I've got a present for you!
I've planted a tree in your name.
I've done so for every subscriber of my newsletter and it's something I'm continuing to do as others join.
Your tree is going to be planted in Madagascar by the Eden Reforestation Project via Bristol-based Offset Earth. It's being planted as part of a mangrove which will sequester a tiny but important percentage of the 24 million metric tons of carbon that mangroves hold each year.
Planting those trees is part of a commitment that I'm making in 2020 to become more aware of my carbon footprint. I believe the history books will recognise that 2010 was the decade we finally came to terms with the climate crisis. It is clear now what is happening and we know what needs to be done. 2020 better be the decade we act. It's probably the last one we can do so in.
I hope your tree, however many thousands of miles away from you it might be, can help in that mission.
Thanks for subscribing. Here's what else I've been up to recently...
What I've been writing about
Despite the determination and focus they bring, I've never been very good at sticking to New Year resolutions. Rather than a lack of willpower, I put this down to a lack of accountability.
Having done some work with non-profit organisations in the last quarter of 2019 and having seen firsthand how deep-rooted accountability can help achieve goals, I've shared my resolutions publicly. In a nutshell, they're to become more carbon and technology conscious, to continue educating myself by visiting more galleries and museums, and to appreciate delicious food in equally delicious surroundings.
What are your resolutions – and do you have any predictions for the coming decade? At midnight, I'm publishing some of my thoughts on what the next decade will bring. Among them, a prediction that a machine will pass the Turing test and we'll each be eating much less meat in 2029 than we do in 2019.
What I've been doing
December's always a strange month. As animals begin hibernating for winter, we buck the trend and decide to fill our schedules with nights of back-to-back boozing and non-stop binge-eating. I've had far more than my fair share of mulled cider and spirits this December at dinners in pubs with family and friends to comedy workshops at the work Christmas party.
Perhaps my favourite location of all this festive season was the carol concert I went to see at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. It really was something special to be among no more than 80 people, long after museum opening hours, surrounded by statues, artefacts and paintings, and enjoying these songs.
January isn't looking any quieter with a charity drinks night in Twickenham on the 9th and the ARIAS Nominations launch on the 15th at News UK HQ. Let me know if you're in the area for either of those and we can grab a coffee.
What I've been listening to
Apple Music's equivalent of Spotify Wrapped unveiled my listening trends of 2019. Top played artists include Coldplay and Hellogoodbye alongside Vampire Weekend, MARINA (and The Diamonds), Florence and The Machine, Foster the People, Paul McCartney, Kele, Dan Croll and Little Comets.
I've been enjoying Adore You and Watermelon Sugar from Harry Styles' second album, Fine Line, along with a healthy dose of Christmas hits from UK radio stations Magic and Heart Extra Christmas.
On Christmas Day, Kanye West released his latest album with his Sunday Service Choir. While Jesus Is King had a heavily Christian influence (unsurprisingly, given its title), its follow-up trades solely in traditional gospel. What's most interesting is the rethinking of old songs. Ultralight Beam is whittled down to the choir section that helped power the Life of Pablo version, and the new version of Father Stretch My Hands is also great. As I tweeted on Friday, I much prefer these versions to the originals...
What I've been watching
I've been watching the BBC's newest Attenborough documentary series, Seven Worlds, One Planet on iPlayer. I found Europe's episode to be perhaps the most interesting, given how densely populated the continent is. Programmes like this and the skill they involve make the hotly-contested licence fee worth every penny.
What I've been liking
Although it's now closed, Choose Love opened a pop-up shop just around the corner from my office that sold things for refugees. You could buy things like a month's rent and food for a family to a donation to women's safe spaces. There were also physical items for sale like tents, children's jackets and even sea rescues.
I’ve been using The Body Shop’s shaving cream recently and it’s by far one of the nicest I’ve ever used. Their post-shave water-gel isn’t bad either, so long as you’re a fan of menthol.
If you’re still in the market for a physical calendar for 2020, I highly recommend Kal. In your first year you buy the mounting hook and sheets and every year then-on you simply purchase refill sheets. It’s beautifully designed a really high-quality product from some fantastic Polish designers.
These email updates are now hidden behind a free-to-enter 'paywall' on my website. If you want to read previous editions, you just need to log in with the email address you used to sign up to this newsletter. The rest happens automatically. Implementing all of that is something I spent a bit of time this holiday working on – give it a try – and let me know what you think by dropping me an email. I'm firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you in 2020.