To read Co-director Maryam Henein’s blog,
please visit: http://www.maryamhenein.com/
29 September 2009
We think Dogwoof is unique as a distributor as we now focus solely on ethical and social issue-based films. It’s an enigma, as distributors are traditionally commercial and purely about profit. But Dogwoof believes there is a double bottom line - it is not purely about profit, but also helping the planet and people. We are interested in any film that encourages change - film is a great medium for encouraging change.
Dogwoof sees social issue films as a necessity in modern times – there are monumental changes happening, both environmentally and socially, and someone has to step up and help give a voice to the concerns that these bring. As a distributor, we do things that engage people in what they believe in - this is not about push marketing, and selling popcorn. It moves beyond the cynical use of social responsibility programmes, which are mostly about managing negatives – think oil companies and environmental initiatives. This is about doing something because we believe in it - it is better when there is no obvious commercial benefit, it’s better when it’s deeply personal rather than corporate.
Documentaries traditionally reach only small numbers but through strategic working relationships with similar-minded people such as The Co-operative, we can reach far greater audiences. But it isn’t really so much about just getting publicity and bums on seats, it’s more about instilling belief. If one person sees BURMA VJ or VANISHING OF THE BEES and gets passionate about it, and tells ten friends, then it does a more deep-seated job than any other form of marketing can achieve.
All the people we employ believe in these causes - this is our key differentiator. You cannot run the campaigns we do as traditional commercial campaigns. And you need to believe in what you do.
And we’ll stick to this mantra moving forward.
Andy Whittaker| Dogwoof CEO
28 September 2009
Across the world, honeybee populations are decreasing at an alarming rate, leading to concerns that bees could disappear altogether. If this happens, the effects would be decidedly grim as one third of human food supplies depend on pollination by bees.
Although the exact causes of dwindling bee numbers are as yet unclear, there is strong evidence to suggest that a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids are partly to blame. These chemicals block pathways in insects’ central nervous systems. Bees are particularly vulnerable, firstly because their capacity to detoxify chemicals is much lower than other insects, and secondly because they have a higher number of neurological receptors.
Honeybees operate as a colony rather than as individuals. It seems that lots of small doses of neonicotinoids over time combine to affect the ability of individual bees to work and communicate effectively as part of the colony. When many bees in a colony are behaving sub-optimally, this can lead to the devastating outcomes that have been seem in the last few years.
Although the evidence against neonicotinoids is strong enough that countries like France and Germany have banned or suspended their use, the UK has not yet followed suit. The Soil Association wants the Government to take action to reduce the use of neonicotinoids.
In addition to the impact of neonicotinoids, bee populations are also adversely affected by intensive agricultural practices generally. This is largely because these practices either destroy or reduce many of the characteristics which are important to ideal bee habitats.
Each individual species of bee needs compatible flowering plant species and nesting sites that are within flight distance of each other. In addition, the flowering seasons of the plants need to match the feeding seasons of the bees so there must be a range of preferred flowers in bloom, and within reach, from Spring until Autumn.
Not all species of bees live in hives. Some species nest in holes in wood or make tunnels in the ground and generally find ideal conditions in wilder or more neglected areas of farms.
Organic farming focuses on natural ecosystems, native species and a lack of pesticides. This means that organic farms are a haven for many species of bee, providing wild spaces such as hedgerows between fields, and supporting a delicate balance of plants and insects that are mutually dependent on each other. In particular both red and white clovers are found in abundance on organic farms, each of which draws particular species of bee.
Because organic farming in its essence supports both biodiversity and bees, it is likely to play an important part in a solution to the problem of diminishing bee populations.
For further information on bees and organic farming see: www.soilassociation/bees.aspx
Emma Hockridge | Soil Association
23 September 2009
Pif-Paf's HONEY It all started three years ago when we were making two sculptures in a park in Kersal in Salford and decided to make one of a bee with an accompanying poem. This was when Colony Collapse Disorder was just starting to hit the news. At the time we were also touring a show called "The Extinct Animal Troupe" a spoof scientific carnival curiosity show, the sting in the tale being that all the unbelievable animals and their clumsy man-made extinctions are true, so our ears pricked up.
Our brand of theatre is aimed at making people look afresh at things they take for granted, if you study bees then you can't help but be drawn into most of the natural systems and cycles that keep nature (and us) ticking over. What we like most about bees isn't the Disney-fied "look how cute they are, aren't they like little people", it's their complete alien-ness to us. They communicate by smell, they carry a whole tool shed with them, and they’ve got ears in their knees! We are brought up to think that using tools is what puts man on his pedestal, but bees are so highly evolved they're like little flying tool sheds, offices, ambulances, tractors, midwives! Bees are great, not everyone loves them, but everyone is interested in them. They are much, much cleverer than us; they don't invent things because they don't need to!
