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The New IndigoWholefoods.com

Today I launch the new Indigo Wholefoods website.  For the last few months if you visited www.indigowholefoods.com you were taken to my Facebook page.  The old website had become out of date and difficult to navigate.  I had to take the website down before it confused people.

The new website will focus more on the ethics and principles that motivated me to start Indigo Wholefoods and how they and Indigo make a difference for people, for the community and for the environment.  The website is a work in progress and will be developed over the next few months.

At a time when the political world order is under threat, primarily from far-right influences, those of us who believe in sustaining a more liberal, socially cohesive society need to speak up and be the difference we believe in.  The Indigo Foundation will be a global education space to promote the ethics and principles of Indigo Wholefoods and a global community of like-minded people built up around them.

My shop is a place to browse all the products that I can order for you, to collect from the shop. A mail order service will follow.  Subscribe to your favorite products so they are always available for you. Buy gift certificates for use in-store or online.

My blog will keep you up-to-date with everything that is going on at Indigo Wholefoods and The Indigo Foundation and my thoughts on the issues that matter around the world today.  Receive the latest news to your inbox by signing up to our newsletter.

Indigo Wholefoods, The Indigo Foundation and indigowholefoods.com are my way of making a difference locally, nationally and globally.

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Indigo Wholefoods, Brexit and The EU

Brexit could be an existential threat to Indigo Wholefoods. It’s just over seven months until Brexit day and I don’t know for sure. That’s no way to have to run a business.

Here’s what I know for sure. Unless something changes the UK will leave the EU at 11pm on Friday 29th March 2019. If a withdrawal agreement is reached, that is ratified by the European Parliament, The House of Commons, The House of Lords and The European Council (The heads of states/prime ministers of the other 27 EU states after fulfilling there own constitutional requirements) then a transition/implementation period will start and everything will continue as it is now until December 31st 2020. At which point I will probably be writing a very similar article.

To get a transition period the UK has to agree to meet the obligations it signed up to, the so-called divorce bill, ensure that EU citizens, in the UK on brexit day, retain the rights and assurances they were granted by the UK as an EU member, ensure that the Irish border remains open, free of new infrastructure and checks in perpetuity, and agree to the judicial oversight of The European Court of Justice during the transition period.

If that can’t be agreed and there are very good reasons to think that it wont be agreed then the UK will leave the EU without a transition period, without any idea of what a future trade agreement may look like and potentially having failed to uphold the commitments it has made both in the past and during the brexit negotiations. Critically, it may fail in its duty to uphold the principles of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA).

The GFA does not overtly refer to an Irish border. However, the cross-border institutions would be so significantly impacted by the implementation of border controls it would render the GFA undeliverable. Furthermore, what seems to have passed our brexiter politicians by is that the GFA is about identity. The genius of the GFA is that it allows the Northern Irish who feel Irish to live and function as Irish citizens and the Northern Irish who feel British to live and function as British citizens without changing the underlying constitutional arrangements. This was agreed by an all Ireland referendum and only a further all Ireland referendum could change that situation. To implement border controls or to follow such a policy that caused Ireland/EU to implement border controls would undermine the ability of the Northern Irish to live and function as Irish citizens especially in border regions. This is why the EU are taking the Irish border so seriously.

Article 50(3) of The Treaties of the European Union, the triggering of Article 50(2) started the negotiating period, tells us exactly how we will leave in the event of no-deal:

The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

The Treaties shall cease to apply. Not some of them but all of them. In fact EU rules prevent formal negotiations between the EU and the UK about a future relationship while the UK is still a member of the EU. Hence the need for a transition period. It should have been possible to negotiate a heads of agreement about a future relationship during the brexit negotiations but the failure to complete the withdrawal agreement has prevented this from happening.

The idea that planes will not be able to take off, lorries will be parked on the M20, vital food and medicine supplies will be delayed, just in-time supply chains disrupted, radioactive waste will not be allowed to be transported, we will no longer be able to use the European Arrest Warrant or share security information, EU citizens will be illegal aliens as UK citizens in the EU will be and they wont be able to draw their pension have all been summarily dismissed as project fear by brexiters.

Yet without even the most basic of sector by sector trade and regulatory agreements these things will happen. Article 50(3) decrees it. It would be breaking the EU’s negotiating red lines to begin these kind of future relationship negotiations without having resolved the issues contained in the withdrawal agreement. And without completing the withdrawal agreement there will be no transition period. Which means this is exactly what will happen on brexit day.

