Saturday, 29 March 2014

Why Non-Violent Activism Works

Recently read a quote, shown below, that seemed to sum up a key point about why non-violent activism is effective.


"When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight. Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humour." This quote is apparently from John Lennon. BFTF mentions that only for reference, the validity of the quote is in its text, not in who first said it.

Monday, 24 March 2014

200,000 page views!

Wow!, the Blogger page view counter just rolled over to 200,000 page views since the BFTF blog started up back in late 2011.

Thanks so much to all the surfers, FaceBookers, Tweeters, Redditers and, no doubt, bots, who have helped get the blog to this point.

It's been an incredible ride!

Seems appropriate to provide a list of the "top 10" posts of all time, in decending order of page views. The titles will click through to the relevant posts...

1) Food Banks in Nottingham
Disturbingly, this post has twice the page views of any other post, which provides just a hint to the levels of poverty present in Nottingham

Donations to a Food Bank

2) Sustainable packaging for Jamie's Fish Fingers
BFTF never really did get a solid answer as to whether the cardboard packaging for Jamie Olivers Fish Fingers was sustianably sourced or not...

Jamie Oliver's Fish Fingers - Sustainable Fish... but what about the packaging?


3) Booing the National Anthem
When footy fans boo the national anthem they get understanding and gentle questions about their reasons. BFTF wonders how Muslims would be treated if they did the same thing.


4) The Deen Riders visit Nottingham
Rather lavishly illustrated, and quite quickly written, post on the visit of the Deen Riders to Nottingham on their tour to raise money for civilians in Syria. One of BFTF's fave posts.

Usman and Kamran by their beautiful British Triumphs

5) Moustafa Ismail and his Biceps
A short post suggesting that Moustafa's biceps weren't all that they appeared. The post got a lot of views because the story was in the news and also because the post got linked to on some Turkish social media boards.


6) Families Forum Parts 1-4 Israeli and Palestinian Stories
A wish to publicise and document this talk (which ended up needing 4 posts) was one of the reasons BFTF set up the blog. Still a very powerful story to read. Early post, so BFTF hadn't figures out how to do images yet!

7) Interview with Prof Ian Shaw regarding the NHS
Really important interview on the NHS and its future in the light of the then forthcoming Health and Social Care Bill. A must read.

NHS Flag, QMC, Nottingham


8) Hope and Homelessness Commission Report
Great to see a project from Nottingham Citizens in the Top10, in this case the focus was on ensuring that vulnerable people did not suffer unnecessarily and that tax payers money was used effectively by the National Asylum Support Service


The launch of the Hope and Homelessness Commission Report

9)Olympic and Paralympic Team Sizes
BFTF wondered what the size of a countries Paralympics team, compared to it's able-bodied Olympic team, said about the values of that country - so did a little digging and knocked up a graph!



10) Dates in the Square - Summary of Events
Great series of open air events, held in the market square, to highlight issues of social justice

Great to see such a wide demographic at the events.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Mums and Tots Wollaton

BFTF has been hugely impressed by the Mums and Tots group based at Wollaton Mosque and Community Centre and run by HR consultant Saema Mohammad.

Back in autumn 2013, the groud held a coffee morming that raised over £500 for MacMillan Cancer Support

A few months later, they held another event that riased over £1000 to support Save the Chilren's efforts in helping survivors of Typhoon Haiyan that had hit the Phillipines.

Meanwhile, Saema noticed that there were relatively low numbers of women attending the Mosques, which prompted her to undertake some research into the issue. The resulting report, which has been researched with impressive diligence, can be found here.

The main conclusions are shown below :
1) The findings demonstrated that women think it is important for the masjid and women do find the masjid welcoming. Attending masjid made women feel part of their communities.

2) Women currently attend masjid for a range of activities, the top ones being praying salah in congregation and educational classes. In terms of what women want, the most wanted is Q&A session with the Imam followed by hobby related activities.

3) From the focus groups, it was established that the barriers preventing women from attending masjid are around the following areas: management of masjid, accessing the masjid, women and children, culture, fear of being judged, engagement, accessibility of Imams, experience of Imams and British society and culture.

4) Recommendations in the form of an action plan have been compiled for Karimia in an attempt to facilitate more participation of women in their centres. These recommendations can be used by masjids across Nottingham.


Some of the recomendations are shown below :

Masjids should communicate with each other to share best practice and benchmark

Devise and implement a complaints/feedback policy

Challenge behavior and attitudes that proves to be ‘anti-children’

Create an atmosphere where all are welcome regardless of background or faith

Use social media - Facebook, twitter to engage a range of audiences

Advertise time for when women can see Imam

Imams to keep abreast of contemporary issues in our society

Imams to participate in community walkabouts [BFTF likes this one A LOT]


BFTF suspects that the report, and the recommendations are of value to many faith and community groups, but particularly those whose congregations are of overseas heritage.

