Party

22nd November 2012 by

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Banking, bikes & bombs

5th August 2010 by

After so much anticipation it seemed they arrived quite suddenly, this swarm of Barclays branded bicycles. Every day for a week a new rack of docking stations appeared at different points on my route to work. By the weekend people were riding the things. I don’t know why, we’d been talking about London’s new cycle hire scheme for ages, but I was surprised to see people actually using it. I like the scheme, I think it’s a practical transport solution with ambitious aims (to create 40,000 extra cycle trips a day in central London), but I imagined it would take people a little longer to get into the seat of the idea.

What took even less time though, was the subvertising of the scheme. The night before the launch Anti Arms Trade activists covered the bikes with stickers proclaiming Barclays involvement in the global arms trade. There are 6,000 Barclays bikes, almost 4000 of which got stickered with messages about Barclays activities: “INVESTS IN CLUSTER BOMBS. OFFERS LOANS FOR NEW LIMBS” – “DOESN’T GIVE A **** ABOUT YOU” – “£20M INVESTMENT IN BIKES. £7300M INVESTMENT IN BOMBS” – “FUNDING DEPLETED URANIUM BIRTH DEFECTS IN IRAQ” and “INVESTS £7.3 BILLION IN THE ARMS TRADE”.

At the Press launch the following morning Barclays (who along with HSBC and RBS, also invests in the Tar Sands) chairman Magnus Agius had “nothing to say” about the stickers. It might be unfair to ruin Magnus’ big day, but it does raise the question can you do good with bad money?

The bike hire scheme is a great, progressive thing that all big cities should boast. In this era of public funding cuts it would’ve been much harder to achieve without corporate sponsorship. But no other city in the world with similar schemes has taken full sponsorship from one company. The hope is that the stickers will raise awareness of Barclays position not only as the cycle hire sponsor, but also as the largest investor in the arms trade in the world.

Can you do good with bad money?

7th June 2010 by

A few years ago I was at drama school, waiting to launch myself into the world of showbiz and being prepped for life out in the “industry”. This consisted mainly of being told to lose half my body weight, wear chicken fillets and look either more or less asian (pretty hard for a dual heritage, Anglo-Japanese girl!) but also, more practical tips, like how to audition for advertisements.

Sitting in that particular session, hearing about how advertising corporate brands can end up being the bread and butter of an actor’s life, I asked about principles – how could you appear in an advert for a company like McDonalds, and reconcile that with your principles? I was told that my tutor’s friend had managed to buy a house outright with the money earned from just such an advert – “Principles, schminciples!” I cried, much to the hilarity of my course-mates, and left it at that.

But it’s a question that has stayed with me. For struggling artists, more lucrative jobs such as advertising can end up funding work we might deem more “worthwhile”. Some might argue that this is an unfortunate, but necessary trade-off. That, to do good, sometimes you need “bad” money.

Read the rest of this post over at The Multicultural Politic.

Hair Enough

5th May 2010 by

Now we’re all obviously very concerned about the oil spill, it’s going to devastate areas of natural beauty, destroy livelihoods, kill wildlife and generally continue to make a massive mess of the Gulf of Mexico. It’s just another in a long list of response to shake our heads in disapproval at BP. But we were staggered to read that one of the clean up solutions is to soak it up with hair. And I was worried about my oily hair problems!

Ok, I’m being facetious, writing a blog about the oil spill just so I can make some oily puns. But while we’re on the subject, check out Oyal Bank of Scotland. Not only does it boast a brilliant pun title but it can also tell you everything you ever wished wasn’t true about RBS-Natwest ‘the climate change bank’, which we the public also happen to own an 84% share of. It’s puns not policies that improve a campaign I reckon.

Anyway it’s clearly time for us all to put some proper effort into renewables, drilling for oil is boring. I better stop now because I’m starting to scrap the bottom of the barrel, I shell go away and try to drill up some new ones. I apologise for the dreadful humour in this blog post and thank the internet for being an endless source of awful jokes.

If you appreciated this, you’ll probably like this too.

Top 10 election tips

27th April 2010 by
  1. Do register to vote. Then make sure everyone you live with is also registered to vote. Too late for this time, but never to early for next time.
  2. Do use it. Vote for the raving green monster party if you like, but use it. The noughties have been exactly that on the voting front, with only around 60% of the electorate turning out to vote at the last two elections. We may not have a perfect system, or even a particularly good system, but it’s one that people all over the world are fighting for. We’re pretty lucky, appreciate it.
  3. Don’t moan about politicians. It’s boring, everyone’s heard it before and it gives political talk a bad name.
  4. Do it yourself. If no one out there is representing you, stand as a independent. It’s like finding the perfect sandwich- sometimes if you want it done properly you’ve got to do it yourself.
  5. Do become pen-pals with your MP. Once they start to recognize your handwriting, you know you’ve got their attention.
  6. Do remember they work for you. Whether you voted for them or not, you are officially your MP’s boss. Follow your MP’s voting record then give him or her an annual appraisal and a piece of your mind.
  7. Don’t spoil the ballot. It doesn’t spoil it for everyone, but it just doesn’t do anything. Spoilt ballots aren’t even counted. Voice your dissatisfaction with letters, leaflets, petitions, placards, singing and shouting instead.
  8. Do sing, shout, hold placards, hand out petitions, send letters and leaflets anyway.
  9. Do vote everyday, in the way you spend and save your money, in the things you buy and the things you ask.
  10. Do watch this- poet Danny Chivers performs Election Day.

Pester your parents about their pensions

1st April 2010 by

Parents are tricky aren’t they? You can’t leave them alone for one minute, in case they go and invest their pension funds in huge energy-sucking, environment destroying initiatives like the tar sands.

Oh, what? They have already? Bad parents!

They deserve to be grounded, but since we can’t do that, our challenge this month is to (nicely) pester our parents about their pensions instead.

Read the rest of this entry »

Put Your Money Where Your Ethics Are

3rd October 2009 by

This month we’re challenging you to put your money where your mouth is. Get the ethiscore on your bank and if you don’t like it, pester them to change it or change your bank. Commercial banks have been known to invest in arms, oil pipelines, tar sands oil extraction and operate in tax havens. In 2006, the carbon dioxide emissions embedded in RBS’s project finance was greater than the carbon dioxide emissions of Scotland itself- shocker !

But smile, there are other banking options out there, including Co-op (and their internet branch Smile ) and Triodos .

Statistically you’re more likely to get divorced than change your bank account, so we challenge you to prove statistics wrong. If you do feel wedded to your old bank, ask to see a copy of their ethical policy and tell them what they think about it. And if you are divorcing your bank, it’s always a good idea to tell them why you think their behaviour is so unreasonable.


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