The 365 Ways Blog

Michael Norton is author of "365 Ways to Change the World", which provides an issue for each day of the year, interesting facts, inspiring case studies of people doing things to address the issue and ideas for action. Originally published in the UK, versions with local content have been published in Australia, Canada, India, South Africa and the USA. To find out more visit our website:

04 April 2008

Become a citizen of Slow Planet

First there was slow food – enjoying good food in good company, savouring every mouthful. Then there were slow cities, where efforts were made to slow everything down. Both these movements started in Italy, but have since spread. Then there was the Society for the Deceleration of Time, which started in Germany. Then Carl Honore wrote a best-selling book “In Praise of Slow”, where he explored everything from slow food to slow sex, Now Carl has launched a new website promoting the idea of “slow” as a way of creating a slow planet:

Slow is not about doing everything at a snail's pace; it's about working, playing and living better by doing everything at the right speed. For example:

Slow travel: Mae West once said “Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly”. She probably had sex on her mind – yet the same principle holds for travel. Slow travel is not only better for the environment, it also delivers a richer, more memorable and more convivial journey. Is there more to slow travel than this? Citizens of Slow Planet are asked share their views – preferably after a long, relaxing vacation!

Slow sport: A little while ago, a famous sports columnist in Spain hailed the rise of slow football. He wrote that in the fast-paced modern game many players barely take time to think anymore. He argued that the real artists are those who can move quickly when needed but also know when to slow down, when to put their foot on the ball, size up the angles and movement around them and then deliver the killer pass or dribble. He cited Ronaldinho, the Brazilian ace, as the high practitioner of slow football.

Slow work: Even when we accept that slowing down makes sense in every other walk of life, we still resist the idea that it can also pay dividends at work. After all, speed is king in the modern workplace. Just look at these buzzwords and catchphrases: multitasking; just-in-time management; “I need this yesterday”; lunch is for wimps; get up to speed; “You snooze, you lose”. However, there is too much speed in the workplace. Employees are burning out faster than ever. Absenteeism and staff turnover are soaring. The constant pressure to accelerate, to do more and more in less and less time, is leading us to cut corners, think inside the box and make mistakes. In the global economy, the spoils will go to those who deliver quality rather than quantity. And that is why the idea of slow work will catch on around the world.

Slow design: This means using materials and resources in a way that respects the environment. It means small-scale, local production and networks of artisans sharing ideas and expertise. It means diversity, eccentricity and real character rather than cookie-cutter products that look the same all over the world. Slow Design creates objects with a story behind them.

Sign up now (but not too quickly) to become a citizen of Slow Planet:

The Beginners Guide to Slowing Down
1. Have a cup of tea, put your feet up and stare out of the window. Warning: don’t try this while driving.
2. Spend some quality time in the bathtub.
3. Write down these words and place them where you can see them, “Multi-tasking is a Moral Weakness.”
4. Try to do only one thing at a time.
5. Do not be pushed into answering a question right away. Take your time.
6. Get some stuff to show you're slow. Find out what at
7. Yawn often. Medical studies have shown lots of things and possibly that yawning may be good for you.
8. Have some more tea. Tea is the drink of the slow.
9. Join our slow story reminder list. Sign up to be reminded when slow stories appear on
10. Take a nap and spend at least an hour extra in bed. You deserve it.

…and check out:

Fossil Fools Day

"April 1… the day upon which we are reminded of what we are on the other three-hundred and sixty-four." – Mark Twain.

April 1, “All Fools Day” otherwise known as “April Fools Day”, is a day to play practical jokes on your friends and colleagues. Tradition has it that the practical joke should be performed before noon. To work, an April Fool’s joke needs to seem credible, and perhaps appeal to the vanity or snobbery of the person being fooled.

April Fool 1957: The respected and normally rather stuffy BBC TV news show Panorama carried a feature on the spaghetti harvest in Europe. The mild winter had led to a bumper crop. The programme showed Swiss family farmers harvesting strands of spaghetti from the trees, rather than the vast spaghetti plantations of the Italian Po valley. Huge numbers called up to find out more about spaghetti growing and where to buy spaghetti trees.

April Fool 1977: the British newspaper The Guardian published a special 7-page supplement to mark the tenth anniversary of the independence of San Serriffe, a former British colony in the Indian Ocean. The geography and culture of this obscure nation was described using puns on typographical terms, such as “Serif” for the country, “upper and lower case” for its two main islands, Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader General Pica. It seemed an idyllic holiday spot. Several days late, button badges bean to appear saying “I’ve been to San Serriffe”.

On 1st April 2008, the International Rising Tide network and its allies called for a day of action against the fossil fuel industry … which they named as FOSSIL FOOLS DAY!

