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Quantum Social Change

Webinar 1: Quantum Social Change
Thursday, June 18, 2020
8:00 PM 9:30 PM

Everyone agrees that we are at a critical juncture, and many are calling for deep social changes to address climate change, biodiversity loss, poverty and inequality, racism, and the direct and secondary effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. More and more people recognize the need for a paradigm shift. But what does this actually mean? What would it involve?

In this webinar, Karen O’Brien will present a draft of her new book You Matter More Than You Think: Quantum Social Change in Response to a World in Crisis.

The concept of “quantum social change” opens up an inquiry into how we relate to ourselves, each other, the environment, and the future. It aims to get us thinking about our agency and potential to act in time to make a difference and to really matter.

The presentation will be followed by a conversation and discussions about the relationship between individual change, collective change, and systems change and why [I/we] matters.

The webinar is free and open to all (registration required).

Register by midnight on the 17th June 2020 using the ticket link above. The Zoom link will be sent out on the day of the webinar.


Karen O’Brien, Professor Human Geography, University of Oslo and co-founder of cCHANGE
Tone Bjordam, Artist

You Matter More Than You Think is about how and why you as an individual matter when it comes to responding to climate change and other global crises.

You Matter More Than You Think: this new book on “quantum social science” says we shouldn’t underestimate how much our actions can change the world



Post Cards

Thanks Cliff, Roger, Maryia, Michael, and Robert - we seem to have become the Lockdown Post Card Collective - I'll make an effort to respond this weekend :)

Carluccio’s London

More than 1,000 Carluccio’s staff have lost their jobs after 40 sites were shut by administrators, with the remaining restaurants acquired by the food industry tycoon Ranjit Singh Boparan. Carluccio’s was founded by the late chef Antonio Carluccio in 1999 and was owned by Landmark Group, a Dubai-based retail and hospitality conglomerate. London Marriott Regents Park and London Waterloo Station are two of the 31 restaurants acquired by Ranjit Singh Boparan, the owner of the Giraffe and Ed’s Easy Diner, Fox’s Biscuits and a supermarket chicken empire.

More than 1,000 Carluccio jobs lost as 'chicken king' tycoon buys chain
The Guardian
Sarah Butler

Carluccio’s Restaurants acquired in London are: Islington Development Kitchen, Marriott Heathrow, Marriott Regents Park, Waterloo Station, Richmond, South Kensington, St Christopher’s Place, St Pancras Station, Wimbledon. 

Putney Common

Regent's Park

Photomovie . Regent's Park

COVID-19 and the humanisation of globalisation

It turns out we did change the world. And we must keep changing it.
I am going to write about how the impact of the coronavirus shows we all got globalisation wrong, that we have created the conditions to replace it, why this has happened and what we should do. First, I want to say three things.

I wish every reader well and a fruitful future life. Like any scribbler I always desire more of you. But the more of you there are the more likely it is that some of you will not survive this year. Never have the words “take care” been so freighted with relevance. Keep your distance, wash your hands, don’t touch your face – something I find impossible – and look after others.

Second, as someone now classified as ‘vulnerable’ who has always wanted the world to change, I didn’t want it to change like this. I fear the powers that rule us may exploit the pitiless nature of the plague to control us after it has passed, rather than be forced to step aside. As one of those most likely to be taken away by the virus if it gets to me, and least likely to qualify for life-support if I need hospitalisation, I have to acknowledge a new dread. It’s a dread which makes me dream of hugging my children rather than seeing them flicker on the computer screen, of holding my older granddaughter’s hand and poking out my tongue at the younger and laughing with delight. And laughter is good for the immune system, I’ve been told, and bad for SARS-CoV-2 (the name of the actual virus) which suffers from being over-serious.

The dread is that if my child gets COVID-19 (the name for the disease the virus causes) I cannot stroke her forehead; that my beloved could be removed from me forever if she finds it difficult to breathe; or if I get it, that she can’t bring a comforting drink to my bedside and my body will become a toxic time-bomb demanding rapid, sterilised disposal. All this imbues everything that follows, writing under lockdown.

Third, to write about it, just like singing about it, talking about it, or posting messages about it, requires making a call about the fear the pandemic generates. This isn’t simple. It is vital to turn on the fear mechanisms – for the virus is contagious and cruel. It is also essential to turn them off – for fear itself is the most contagious thing of all.

In my country our leaders got both calls wrong. They failed to take the coronavirus seriously when it first arrived and are now unable to provide reassurance. It means that trying to respond in a clear-headed way to its impact, here in England, is unsettled by the unavoidable presence of a prime minister who lacks every virtue except audacity and ambition. He counteracts his emotional void with a calculated ebullience and the recruitment of smart advisors whose messaging he follows, as he flees serious questioning and the human engagement this demands.

Usually, profits come before people. But this year, governments across the world have been forced to shut down their economies and put life first. Why?

Out of the Belly of Hell: COVID-19 and the humanisation of globalisation
Open Democracy
Anthony Barnett

St John's Wood

Back Garden

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand, Coronavirus

Ardern’s leadership of New Zealand through the coronavirus crisis has compounded credentials well established by her government’s deft and empathetic handling of the horrific massacre in Christchurch last year. When corona hit, the lockdown of the country was swift, draconian and effective; there have only been 21 deaths from the disease to date in New Zealand, and while the rest of the world grapples with a rising number of daily cases, no new cases have been reported in New Zealand in three days. .. 

Among a claque of western leaders yearning for “snap back” to the way things were before the virus – some pursuing “recovery” strategies of even lesser benefit – it’s New Zealand’s, conspicuously, who repeatedly shows the courage to snap forward. Little wonder she has become so popular.

'Snap back'? Jacinda Ardern snaps forward with a four-day week: no wonder she's popular
The Guardian
Van Badham

The Big Failure of Small Government

Decades of privatization, outsourcing, and budget cuts in the name of “efficiency” have significantly hampered many governments’ responses to the COVID-19 crisis. At the same time, successful responses by other governments have shown that investments in core public-sector capabilities make all the difference in times of emergency. The countries that have handled the crisis well are those where the state maintains a productive relationship with value creators in society, by investing in critical capacities and designing private-sector contracts to serve the public interest.

The Big Failure of Small Government
Project Syndicate

Large areas of London to be made car-free

In one of the biggest car-free initiatives of any city in the world, main streets between London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo, and Old Street and Holborn, will be limited to buses, pedestrians and cyclists.

Large areas of London to be made car-free as lockdown eased
The Guardian
Matthew Taylor

Streetspace for London - The Plans

Car-free zones
Our plans include giving central London some of the largest car-free zones in a capital city.
Some streets may be switched to walking and cycling only while others may be limited to walking, cycling and buses. This is now planned for streets between:London Bridge and Shoreditch, Euston and Waterloo, and Old Street and Holborn. Waterloo Bridge and London Bridge may be restricted to people walking, cycling and buses only, with pavements widened so people can safely travel between busy railway stations and their workplaces.

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Neil Young

Music . Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Neil Young
 Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Neil Young, 1969


Coronavirus with Mutual Aid

Amid this unfolding disaster, we have seen countless acts of kindness and solidarity. It’s this spirit of generosity that will help guide us out of this crisis and into a better future.

'The way we get through this is together': the rise of mutual aid under coronavirus
The Guardian
Rebecca Solnit