Yesterday a DVD titled EU4U! came in the post from my friend Jean Lambert MEP‘s office. Produced by a group of young people from east London, it explained how Jean had been mobilizing the resources from the European Parliament and the European Union’s “Lisbon Agenda” to help Londoners make their own lives better. “Social cohesion” or “social inclusion” was the key phrase.
That phrase reminded me how I realized, upon moving to Europe, that a lot of the political vocabulary useful for the green movement had been absent in the USA. When I was living in San Diego, there were horror stories about teachers for downtown schools had to drive from Temecula (an hour’s drive away) to get from their homes to the schools, because they could not afford the houses nearby. That was how it was loosely described. In British English, it would sound something like this: “the keyworkers need to have access to housing near their workplaces”; with lots of punches packed in. Regardless of what HM Government had done (or not) about the problem, at least there were words like “keyworker” with which to argue things out. (To their credit, the San Diegan city planners did know about the idea of a “city of villages”.)
As part of my protestant absolution for emitting lots of CO2 by flying to California in February 2004, I went to a small weekly gathering of UCSD Campus Greens at the comfortable venue of the Che Café and shared with them some of this vocabulary, in an attempt to radicalize them a bit further. They were amused of our use of “green energy”, set against “brown energy”. Ironically, Che Café was situated next to the campus’s in-house powerplant.
For a (gratis) copy of the DVD EU4U!, write to Jean’s office. (After watching the DVD, I wanted to give Jean a green hug. By the way, I think it is increasingly appropriate to think of Members of the European Parliament as the transatlantic counterpart of Representatives in U.S. Congress.) For more about the “European Social Model”, check out the Centre for Social Europe (of which my friend Caroline Lucas MEP is a founding member), or read Jeremy Rifkin‘s book The European Dream (excerpt from the book courtesy of Utne Reader).
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