Image for 10 things we learned making the new issue of Positive News

10 things we learned making the new issue of Positive News

Divorce can improve our relationships, bins can make us hungry (for positive change) and nature makes for a formidable colleague, plus more

Divorce can improve our relationships, bins can make us hungry (for positive change) and nature makes for a formidable colleague, plus more

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1. Pigeon sashimi could be the next ‘superfood’

What are your culinary resolutions for this year? To bake your own bread? To eat more veg? Add ‘to taste pigeon sashimi’ to your list, recommends Richard Mawby, a forager who took on a really wild diet in the name of research. He was one of 26 UK-based foragers who lived entirely on wild foods for three months to gauge the impact on their health. In this issue, we report on the perhaps-surprising results, after they munched on the likes of roadkill badger, seaweed and berries.

Image: Richard Mawby

climate choir
2. Making people cry with your singing can be a good thing

If your not-so-dulcet tones regularly cause people to tear up, you have something in common with choristers in the Climate Choir Movement. Their planet-minded performances also regularly prompt tears in those listening, such is the ability of singing to “reach deep inside people”. That’s according to Jo Flanagan, co-founder of the movement, who we interview this issue. More than 500 people are now regularly performing in such choirs, Flanagan tells us, describing their climate-conscious concerts as “very gentle, very moving and very powerful”.

Image: Andy Squiff

Chris Packham
3. When arsonists attacked Chris Packham’s property – he had a beautiful response

Two years ago, masked men arrived at Chris Packham’s New Forest house, smashed a stolen car into his gates and exploded it.

It followed months of death threats and intimidation from people who were unhappy about his comments on the illegal persecution of birds of prey. (Packham has been in the news again this week after being assigned bodyguards while filming the new series of Winterwatch, due to threats made against his family.)

The blaze also burned to a crisp his wooden gates, and what Packham did with the charred remains says a lot about this issue’s cover star.

Seeing beauty in the burned wood, he carefully cut them up into three table-sized chunks and had them encased in resin. He gave one to a friend, is auctioning another off to raise money for charities who “oppose the views of the people who burned the gates down” and is keeping another as a memento. Why? “Because I knew I had to turn it into something positive,” he said.

Our interview is full of such details that divulge what makes Packham tick, from his passion for punk to his determined faith in young people and their planet-protecting instincts.

Image: Pål Hansen

positive news
4. Divorce can improve your relationship

“Since divorcing, my ex and I have the best relationship,” says Anna Whitehouse in this issue’s Life Lessons. The journalist, radio presenter and bestselling author turned campaigner on flexible working divorced Matt Farquharson late last year – a breakup not without pain. But, Whitehouse tells us, it’s also made them “stronger than ever, and we’re better parents than before.”

They’ve even published a book together – Divide and Conquer – about navigating modern-day parenthood. They co-parent their daughters, aged 10 and six, and as Whitehouse puts it: “We haven’t broken up, we’ve just rebuilt.”

Image: Charlotte Gray

5. Businesses are looking beyond the bottom line in new and interesting ways

“I woke up in the middle of the night in a massive cold sweat and [the pressure of the role] hit me like a bullet train.” Many of us can relate to nerves like this before an important work meeting – a make-or-break presentation perhaps. But Brontie Ansell felt that way due to the pressure of representing nature at a board meeting for the beauty firm Faith In Nature. 

It’s one of two UK firms that have so far appointed the natural world to their boards, giving nature a say in business strategy. “Like anything pioneering you never really know if it’s going to fall into the long grass, but the reality is it’s absolutely got a life of its own,” she enthuses of the concept. 

Image: House of Hackney

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6. Swedish septuagenarians could help us get real about inner change

You’ve heard of the sustainable development goals, but has word of the inner development goals reached you yet? Looking inside ourselves – and improving our capacity for self-reflection and listening in particular – could be key to unlocking huge progress, believe the team behind the project. It’s a big one, with 400 global hubs contributing their wisdom and more than 100 businesses – including Google and Ikea – already implementing some of the five proposed ‘transformational’ skills. 

With such a broad scope, and talk of “transcending our current way of being”, the project may need to work hard to stay on the relevant and tangible side of things. So, when conversations get too intellectual, Jenny Hjalmar Åkerblad from Ikea’s top team proposes the Swedish septuagenarian test: “Inner development is universal, but how can the IDGs be made relatable for my 76-year-old mother?”

Anyone who’s ever received a plainspoken rebuke from their grandma may relate.

Image: Elin Svensson

Portrait of Britain
7. You’re never too old to be a sporting champion

Hands gripping her bike bars, stare fixed on the horizon, Daphne Belt is every inch the tenacious triathlete. She’s strong, determined and the current European Triathlon champion for her age group – which just happens to be the 80-84 category. Her striking portrait is just one from the Portrait of Britain shortlist that we feature this issue. Get hold of a copy to enjoy the full set, including a young Shetlander dressed as a Viking, and a woman who has adorned her long-awaited baby bump in gleaming scales.

Image: Lisa Doyle

8. Librarians can be passionate – and tattooed

About as far from the stereotypical cardigan-wearing, comfortably shod pedant as is possible, Mychal Threets is redefining what it is to be a librarian. As well as his zany shirts, awesome afro and impressive social media presence, he is also tattooed in the name of his passion. Adorning his arm are the names of his favourite books: Where the Wild Things Are, The Busy World of Richard Scarry, and Alice in Wonderland. His readiness to open up about his mental health challenges has also endeared him to his large and growing following.

Threets spoke to us about belonging, book bans and his burning desire to help everyone access ‘library joy’.

Image: Gabrielle Lurie

9. Inspiration for restaurant menus can be found in the bin

Rather than roaming the globe in pursuit of the latest must-taste cuisine, or scanning Instagram for dish inspiration, Douglas McMaster started with the bin. Waste is a failure of the imagination goes the thinking at his zero-waste restaurant, Silo – the first of its kind in the world. In fact, Silo doesn’t even have a bin. What isn’t served is fermented; what isn’t or can’t be eaten is composted; and any packaging is either recycled or sent back up the supply chain. What’s left is added to a tiny, compressed cube that McMaster calls their ‘artwork’.

His fervour has put some people off – he talks to our writer about the fine line between passion and preaching – but take inspiration from his zeal if you can. Warning: after reading, you’ll never view your bin in the same way again.

Image: Laurie Fletcher

Hannah Ritchie
10. Huge global challenges feel overwhelming – but data can help place solving them within reach

How much of the world’s plastic waste ends up in the sea? From the coverage of rubbish-choked shorelines or nurdle-infested beaches, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s loads. Most of it? Maybe 50%, or more?

It’s actually more like 0.3%, explains Hannah Ritchie in our interview with her this issue. The data expert and self-described climate ‘solutionist’ used to think she didn’t have much of a future to live for. But her work drilling into the data, particularly when it comes to the numbers on key human wellbeing metrics like poverty and child mortality, has convinced her otherwise. 

Stats doesn’t always make for attention-grabbing headlines, but understanding the true scale of a problem can make us feel empowered, she points out. “If you believe that more than two-thirds, or even one-third, of our plastics are dumped in the ocean, it can easily feel like your efforts to fix it are hopeless.”

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Image: Simon Hird
Main image: Pål Hansen

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