We've been touring our show HONEY for two years now, changing and updating it as we go. We've realised that bees face many problems, which we don’t go into in the show. Instead, we get people inspired about bees, lighting imaginations so people can go out in to the world (armed with some wildflower seeds) and do something to make a difference.
HONEY is still touring with support from the Co-operative's Plan Bee in Autumn (in its bee cart format), and the full show will be back on the road in Spring, all dates will be on our website www.pif-paf.co.uk. We look forward to seeing you in Bee REALITYYYYYYYYY...
15 September 2009
With Rowse Honey being the UK's largest honey packer, honeybees are obviously very important to us - no bees, no honey...
However, we recognise that the main purpose of the honeybee is pollination - honey is nature's reward for being a beekeeper and a necessary source of income. Tony Rowse, our founder, was a beekeeper with 1000 hives and we have worked closely with commercial beekeepers for many years.
As the honeybee crisis unfolded, our suppliers were reporting increasing colony losses due to the varroa mite and bee disease. We had to get involved to help find solutions to the problems. We fully supported the BBKA (British Beekeepers Association) lobbying for urgent additional research funding. We are donating £100,000 to Professor Ratnieks department at the University of Sussex for bee research which started in 2008. We raised consumer awareness of the crisis by launching our "Help Rowse save the Honeybee" campaign with information on our best selling Rowse Blossom honeys and a magazine advertising campaign. When we announced that English honey would run out by Christmas last year, there was huge media interest.
British honey only meets 10% of our consumption levels, so we also have to import honey from 20 other countries. The global problems of Colony Collapse Disorder on top of changing agricultural patterns and climate change has created a world honey shortage, with raw honey costs rising by 40 - 60% in 2 years.
Honey, however, continues to be seen as a pure, natural, versatile food and sweetener and consumer demand has been little affected by the increased cost on the shelf.
It is increasingly tough being a beekeeper. We need to find solutions to the colony losses and encourage more beekeepers, particularly commercial beekeepers. Rowse will support this by increasing the amount of British honey that we buy and sell in the supermarkets. This is a long-term commitment. We have been supplying honey since 1954 and the beekeepers need our help now more than ever before.
For more information about Rowse Save The Honeybee campaign, please visit www.rowsehoney.co.uk
Stuart Bailey, Chairman, Rowse Honey Ltd
6 September 2009
If you could imagine your food cupboard / plate / picnic without the things that rely on bees to pollinate them...then you would have a sad half-empty cupboard/plate/ picnic...
We need bees that much. and if you are an urbanised soul, then you may not quite realise that, without bees - those small little things that you pay no attention to - our food chain is in trouble....
Bees are in a critical state of emergency - which means we are too. If we don’t get to the bottom of how and why this is happening and then take all the measures necessary to address it, we can kiss goodbye to the bee - and all that it does for us.
VANISHING OF THE BEES will make a vital contribution to raising awareness on all these issues. Like the film, Tipping Point Film Fund – a newly launched organisation – is supported by The Co-operative. We are generating a new fund drawn from donations by the public to support mainstream, cinematic social action feature documentaries that tell us stories we need to know about and act upon. We believe in the power of people and film to make change through 'giving, watching, campaigning'.
4 September 2009
The Co-operative are very excited to be supporting the release of a new film exploring the causes behind the worrying decline in bees populations across the world. The release of Vanishing of the Bees on the 9 October follows two years of media speculation as to what could be causing bees to die in such large numbers. Pests, disease, lack of nutrition, poor weather, pesticides and even mobile phones have been blamed. In truth no one is really sure what is happening to the bees and more research is needed.
The Co-operative's support for this film is just a small part of the action it is taking as part of its Plan Bee campaign, a ten point plan to help reverse the decline in the number of bees in the UK. Launched in January 2009, Plan Bee is a 10 point action plan which focuses on:
Action on pesticides - including the prohibition of the use of a group of pesticides linked to bee declines in Europe on own-brand fresh and frozen produce.
Research - The Co-operative has made the largest private donation to date to bee research of £150,000.
Action on our farms - we now have over 500 hives on our farms and are trailing wildflower seed mixes to attract bees to our farms.
Inspiring individuals - to make a difference in their own gardens for example by planting wildflowers to provide essential nutrition for bees.
As part of the launch of Plan Bee, The Co-operative previewed an extract of The Vanishing of the Bees to our members, they found it compelling and we hope that you will too.
"Fascinating and frightening. The more people that see this, the better."
Naomi Davies, Plan Bee Campaign Manager, The Co-operative
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