Wednesday Recommendations: Veganism, Purple Hibiscus & Solutions-Focussed journalism.

Right – this is going to have to be a bit of a quick one – running out of time today! Going to begin by showcasing a new discovery (to us) in the Podcast department, which is the Guardian’s ‘We Need To Talk About…’ series.

LISTEN: There’s a pretty robust (think that’s the modern term for a bit of disagreement) discussion demonstrating how emotive the issue of food choices is, in ‘We need to talk about the rise of veganism’. The panel comes at it from various angles with a range of opinions and looks at the issue in terms of personal wellbeing, animal welfare and – most pertinently – environmental (including climate change, deforestation and pollution). Early on, one of the panel details the shocking statistic that 14.5% of human-caused emissions are attributable to the livestock sector, which is more than the global transport industry combined (all the planes, trains, cars etc total about 13% of human-caused emissions)! Definitely worth a listen, regardless of your eating preferences.

READ: This fortnight I’ve been reading ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ and ‘Purple Hibiscus’, catching up on the back catalogue of Chimamanda Ngozei Adichie – both of them were quite brilliant, although I think ‘Americanah’ is still my favourite of her novels. Worth reading all three.

LISTEN: Another Guardian podcast ‘Why is positive news coverage so vital in today’s world?’ – discussing solutions-focussed journalism and whether it can counter the depressive/disempowering effect of much of today’s rolling news. This is a really interesting discussion – particularly in the details offered on traditional journalistic training and the equation of ‘bad news’ with ‘serious journalism’ versus ‘good news’ with ‘frivolous’; and the psychological evidence offered on the empowering effect of more positive reporting. This tied in for me with the fantastically inspiring ‘Hope in the Dark‘ by Rebecca Solnit – and the train of thought Talking Birds has been exploring for a while around the responsibilities of artists/TV/filmmakers who represent the world as hopeless and corrupt, in unwittingly making these theories self-fulfilling. (We have written about this before – in more depth and much more eloquently of course – but – sorry! – don’t have time to find the link at the moment!)

As ever, let us know whether you read/listened on one of our recommendations and, if so, what you thought.

Wednesday Recommendations: Co-ops, artist-friendly cities & change-making football.

Here’s ‘Wednesday Recommendations’ post number 4 – this is some of the stuff Birds have been reading and listening to in the last couple of weeks that we found interesting, and think you might find interesting too:

LISTEN: Reasons to be Cheerful episode 41 – another cracking episode from Ed & Geoff!  This episode explores cooperatives as a resurgent business model of choice, alongside other socially responsible models currently growing in popularity, such as community interest companies, non-profits & social enterprises. The second guest in particular (Joe Guinan from the Democracy Collaborative) describes the very clear advantages (think stability, stronger local economy & job security) of such socially responsible company ownership models to the areas in which they are based vs the de-stabilising effect of the constant change of ownership that happens with big corporations and the way that non-local ownership just siphons profits out of the business and out of the area, or even the country.

Slightly paraphrased, he says: ‘If you have a real stake in the business you work for, you tend not to export your own job overseas and are more aware of the environmental impact of your method of production because you also live there and so you’re unlikely to pollute the water or air your children are going to be drinking/breathing … it’s a more embedded form of ownership’

READ: Art hotel & the ‘artist-friendly city’ is a really interesting blog post from MAIA, who I’d not come across until I head Amahra speak at the a-n Assembly event in Birmingham the other week. One of the projects she’s heading up is working towards creating an Art Hotel in Birmingham. This paragraph rings really true, but also echoes back to a lot of things about co-ops in ‘Reasons to be Cheerful’. “We work with socially-engaged artists, practitioners and citizens with a deep-rooted investment in their environment. Fundamentally, given the broad parameters of which their work interrogates, when you make a city more equitable for artists and makers, everyone benefits. Of course, there is the awareness that in order to do that, it takes a societal shift, to renegotiate our understanding of what being an artist is. For too long, ‘artist’ has held definitions too contained, too narrow and too exclusive.”

READ: I’m not really into the football, but this article from historian David Olusoga totally shifted my perspective – if you’ve also been known to get slightly uncomfortable around a St. George flag, give it a read.

That’s it – as ever, let us know in the comments if you’ve followed any of the recommendations what you thought – and if you have any recommendations for us.