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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Hackney Green Party – Greens Are Good For You!

London

Written by Cari Steel

When you think of the humble pom-pom you think of children’s clothes, order buy of gigantic sombreros for tourists, generic unsightly snow boots and poodles with dodgy haircuts. Experimenting with pom-poms always seemed to be a bit like tequila shots – one was fun, two was adventurous, any more was way overboard and enough to make you gag.
NOT ANY MORE! Somebody somewhere decided it was time to wrench those pom-poms from the cheerleader’s sweaty grasp and boom! Stick them in the right places and we’re in love – and it turns out you can have hundreds of them!

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They might have come to our attention bobbling out all over the catwalks in fashion week and with the high street following suit, but this is a look that could be even cheaper for the creative recessionistas amongst you. Make your own! Check it.
If you ever find yourself sat staring into space on the tube, you could be churning out a whole lot of pom-poms instead. Worn the right way I think it’s a really easy and fun accessory to jazz up an outfit– this cute Peter Jensen ring as a prime example:

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We’ve seen some girls wearing them in their hair, which make a nice woolly alternative to bows, and of course the contentious scrunchie.

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BIGGER:

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BIGGEST:

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THE KITCHEN SINK:

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Don’t be wearing those in the cinema mind you.

It’s amazing that something so simple has been culturally reinterpreted so often over the course of history. That might sound grand but something that’s gone from dangling off the edges of sun hats in Central America, to being mass marketed to children all over the world to making on the Paris catwalks is pretty unique. Yikes, Pom Pom international even reckons they can promote world peace. Maybe that’s one tequila too many. Sporting them could almost seem a throwback to childhood, a fashion revival harking back to the days of hats and mittens (I’d like to say ‘and snow and toboggans’ but let’s face it, it doesn’t snow THAT often).
The last thing we can learn about pom-poms is from cheerleaders everywhere, who if nothing else, seem mind-bogglingly happy. Why? POM-POMS!
“At a T-cross-section go to the left. On your left hand you will see a hill. At the end of the hill, tadalafil on the top, this you will see a green cottage. That is where you can find me. If I am not there I might be outside doing some experiments.”
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Holland’s answer to a modern day Darwin, Theo Jansen has spent the last 19 years playing god and taking evolution into his own hands. An arrogant way to spend the best part of two decades you might say, but not when you see what incredible results this passing of time has produced. Jansen’s kinetic creature creations exist in a carefully crafted overlap of art and engineering.
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From a physics background to a study of painting via an interest in aeronautics and robotics Jansen arrived at 1990 with a thirst for breathing autonomous life into mechanical sculpture. What started as a highly technical computer animation program is now only reliant on the power of the wind with no machine assistance and only minimal human input required, and even that Jansen hopes to eventually phase out.
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My personal attraction to what Jansen does comes from my deep seated loathing of plastic waste, which he cleverly conquers by incorporating discarded plastic bottles as part of a complicated wind energy storage system and he sources metres and metres and metres of yellow plastic tubing- 375 tubes per animal to be exact- to create the skeletons for his beautiful monsters.
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He claims he started to use the plastic tubing because it was unbelievably cheap and readily available although he quickly discovered that a more perfect material for the project would be hard to find as they are both flexible and multifunctional. He draws comparisons between the plastic required in his art and the protein required for life forms. “in nature, everything is almost made of protein and you have various uses of protein; you can make nails, hair, skin and bones. There’s a lot of variety in what you can do with just one material and this is what I try to do as well.”
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The heads of his giant beings act as sails, directing the intricate frames to glide gracefully across the nearby beaches to Jansen’s home and laboratory. The insect-like wings catch gusts of wind and propel the body forward. When there is no wind not even for ready money, the stored energy in the belly of the beasts can be utilized.
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Jansen’s vision is of a landscape populated by herds of these sculptures taking on entire lives of their own. The versions of models that made it into existence have raced and won survival of the fittest contests through his computer program and having studied these ‘winners’ Jansen designed creatures so developed they are even capable of self preservation, burrowing themselves in the sand when the gusts are too powerful for them to use constructively.
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His imagination like his Strandbeests (literally translated as ‘Beach Animal) is an ever evolving self perfecting organ. He envisions a point at which he will release his creations ‘into the wild’, which he speaks about in the same loving tone you would expect from a parent preparing their nest to be flown by their offspring. “I imagine that two animals will meet each other and compare their qualities in some way; have a demonstration somewhere on how they run and how fast they can run and also do some quality comparison on how they survive the winds. And the one with the better quality kills the other one and gives the other its own genetic code. There could be 30 animals on the beach, running around all the time, copying genetic codes. And then it would go on without me.” It’s not so far fetched after all to consider what Jansen does as god-like. He plainly and rather humbly philosophizes, “I try to remake nature with the idea that while doing this you will uncover the secrets of life and that you will meet the same problems as the real creator,” he added. Theo Jansen is simply a genius though his genius is far from simple. Amen.

