This week I got some good perspective: I spoke to some friends who survived the cyclone in Burma, and also watched a different kind of eco-village being built in London’s Docklands.

AFTER THE STORM: supporting those whose lives have been destroyed by the weather

I heard about the cyclone in Burma on Sunday afternoon. Having recently spent time in the region with two of my good friends, Ben and Ruth who are working in Rangoon, the country’s capital, I was concerned about their safety. Ben emailed us early on Monday to reassure that they were ok, but Burma was not. We spoke on Skype later that day, and as the death toll counter sped up, Ben explained how he and Ruth’s bedroom window had blown in. Luckily they had moved by then.

It’s difficult for us to imagine the devastation for tens of thousands of Burmese people – no home, no food, no water – not much hope at all. I just received this note from Ruth. Please support if you can.

“If you would like to make a donation to help those who have lost their families, their homes and their livlihoods and who continue to suffer the impact of cyclone Nargis, please follow this link . The experienced NGOs included on the list have all been established on the ground in Burma for many years, including in Irrawaddy, Bago, Yangon Divisions and Rakhine and Mon States. They are variously already conducting assessments and starting to provide support to the populations hit by the cyclone.
The websites give links to their Nargis appeals, and will allow you to claim Gift Aid for your donation if you are a UK taxpayer, maximising the effectiveness.”


Seriously what has happened since I left England a couple of years ago? I mean, everything, well almost everything, is ‘going green’. I’m sure it wasn’t like this when I left. Down at Excel this week for example, was the ‘Grand Designs Live’ event, a showcase in home-innovation inspired by the TV series that followed the trials and tribulations of people building their dream homes.

Outside the main exhibition was the Grand Designs ‘village’ made up of ‘no.1 lower carbon drive’ (a hands-on green house), an ‘eco-hab’ (see the picture, these are selling at £20k +), a giant log-cabin, and, right by the Grand Designs TV stage, an ‘eco house’ that is being built in 6 days by Kevin apparantly – although Kevin was actually sitting on a sofa at the time. I chatted with some of the guys who were building Kevin’s eco house, and the two chaps I asked couldn’t tell me where the materials were from – were they local, sustainably sourced blah blah? There was some nice looking reeds being used for insulation but aside from that, and despite the beautiful curved roof, I was struggling to understand the full eco-ness of it all. But heh, let’s wait and see the final result, at least it had people talking. As we know better than most, sustainable building ain’t that easy whether your on the Thames with a big budget or smashing bamboo beside the Mali hab at Grand Designs Live