Posts by Nick Booth

Carolyn Dawson New Optimist – cleaner hands means longer lasting antibiotics

Over the past few weeks we’ve been meeting young scientists new to the New Optimists, and asking them that simple question again: “What makes you optimistic….?” 

Continue reading “Carolyn Dawson New Optimist – cleaner hands means longer lasting antibiotics”

Chris Elliott of the Elliott Review – why Birmingham can make a difference

Chris Elliot at the New optimists contribution to his review of food crime in the uk

Chris Elliot at the New optimists contribution to his review of food crime in the uk


“I’ve had 200 meetings so far – this has been the most interesting.”  was what Professor Chris Elliot told the room at the end of today’s New Optimist session on the Elliot Review.  We’d spent the day talking about how a major city can tackle food crime.

Continue reading “Chris Elliott of the Elliott Review – why Birmingham can make a difference”

Be “relentless” Sinead Edom: Purchasing Manager, Sargeant Partnerships (who own the Handmade Burger Co)

Sinead Edom  is responsible for the supplies for the Handamade Burger Co restuarant chain – which has grown nationally from it’s start in Birmingham.  She has found that even apparently perfectly labelled and stamped food can have come from places you don’t expect. How does she know that – because she checks everything.  She phone’s the organisations who’s stamps are being sued she checks and tracks. For her food safety is about being determined, sitting on hold for hours, making 10 phone calls, being “relentless”.


Kabir Ahmed – Birmingham Restauranteur – we need to make people aware that with cheap food quality suffers.

Kabir thinks it’s very clear that where food is cheap there is a chance that the ingredients are sub-standard.  As a restauranteur in Birmingham he thinks it’s time to widen the conversation about what food ought to cost – not and easy thing to do though — especially for those who live food deserts.


The Horsemeat Scandal was “Manna from heaven” for local supplier Beckett’s Farm #brumelliot

Simon Beckett runs Beckett’s Farm, south of Birmingham.  The fears raised during the horsemeat scandal led to lots of new custom for him – but can local farms provide all of our food.  This video is just a few thoughts grabbed with him during the #brumelliott review in #foodintegrity

#tnofood Will we need to change the law to get local energy working well for Birmingham?

Catherine Burke is a partner and Head of Energy at Freeth Cartwright.  At the New Optimists Forum she shared some thoughts on the law – if it may need to change and what else might have to change to make local energy work well in Birmingham.

What will be quantitively different in our lives in Birmingham in 2050 – table 1

Catherine Burke

Corrado di Maria

Lynsey Melville

Ian Forsyth

New Optimist Forum - discussing numbers

New Optimist Forum - discussing numbers

Thoughts from this table


  • More people in the city
  • More immigrants?
  • More things will rely on energy – we expect a higher quality iof life, so needs and wants are larger, although energy use is lower.
  • Efficiency could though lead to more energy use because we have more electrical devices
  • Local community generation might create more of a moral emphasis on saving energy.
  • When you know your energy is green you consume more!
  • Bigger split between the haves and the haves not –
  • People wont have their own boilers – will that also encourage them to use more energy, because they don’t know what’s on when.
  • Per capita demand will decrease – even though we will have more things to power
  • Fossil fuels will have to be priced out of the market – but then low carbon fuel prices will rise.
  • Possibly more public transport
  • Fewer cars
  • More highrise blocks?  Communities developing around energy systems.
  • Pricing for the grid will be very complicated – but energy supplies will be interconnected
  • At the moment limit of the size of  community is also shaped by technology – a small generator can’t economically supply energy more than 500M from the energy source.



Local energy – will it make our Birmingham in 2050 bigger and denser – or smaller and a network of villages

Two very different views tonight… if 50% of Birmingham’s energy is produced locally – in neighbourhoods, homes, inside the city… how will that change the size and nature of Birmingham?

Dr Corrado Di Maria, an economist at Birmingham University, thinks local energy generation might lead to much smaller cities – after all we won’t need them for that economy of scale….

Meanwhile Professor Andreas Hornung was thinking it might make it easier to grow mega cities…

Or for example one New Optimist argued that Northfield or Nechells might be redesigned because of energy – as a driver to regenerate outskirts of the city rather than just the city centre.   A local power plant might be a thing to cluster around.


#tnofood Caroline Hutton: allotments are great fun but no the answer to feeding #Brum

There’s pleasure in working with scientists.

Caroline Hutton runs Martineau Gardens in Edgbaston:

Our mission is to inspire people about the natural environment. We also provide volunteering opportunities in the garden and are a venue for educational activities.

Martineau Gardens is the registered charity that manages the gardens and wildlife area. We are a Community Garden, a Social Enterprise and a Visitor Attraction.

In the video above she talks about how far we can expect self grown food to feed Birmingham.


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