Still the brexiters expect that at some point the EU will drop its red lines over the Irish Border and allow a withdrawal agreement to occur. They don’t understand why Ireland is so important to the EU, after all its never been that important to them.

Once again the brexiters are on the wrong side of history and fail to understand what the EU is. To them it is a trading block, a trading block that puts barriers in the way of them making more profit. They should take the time to read articles 2 and 3(1) of the Treaties of The European Union.

Articles 2 and 3(1) state:

The Union is founded on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. These values are common to the Member States in a society in which pluralism, non-discrimination, tolerance, justice, solidarity and equality between women and men prevail.

The Union’s aim is to promote peace, its values and the well-being of its peoples.

The EU’s principle objective is to promote peace. Everything else it operates including the single market, the customs union, the European Court of Justice, the single currency, the shengen zone, it operates in pursuance of its principle objective. It understands that a continent, steeped in a history of feudalism and warfare, will function peacefully if it is as fully integrated in as many different areas as possible.

How can it abandon Ireland if it is to uphold its aims and values? The GFA represents an end to the Northern Irish Troubles that both sides agree to. Upholding it should be a matter of principle for the UK government as much as it is for the EU and Ireland. But, that may be the most disturbing thing about this whole process. The nauseating way in which it has been dismissed as irrelevant by politicians who should know better.

Indigo Wholefoods stands with the EU in its aims and objectives. They represent the difference I want to make as the owner of a business built on ethics and principles. As an independent retail shop in the West Midlands, relying on wholesalers and manufacturers who import raw materials or finished products to stock our shelves we are exposed to some of the brexit implications. At this time it is impossible to know to what extent this supply chain will be affected and what affect that will have on prices and we don’t know to what extent our customer base is exposed to brexit implications. Moseley and Kings Heath ward voted 77% to stay in the EU in a city (Birmingham) that narrowly voted to leave. It has been an anxious time for the heart and soul of my customer base. Make no mistake – I will be doing everything in my power to ensure Indigo not only survives but thrives regardless of what happens in March next year.

However, the best interests of Indigo Wholefoods, my customer base, the UK and the EU are all met by reversing the result of the now discredited referendum by holding a Peoples Vote.

Look again at articles 2 and 3(1). Why would we want to leave an organisation built on such honourable and ambitious aims and values? Why would we want to put ourselves through the uncertainty and disruption of leaving the EU? Why would we want to undermine the peace and political progress made in Northern Ireland in the last twenty years?

The UK should be embracing the EU not turning away from it. At a time of political upheaval around the world, with unpredictable leaders in both Russia and the US, now is not the time to be stepping out on our own.

Twice in the last century we sent our young men to war on the continent to defend our right to, and European citizens right to, be treated with the respect and value laid down in articles 2 and 3(1). Of course, it is unlikely that war will break out in Europe again any time soon, but that doesn’t mean we should rip out the safety net.

In November of this year we will remember the centenary of the end of the 1st World War. We will wear our poppies and go to memorials. What greater memorial could there be than to recommit ourselves to the European project. To take our rightful place around the table to improve the EU, build on the work already done and say never again will anyone have to die for peace in Europe. #StopBrexit

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The Indigo Origin Story

I grew up in a politicized household.  I learnt early about environmentalism, organic food, socialism and liberalism.  I went on rallies for Friends of the Earth, CND, Action Aid and campaigned for the Labour Party.  I started becoming aware of injustice in society and wanted to make a difference wherever I could.  I thought this was how all kids grew up.  Its not as I learnt painfully in school.

By the time I left school I was depressed, suffering from social anxiety and struggling to fit in.  I was also highly sensitive which meant that I felt everything acutely.  I tried college but was overwhelmed by it.  I didn’t have the confidence to succeed at job interviews.  My parents had split up and I didn’t have the support I needed.  I didn’t know how to ask for support.  I didn’t know what support I needed. I was at rock bottom.

Two things happened.  Firstly, I found Organic Roundabout, a worker’s cooperative, an organic fruit and veg box scheme. Roundabout reconnected me to my politicised roots and added new elements including vegan/vegetarianism, animal rights and cooperative working. I attended an open day, not an interview, and joined the cooperative instead of being appointed.  This was the opportunity I needed to get a step on the ladder.