Happy Mums! Happy Tots! at the "Save The Children" coffee morning


Update May15
Combined operation this month between Mums and Tots Wollaton, the Al-Nisa network and Muslim Hands. All working together to raise funds to help the victims of the Nepal Earthquake, which killed over 9,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Cakes........many cakes....

Cakes, Samosa, fruit, smiles. The complete package!


Tariq Nasir explains how
 Muslim Hands are helping in Nepal to Lilian Greenwood MP


Busy!


Update Sep15
Yet another MacMillan Coffee Morning held by the Mums and Tots Group, as part of the Al-Nisa Network, recently. And these good people managed to raise £256.98!

Cakes......many cakes.........


A relaxing atmosphere


Good People

Friday, 21 March 2014

Easy Lemon Roast Chicken with a "nice-but-dim" erudition

Hello chaps. Jasper Roundbotham here!

Had a splendid shindig over the weekend, during which one of the lovely hosts shared this rather delicious recipe for roast chicken.

Apparantly, the secret is to use chicken that is free-range, corn fed and hasn't been loaded with water and other additives- and you can tell the difference because free-range will release hardly any water during cooking!

Now, I'm not very good at this cooking business - but the recipe seemed so easy that I thought I'd give it a bash and perhaps earn some much needed brownie points with Mrs Roundbotham.

Have to say that it turned out super-delicious! Here's the recipe :

Easy Roast Chicken

Ingredients
1 Free Range, corn fed, chicken (such as that supplied by H&T Foods)
1 lemon
Butter, salt, pepper

Procedure
a) Preheat the oven to 200C.
b) Melt a little butter and brush over skin.
c) Cut the lemon into quarters and squeeze over the chicken, then put squeezed skins inside the chicken.
d) Sprinke salt and pepper on the chicken.
e) Cover in foil (or use those excellent roasting bags).
f) Cook for around 90mins, until juices run clear.

[Compassion in World Farming describes the inhumane conditions that intensively reared chickens are raised in. These can be contrasted with the compassionate conditions at free-range farms such as H&T Foods)]

Easy Roast Chicken


Apparently, this dish rates as "EASY" on the BFTF Washing Up Index, which is jolly handy!

There is a super list of other "easy" recipes here so perhaps I can extend my repertoire even further!

Related Links
BBC : Halal meat consumers urged to consider animal welfare
BFTF : Double Standards in Halal Certification
Willowbrook Organic Farm
HandT Foods
Article by Sara Joseph on the Halal Food Industry


Thursday, 20 March 2014

BFTF loves cycling 2014

Following on from the "BFTF loves cycling 2013" post, a new year demands a new post for cycling related comment and tomfoolery....

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Luton-Dunstable Busway Cycle Path (Aug 14)
As someone who visits Luton quite regularly, BFTF has been following, with interest, the progress of the Guided Busway connecting Luton and Dunstable (or Dunstabubble as BFTF called it as a child). It finally opened in September 2013 and the feature that most interested BFTF was the cycleway that had been built alongside.

A guided bus !

Recently, as part of efforts on the GCC programme, BFTF rode most of the 13km cycleway from Luton to Dunstable and found the following:

Good:
* Gentle inclines make it a much easier ride than the current roads from Luton to Dunstable, and with virtually no stops for traffic lights etc

* The route has the potential to get more people commuting by bike from Luton to Dunstable, and vice versa.

Bad:
* While some small sections of the path are of supersmooth tarmac, the majority is of crushed limestone. It is uneven, rough and energy sapping. BFTF would have preferred to be on the road and saw at least one cyclist who preferred to ride on the busway - can't blame hime really.

*As currently constructed, there are numerous, very annoying, "A-frame" barriers that would force many cyclists to dismount and awkwardly wiggle their bikes through the frame (although these are apparently to be removed shortly.

In short - a huge opportunity missed. BFTF won't be riding it again unless the surface is improved.

Uneven, rough and energy sapping. Not Good At All.

BFTF happened to talk to someone from a cycling oriented organisation about the surface and was told that the council had failed to specify the surface in the contract, so, presumably, the contractor had taken the lowest cost option.

BFTF also cycled the NCN Route 6 from Luton to St Albans and the contrast could not have been greater. NCN6 is awesome!

The opposite of helpful - Barriers on the busway cyclepath

Sent this email to the Busway team (busway@luton.gov.uk)

"Really disappointed with the uneven, rough and energy sapping surface of the shared use cycleway next to the Luton-Dunstable Busway. I've been told that it is so bad because the Council simply forgot to specify a surface in the building contract. Is this true?"
and this to the transport section of Nottingham City Council
"Please, for the love of all that is good in the world, don't construct any cyclepaths in Nottingham as badly as they have done in Luton."
Slightly off topic, but this innocent looking roundabout has been the
nemesis of many a driving test candidate in Luton

Update : 18th Agug 2014
Received, very quickly, this response from the Busway Team:
"This is not correct. There has been a lot of views on the surface, those who love it and those that do not. The crushed limestone surface was used to try and keep in with the environment of the area - Blows Down etc.

