Sunday, 30 March 2008

Workers' Co-op is Best Shop in Britain

Best shopAt the prestigous Observer Food Awards last Thursday, and featured in today's Observer Food Monthly is our local workers' co-operative Unicorn Grocery coming out as "Best Shop in Britain". Story.

There is a small item coming up on the telly in a couple of weeks on UKTV Food (Sky Channels 256, 257) about the awards. I'm told you don't actually receive any silverware to take home, and the event was full of media luvvie types. No surprise there as The Observer food magazine is no mirror of food reality in Britain.

Friday, 28 March 2008

Power from Energy Co-ops

There is an eight page spread in the current issue of New Sector - the magazine of democratic enterprise and community control - devoted to renewable energy co-operatives. You can read it here

Didn't realise there were so many. But as the editor David Parker points out elsewhere in the magazine. "If community co-operatives generating power from renewable resources is such a good idea why aren't the Brits doing it? ...but there impact is tiny compared with Denmark where about 80% of wind generating capacity is community owned."

There are plans for water powered turbines in New Mills, Derbyshire which isn't far from here...I can see a trip coming up.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Cons Co-op Move it can't be over?

Has the Conservative Co-operative Movement given up already? Well noted political blogger (does a bit of football as well) Kerron Cross thinks they've thrown in the towel - here.

It's only been a month since we've heard anything. He does point out that nobody from the other benches could be bothered to turn up for the debate on the Co-operative Model For Education yesterday, 26th March. Perhaps it just slipped their diaries - it does happen?

Robert Owen - Manchester #1

Statue of Robert Owen, Manchester, England Originally uploaded by beyondutopia.
Seeing this is the 150th Anniversary year of the death of Robert Owen then it's time to weblog a few images. Robert Owen came to Manchester in 1787 when aged 16 and stayed until 1799 when he moved to New Lanark. There is very little left of 18th Century Manchester but there is a statue of him outside the Co-operative Bank HQ. This is the same as the statue in Newtown, Wales where he was born.

More to follow....

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

East Side History

Good history and memories article and pictures in "East - the magazine about regeneration in east Manchester - edition 8". It's 28 pages, probably not available at all good newsagents but it is online - PDF here. Skip to pages 16 - 21.

Thanks to co-operator John Hacking for putting me on to this.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Shipping Trip in Advance

Snow at Easter, we've not even had a summer and Manchester Area Co-op Party is organising a cruise on the Manchester Ship Canal in August. It'll make some people happy but you need some stamina for six hours on a boat that's also a floating bar. Time to have a meeting, do the enough networking for a whole year, read a broadsheet, complete ten sudoku and see the sights along the 29th wonder of the world before arriving near Liverpool...

Go on then, the real politics is always in the pub.

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Environment Conference

The Co-operative are organising a conference on the Environment in Manchester. At the swishy Bridgewater Hall no less, on Saturday 31st May. There are options to visit Waste Works - The Co-operative Recycling Centre, not sure where that is, but it can't be far away.


I picked up on Co-opinnvervations from the Politics For People weblog a couple of weeks ago - see shape the future of the co-op. Well, the email invite finally arrived and after a bit of a rigmarole to actually register the project looks intrigueningly interesting.

It's a brand new venture for The Co-operative (never thought I'd see the term Beta in the title) that's looking for innervative ideas, brainstorms and other thoughts out of your head.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Seven weeks to the Locals

It's that time of year when the local elections are coming up. This year Withington Co-operative Party will be supporting five of our own members who are candidates :

Cllr. Andrew Fender (Lab/Co-op - Old Moat ward)
John Hacking (Lab/ Co-op - Chorlton Park ward)
Jennie Lennox (Labour - Didsbury West ward)
Tom Murphy (Lab/Co-op - Burnage ward)
Cllr. Sheila Newman (Labour - Chorlton ward)

We don't have elections for a mayor but one of the key contests for the country is in London. Unfortunately we don't have a vote but if we did it would be for Ken Livingston. Here you have a major international city, and the prospect of Boris Johnson winning for the Evening Standard and Tory Party makes you think he would be making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Area Party AGM

So you find yourself in a packed small room for the AGM at the Castlefield Hotel in Manchester. I always like the way they announce the finish time as the meeting starts. A good ploy - you know you won't be trapped and can plan of bit of shopping in town afterwards.

