One little booth, one giant leap for sustainability

There are some ideas which when viewed retrospectively sound obvious. For example, when Percy Shaw invented cats eyes in 1934 to help people drive in foggy conditions, nobody seemed much interested, till future Prime Minister Jim Callaghan took them up for British roads in 1947 – and they became ubiquitous.

What On Track and Southern Railways are doing seems simple. In fact it’s a forehead slapping no-brainer. It’s the idea of linking the way you get to a place – the railway – with what you are going to do there, i.e visit The Brighton Festival. This, after all, is a festival with a growing reputation internationally and a flagship event for Brighton. And the modest booth pictured at Brighton Station is the first step in making this link explicit. It the beginning of an attempt to join the dots between travel, sustainability and your destination.

On Track are trying to promote the fact that simply by choosing to board a train rather than drive, you are actually doing something good for the planet. You can zoom down from London to Brighton knowing that you’ve a mouse’s carbon footprint. Crucially, you are already making a difference.

This is important. There is nothing more paralysing than guilt and hopelessness. Show people the everyday things they can do to make a difference, and pow! you have begun to nudge people towards a tipping point in their behavior.

And Brighton, of course, is one of the most sustainably minded cities in the UK, (don’t take my word for it, have a look at this interview I did with Thurstan Crockett Brighton’s sustainability guru). The Festival is part of the Brighton sustainability mix.

Watch this space.

The Brighton Moment at the Komedia

People who live in Brighton think Brighton is big and clever. Judging by the number of scribes who live here and write about it, this big and cleverness will live on long after the current crop is being squabbled over by the seagulls.

Having evolved in three years from a cosy fringe event at Joogleberry Playhouse, to its current ability to effortlessly fill the 300 seats of the Kommedia, The producers of The Brighton Moment Susanna Jones and Alison MacLoud have done great things with an event that this year is now officially part of the Brighton Festival. (I noticed Andrew Comben, incoming Festival supremo, present and correct.)

And, frankly, damn right it should be too. Where else can you hear a burst of something like 18 excellent authors reading their own material all focused on one theme? And what other English city could produce it? The variety of material and the change in voices meant the literary longueurs were rare, and the delights were many.

Hosted by Annabel Giles, who managed to be both ramshackle and slick, the event attracted a flock of Brighton’s finest scribes. Tanya Murray, who I’d seen read once before, is fairly new and largely unpublished. She “used to be a man but gave it up”, and for my money Murray is an authentic Brighton voice, and a talent to watch.

Next year’s Brighton Moment may extend beyond one night. If it does, you should seize that moment, and see it.