It has been a while since I have found a political party that I feel that I can get behind. Politics seem to have descended into a misguided mess. Anytime I read about a Tory or Labour MP, more about it is usually because of a scandal. What is going on environmentally and economically seems to play second fiddle to infighting and lies. Meanwhile, living in East London, I have become friends with a couple of people who are involved in the Hackney Green Party. They don’t seem to lie, or cheat, or claim expenses – this is a party that I can support! I wanted to find out more about them, so I sat down for a cup of tea with Matt Hanley, who is the Green candidate for Stoke Newington Central.

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Illustration by Jessica Pemberton

I really liked the political broadcast; I thought it was very astute. The message is not that we have to step outside of our comfortable lives, but that the Green Party are the only political group who can deal with the contemporary and current issues that the world is facing; both politically and environmentally.

We have changed in almost a 180-degree way, twenty years ago the stereotype was beards, sandals, pipes, hemp clothes, it was almost like lecturing the public – it was unsophisticated. Twenty years ago was what, 1989? Scientists for the first time had come to an agreement that climate change was happening, and that it appeared to be man made. I guess when that news was first out there; people were like ‘look, its GOT to change’. Now we are a bit savvier. We have to present policies which are palatable to the voting public; there is no point in standing on the side lines and finger wagging, if we present a policy which will save money but drive down carbon emissions – that is what we are all about. I see the environment agenda of the Green Party very much subset of our core goal, which is social justice. Everything we do, we put the welfare of the human being at the very core. If they are not benefiting from our policies then… I don’t want to know…. that is what the Green Party stands for. So we work for human rights, LGBT rights, promoting the local economy, promoting local business, right though to reducing carbon emissions, they are all under this umbrella of social justice. We are providing a very electable platform, which will improve people’s lives. We are a very well run political party with extremely good innovative ideas to get ourselves out of this economic mess and we are also challenging climate change and enabling our communities to do the same and preparing ourselves for peak oil.

There have been a many protests organised recently, a lot of people who have never protested before are taking to the streets. What is the Green Party’s stance on direct action?

We are the political wing of the New Social Movement; we are the only party who advocate non-violent direct action. The Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, is probably the only leader with a criminal record, she has been arrested at a nuclear base up in Scotland. We support legitimate protest. There is a place for the protesting, and a place for the parliamentary process. So we are the elected wing of the protest movement.

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Illustration by Aarron Taylor

Other parties don’t like their protesters do they?

Absolutely not, they just want you to nod along. Like good citizens, nod along like The Churchill Dog! (Laughs)

For people who have only heard of Hackney and have not been here, the first words that would come to mind would not be “sustainability”, “communities” or “grow your own”, but plenty of people are living by these ideals here and there is actually quite a healthy sized green movement in Hackney….

There is a massive opportunity for a green movement here, and massive support for us. It is unbelievable. In the last elections, the Greens reached second or third in every single ward in Hackney.

And you have a good relationship with Transition Town Hackney as well?

Yes, but they are completely different organisations. The Transition Town movement doesn’t want to be in the thrall of the political party. We definitely support the parties and their principles. We are all about a localised economy, we should be able to feed ourselves, produce our own energy, and I should be able to send my kid to the local school. The Transition Town model is about preparing for the onslaught of climate change and equipping communities for that transition, and that is also what the Greens are all about.

