Thursday, January 20, 2011

I came from America so that Hanwell could get a "Green Man" of course

Hey Everyone,

So, I'm back sitting in my flat after a long day of work, so I did exactly what I used to do when I had a long day in DC, went to the convience store and bought some chocolate.  Today, it was a Yorkie Bar.  Something new I've added to my ritual, some cheap wine.  Anyways, now that I have some chocolate and cheap red wine, I believe it is BLOG TIME! 
Thank God for having been born MAN.

Believe it or not, I actually do attend class here in London.  Sometimes I forget that I don't have the semester off, and then I am briefly reminded, and then again quickly forget.  Right now, I'm three acts into Twelfth Night (and enjoying it yet again).  We are talking about Acts 1-3 in the next class on Friday.  I had my first History of the Dockland's course yesterday.  It turns out that the professor designed the new Dockland's Museum!  Sitting in such a small room for three hours I feel is going to be a bit difficult, but I'm sure I'll manage.  I'm in London.

Lately, I've been spending the rest of my free time watching some of the Australian Open and exploring.  I've gone on numerous walks around Clerkenwell and I've even taken the 63 Bus and gone to the Thames and walked along the path.  I've really enjoyed it.  I find it extremely relaxing.  I've started running a bit as well.  I'm getting used to city for the most part...that is for the most part.  Running in a place where cars have the right of way is a bit scary. 

As I had mentioned in a previous posting, I am working as a community organizing (organising) intern here with London Citizens.  I've been assigned to work for their Living Wages Campaign.  I've been assigned to their campaign to get TESCOs to pay their workers the "Living Wage."  The Living Wage is an hourly salary that is 7 Pounds, 85 Pence.  It is calculated based on what a family, or even just one person needs to survive in the city of London.  What we are trying to do is to force TESCOs to sign a promise to pay all of their workers the Living Wage.  I've been assigned to Hackney, where I'll be working with the employees at the numerous TESCOs.  My job now is to make a couple connections with cleaners, stackers, etc. who work there for basically the minimum wages to come and give a testimony in front of churches and other groups in the area to get the other citizens to get involved in our campaign to take on such a large corporation.  My district is historic because it is where the first TESCOs was developed.  It is also right near where they are building all of the Olympic Stadiums for 2012!  I have my first meeting with a cleaner tomorrow! 

In the meantime, today I went around to numerous stores on Oxford Street with the intent to find out the starting wage at each store.  A reporter for the Evening Standard has asked us to do this research for an article he is writing to help bring attention to the fact that many of these large stores don't pay their workers the Living Wage. (JUST finished the Yorkie Bar!) As you can imagine I was a little apprehensive at first because they literally plopped me down on the street and said, "GO!" but after a bit of sneaky thinking, we decided it was best to pretend to be innocent American students doing a research project!  Amazingly only two stores told us to pretty much go away (one of them being a new mother store, found that to be a bit ironic).  Unfortunately though, we also found that not a single store that are team talked to today on Oxford Street has a starting wage that is at or above the Living Wage.  There is a lot of work to do. 

Proud mayor of London, Boris Johnson of the Conservative Party. He is completely normal, you can tell from his picture.
Tonight I was working late because we picked in front of a Transportation discussion, sort of like an American Town Hall meeting with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson (picture attached, and yes, his hair always looks like that).  It was literally the most hilareous thing I've ever been to.  British citizens get just as riled up as Americans, just with a lot more sarcasm.  The politicians also would joke right around with the citizens, something you would rarely see in America.  If you know anything about Boris Johnson, he is quite the sarcastic man.  Joe Courtney wouldn't know what to do with himself.  It reminded me of a comedy show at points.  Although a lot of people were angry, at least they have fun with their anger.  We should try doing that in America more often.  By the way, I was there with London Citizens at the beginning talking with people about putting up cross signs (or green man signs) in Hanwell.  They pretty much just stuck us out there without giving us any information so when someone asked me why an American such as myself was protesting to get a green walkway sign in Hanwell near the school.  So, there I was, out in London, all the way from the USA, protesting to get a walking cross in Hanwell!  Jokingly I told some locals I had come all the way from the USA just for that; they found it funny, I think. 
BORIS!  Add a Green Man to Hanwell!  Also, find a comb! Do it!  Quick! 

I'm still having a great time over here in London.  I'm meeting some great people and having some interesting and new experiences, especially through my internship.  Tomorrow, I have some spare time so I think I'm going to buy a football jersey (Liverpool!) and possibly go checkout Paddington Station, maybe I'll find a lost bear there.  Probably wont bring him home though, this city is expensive, and currently I am paid under the living wage.

The doctor says its good to have a glass of wine and some chocolate.  I think specifically it is good for the heart.  This may have been the healthiest blog I've ever written in that case. 

Well, good night everyone!



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