The chance of a lifetime…


From SETH GODIN

[Progressives, social activists, and social entrepreneurs, please take note... DS]

A friend asked me the other day, “…given the sorry state of so much in the world, what’s possible to look forward to?”

The state isn’t sorry. It’s wide open.

Interest rates are super low, violence is close to an all time low, industries are being remade and there’s more leverage for the insurgent outsider than ever before in history.

The status quo is taking a beating, there’s no question about it. That’s what makes it a revolution.

I said this nine years ago and I stand by it. In the years since I wrote this essay, people have started social movements, built billion dollar companies, toppled dictators, found new jobs, learned new skills and generally made a ruckus.

Go!

Hindsight is 20/20. People are already looking back on the 1990s and wishing that they had had more courage. When you look back on the 2000s, what will you have to say for yourself? [The following is reprinted from 9 years ago].

Here’s a question that you should clip out and tape to your bathroom mirror. It might save you some angst 15 years from now. The question is, What did you do back when interest rates were at their lowest in 50 years, crime was close to zero, great employees were looking for good jobs, computers made product development and marketing easier than ever, and there was almost no competition for good news about great ideas?

Many people will have to answer that question by saying, “I spent my time waiting, whining, worrying, and wishing.” Because that’s what seems to be going around these days. Fortunately, though, not everyone will have to confess to having made such a bad choice.

Occupy protesters continue full steam ahead, planning a more focused force…


From JUSTIN ELLIOTT
Salon

Protesters nationwide link up through large-scale conference calls and plan what’s next…

Local occupations around the country are linking up through frequent, massive conference calls, tightening what is now an extremely loose national network that operates under the Occupy banner into a more focused force.

The effort, now known as InterOccupy, started out of Occupy Wall Street in New York in mid-October. It has since grown into an elaborate website with multiple weekly phone calls during which occupiers trade ideas, coordinate multistate actions, and plan for the future. Participants at about 150 occupations around the country (and a few internationally) have now participated in the calls, organizers tell me.

“The [weekly] national calls have brought people together, including people who are otherwise isolated in their own occupations,” says Nate Kleinman, an Occupy Philly participant and InterOccupy organizer. “There’s usually a strong particular culture at individual occupations. It’s immensely valuable to have a place once a week where people come together from across the country and share ideas and their hopes for what the movement can accomplish.”

Sometimes that has meant planning specific coordinated actions.

On Dec. 12, Occupy protesters on the West Coast held a day to “shut down Wall Street on the waterfront,” resulting in the partial closure of several ports. In the two weeks before the protests, there were six InterOccupy conference calls in which representatives from 25 occupations planned the day of action, according to Joan Donovan, an InterOccupy organizer and Occupy Los Angeles participant. Those calls covered everything from coordination of the timing of protests up and down the coast to lessons learned from Oakland organizers from a previous port demonstration to strategies to minimize arrests, she said.

Here are 10 reasons why organized Labor Unions are going to win…


From DAVID MACARAY
Common Dreams

Yes, congressional Democrats and President Obama have been major disappointments, and yes, the forces arrayed against organized labor have done considerable damage.  But despite the damage, despite the hype generated by Fox News, and the self-serving propaganda disseminated by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the anti-labor crowd has run out of steam.  They’ve lost their momentum. Here are 10 reasons why organized labor will prevail.

  1. Ideology.  The dynamic that exists between management and labor hasn’t changed since the Industrial Revolution.  Despite those catchy slogans about “synergy” and “team-building,” people who earn a wage and people who pay a wage don’t necessarily want the same thing. They want different things, divergent things.  One wants a larger slice of the pie for themselves and their families, the other wants to keep the whole pie.  Hence, workers collectives.
  2. Numbers.  Despite the hand-wringing over declining union rolls, there are still (as of 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) 14.7 million union members in the country.  That’s twice the population of Israel.  On November 15, 1969, when an estimated 500,000 people participated in an anti-war demonstration in Washington, D.C., it was billed as an historical turnout.  Think what 14 million could do if mobilized.
  3. Citizens.  Those “heroic” workers in the community—cops, firemen and nurses—are going to step up to the plate and remind the public that unions aren’t the horrible monsters the Koch brothers and Mitch McConnell wing of the Republican Party make them out to be.  They’re our neighbors, our friends, our benefactors.  Demonizing the firefighters and nurses is a tactic that’s guaranteed to backfire.
  4. Exposure.  The drive to privatize public schools will fail. In fact, those grandiose promises about how brilliantly for-profit charter schools

