Thursday, November 16, 2006

I'm Proud Of This

In reply to a recent editorial invitation, regarding Social Enterprise, which was actually part of a whole raft of stuff that day but (one said write in).

"In one of your accompanying pieces, the question is asked: What can the Government do to encourage social enterprise?

I'd say a heck of a lot, and it is. But then I’d go on to say.. mostly of the wrong things.

Why is where I'll offer my highly personal, and subjective, view.

I'm no longer young but I'm still enterprising, so I reckon at least 50% of what I have to share may apply. Social Enterprise is currently big, and across every demographic and sphere.

And as Martin Webb writes, "It's about using the imagination to create something that wasn't there before”, adding: "Enterprise Week isn't just about making money either".

However I'll have to take issue with "once you've got a mortgage, family and career to worry about it's difficult to think or act on purely altruistic lines. Secondly, all the lovely social content has got our politicians racing to be involved and will have no doubt made funding a whole lot easier". I haven't. And it hasn't.

As to "Gordon Brown is even hosting an event". Oh, Go.. od.

So I stand ready to be convinced that the Tories will do any better. But they can try to (convince me, that is). It's certainly interesting that George Osborne has said that there are "worrying signs" that Britain is becoming "less entrepreneurial, less competitive" yet the Chancellor claims that Britain is "beginning an enterprise renaissance".

Who to believe? That we face deep-rooted cultural barriers to entrepreneurship resonates, especially that 'we' (who is that?) are less ready to take on risks and are less entrepreneurial, less business orientated.

I'm pretty sure government is active when trying to encourage enterprise, but as stated, "Creating the right environment is much more important than simply starting new schemes and initiatives to tick boxes."

However, I do not agree the popularity of TV programmes like Dragons' Den and The Apprentice has helped to improve attitudes to entrepreneurship, at least in the intended way. If anyone thinks I'd go anywhere near the former, except for the dubious benefits of bad publicity, they can offer me half a decent sales rep’s salary for half my company. As to the latter, not that I watched it, it seems more like celebrity hype than anything else. The winner has done what? Meanwhile she who was second has a website that says... “Don’t waste our time and we won’t waste yours!” and is a female Cowell on Sky's Big Idea: Another show (which I was in, for all the right reasons: £100k of them) which is shaping up with an odd notion of what constitutes a UK world-beater.

I'd like to think my social enterprise has a social purpose. But so far the government has done very little to encourage me. It’s not for the want of trying. Third sector conferences. Quango grant application rounds. All funded, at least in the getting there, applying, etc, by me. Only to find myself surrounded by a lot of paid folk who know how such things work and can talk the talk. Not for profits. Charities. Folk who know folk who do this for a living and will do your pitch, for a fee (offset) in a way the box tickers love.

And if 90% of the money gets used up on offices, staff, regional offices, regional staff, pension, communications (best way to establish an empire) and expenses, plus fact-finding tours, before anything gets near a social enterprise doing anything, then that's how it's always been, isn’t it, Sir. Humphrey?

Details, I have. Just ask.

I just don't see how it's all making the world a much better place.

Maybe it's me. I'm creative. I have ideas. I applied this to advertising, and it worked well.

But when I see the word ‘innovation’ or ‘entrepreneur’ in any advertised funding initiative I groan. These guys don't want what they haven't seen before (pretty much my definition of innovative'). Or in a form they're not used to (my definition of creative). So is it any wonder we are not seeing cutting edge stuff being pushed through for all these gazillions? It's all SOSO (Same Old. Same Old). Or hype. The media are complicit. They don't want good, or what works. They want what will get ratings from the primetime viewers. Hours of presentation and debate chopped to a few minutes.. you’re in/out! I hate/like it!

If, as I believe, we have a bunch of grey suits (actually the last I dealt with had a T-shirt.. but it was grey, to match his mind) sitting on this vast resource, and simply being Uranus to true creative, if not businesslike (note: I don't mean business minded) innovators from Mars, for heaven's sake let's figure how to bridge that divide and get us back on track of being Great Britain again!"

