The Blogger’s been receiving various communications, on a fairly regular basis now, about some environmental/global warming event called ‘Choose Day’ launching on the Centre this coming Tuesday.
Full details about the event, if not the organisation behind it, are available on an impressive-looking ‘Choose Day’ website. In fact so impressive is this site, the branded goods for sale on there and the accompanying marketing and publicity materials from what purports to be a grassroots organisation, it got The Blogger wondering who the hell is behind it all?
It doesn’t take a lot of research to find out that this apparently robustly secular ‘Choose Day’ environmental event and website are in fact a marketing front for a charity called Agora and the main player behind Agora is the Reverend Dr Chris Sunderland of Emersons Green.
And Sunderland’s charity only has, at best, a tangenital relationship to environmental causes. It’s actual objects being “The promotion of civic responsibility and good citizenship” and – wait for it – “The advancement of religion”.
Despite the deranged medievalist superstitions that lie at the heart of Sunderland’s project that he’s deliberately disguising behind secular-style ‘Choose Day’ branding, the good reverend on a section of his Agora website entitled ‘Beliefs, values and commitments’ has plenty to say on the issue of trust:
Also as all our politicians are now falling over themselves to use the language of trust, we offer a summary of how recent thinking about trust relates to the ancient wisdom of the scriptures. This resource ‘Bringing the Bible to bear on issues of trust in society’ plots modern understandings against biblical examples in order to demonstrate the difference that faith can make in this area.
Indeed. Here at The Blogger we’d like to know exactly how this ‘Choose Day’ scam of Sunderland’s relates to the ancient wisdom of the scriptures? Just what is his game here?
A lucrative one for starters. Funding for Agora/Choose Day seems to be rolling in from Bristol Archdeaconry Charities based at Edward Colston’s burial ground in All Saints and the shadowy Temple Trust as well as the St Thomas Ecclesiastical Charity.
Hence an initiative, that’s not even six months old, not only can afford trendy web designers to help pull in the gullible youngsters but staff too. Choose Day already has a PR and recently employed Josh Hart, a UWE student from the US who runs the On the Level car free blog.
However, Agora/Choose Day’s most intriguing staffer is consummate Bristol insider Penny Gane. Originally a community development wonk with Bristol City Council, Penny left the local authority to set up Gem Consulting – specialising in equalities advice to the public sector – with former Labour council leader Diane Bunyan no less. More recently Gane has surfaced trying to get her snout in to the Connecting Bristol trough until it failed to land any cash.
And finally, to finish off the whole Christian/establishment/insider feel of the Agora/Choose Day scam, it’s worth noting some of its supporters. Top of the list supporting this alleged environmental initative we find Business West boss, SWRDA board member and Merchant Venturer John Savage.
Yes. The man who in his other roles supports such environmentally-friendly initiatives as Bristol Airport expansion and the south Bristol ring road and who certainly will not be choosing workplace parking charges by all accounts!
Also on board, predictably enough, are multi-millionaire green posturers John Pontin and Alastair Sawday, the Long Ashton based businessman with the busy car park producing er . . . Foreign travel guides!
Choose Day? Fuck off.
So Savage, Pontin and Sawday are going to leave the Mercs at home on Tuesdays from now on are they?
Are they fuck.
Jesus H Christ, the barefaced hypocrisy of these individuals truly knows no bounds.
Fascinating stuff, this. I hope someone can keep an eye on the sponsors’ cars on Tuesdays.
But shouldn’t we be celebrating that anyone should be shifting away from ‘deranged medievalist superstitions’ to trying to do something – even this half baked scheme – about climate change?
My worry is that any ‘leave your car at home day’ is set up to fail. Imagine. If no-one takes it up, it’s a waste of time. If it’s a runaway ‘success’, loads of people conscientiously abandon their cars for the day, and pile onto bus and train services that are woefully inadequate to meet the suddenly increased demand. They won’t make that mistake again!
Dear Bristol Blogger,
I admire your research even if I dislike your tone and am particularly aggrieved at the way you attack my colleagues.