Amazing Eagle Owl video…


Amazing hi-res slow-motion video of Eagle owl landing at 1000 frames per second towards a camera. Thanks to Dave Pollard.
~~

Folks, this ain’t normal… we’ve been snookered…


From DARYA PINO
SummerTomato.com

Joel Salatin is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. Self-described as a “Christian-libertarian-environmentalist-capitalist-lunatic-farmer,” you’re probably more familiar with him as the “beyond organic” owner of Polyface Farm featured in Michael Pollan’s landmark book The Omnivore’s Dilemma and the documentary Food, Inc.

I sat down with Joel recently to talk about his latest book, Folks, This Ain’t Normal. On the outside, Joel does not appear abnormal in the least. He was well dressed, well spoken, extremely polite and fiercely intelligent—a gentleman in every way. But once you get him talking you quickly see that his ideas make him an anomaly in modern society, not because they are far-fetched, but because they come from so many different sides of the political and societal spectrums. People are rarely this thoughtful

2012: The year to stop playing nice…


From MICHELE SIMON
Appetite For Profit

Given all the defeats and set-backs this year due to powerful food industry lobbying, the good food movement should by now be collectively shouting: I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.

If you feel that way, I have two words of advice: get political.

I don’t mean to ignore the very real successes: increases in farmers markets, innovative and inspiring programs such as Food Corps, and an increasingly diverse food justice movement, just to name a few. But lately, at least when it comes to kids and junk food, we’ve been getting our butts kicked

Original article here
~~

We are family farmers, we grow food for the people, we stand with Occupy Wall Street…


From FOOD DEMOCRACY NOW
Thanks to Peggy Backup

The story of the historic Occupy Wall Street Farmers March.

On December 4, 2011, farmers and activists from across the country joined the Occupy Wall Street Farmers March for “a celebration of community power to regain control over the most basic element to human well-being: food.” The Farmers March began at La Plaza Cultural Community Gardens where urban and rural farmers addressed an excited crowd about the growing problems in our industrial food system and the promise offered by solutions based in organic, sustainable and community based food and agricultural production. This was followed by a 3 mile march from the East Village to Zuccotti Park, the birthplace of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
~~

I see mankind as a herd of cattle…


From LEO TOLSTOY

I see mankind as a herd of cattle inside a fenced enclosure. Outside the fence are green pastures ans plenty for the cattle to eat, while inside the fence there is not quite grass enough for the cattle. Consequently, the cattle are tramping underfoot what little grass there is and goring each other to death in their struggle for existence.

I saw the owner of the herd come to them, and when he saw their pitiful condition he was filled with compassion for them and thought of all he could do to improve their condition.

So he called his friends together and asked them to assist him in cutting grass from outside the fence and throwing it over the fence to the cattle. And that they called Charity.

Then, because the the calves were dying off and not growing up into serviceable cattle, he arranged that they should each have a pint of milk every morning for breakfast.

Because they were dying off in the cold nights, he put up beautiful well-drained and well-ventilated cowsheds for the cattle.

Because they were goring each other in the struggle for existence, he put corks on the horns of the cattle, so that the wounds they gave each other might not be so serious. Then he reserved a part of the enclosure for the old bulls and the old cows over 70 years of age.

In fact, he did everything he could think of to improve the condition of the cattle, and when I asked him why he did not do the one obvious thing, break down the fence, and let the cattle out, he answered: “If I let the cattle out, I should no longer be able to milk them”.
~~

Well worth reading the week before every new year…


From INTELLIGENT LIFE

David Foster Wallace — Kenyon Commencement Speech 2005

(If anybody feels like perspiring [cough], I’d advise you to go ahead, because I’m sure going to. In fact I’m gonna [mumbles while pulling up his gown and taking out a handkerchief from his pocket].) Greetings ["parents"?] and congratulations to Kenyon’s graduating class of 2005. There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This is a standard requirement of US commencement speeches, the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories. The story ["thing"] turns out to be one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre, but if you’re worried that I plan to present myself here as the wise, older fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please don’t be. I am not the wise old fish. The point of the fish story is merely that the most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance, or so I wish to suggest to you on this dry and lovely morning.