All grist to the windmill, eh?

From a Newsnight a whil ago: It's No Breeze

"That’ll teach me to go offline for a while! I was wondering if anyone had seen this:, and lo, it seems it is the DM who have only just picked up. My bad.

This... is a tad telling: “please, don't do it! I work in the renewables industry, and there is no doubt whatsoever that roof-mounted turbines are an expensive "con".

To set against this, now that B&Q is selling them hand over fist for Xmas, and as the downsides (if they are real) seem to have been sanitised a bit, at least mainstream, I do hope we will get accurate ROI (eco-nomic and –logical) figures... from you?

This is what I’m doing with my reviews, with a 6 month update on my first (funds a bit tight for the full monty of every device and every brand) - - coming soon."

You know, we really are poorly served with good info/data. It's all extremes. Yes it's the saviour... No it's a monster. Back to my oft posted arguments fro real ROI tables.

Well, you never know...

It all rather depends on whether they recall 70's TV shows. If not, I'm b******d (to keep in the BBC 'cred' vernacular.

"Dear J... ustin, I'd like to meet Mr. Gore too, one day. Soon(ish). I think he could help me help him help everyone mend the planet. Can you fix that for me? Thank you very much. Peter (Aged 49)"

Three strikes and you’re... still in?!

I added one to this:

"Well, you never know. As I’ve already written twice this is perhaps pushing it, but as this is where the debate started...

Out of 36 (at last count) posts, approx 30% (at.. etc, but a few were ‘replies’) were about moderated blogs.

As I may (or may not:) have been quoted, but certainly said, with mouth freshly washed out with soap, – publish-and-be-ignored on another of this site’s Forums - go_on_make_tv_history: “Where there is any form of shortlist*, agendas come into play, making both the process and the result immediately open to... 'concerns'. Even with no editing, what stays in and what is kept out shapes the story.

*Substitute selection, moderation or any other similar word you fancy here.

I must say that being ‘moderated’ by an outside company adds a new kink to impartial, objective public service broadcasting. Yes, it says so in the guidelines what will happen.

But.. er.. do we get told whose doing it? Rupert Murdoch? Kim Jong Il? Or, horror of horrors, a Govt. spin doctor?!!!"

One Man's Whinge..

Stop whinging

"It can be valuable to come to something fresh, and late, and sift through the debris with a mind unfogged by the emotions of the moment.

As is rightly pointed out from the off, there is what we want to do, what we should do, what we can do, what we have to do, what we’re made to do... and what we end up doing. These can often be at odds with each other.

There was a point being made in this piece. I have to say making it in Jamaica was a bit of a plus for the production team. Did the fam go too? No blue screen here; only blue skies. Haven’t watched it yet, so I can’t comment whether license fee money was saved by freebies in 1st, Club or cattle being offered in return for a stray logo cropping up in shot, and the local tourist board helping scratch mutual backs whilst there.

I am glad to see the offset issue has been addressed. I reckon we already need to plant a forest the size of Jupiter just to cope with Mrs. Beckett’s commute when she was in charge of our environmental future. Now where are her successors at the 'mo?

Taking the pledge is interesting. I could live with silver, if we could afford the fares. The in-laws are in Singapore, so it would be nice to see them. Can we make it a human right?

But I’m guessing this doesn’t count ‘business’, and options such as not splaying out in the same space in front or upstairs as do 4 others in cattle.

So we sometimes don’t have alternatives, but it is incumbent upon us to do our best to mitigate their impact. Did this? No.

ps: Phone charger: check. Noticed that it was warm even when not charging a mobile. Still got a couple of cordless jobs with little red lights on 24/7 though:( I don’t think they do DECT crank dial jobs.

pps: 17. Tobias, packing doesn’t have to go in the bin:

As it is pertinent, let me post here what I think (that guy who does brainy stuff at college can tell us if it is or isn’t) is an ethical situation:

Thanks to my devastating insights on this issue, you invite me to appear on the show. Good for my cause; good for your... well... it kills a few primetime minutes cheaply. I think I read elsewhere on these blogs that you do pay costs, but on what basis I don’t know.