Can you see Hackney functioning well under a Green Party council?

Absolutely! They are doing it in Lewisham at the moment, which is a similar demography. They are doing all these fantastic things, for example, they have set a system up where you can go to the library and hire energy reading meters which you can take home and fix into your energy meter and this allows you to do an audit of your energy usage. I definitely want to see this launched in Hackney. It’s an innovative, creative way of thinking. It’s about putting sustainability at the core of everything, which also saves lots and lots of money!

I see The Green Party as being very accessible to young people as well.

The average age of people joining is mid to late 20′s. They are not wedded to 20th century politics, a lot of older labour supporters can’t bring themselves to leave. We have the same agenda that Labour did, back when they were good Labour. Only we can add the environmental agenda. We stand up for peace. We stand up for nuclear disarmament, no other party does that. We want public services to stay public. We want to renationalise the railways – the cost of rail tickets hits young people very, very hard. Younger people can see that we are standing up to big businesses, supporting local shops, and standing up for individuals. We have a whole plethora of progressive policies……..

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Illustration by Aarron Taylor

And also The Green Party a very media savvy bunch – you are on Facebook, you organise lots of activities….

Absolutely! In fact next week we are going paintballing – ‘Paintballing for Peace’

(Laughs) What other way is there to find peace?

(Laughs), and we are going on a Hackney Greens bike ride down to Brighton, we are organising a summer solstice away down to the coast. And we go on alternative pub-crawls. (Laughs)

Speaking of young people, Matt, you are 30 years old and you are standing for Stoke Newington Council for next May. What prompted this move?

I don’t like politicians – they are all the same, especially with what is going on with news about their expenses at the moment.
Working for the Green Party, and seeing the good that they are doing, I thought, you have to step up. I know that I can do a good job. Labour are failing miserably both in Hackney and in the country. The Conservatives are the same, the Liberal Democrats are no different, and so as a Green, you just have to step up.

What will you do if you won and had the power to implement any idea? What’s the first thing that you would do?

Free insulation! It’s a scheme that stems from European legislation, which states that energy companies are obliged to give a certain percentage to energy efficiency schemes. But the councils have to apply for that. The Green Party in Kirklees is on the local council, so every single person in Kirklees gets free insulation. It drives down energy costs, and drives down the carbon emissions and creates local jobs, so it’s a win win situation. Why every single council on the country is getting on this I don’t know. It saves everyone money, make peoples homes warmer, make them healthier – it stops people going to NHS with colds and flu and also reinvigorates the local economy by producing jobs. It creates a programme of very sustainable jobs. We tried to implement it before, but the Labour Councellors called it ‘daft’, dismissed it out of hand and didn’t give a reason beyond that!

That doesn’t make any sense!

The Labour and Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats are on the wrong side of history, but there is a new movement, and it takes into account the Green Party, Transition Town and Friends Of The Earth…. Amnesty International, trade unions, CND etc and all these community grass routes organisations. This is a wonderful new social movement that can be called green with a small g and is a new paradigm of social and political engagement…. this is what the 21st Century is coming to now, but the three big parties are still clinging onto the coat tails of 20th Century ideology. This whole new multifaceted social movement (of which the Green Party are the political wing) is the new politics of the 21st century.

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Illustration by Faye Katirai

Can you tell us the best changes that we can make to our lives to make our world more sustainable?

Number one is vote Green! Although I don’t want to lecture people about being ” eco trendy”. Eco trendiness and eco consumption is not going to sort this mess out. We need strong government action to allow this country to change to a sustainable economy. But back to things that you can do as an individual: don’t use your car as much. Don’t eat as much meat. Cut down, you don’t have to stop eating meat completely, just don’t buy from supermarkets. Stop shopping at supermarkets altogether, because that is killing the environment, and your local towns. Support your local shops instead.

Wise words! Thanks Matt.

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One Response to “Hackney Green Party – Greens Are Good For You!”

  1. mlke hanley says:

    very good very informitive hi o silver away

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