It’s About Time – brought to life!

It gives me enormous pleasure to announce that the first reading from Quick! Act Normal is up. Dennis R Lindsey, an American friend here in Bristol, has done a wonderful recording of the final story in the collection, entitled ‘It’s About Time.’ As you’ll see, it goes beautifully with James Dudley’s photograph, taken in Los Angeles, where the story is set.

My webmistress, Sam Urquhart of, taught me how to embed video, and I’ve jumped all over it.

I would love to do some of my own readings, but I know many people with much lovelier voices than mine. Anyone willing to take a crack at one of the other stories – let me know!

Quick! Act Normal coverThe long-awaited career change is now under way. My interest in human affairs was always much broader than a focus on sustainability policy would allow, and so I have now moved to concentrate on writing fiction, under the pen name Michael Ford.

The new website for the writing of Michael Ford is here. I have begun detailing my experiences of publishing direct with Amazon in a series of articles here.

The stories in this first collection of short fiction are concerned mostly with relationships, with ourselves, each other and the world in which we live. They explore a multitude of aspects of human experience, including perception, consciousness, the construction of identity and personal reality. The characters are taken on emotional, sexual, spiritual and philosophical journeys, which celebrate the mysteries and miracles of our existence.


Chinese Edition of ‘A Renewable World’ Published

A Renewable World is now available in a Chinese edition, which is quite beautiful. Well, aside from the rather forbidding cover, which we could say has departed somewhat from the rather cheery, cartoonish cover of the English version, and the mix of technological and organic on the German edition.

ARW Chinese Edition

The first thing I looked for was the photo I took at the Three Gorges Dam, which features in the chapter ‘Towards Energy Equality.’ The perception of a steadfast Government penchant for muting criticism, could lead one to anticipate the excision of any discussion about one of the most visible of China’s ecological gambles. But not in this case.

I spent five weeks travelling around China in 2006, with a brief stop in Mongolia which involved an ill-fated horse-riding episode in the wide open, wind-blown, sun-blasted land of the nomads. I have never mounted a horse since. The photographs make it look perfectly wonderful, but try eight hours in the saddle with no practice, and a sudden switch to an all-goat-based diet, then we’ll compare notes. Continue reading

Why Bristol’s Green Reputation Can Be Our Biggest Strength

In a new report, ‘The Green Economy in Bristol and the West of England (pdf),’ published by the Bristol Green Capital Partnership, figures show that the local green economic sector has grown significantly in recent years, as most have contracted. Between 2005 and 2008, growth in the renewable energy sector was around 160% nationally, compared to 10% for the economy as a whole.

Figures drawn from the University of the West of England for 2010 showed that 1,086 companies in the West had sales of £2.4 billion, and employed 19,292 people. Annual sectoral growth is expected to increase to 5.5% by 2014/15. The highest year-on-year growth is expected in carbon finance and in four energy subsectors: wind, wave and tidal, carbon capture and storage, and photovoltaic energy. Continue reading

The Green Economy in Bristol & the West – a Call for Resilience Planning

Bristol Green Economy Report

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The Green Economy in Bristol and the West of England (pdf) - a report to Bristol Green Capital – is published today. As with most inquiries, this had some unexpected twists, turns and conclusions. It has suggested to this author that all stakeholder groups in the region must together develop and enact the concept of Resilience Planning.

The headline figures in the report suggest that the green economy is doing well in terms of the environmental technologies (ET) sector in the region. The South West Environmental iNet at the University of the West of England supplied the bulk of the data. For 2010, they estimate the following:

Value of sector: £2.4bn
No. of companies: 1,086
No. of jobs: 19,292

Their data says that between 2005 and 2008, the renewable energy sector grew 160%; compare this with 10% for the economy as a whole. Continue reading

Green Gives Way to Blue

When the freshly-minted UK coalition government boasted it would be the “greenest government ever,” it sounded like a bad joke. How could the Tories possibly pull off such a feat? The Liberal Democrats had a good manifesto and a track record of support for green policy, but the Tories? Their constituency has arguably never embraced green thinking, so why should they change now? A reasonable question. Surely it’s a horribly cynical ruse to persuade more voters in their direction, many said. A few bike rides to work and a failed rooftop turbine from David Cameron does not a green government make. The fact that a huge car used to follow him with his shoes and briefcase did little to burnish his credentials. Continue reading

What economy would a designer design?

I was watching a documentary at the weekend, called ‘Objectified’, by Gary Hustwit, and it made me think about the economics work I’ve been scoping from a new angle. In the film you see design consultants wrestle with designing handles for gardening shears. And in another section, a group works on design for a new toothbrush. You see them going through the steps, thinking about the function and the form – even throwing out everything and starting with the fundamental question: what is a toothbrush for? You see them expanding their vision, coming up with novel twists, really letting themselves get right into it, and apparently enjoying themselves as they do. Continue reading

Bristol study – week 6

After having dozens of conversations and reading numerous articles, papers and books, the work has developed in two key ways.

Firstly, I now conceive of it as much more of a process, rather than a one-off study. Secondly, it is becoming clear that it needs a specific framework. This, I am thinking at present, would be ecological macro-economics, applied locally and discussed in a process of stakeholder dialogue. Continue reading

Bristol study – week 3

After three weeks of scoping, the study is taking more shape. It is still in the expanding phase, and new questions are arising. The study is seeking to understand how we can create a sustainable, resilient local economy, in the face of the converging crises of the 21st century. These concern financial chaos, resource depletion, environmental degradation, population pressure, urbanisation, biodiversity loss and climate change. Continue reading