Roundabout led to becoming a founding member of Sage Wholefoods, a worker’s cooperative, operating a health food shop of the same name in the Moseley area of Birmingham, UK.   At Sage I developed an interest in alternative health and discovered homeopathy as a therapy that made a big difference in my life.

Secondly and simultaneously I became spiritually aware.  I found a support network in spirit that was absent in my world.  I read books, went on retreat, studied spiritual principles and ideas, and eventually developed my own personal spirituality based on my experiences of communicating with spirit.

I was at Sage for nine years.  By 2006 I was the only original member left.  The co-op had appointed new members, as equals on the same wage.  It was clear that equality of opportunity and working conditions couldn’t make up for a lack of equality of experience.  Missing out on starting the co-op on low wages, low takings and learning the self-discipline needed to be effective in a non-hierarchical workplace was a loss to the co-op. It created conflict and over-reliance on me.

Despite struggling with this I had no intention of leaving until one day I felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders sitting in a meeting.  Within the week I was off sick with work related stress.  I chose to walk away.

I left my work which was my passion, but I also had to give up the lovely flat above the shop that I lived in.  I was heartbroken.  I knew that if I ran my own business it wasn’t going to be a co-op.  Sage closed eighteen months after I left, and I had the chance to start again.

When I set about starting a new wholefood shop in Moseley, I wanted it to reflect everything important to me.

I wanted a wholefood shop that not only sold organic food, to make a difference for the environment and for health;

fair trade food, to make a difference for the farmers and farm workers and their families in developing parts of the world;

special diet food, to make a difference for people who needed gluten free food or no added sugar food;

vegetarian and vegan food to make a difference for those who chose to abstain from eating meat and/or dairy products to make a difference to their health, the environment and the lives of the animals we share this planet with;

body-care products free of toxic chemicals and not tested on animals to make a difference to our health and contributing to building a humane society that does not need to test its cosmetics or medicines on animals;

household cleaning products that make a difference to our environment by not poisoning it;

nutritional supplements and alternative remedies that make a difference for people who choose to take their health into their own hands and no longer have confidence in a conventional healthcare system set up for profit and shareholder dividends,

but also to make a difference for my employees by providing meaningful and fulfilling employment for people who value the difference we make in a workplace that values its employees and their contribution;

to make a difference to Moseley by occupying a shop unit with a bespoke, independent shop to draw people in from all over the region

and

to make a difference to me, to live a life I could not have hoped to live when I left school.

I named the shop Indigo Wholefoods. A reference to indigo children and the bluey-purple colour that appears in their aura and can be seen with kirlian photography.  Indigo children are intensely sensitive beings, capable of great creative endeavour, but susceptible, due to their sensitivity, to conditions such as ADD, ADHD, Autism, Asbergers Syndrome, Dyslexia, Dyspraxia amongst other conditions.  Indigo children are very sensitive to chemicals, food additives and preservatives and many parents of Indigo’s have found that an organic diet makes a difference for them.  My spirit guides tell me that I am Indigo.

“A lot of growing up is about learning to hide how you are feeling so you can protect yourself, and then a lot about being really grown up is unpicking all those defensive measures and working out who you actually want to be.” Says Cathy Rentzenbrink, in her book, A Manual for heartache.

As I look back over my life, seeing how it all led to Indigo, discovering the root cause of the ethics and principles I hold was a deep and pervading sense of injustice.  I realised that having opened Indigo, I hid behind it and allowed it to speak for me.

A business built on ethics and principles that does not promote and provide education on those ethics and principles is merely selling product for profit.  Making money does not get me up in the morning.  It’s a chore. Making a difference gets me up in the morning.  Indigo must make money.  Without it Indigo would not exist and that would be a tragedy.  But Indigo makes money because it makes a difference and the money it makes can drive more difference making.

The Indigo Foundation is the product of this realisation. A vehicle to deliver education, personal and spiritual development, campaigning, lobbying, healing and empowering each individual personal experience.

I intend The Indigo Foundation to be a global education space to explore the ethics and principles I have discussed in the Indigo Origin Story.  Indigo Wholefoods and The Indigo Foundation will work hand in hand.  They will not be separate entities, but two faces of the same entity.  Working together to deliver the difference I always wanted to make.