Confronted with melting ice caps, unprecedented species extinction, droughts, and extreme weather the fools at the head of the fossil fuel empire continue to plunder the earth, with the governments as willing court jesters at their side.

But climate activism doesn’t yet match the severity of the climate crisis… which means that it’s time to ask ourselves how serious we are about stopping climate change.

This is what we do know:
• The fossil fuel industry has poisoned our air, polluted our water and is ruining our climate.
• Governments do little to stop this. Despite the rhetoric and because of the intense lobbying by the fossil fuel sector, nothing is changing fast.
• The most appropriate response to climate change is to keep fossil fuels in the ground. One thing is for sure. Everything that is extracted will be burned... and this creates more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, more greenhouse gases.

So what we can do:
• We can do what we can in our own lives to reduce our carbon emissions at home and at work. This will start to wean ourselves away from fossil fuel dependency.
• We can come together to take action to highlight the situation and what governments and the energy companies should be doing. We can even think about taking “direct action” to show the seriousness and urgency of the problem.

Climate change threatens our very survival. Weather chaos, an unpredictable climate, is increasingly upon on us. There is no time to lose. It is up to all of us to launch a global uprising of opinion against the fossil fuel industry.

On 1st April 2008 thousands of people around the world took action to highlight the foolishness of burning more and more fossil fuels. They found “a fossil fool in their community and pulled a prank that packed a punch”. Find out what they did at:

Check out the international Rising Tide network at:

Fifteen ideas for Fossil Foolery on April 1

These are ideas for action for Fossil Fools Day which were suggested by Rising Tide North America. Check out what people actually did on the Fossil Fool website. This is all part of an effort to get the world to listen, take notice and act on global warming, which politicians from Blair to Gore to Schwartzenegger have described as being the most important issue facing the planet.

1. Stop the pumps: As the main public face of the oil industry not to mention the fact that they are everywhere, gas stations are a great place to highlight the connection between car culture, climate change, and environmental justice. Aside from being one of the largest sources of greenhouse gases, there is not an oil company on this planet that has not been party to human rights atrocities. Consider such tactics as blockading the entrance to a gas station, locking down to gas pumps, or having a die-in in front of the gas station. It is quite easy to gain access to the roof for a banner drop with the use of a extension ladder. It should also be noted that all gas stations have safety shut off buttons that will shut off gas pumps in case of an emergency, which are generally located on the outside of the station. If a global climate meltdown isn’t an emergency, we don’t know what is!

2. Stick it to the Biofools: Agri-fuel expansion is being touted as a solution to climate change, but agri-fuels are actually a distraction from rejecting car culture at best. At their worst they use massive amounts of fossil fuels and pesticides to produce, waste enormous quantities of fresh water, and are one of the leading causes of deforestation in the global south. Target your local bio-refinery – be it for ethanol, biodiesel or other biomass. Find them at or

3. Spank a bank: It would be nearly impossible for the fossil fuels industry to continue extraction and build new energy facilities without the financing of the world’s largest banks. There is a growing international effort to get these banks to withdraw all funding of the fossil fuels industry. In the United States, groups such as Rainforest Action Network, Mountain Justice Summer, and Rising Tide North America have been targeting Bank of America and CitiGroup for their financial support of the coal industry, and in particular companies practicing mountaintop removal coal mining. There have been over 100 actions against these banks ranging from branch occupations, to street theater, and banner drops. In England activists have targeted the Royal Bank of Scotland in similar fashion for its funding of the oil and gas industry. Even if you can’t pull a crowd together for a protest, a few people with “out of order” signs can shut down dozens of ATM machines owned by these banks in a matter of hours. Make sure there is a message in fine print on these signs about the banks role in climate change. For additional resources check out

4. Kick corporate research off your (or anybody’s) campus: Universities, in collaboration with corporations, are developing new technologies using fossil fuel extraction and burning. Many schools in coal states have research facilities dedicated to the perpetuation of this dirty fuel, while schools in oil states like Texas focus on petroleum. Chances are that any major university will be involved in some aspect of perpetuating our addiction to fossil fuels. Do some research, get creative, and kick the fossil fools in the butt and then off your campus.

5. Deflate or die: People in Sweden and France have developed a creative means of protest against gas guzzling SUVs. They simply let the air out of the tires, rendering them immobile. Thousands of tires have been deflated immobilizing hundreds of vehicles which has generated much media attention and awareness on global warming. The act is simple and does not involve property damage. All one does is take off the valve cap and place a small pebble on top of the valve and screw the cap back on. If the pebble is placed correctly, it will press down on the air valve when you screw down the cap, thus releasing the air. To our knowledge there is no law against releasing air from car tires, though we aren’t going to guarantee it’s without risk. In Belgium, one of many countries where this tactic is catching on, the Justice Minister recently had to admit there is nothing illegal about it! Make sure you leave a note on the car explaining your action.