The point about the surface is taken and we are in the process of testing sections of the route and will then come to a decision about what to do further. This is of course subject to funding."

Links:
Busway Cycle Path review by I'm Well Confused
Busway Cycle Path Review by The Cycle Hub (see also this)
Article in Dunstable Review
Luton Council Busway Site(see also this)

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NCN 6 Luton to St Albans (Aug 2014)
Recently rode the National Cycle Route 6 from Luton to St Albans - a really nice ride!
The beautiful surface of the NCN6

Cows on the right looking after cow on the left, who has no head

Eric Morcambe, Capability Brown and an early Scout Leader

Sent this to the strategy and sustainability officer at Luton Council (mytravel@luton.gov.uk)
"Recently cycled NCN6 from Luton to St Albans and have to say it was pretty darn awesome! Thanks for supporting this cycleway!"


Update : 18th Agug 2014
Received, very quickly, a response from the Council saying thank you for the positive feedback and commenting on how the route "has become popular with commuters and families."

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Jul/Aug : Pictures
Just some pictures taken while cycling over the last couple of months. Incidentally, most of the images in the "Pictures of the Sky" post were also taken while cycling.

HGV's on the Nutbrook Trial, Derbyshire

Several times each day, traffic on the Embankment has to stop for this....
Aug 2014

Very handsome indeed ! Nutbrook Trail, Derbyshire, Aug 2014

Swan taking off, Aug 2014

As close as BFTF could get to a rabbit when stopped.
In contrast, they would only move at the last minute if BFTF was actually cycling.
All a bit Heisenburg if you ask me...

Nottingham and Beeston Canal - Jul/Aug2014

Herons, Colwick Park - Jul/Aug2014

Lovely colours as bright sun behind BFTF plays on the fields and dark clouds ahead.
Near Beeston Weir - Jul/Aug2014

A mirror smooth river Trent -Jul/Aug2014

Another very quite day on the Trent - Jul/Aug 2014

Fields of Wheat, between Stapleford and Bramcote- Jul/Aug2014

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Jul : Construction of the NET Phase 2
A big benefit of cycling is that you can stop whenever you see something interesting. For example, there is no way BFTF could have taken these pictures of the construction of the NET Line 2 if he had been driving a car...

Laying concrete, Gregory St, Jul 2014

Cutting rebar to fit around shuttering, Gregory St, Jul 2014

Clearly a lot more to laying tram tracks than one might think,
Gregory St, Jul 2014

Gregory St, Jul 2014

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Jul : Tending Cycle Paths
Sent a Tweet to Notts Council to say thank you for this...

Was intending to complain to council about poor tending of foliage
alongside cycle paths near the Trent...

.... but they appear to have read my mind and this is how it looked
a few days later.

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Jul : Heading out East
Spent a few evenings recently heading out to the East of Nottingham, attracted primarily by its flatness!

The Domesday Villages

Of an evening, Gedling can have a distinct "28days later" look about it...

For some reason, this villlage hall in Burton Joyce
makes BFTF think about the TV sitcom "Dads Army"

Colwick Oil Terminal, connected, it seems,
to refineries on the North East Coast

Cycling past fields of wheat near the Trent
 

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June : Great Notts Bike Ride 2014
With BFTF and No1 Son currently sharing the only decent adult sized bike in the household, it was the sprogs turn to participate in the Great Notts Bike Ride. He took on the 25mile ride which he completed in a very creditable 1hr 45mins. A time that is, incidentally, embarrassingly shorter than would have been the case if BFTF had been in the saddle.

Good effort, small person!

No1 gets (another) medal !

Also, liked this :

"Statues" at the Great Notts Bike Ride

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June : Trent is a mirror by the Embankment

The Trent is a mirror (early on a June morning)
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March : Great weather forecasting by the Met Office
People who cycle to work pay close attention to the weather, and BFTF continues to be impressed with the accuracy of the forecasting from the Met Office (as taken via the BBC android weather app). On Tuesday 18th the app forcast a clear start, rain in the middle of the day, and dry weather by 4-5pm - which is exactly what happened ! Well done Met Office !

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March : Pro-upgrade to the bike for 2014
Got this great upgrade for the bike from BFTF's niece! Only trouble was that, in the somewhat chilly March weather, the horn was a little too stiff to squeeze, while BFTF's hands were a little too chilled to effectively do any squeezing! Hopefullly, it will be more effective as the weather warms up...
BFTF's new horn!

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Dear Cllr Urquhart,

I'm hoping you can reassure me that Nottingham Council would never be so insane as to install "Killer Armadillos" on the roads of our fair city.

Because that it what they have done in Salford and, as an occasional cyclist, they scare the living daylights out of me!

Details here :

http://salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=2471

They are manufactured by Cyclehoop, whose range of products is otherwise awesome - so its a bit odd that they have had such a brain-fail with the Armadillo.

Beezodogsplace talks about them here.