If it's London I’d say OK, at the time of night I could come in unethically by car, which will cost you for the travel, and my time, which is about 3hrs each way. Or, ‘cos I’m ethical, it’s the train, which is about the same travel time but a lot more expensive, plus the hotel ‘cos the last train’s gone, plus my additional opportunity costs of being away from home/office.

I posed this recently to a client who challenged my environmental credentials as I arrived by car, but decided after all that she’d live with my driving time of 10 minutes over paying my public transport time of 2hrs. Funny that.

Which do you choose?"

Publish And Be... Ignored?

A rich seam as I return to the Newsnight blog. Usually I graze only at the Ethical Man section. But this about democratic citizen journalism (UGC), caught my eye, and prompted a thought: Go on, make TV history

"I have to share some of the same concerns that first poster Themos Tsikas has. Where there is any form of shortlist, agendas come into play, making both the process and the result immediately open to... 'concerns'. Even with no editing, what stays in and what is kept out shapes the story. Look at the fun on the Ethical Man blog about posts that are, are not, are, so there... 'Missing in Moderation'... It's a hoot."

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Having seen stuff of mine chosen and not chosen, or if chosen changed to suit the editorial agenda, the notion of a free press is rather quaint. I just admire those who have a stance, admit it, and when they publish they publish it all. Or nothing.

At least they can't get rid of this... yet.

In with a chance?

I'm getting moderated out a lot these days, so let's see if this one to Newsnight - The ethics of radiator valves - makes it through.

'The plumbing, ethical, financial and environmental bits are pretty much covered. Despite the £300, I’d say go for it.

I needed to upgrade my system a while ago, so bolted on the rad valves to the boiler upgrade, as a lot of the costs were in the flushing of the system anyway, and the guys were there. Saves a trip cost. More of a dilemma when it’s just for the valves.

Maybe combine with the annual service? Get in quick before winter comes (if it does). And make sure they put things on the right way! 25% of ours are on backwards and hammer if they are not full on or off.

Now I’m going on to a real concern about another section raised in the piece, thanks to what looks like one of our Dear (as in ‘fine if you don’t; you pay not to get fined so do) Leaders’ many daily initiatives.

" The big one was filling the cavity in my walls... The only reason I haven't already... is I didn' t have a cavity to fill . "

How’s this work if one doesn’t live in a brand new SE semi, that’s doing it’s bit for global warming by the DPM concreting over all that’s left of what’s green to build it and keep all those new young voters happy and out of the red (or in it, votes wise)?

Just popped on, is it? No can change, no arguments? Ker-ching! I live in an existing house, that takes no more emissions to make. And I’m making it as eco as I can. Partly for the planet; partly for my wallet – I have just popped in a solar dehumidifier for my cellar - - which I’m road-testing on these bases for our next newsletter, and so far it’s looking good.

Like Justin, I don’t have a cavity to fill, but can think of a few some can stick it in if this is just another ring-fenced, public pension pot revenue generator at my expense in the name of green.'

Dr. Junkk Writes...

... for Newsnight: Foraging with care

"A late blooming comment, as it were. Still relevant to the last post (da, da..... da, tat tat tat-tat, dee tat, tat, tat-tat)

While I'm all for going au naturel locally, if it's out of your allotment (and frankly, even if it is) do be very, very careful on the hygiene aspects. At the very least make sure you get it home and wash it within an inch of losing all nutritional value.

Having just nursed a wife through two weeks of food poisoning (no clue how, the rest of us were fine), I don't think our finances, the health service or the environment were served too well during this period."

If you are what you eat, this is a worry.


Mintel has identified what will be hitting supermarket shelves in 2007.