6. Fry the friendly skies: Air travel is one of the fastest growing sectors for greenhouse gas emissions, as well as one of the most extravagant uses of fossil fuels. We need to combat air travel. Protests can be organized at airline offices as well as airports. Many airports are considering major expansions, which means even more airplanes polluting the air. While tight security at airports creates a number of logistical problems, they also contain some advantages such as a tendency to overreact to any situation out of the norm with a resulting disruption of airport business. Due to the danger to both airplane passengers and yourself we discourage doing anything to interfere with airport runways. While airport activism is largely uncharted territory in the US, activists in Europe have been at it for years.

7. Offset this! As the reality of climate change becomes ever more real, people and businesses are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. This is undoubtedly a good thing. Unfortunately there are those out there who would rather make a fortune off the climate crisis rather than actually do anything to help. Enter carbon offset companies. These companies take people’s money, and promise to “offset” all or a portion of the greenhouse gas emissions they create by paying to plant some trees or install efficient light bulbs in some developing country. The problem is this does very little to actually reduce carbon emissions while making people think they can continue to live their exorbitant lifestyles. The bottom line is that carbon offset companies perpetuate the notion that we can continue to burn fossil fuels and fight climate change at the same time. A number of actions have been taken against the carbon offset industry such as office occupations and creative street theater.

8. Resist road expansion. More roads mean more cars, plain and simple. Instead of reducing our dependency on automobiles the government focuses on building a never ending web of roads. New roads devastate natural ecosystems, disrupt animal migration, and open up previously untouched areas to new development, and encourage more and more cars to hit the road. Many communities are already resisting new road projects. They disrupt public meetings, hold street demos, and even evict the planning offices for the highway by throwing all of their contents on the kerb!

9. Bikes not Buicks! Critical Mass is a time honored protest against car culture and an excellent way to get large crowds out for mass civil disobedience with relatively low risk. For a Critical Mass, all you have to do is get together a group of bikers and take to the streets. The idea is to take over all lanes of traffic to create an empowering atmosphere for bicycles while temporarily impeding automobile traffic. It helps to have a few people at the head of the ride leading the mob if you have a route you want to stick to. But a ride without a planned route can be just as fun. Critical Masses can also be and excellent way to get a bunch of people to a protest target in a short amount of time. Consider having your Critical Mass end at a local climate criminal. Or make is a take a tour of all the fossil fools in your town.

10. Banner Drops, Billboard Liberations, and other Guerilla Messaging. Unfurling a banner (for example, over a highway overpass, parking garage, or roof) is an easy action that anyone can take with little effort. Banner drops when well timed will get the message out to thousands of people, even though they rarely stay up for more than 30 minutes before being removed by security of some sort. And if you’re feeling a little more adventuresome you can get the message out for hours by choosing a hard to reach location…or by a bit of extra scheming.

11. Direct Action at the point of destruction. We strongly recommend taking actions directly to the point of destruction. There are few more actions more empowering and attention grabbing then blocking access to a coal or oil-fired plant, coal mine, pipeline construction site, or liquefied natural gas terminal. Having a lot of people is useful for an action like this, but most important is a site with one entry way that can be blockaded using civil disobedience and/or a more sophisticated blockade.

12. Take it to the HQ. If you live in a major urban area, there’s a good chance that there is a HQ of an energy company in your area. Pay a little fossil fool day visit to their place of business. Energy companies hate the negative publicity a big rally brings, but even more annoying and disruptive to their climate destroying efforts is a nice blockade of the entry way of their business. If you want to get a bit closer to the dirty business of the fossil fools, an office occupation may be in order. With some proper scouting, you’ll probably be shocked to learn just how easy it is to get into CEO’s offices. You might want to bring some lock down devices, and perhaps a bucket of coal as office warming gifts.

13. Home is where the heart of the fossil fool is. If you’re more of an evening person, or just want to make your meet-up with your chosen fossil fool a little more personal, a home visit may be in order. It can be tricky finding out where they live. But with a klittle ingenuity, it can be done. Organizing a big rally at a fossil fool big-wig’s house is action enough to get a lot of media attention (not to mention their neighbors attention) especially if you bring a great party songs and games. A banner hang on someone’s roof makes things a bit more interesting. But don’t do anything that could be construed as destroying personal property. “Wanted” posters hung in the neighborhood warning neighbours of a dangerous climate criminal living nearby can help get the word out as well.

14. Share the love… Don’t leave any fossil fools forgotten on 1st April. Many companies are involved in some way in the fossil fuel-related business. For example, Halliburton, Dynergy, Bechtel or General Electric specialize in providing construction and other “energy services” for fossil fools around the world. Be sure to share some foolery with them as well.

15. Don’t listen to us! The best idea is the one you and your community comes up with. Plan something great whatever it is.