Free the Arctic 30

Kieron Bryan

On the 18th September a group of Greenpeace activists were sailing the vessel Arctic Sunrise in international waters in the Arctic Ocean, intending to mount a protest against imminent oil drilling on the Prirazlomnaya rig operated by the Russian energy company Gazprom.

Russian coastguards boarded and took command of the Arctic Sunrise and towed the vessel to Murmansk while the crew were held under armed guard. Once in Murmansk everyone aboard the Arctic Sunrise was placed in custody pending investigations into possible charges of piracy.

All 30 of those onboard the Arctic Sunrise at the time of the capture (including activists and freelance photographers) have now been charged with piracy which carries a maximum custodial sentence in the Russian courts of 15 years imprisonment. The government of the Netherlands (under whose flag the Arctic Sunrise was sailing) has initiated arbitration proceedings in order to effect a release of those who now become known as the “Arctic 30”. Latest developments can be followed at the Greenpeace website.

Supporters are being asked to write letters of support to the Arctic 30 currently being detained in Russian prisons. I have chosen to send my letter of support to Kieron Bryan who is a freelance videographer from the UK and who previously worked for The Times newspaper. He was on a short term contract for the Arctic Sunrise’s journey to film what took place.  Included in my letter is a small piece of origami which hopefully will find its way to him. It’s a small token, but one that I hope he will appreciate.


About the origami
The origami model winging its way to Kieron Bryan in jail in Russia is a bird designed by the talented yet often overlooked Argentinian origami artist Adolfo Cerceda and published in “Fascinating Origami”, by Vicente Palacios from which this extract is taken:

“What are the features that distinguish a Cerceda model? For one thing, he had an unerring sense of style and proportion. He kept his models clean — relatively uncluttered by extraneous fold lines — and let the exposed edges and layers of paper express the intrinsic character or gesture of the creation.”

This particular model is described in the book as “Pigeon 3” but I think it is much more elegant than the mundane description suggests.

Keep the Post Public: an origami envelope

elsje_boxlock_ktpp70% of the public don’t want it, 98% of postal workers don’t want it, and the policy did not feature in any party’s manifesto at the 2010 general election. But the Tories insist on pressing ahead with their latest scam: to sell the British public another national asset that we already own. From today share options in the soon to be privatised Royal Mail become available to the public. The scheme is being rushed through at an unprecedented rate in order to preempt strikes by members of the postal workers union CWU next month.

At the heart of the debate is the Universal Service Obligation. This, amongst other things, sets out a legal duty on the Royal Mail to provide daily deliveries and collections across the entire country, and to do this with a uniform postal tariff – a single postage rate no matter how far the letter has to travel. The Postal Services Act 2011 places this obligation on Royal Mail until at least 2021.

These are the most highly treasured aspects of the postal service by the public, but they are also not where the profit lies.  Private companies will hardly be falling over themselves to compete to deliver Auntie Mabel’s 80th birthday card from her great-grandchildren when Auntie Mabel lives in a remote rural village 10 miles from the nearest local post office. Instead, private entrants to the market will be looking to cherry pick only the most lucrative parts of the service away from the Royal Mail.

It is inconceivable that rural postal services could continue in their current form if they ceased to be subsidised through the profit obtained from delivery services in more heavily populated cities like London or Manchester. Consequently, only huge injections of public money would allow the Royal Mail to continue to maintain the level of universal postal service that the public want to see continue. That is why rural postal services will be under the most threat and why opposition to Royal Mail privatisation is coming not just from the left but also from the Conservative’s core voters in the leafy English shires.

The government would have everyone believe that Royal Mail privatisation is a done deal because they want to stifle protest and spike the guns of the unions. But there is still time to fight this unpopular sell-off. And what better way to make your message across than by writing to your MP and anyone else who will listen using this powerful protest envelope.

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Click here for the printable template and the folding instructions: Keep the Post Public letterfold 2013 (PDF)

About the origami

This letterfold was designed by Joan Sallas and first appeared in a collection of diagrams published the Envelope and Letterfold Association (ELFA). I tested many different designs before choosing this one for a graphical makeover because it has several things going for it:

  • it is folded from A4 rather than a square;
  • it is large enough so that the A4 insert can be folded neatly into quarters;
  • the locking mechanism is secure;
  • the finished design looks like a “proper” envelope.

For the best results, the template from which the envelope is folded should be printed on paper that is slightly heavier than normal: 90 or 100 gsm is ideal. Set your printer for “borderless printing” if it can do it, with the extension set to minimum. In the Adobe Acrobat printing dialogue set Page Scaling to “None” and select “Auto-Rotate and Centre”.

An origami dove for the International Day of Peace

Dove for International Day of Peace

Welcome to the first post of the blog by The Radical Folder.

Without any real forethought or planning, the launch of this blog happens to coincide with the UN’s International Day of Peace which is observed every year on the 21st September.

My original motivation for diagramming this model occurred a couple of weeks ago when it seemed the UK was on the brink of engaging in yet another US-led military intervention, this time in Syria. So far it looks as if common sense is prevailing, but for how long?

There are currently major conflicts in Afghanistan, Columbia, Egypt, Iraq, Mexico, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, each of which sees more than a thousand violent deaths a year. There are also countless small-scale armed conflicts across almost every continent.

Fittingly for the first post on this site, I can think of nothing more radical than people coming together to say that enough is enough.  Are we so devoid of ambition that we are prepared to settle for just one token day’s peace a year?

Dove of Peace folding sequence
About the origami

This dove was designed (although “discovered” might be a better word for such a simple model) by Alice Gray who was influential in promoting origami in the US in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It is an excellent example of a traditional style of origami which attempts to capture the essence of a natural form using the fewest folds. When so much of modern paper folding seems devoted to rendering massively complicated anatomically correct “sculptures”, it is refreshing to revisit the calm simplicity of models like Alice Gray’s Dove. It is a fitting accompaniment to what should be a quiet day of private and public contemplation.

The model has been previously published in “The Origami Handbook” by Rick Beech.

Further reading

International Day of Peace at Wikipedia

The Peace Crane Project

Stop the War Coalition

The Radical Folder begins tomorrow

The new blog of the Radical Folder, an unlikely combination of left wing politics and origami, will appear tomorrow morning with a special fold for the International Day of Peace. Look out for it from 0800 GMT.