They asked if we thought these trends important. Silly boys and girls:

"Oh yes, they are important. Good to see this "..With a love of nature comes a deeper commitment to ethical products.." and this "..Refillable packaging has a strong opportunity to make its mark as consumers are increasingly looking for more ways to save natural resources". Though I'm not sure how they equate to this "..exotic fruits such as açaí and cupuaçu [wow, those babies did for my Spellchecker!) continuing their rise to fame..", food miles wise. But as my fellow Geordie-centric poster points out, I'm still wondering when the whole issue moves from Prius (as a 2nd car) Person to Mondeo Man (R-Reg. Can't afford an LPG convert)."

No Green Port Left

Sorry, I came over all nautical. It's just that I kind of associate Green with Left, and that's how... oh forget it.

The point is, I was floored just now by this: Green my ride

A non rant, average person-friendly, pragmatic... useful article in the Grauniad Love the pop-up for 2 business class seast to Dubai, guys. I can occupy twice the space to go look at them make the oil we're burning:)

Long my they do more.

Plus I feel oodles better about my Volvo. I could... probably... afford to convert to LPG. But I don't trust Gordo, and so far the makers say I can't, while the converters say I can.

So little rare. Or well done.

I hope I don't get in trouble for the whole Nazi allusion thing (what with Ken having a spot 'o bother with this recently), but I'm still banging away. I don't know why. One recent one I devoted a while to ended up with a few hundred replies. I doubt the author read them all.

Still, this does get bigger than the environment: Make them all pay £25 to drive in London

First they came for the 4x4s, and I did not speak (They are a bit much, if not really necessary; a bit like drinking six pints. Still, it's a free country).
Then they came for the 'bigger' cars, and I managed an eyebrow raise (they are what some of us, not on ex's, who pay for our own trips, use to transport a bit more than our single selves to work in. Or simply can be a lot cheaper on a cost/per mile/opportunity cost basis - you'll find that when it's a family outing).
And then they came for my pint (it takes a lot of water to make one), and as it actually impinged on me getting bladdered each night I was miffed, though by then it was too late.
But hey ho, at least I can now still enjoy a healthy glass of designer mineral water in my favourite H20 bar.. er..

As this is a national newspaper, I would estimate that not everyone lives and/or works in (as in 'in') London. I'm sure many do, though perhaps not within striking range of a tube or a bus that works.
But sadly, for all sorts of reasons, we all may need to travel there. No one does that trip unless you have to.
Now it may be daily, and if we're stinking rich and live in the 'burbs or beyond, we simply add to our Aston and Shogun a Prius... and Ken's Your Daddy: you can enter Bryony's patch free as a bird, and buzz about all day emitting away (electricity - be it hybrid or whiz-bang - gets generated and distributed, and not very efficiently in the latter case, somewhere).
Or if you're not so rich, you can try and lug a bit more into the exhibition than your journalistic utility belt of Alka Seltzer (Nice. Hope the liver holds out for the spawning thing), and pay an extra £25 for the privilege, despite the fact that you are now mostly emitting ... nothing.

So Ken has never used a Taxi then? Or been conveyed in some other form of vehicular transport (I'm sure he took the tube to Heathrow with is entourage to pop off to visit his mates on those fact finding tours, and they cycled them all around). I don't deny him the need, or right to so it. It is simply necessary to do your job. So that first few paras is either tunnel visioned or wilfully simplistic.

Other than being a modest-income earner's worst nightmare, and hence sure-fire vote loser, if it was about the environment wouldn't taxing the amount of stuff that goes in the fuel tank (regularly), in combination with what comes out the pipe (exhaust or power station - electricity comes with an e-cost) as a miles covered-fee (as opposed to a one off purchase tariff), be a) fairer and b) better for emissions control?

Divide and conquer is a great way to grab control. It's not so good for democratic change and social cohesion.

We expect it from the pols. When the media offer their support I despair.

This planet needs sensible action. Not hot air, hype and silly, divisive gestures.

And as a % of the whole greenhouse thing what are London's private car emissions, anyway? Say versus the non fuel-taxed skiing trips to Verbier? Or the non energy-saving bulbs burning in city offices? Or the poorly insulated homes? Or those that can't afford high-efficiency boilers... etc?

Fewer targets & penalties; more effective actions & incentives, please.