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We are for a happy, healthy, leafy Leith

Originally posted 29th June 2013

My vision

A vision is held in me for environmental change. The picture to the left sums it up fairly well. Nothing makes me more certain that change is necessary than my own backyard. I have a nature dumping tip, commonly known as a compost heap, and a human dumping tip, a small box annoyingly gets (and not so very often) filled with plastic, cellophane or other human-made products. Anything that nature produces can be composted and gives life anew to our baby plants, and thus becomes our new food sources. It is a wonderful natural cycle that never ceases to amaze.

Big black bins On the other hand, any of the human waste waits in a messy tip to be separated out and recycled in relevant bins where possible. The human waste pile is ugly and useless, yet it stays there fixed in its man-made form. We know that in the wider world this rubbish brings environmental damage to our wildlife, and it is an eyesore! This little human box is a symbolic reminder of the wider environmental challenges we face; it is providing me with much motivation to buy unpackaged products – loose fruit and veg whenever possible – and it’s one reason why I grow my own food: I like to avoid using big black bins! Supermarkets

Leith does seem to have an abundance of large, faceless supermarkets, and in these shops avoiding packaging is challenging, as is the challenge of purchasing local food. I’m fairly certain that we might even struggle to buy healthy food there too. Is junk food child abuse? Their latest section – “American Food” – which is full of sugary things, provides a good example of unhealthy choices. In fact, Jamie Oliver, a much-loved English chef, has suggested that feeding our youths this supermarket junk food constitutes child abuse. He specifically draws attention to the UK obesity crisis. So when the dominant Leith supermarket became self-appointed “champion of the nation’s health” there was, quite rightly, an outcry. The very food system that causes obesity is now in charge of our health. Wouldn’t it just be simpler to take some of your products off the shelf? Big business

Boyle cartoon Pulling the plug on Splashback Big business seems to be making it hard for people to build happy healthy communities in Leith and beyond. The recent Splashback campaign, launched to save Leith Water World from closure, has failed as our councillors have turned their backs on this group of local Leithers. It is a brutal blow not only to the Splashback team but also to those parents that value healthy connections with their children, those that understand the need for play and fun in their children’s lives – essential to emotional well-being – and it is a blow to the children of Leith who, like their parents, hoped for better. Soft play centre will not combat “Nature Deficit Disorder” It is likely that the million-pound clincher for a “soft play centre” will undoubtedly foster the disconnect that, quite frankly, is replicated in the homes of little Leithers already, with inactive TV-watching or computer-gaming, high-sugar diets, and indoor lifestyles. The disconnect from green spaces and active play is contributing to Nature Deficit Disorder. Austerity hits Leith and our health and well-being are being downgraded

The Splashback defeat is an indication of austerity in Leith, and a sign of our health and the health of our children being downgraded in importance in the cause of an “economic model” that has lost all credibility in the world of economists. The usual remark made to fresh economy students is, “Forget all that you have been taught”. They are then indoctrinated with the belief that people are primarily motivated by short-term selfishness, if commentators such as David Erdal are to be believed. Fresh eyes Such an attitude must surely give way to the realisation that we do indeed need to start again with truly fresh eyes and fresh principles – the realisation that in these times of austerity we could prioritise our health over our cravings for wealth, paving the way for a decent future for generations to come. That investing in our communities will foster community spirit, and an added bonus would be thriving mental health. Our vision: social change! So, our vision! We grow food to reduce our food miles, we grow food to protect and maintain heritage seeds (biodiversity – the genetic resource on which food security depends), we grow food to connect with our food suppliers and foster new local community relations, we grow what we can because we appreciate pesticide-free food and value our health, we grow food to educate children on the natural cycles that underpin our very existence and influence global climate. To an ever-increasing extent, we also grow food because of austerity, and the expense of buying organic, healthy, environmentally good products which are increasingly unobtainable for people/ families on a low income, increasing the likelihood of obesity in poor households. Yet, our most profound reason for existence is that we will not turn our backs on Leith, or its children. We believe in creating opportunities for transformation and social change. We are ready!


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