributing editor for Variant, has written regularly for Mute, and is part of The Strickland Distribution, ‘an artist-run group supporting the development of independent research in art-related and non-institutional practices’.

February 2014: A Thousand Huts: the campaign for huts and hutting

Do you dream of a hut in the woods? Changes are afoot that could bring that dream a few steps closer. Karen Grant, from Reforesting Scotland’s campaign for A Thousand Huts, introduced the world of hutting, discuss the recent campaign developments, explore the current barriers to hutting and celebrate the many causes of hope for a new hutting movement in Scotland.

The aim of Reforesting Scotland’s Thousand Huts Campaign is to promote huts and hutting – the building and enjoyment of simple structures (usually wooden) for living, working and recreation in the countryside. The campaign wants to achieve this by securing a change of culture and attitude and reform of the law so that those who wish to build huts and pursue hutting can do so freely and within the law.

March 2014: Community Energy and Cohousing: Doing It Ourselves- Library chat with Kevin Frea

Sixty members of Lancaster Cohousing have built an energy self sufficient and efficient community on the banks of the River Lune near Lancaster.

The 41 homes, built to Sustainable Building Code 6 and Passivhaus standard, have a district heating system, powered by woodchip from a nearby sawmill, and generate electricity from solar PV and (later this year) from a 200 kWe community hydro scheme on the nearby weir.

Lancaster Cohousing intends to “build a community on ecological values and to be at the cutting edge of sustainable design and living…Our concerns span climate change, biodiversity, food, chemicals, transport, waste, resources and global development issues.”

Community energy schemes have the potential to increase democratic control of energy resources, reduce carbon emissions, alleviate fuel poverty, generate income for community projects, and provide an ethical investment opportunity. They have enthusiastic support across the political spectrum, from (moderate) Conservatives to the Green Party and hold the possibility to engage people who would not otherwise be interested in alternatives to fossil fuels.

April 2014: Gerry Hassan on Caledonian Dreaming: The Quest for a Different Scotland

Caledonian Dreaming examines the state of contemporary Scotland, the context of the independence referendum, what it means and its wider consequences. It challenges some of the central assumptions of public life and politics and identifies six myths that define modern Scotland – from the notion that it is a land of egalitarianism to the idea of educational opportunity and that power is regularly held to account.

Hassan analyses the strange condition of the United Kingdom – a place of increasing inequality, right-wing politics and limited democracy – and one with a growing obsession with celebrating and manufacturing the past. He forensically examines the shortcomings of Scottish society – from the ‘missing Scotland’ of voters disconnected from public life to the collusion of Labour and SNP on most issues bar independence.

May 2014: A Political Theology of Climate Change: Michael Northcott 14th May 2014

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the only international treaty relating to reducing greenhouse gas emissions but it is not working. This is because national greenhouse gas emissions is the wrong target. Emissions are not the driving force of climate change but fossil fuel extraction. Once fossil fuels are extracted from sovereign territories they will be marketed and burned. But sovereign nations will not give up rights to license fossil fuel extraction because for the last one hundred years they were the dominant source of national wealth. Hence the current UK government’s determination to extract shale gas, and methane from coal beds, despite dangers to the environment.

In this lecture Michael Northcott argues that exemplary action by individuals, communities and nations – or what the Christian tradition calls political messianism – is capable of resolving the problem. Hence the efforts of climate activists and religious groups to make the social case for disinvesting in fossil fuel extraction. In a global market economy this is the only collective action solution to reducing the risk of dangerous climate change. National emissions targets, and carbon emissions trading, will not.

May 2015: CHE hosts climate change study visit to Scotland by planners from Papua Province, Indonesia

Scotland’s community-based land trusts are leading the world in practices that try to tackle climate change from the bottom up. The government planning agency of the Indonesian province of Papua APPEDA, established this contact with them as a way to inspire their efforts in empowerment and deepening the connection between people and the land.

The CHE provided an institutional context and base in Govan, and to serve as the official body through which visas can be processed, finance audited, etc., all of which is supported by a 15% institutional “tithe” on agreed budget lines. As such, the work in Papua strengthens the whole organisation and not just the individuals directly concerned.

September 2015: Ecocultures: Festival of Environmental Research, Policy and Practice 17th Oct

 

This dynamic one-day festival provided a space to explore existent or potential dialogues between environmental researchers, practitioners and policy-makers. Through a programme of seminars, readings and papers from leading academics, artists, activist and politicians, the current state of the Scottish environment and its place in contemporary art and research were explored.

December 2015: CHE hosts Papuan government delegation to Scotland

A further delegation of a dozen Members of Parliament and senior civil servants from Papua Province, Indonesia, including three party political leaders, was hosted by the Centre for Human Ecology during the first week of December. What distinguished this visit was the presence of elected politicans from a cross-section of parties in Papua. The focus of the visit was climate change, and how this impacts upon land use, community empowerment, and the wider context of sustainable development.

 

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