Of course the main requirement of speeches like this is that I’m supposed to talk about your liberal arts education’s meaning, to try to explain why the degree you are about to receive has actual human value instead of just a material payoff. So let’s talk about the single most pervasive cliché in the commencement speech genre, which is that a liberal arts education is not so much about filling you up with knowledge as it is about “teaching you how to think”. If you’re like me as a student, you’ve never liked hearing this, and you tend to feel a bit insulted by the claim that you needed anybody to teach you how to think, since the fact that you even got admitted to a college

Seeds are a source of wonder…



From VICTOR R. BOSWELL
science-in-farming.library4farming.org
Photos by Dave Smith

Many seeds are so small that their beautiful features escape us. Many others, although large enough to see easily, are such common, everyday objects that we do not really see them. They are, however, worth our careful observation.

The first and most obvious beauty in most true seeds is in the perfection of their simple forms. Their outlines or silhouettes exhibit endless variations in the curve of beauty. In their entirety, too, we find wide ranges of proportion and different graceful and simple masses that are pleasing to look upon.

The sphere is a thing of beauty in itself, although quite unadorned. Artists have tried to produce nonspherical “abstract” forms that possess such grace and proportion as to call forth a satisfying emotional or intellectual response in the beholder. Some of the nicest of such forms lie all about us, unnoticed, in seeds. The commonest are such basic forms as the sphere, the teardrop, and the ovoid and other variations of the spheroid.

As Economic Growth Fails, How Then Do We Live?


From CRAIG SEVERANCE
Energy Economy Online
Part II: Out With The Old

There is a growing consensus the world economy is in a lot more trouble than politicians and media talking heads are letting on.  The four major headwinds to growth were covered in Part I of these three articles, and there dubbed “The Four Horsemen of the Economic Apocalype”:

1.  Too Much Debt
2.  Resource Limits
3.  Destruction and Decay of Infrastructure
4.  Greed

That article was a brief summary of the extreme challenges we now face.  These next two articles are an attempt to move beyond this understanding of what has gone wrong, to develop a sense of what we can do now, as individuals and as a society.

We cannot “set things right” in the sense of restoring things to the way they once were, but we must begin now to adapt to the new realities if we are to reduce suffering and continue an advanced culture.  Today’s article, “Out With the Old”, will discuss the end to seven unsustainable practices.  In the next and final article in this series, “In With the New” will discuss new ways of living we can adopt as economic growth fails.

Out With The Old — Seven Outcomes as Economic Growth Fails:

Before we allow our society to sink into a chaos of devastation and deprivation, there are many wasteful, or otherwise doomed, practices that will end.  The “Out With the Old” list is not a proposed agenda for politicians to adopt.  They are too committed to the existing order to voluntarily make these changes.  Rather, the end of these practices will come (and much of this is already happening) as pragmatic realities sink in.  They are unsustainable Dead Ends, so they will not be sustained:

1.  If You Can’t Pay the Debt — Don’t! Debt that cannot be repaid, won’t be repaid. This is hard for conscientious borrowers to accept, but reality takes hold.For those borrowers who wish to avoid default, “not paying the debt” may mean not paying it all oneself, but instead sharing the load. There will be a wave of down-sizing, as the cavernous spaces of McMansions are split into more affordable sized living spaces, through multiple-generation households

10 Winning Moments for the 99% in 2011


From SARAH JAFFE
AlterNet

2011 will be remembered as the year the world woke up and began to fight back against a tiny minority that had held on to control—of money, of political power—for far too long.

Time Magazine named “The Protester” its person of the year, but the story is much deeper than that. Here in the US, the year began with despondency—a new class of Tea Party-supported legislators and governors were taking office around the country, and taking immediate steps to impose their anti-worker austerity agenda.

