Land for the Many - George Monbiot (editor), Robin Grey, Tom Kenny,
Laurie Macfarlane, Anna Powell-Smith, Guy Shrubsole, Beth Stratford (Report)
If it’s got the billionaire owned press frothing at the mouth, you know it must be good, and this is a seriously important piece of work. As the authors point out, land doesn’t get much of an airing in political discussions, but it quite literally underlies countless aspects of our lives. Land for the Many challenges our conceptions of how land should be owned, developed, managed and used to tackle issues ranging from house prices and inequality to farming and biodiversity.
The report makes concrete proposals that centre transparency, housing stability, public luxury, sustainability, commons, and community. It hits both the common sense (a transparent land registry) and paradigm shifts (Community Land Trusts). Whether you agree with every proposal, this is a can of worms that needed to be opened.
Red Mars - Kim Stanley Robinson (Book)
In Series 1 we discussed sending people to Mars and the benefits of reading sci-fi. This weighty first volume of the Mars Trilogy follows the first hundred scientists who settle permanently on Mars, from their journey in space, through the trials of founding a new society.
Some people enjoy this book because of the detailed descriptions of the various advanced survival and terraforming technologies, but we were drawn in by the politics and philosophical questions that come with the prospect of a new world. The first hundred are forced to navigate their own differences, before being faced by the complications that arise when thousands more people arrive from an Earth that is running low on resources and on the brink of global conflict. You find yourself rooting for the Martians in their bid to create a new society for themselves free from the shackles of Earth’s mistakes. Then you remember that if it were real life you’d probably be amongst the billions back on Earth, hoping that Mars was going to be your salvation. If you only you could distinguish it from the other floating blobs in the sky…