Eighteen months ago Agora’s trustees decided we should commit the majority of our work to climate change, it being about the most serious issue that the human species has ever faced. Being the smallest of charities we needed to think carefully about what we could do and we have come up with Chooseday. People like the idea and it seems to be catching on. We intend to build as big a partnership across the city as we can, but will only stand a chance if people give it a chance and dont try to destroy it with pervasive cynicism. Agora does do some work with churches, but Chooseday is a completely non-aligned initiative, that is, it owes nothing to, nor is trying to promote any major city institution, political party or faith community.
If you would like to meet face to face to talk this through I would be happy to do so. In the meantime if you could possibly find some ability to believe that people can do things for good reasons that would be very helpful to us all.
A mercantile-clerical partnership has dominated and run this city in their own narrow interests since at least the beginning of the slave trade. (A trade, incidentally, the church welcomed with open arms while working charitably and in partnership – for the good of us all mind – with the wealthy businessmen who were benefiting).
I’m afraid there’s nothing particularly new about your partnership – which is clearly aligned by the way. Just because you’re a vicar doesn’t mean you’re somehow objective or can exist outside ideology.
Regarding your staff, it’s an unfortunate fact that in this city whenever you find the Labour Party or its friends and business partners around government funding you can also discover appalling bad practice, nepotism, poor accounting, favouritism, cover-ups, dodgy references, redeployments, gagging orders etc. It’s so rife, it’s a waste of time pretending otherwise.
From personal experience, I wouldn’t give any of them the benefit of the doubt any more.
Good post, BB.
What really concerns me about Chooseday, though, is that is seems a somewhat inadequate response to climate change. According to the IPCC, we need to cut our carbon emissions by 80-90%. Leaving the car at home one day out of seven isn’t really going to get us very far.
I’d like to see these kind of resources put behind Bristolians who already choose not to drive – or simply can’t afford a car. But of course it’s a lot easier to exhort individuals to make a one-off or sporadic gesture than it is to tackle the reasons why people drive in the first place.
How about me Bristolblogger – you trust me dont you?
first-hand experience of senior (ie. cabinet level) members of Bristol Labour Party and their attitudes to public money in relation to the local community and voluntary sector leads me to trust none of you and I would strongly urge the public to take a similar view of you all.
And I bet you’re mates with “Dodgy” Derek Doddsy, who’s been running and monitoring all those grants for years.
Well I never made the heady heights of cabinet I am afraid so guess I cant be implicated. Not mates with Derek so free of that charge too.
When it comes down to it I am interested in what makes a difference. And I know that Labour is the best choice for Bristol given the sham that is the Tories and the incompetence that is the Lib Dems.
We have our problems but the others outshine us in the problem department everytime.
So…. now…. I very much look forward to putting my own view of the problems we face and the solutions we should adopt……
Note, dear reader, the entire lack of a denial bordering on admission – “We have our problems ” – of The Blogger’s claims.
Here they are again for the record:
“whenever you find the [Bristol] Labour Party or its friends and business partners around government funding you can also discover appalling bad practice, nepotism, poor accounting, favouritism, cover-ups, dodgy references, redeployments, gagging orders etc. It’s so rife, it’s a waste of time pretending otherwise.”
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Very good posting – I’ve removed the few brief refs to Chooseday plus a link to their site from my blog. I’m not happy in particular with religious links. Thanks BB.
To quote Kelvin Blake: “you trust me dont you?”
The only politicians I trust have stopped breathing and are safely tucked up in pine pyjamas under 6ft of soil or sealed in a cremation urn in the form of ashes.
I’ve written about this here.
I have three questions.
Does Chooseday receive any money from non-Christian sources? Does secular involvement extend any further than getting quotes to go on the website? And if not, did the people quoted know they were backing a Christian campaign when they backed it?
On the way to work this morning (on foot, although not in deference to any particular philosophy) I noticed there is now a larger “Chooseday” banner smack on the front of the Council House.
I forget the subject of the previous banner. “Ignorance is Strength” or something like that.
I love what you do! xx