Down to business, we've got a new chair Kevin Bennett from Warrington, our own Paul Murphy moves over to Treasurer, as Joyce Creuvel retires and gets a presentation for all her seasons on the accounts.

There is a plastic bag resolution going to the Co-op Party Conference in September.

We had a guest speaker Shaun Fensom from Manchester Digital entitled "The Co-op and the Internet - a missed opportunity?". It's not all doom but a lot more could be done.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Fairtrade Hamper Winner

Fairtrade mealWell, I entered my 100% Fairtrade meal into a competition organised by Fairtrade Woman. Guess what, I won and hopefully a hamper of Fairtrade products will be arriving soonish.. Now to organise a something to share this dividend.

Previous entry Breakfast, Dinner and Wine. Forthcoming will be the recipe for "Chocolate Salami" so you can use up all those bars of Fairtrade chocolate bars and impress your friends and comrades.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Fairtrade Round Up & Video

Fairtrade Fortnight has come to an end. The news has all been positive. Sales in 2007 are nearly double that of 2006, Tate & Lyle will be converting their whole range of sugars to fairtrade and The Co-operative will be switching all their hot beveages to fairtrade too. Lots of events, plenty of publicity and even little stories like Manchester Cathedral switching to fairtrade communion wine.

Above is a short video of our contribution the showing of Black Gold movie with two guests from a cocoa co-operative in Ghana.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Our Popular MP

Couldn't resist a chortle at this story about our MP.

"John Leech MP - the least popular man in Parliament? ...he really know hows to garner support for a cause and kick up a fuss. Just look at the support he's gathered for this Early Day Motion"

A tip of the hat to Greater Manchester Fabian Society for actually finding out he's visited Parliament.

Smart Planet Site

Not sure how long the Smart Planet website has been around but it's publishing lots of fairtrade, eco-friendly, organic, low-carbon news, reviews, and videos.

Some recent examples - five things you never knew could be fairtrade, like Euro notes issued by the Netherlands in this Story. Even more obscure fairtrade products like a webcam, necklace and trainers in another story.

Well worth a visit, or if you're a rapid surfer like myself putting the RSS feed into a Netvibes page..

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Is it it fair without the logo?

The Fairtrade logo licensed from the Fairtrade Foundation certifies a product is fairtrade. But it does cost money to obtain one. Interesting article in the current issue of Ethical Consumer (No. 111 March / April 2008 - not available online though) which is an interview with Nasser Abu Farha, founder of the Palestinian Fair Trade Assocation. Their products are sold by Zaytoun in the UK and include organic olive oil, soap, almonds, medjoul dates, and za'atar spice mix. However there is no Fairtrade logo though everybody from the growers to the suppliers say they are trading fairly.

You'd be right to be very sceptical if some major corporation came out with fairtrade claims, but then by-passing the bureaucratic hoops and not paying the fees to the Fairtrade Foundation. But there can be bilateral agreements between growers and sellers which are based on fairtrade principles and prices but not carrying the logo.

Related post 16/11/2007 - Olive Oil Meeting

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Ethical Clothing : Manchester

ArkadashThe positive aspect of Fairtrade Fortnight is that it raises awareness with the media spotlight even if it's only for a couple of weeks. In tonight's Manchester Evening News was a story about Arkadash in Chorlton who sell fairly traded, sweatshop-free, recycled and organic clothing all 52 weeks of the year.

The article is titled 'eco boutique', that's the Evening News, you'd never guess it was the same news corporation as The Guardian if you've ever read a copy. Read it here. There is also an Arkadash in Leeds.

Related earlier weblog post.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Top Ten Fairtrade Wines

"Let's raise our glasses to an increasingly impressive combination of ethics and quality" writes Jonathan Ray in the Daily Telegraph. I'd never consider myself a Telegraph reader, but hats off to a newspaper that has recently been covering fairtrade in a positive style.

The stats: 30 fairtrade wineries in the world. The Co-operative has the biggest selection with 16 wines, and the Fairtrade Reserva Malbec 14% vol, Argentina (£5.99; Co-op) makes it into Jonathan's Top Ten (it's all subjective, but he does a lot of tasting and has a career writing about it).

La Riojana Co-operative is the world's largest maker of organic Fairtrade wines: its 510 members produce some 4.7 million cases a year. This fantastically full-bodied, smooth, chocolaty 100 per cent Malbec from Famatina Valley - made especially for the Co-op. I've gone through a few bottles of it this week. The acid test is always would you buy it again. Answer is yes.

Full Story