Radical Landscapes: activism, identity and imagination in a not-so-cold climate

October 24, 2022

The land has always been a contested space.  The 2000 ‘right to roam’ legislation, despite its inviting title, only covers about 8% of land in England.  Getting outside and enjoying the fresh air and countryside were high priorities during the pandemic, and focused people’s minds on what was and was not possible. Land ownership and […]

Staight Line Crazy: Robert Moses, the planner who did

August 11, 2022

Back in the 1990s when I first became a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute I opened my first copy of its The Planner magazine with great interest. One thing I still remember from that edition was a letter lamenting the fact that architects got all the glory in Hollywood movies and that planners […]

All will be well… in time

May 4, 2022

This is the story* of a young man Ernest Thomas, at war. Thomas was born on Christmas day 1895 and brought up on Kingston Road in north Oxford, his father a ‘brewer’s traveller’ for Halls Oxford Brewery, with his mother Florence bringing him up along with three younger sisters Peggy, Kathleen (Kathy) and Marjorie.  Ernest […]

Covid-19: biodiversity’s ‘code red for humanitty’

March 30, 2022

As the world begins to breathe more freely as the Covid19 pandemic apparently starts to ease, attention is beginning to turn to the prevention of future zoonotic pandemics. The much-delayed face-to-face UN Biodiversity Conference – officially the Fifteenth Convention on Biosocial Diversity (CBD) is due to open in Kunming, China on 25 April, having been […]

Is climate justice at the heart of the Covid-19 recovery?

August 3, 2021

There were many striking images that emerged from the G7 Summit in Cornwall in June – but let’s not dwell on Boris Johnson’s early morning made-for-TV dip in the sea. Another was world leaders standing at the top of aircraft steps shading their eyes or waving to the assembled media, having just flown in from […]

The Nature of economics: the Dasgupta report on biodiversity

April 8, 2021

The Dasgupta Report on biodiversity (1) was published at the beginning of February. It is an important document on a par with Nicholas Stern’s The Economics of Climate Change published in 2006. Not least because it has been commissioned and published by HM Treasury rather than by an environment ministry.  Its timing is significant coming […]

Will we be remembered as ‘Good Ancestors’?

November 24, 2020

The concept of the ‘Good Ancestor’ isn’t exactly new. As Roman Krznaric acknowledges in his book (1) the term was coined by Jonas Salk, the man who developed the polio vaccine sixty years ago. He quotes him: ‘Will future generations speak of the wisdom of their ancestors as we are inclined to speak of ours? […]

A dangerous field: women artists and the photographic image

November 12, 2020

The theme of PhotoOxford2020 is ‘Women and photography: ways of seeing and being seen’. The theme enables contemporary artists, photographers and curators to rediscover and celebrate women photographers whose work has been overlooked or marginalised over the years. Helen Muspratt, (1907-2001) a photographer I had never heard of until this year, is a case in […]

Masculinities: liberation through photography

August 23, 2020

I’d been looking forward to going to this exhibition which opened on 20 February, but didn’t get the opportunity to visit before lockdown, so  I was delighted to get to see it just a couple of days before the end of its extended re-opening on 23 August. The subject is certainly topical in the context […]

A room with a view

August 8, 2020

We all know that writing isn’t just the process of sitting staring at a screen and hoping great thoughts will appear. My allotment plays quite an important part in the creative process; the rhythm of planting, watering, weeding, pruning and harvesting and the calm it brings, all enable creative thoughts to emerge from the subconscious.  […]