Five great international blogs

By Tracey Arial

Good international blogs provide other perspectives about issues I care about. They also offer glimpses at thinking in communities beyond North America.

Here are some of my favourites.

Freelance writing life

Gary McLaren, for example writes about the freelance writers’ life from New Zealand, but his world seems very like mine. Consider his latest post about why Google Plus works for writers.

“If you are tired of trying to network with people who cannot spell or even string together a sentence, then I think you’ll like Google Plus. Based on my experience so far at Google+ I believe you are more likely to encounter like-minded individuals getting together, sharing intelligent posts and contributing interesting comments.”

Read more of McLaren’s hints about building a successful freelance writing business at:

Academic rigor, journalistic flair

I love the Conversation blog, which is written by 6,100 academics and researchers, most of whom are based in Australia, because it raises universal issues in compelling ways. Kayte Davies comments about the lack of scientific understanding among journalists, for example, is particularly pertinent in Canada right now as the federal government continues to cut science funding and journalists struggle to cover what’s going on. She writes:

“Effective science journalism matters because government decisions affect scientific work. If the democratic machinery is working, government decisions should follow public opinion—which, in turn, should follow good fourth estate journalism. The public then can understand why science matters, and track whether research is reasonably funded and/or conducted ethically.”

Check out the rest of her article at

Transition movement blogs

Joseph Blake’s recent article defending squatters’ rights in the face of massive homelessness in the UK, however, paints a picture I can hardly imagine.

Government figures record a 30% increase in rough sleeping since 2010..In addition to this, hostels across the country have seen a 28% increase in demand, meaning that there are few options left. Perhaps more shockingly, research published in January shows that private companies are beginning to make money out of the homeless with two unnamed “private providers” awarded contracts that could be worth as much as £5 million to sweep people off the streets.

Some campaigners are arguing that the solution lies in the fact that there are now one million empty properties in the UK. Top housing academic Professor Danny Dorling recently pointed out that “there are more bedrooms per person in Britain than there has ever been—enough for everyone to have two each in fact.”

Read the entire article at:

Meanwhile, a blog on the same network,, talks about the journey towards living a simpler more connected life as part of a local Transition movement. In the current article, for example, Charlotte Du Cann talks about her experience, which matches my own, almost to the letter.

Rob Hopkins’ new book, The Power of Just Doing Stuff, focuses almost entirely on practical projects and the revival of the High Street. It gives a clear simple picture of the Transition movement, as a way for local groups to come together and start community gardens, bakeries, energy projects and local currencies. But, for me, Transition has mostly been about a process, a going through: undergoing a radical restructuring of the self, to become an active agent within the collective, in order to live effectively in the future. To feel at home on the planet amongst my fellows.

Check that one out at:

World Business Council for Sustainable Development

I didn’t even know that this organization existed prior to taking an introduction to Sustainability course on Coursera last year, but most of the world’s largest energy companies are members, as are many other businesses around the world.

They don’t publish a blog, but their website includes reports, press releases and case studies about how businesses are trying to become more sustainable. They allow registered users to subscribe to updates via email.

This month, I found out that the 1.25 million-person Chinese city of Yixing plans to become China’s “scientific and sustainable development demonstration city.” Expect to read more about Yixing in the next couple of years.

For more news about sustainable actions around the world, check out the website at:

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