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A Green Voice for Southwark

Eleanor Margolies is standing up for Camberwell and Peckham in 2017

Month

September 2015

Green books for young readers?

A young Viking wearing a horned helmet answered the door to us in South Camberwell today. She is a fan of Cressida Cowell’s series of dragon books, beginning with How to Train Your Dragon. I’ve just been introduced to these books by my nephew and it turned out that we’d all been to a fab talk Cressida Cowell gave last week, put on by a local independent bookshop, Village Books.

The Viking’s dad pointed out the rich theme of environmental thinking that develops through the series: the dragons are creatures that are (somewhat) tamed by the Vikings, living alongside humans, but in our time they have disappeared from the world – why?

In the first book, an impossibly large dragon explains the food chain that links all human and animal life:

The thing is, we are all, in a sense, supper. Walking, talking, breathing suppers, that’s what we are. Take you, for instance. YOU are about to be eaten by ME, so that makes you supper. That’s obvious. But even a murderous carnivore like myself will be a supper for worms one day. We’re all snatching precious moments from the peaceful jaws of time,’ said the Dragon cheerfully.

Anyway, our conversation with the Viking and her dad got us thinking about all kinds of things including local currencies like the Brixton Brick, urban wind turbines, and environmental themes in children’s books. Here is the beginning of a list, off the top of my head:

  • I love the picture book, Michael Bird-Boy by Tomie dePaola (1975) which touches on air pollution and the importance of bees.
  • In Old Macdonald Had An Apartment House (1969) by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett, a caretaker of a city apartment block decides to grow tomatoes, cabbages and carrots in empty rooms. The comical black and white drawings gradually take on colour as the vegetables flourish. It is, as the blurb says, ‘a celebration of cities, human ingenuity, and of course — vegetables!’
  • ‘I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees!’ in The Lorax by Dr Seuss. A stage adaption is coming to The Old Vic in December.

I also enjoyed these two (rather bleak) visions of the future (for teenagers):

  •  The Ennead by Jan Mark (1978) is set on a planet that was a haven for refugees from a dying Earth, but where virtually nothing grows. Wood and grass becomes coveted luxuries. Jan Mark is a brilliant writer and explores the social and political dimensions of environmental destruction and scarcity.
  • The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd (2008) tells the story of the introduction of carbon rationing in the UK. It’s great for thinking through how people might actually feel about carbon allowances, smart meters that cut off the power… and it’s set in South London! When it was published,  2015 was The Future. I guess I should catch up with the sequel The Carbon Diaries 2017 before the future catches up with me….

There’s a nice article by Alice Bell about children’s literature and environment in the book Culture and Climate Change: Narratives which can be downloaded from here.

Bell discusses superhero books like Jonathon Porrit’s Captain Eco and the Fate of the Earth (1991) and the more tongue-in-cheek Your Planet Needs You! A Kid’s Guide to Going Green by Dave Reay (2009) in which a group of kids and their teacher have to explain global warming to the so-called superhero.

Which green books would you recommend to young readers?

 

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Solidarity with Refugees march

our country wants you

It was very heartening to join members of Southwark Green Party on 12 September to show that ‘refugees are welcome here’. There were lots of families…

children

…so it seemed appropriate when Giles Fraser quoted Tony Benn reminding us that every day hundreds of people enter this country without a passport, without speaking English, without any means of support. ‘They’re called babies.’ We have all been dependent on other people. Benn was quoted on a home-made placard too:

tony benn

This British-Syrian doctor talked about refugees in the most difficult circumstances who just wanted a chance to work, to support themselves.

British-Syrian doctor

Natalie Bennett asked us to think about the causes of conflict and displacement, looking to the DSEI arms fair. ‘The last thing the world needs now is more weapons.’

natalie bennett

The Quaker witness for peace says ‘no human is illegal’:

quaker

A group of heartfelt hand-lettered placards:

no one puts their children on a boat

And, of course, a Welcome mat:

welcome mat

Welcome to A Green Voice for Southwark

On this site you can find out about the Green Party candidate Eleanor Margolies and how Southwark Green Party (with your help) could improve your local area.

Calling_card_South_Camberwell_FINALCalling_card_South_Camberwell_FINALreverse

If you like to get in touch to ask a question or become involved with Southwark Green Party, please email: Eleanor.Margolies@southwark.greenparty.org.uk

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