But the austerity class met resistance—first in Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker moved to take away workers’ right to collective bargaining. The people in Wisconsin responded by occupying their Capitol building, kicking off a movement which spread through Ohio and Indiana, then seemed to subside before erupting in the fall with Occupy Wall Street.

But throughout the year, organizers were working around the country, fighting the power of Wall Street, big business, and the right-wing governors who do their bidding. We asked ten of them to talk about the moments that stood out for them this year, the moments that gave them hope. Some are moments you’ve heard of, some might have slipped past you. But all of them were signs of long-overdue change.

1. Melissa Ryan, New Media Director at New Organizing Institute – Wisconsin Leads the Fight Back

“For Wisconsin I think the big moment was when the 14 Democratic State Senators left the state [to avoid a vote on Walker's collective bargaining bill]. I really think that’s what triggered the energy around the recall of the Senators, really triggered the energy around the recall of Walker. It changed from people taking to the streets because they didn’t know what to do to really having the energy to change something.

Creating an Ecology of Hope


From MARK KARLIN
Truthout

Mark Karlin: At a time when there is such gloom about our global warming and pollution crisis, why are you optimistic about unleashing the capacity of the “EcoMind”?

Frances Moore Lappé: Mark, I’m neither an optimist nor a pessimist. I am a dyed-in-the-wool possibilist! By this, I mean with an eco-mind, we see that everything’s connected and change is the only constant. From there, something shifts for me. I can see that we’re all actually co-creating our future moment to moment – which feels like endless possibility. One of my Buddhist buddies distrusts the idea of “hope” because it can distract from the present moment. I get that. But for me hope isn’t wishful thinking or blind faith about the future. It’s a stance toward life – one of curiosity and humility. With an eco-mind, we get ready for surprises, for we realize it’s just not possible to know what’s possible. How freeing. That’s the hope I hope “EcoMind” helps to unleash in the world.

Mark Karlin: You have a section in your first chapter: “So why are we moving backward?” Can you summarize that? Aren’t mobilizations such as the one taken against the Keystone XL Pipeline moving forward?

Frances Moore Lappé: When I say “backward,” I am talking about global trend lines of ecological disruption and human suffering. Yes, there are many positive mobilizations, but what’s been pushing me along all these years is the big “why”: why are we together creating this downward spin, a world that, individually, not one of us would ever choose? Gradually, I came to see there’s only one thing powerful enough to explain it: the power of ideas.

We see the world through a “mental map” – our core assumptions about how the world works. If our mental map is life serving, we’re fine, but I argue in “EcoMind” that, unfortunately, the prevailing mental map is not just badly, but perversely, aligned both with human nature and wider nature. So, it brings out the worst instead of the best in humans

Happy Christmas!



~~

Society of Friends Meeting House


From ERIK BRYAN
The Morning News

Most of what is truly historic in New York has been pushed to the margins of the city. As the city grew outward from Manhattan, the modern world (of the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries) covered or dismantled the foundations laid by New York’s earliest European inhabitants.

My trips to view historic sites, then, have taken me deep into Staten Island, just north of the Bronx, and this past weekend to Flushing in northeasternmost Queens, where the Quakers’ original Meeting House stands today.

I called to confirm the house would be open and tours would be available. I certainly didn’t want to schlep all the way there only to find the house locked and empty. The woman on the other end of the line assured me the house would be open for services and tours would be available starting at noon. I asked her when the service began, and she told me 11, then asked if I’d ever been to a Quaker service before. No, I hadn’t. She explained that Quaker services are “silent”—there is no program, no predetermined speakers, but should any participant feel the spirit, they speak. I wasn’t sure what to make of that, but I figured I’d learn soon enough.

Unlike my previous visits to historic sites, I didn’t invite anyone to accompany me to the Friends Meeting House. I guess I’m just not comfortable asking my friends to go to church with me. This wouldn’t be a bunch of re-enactors playing dress-up, after all. At the Meeting House we would only find real people genuinely enacting their faith. I figured that I should show at least some respect, especially since I was going into their house of worship, and I’d be more inclined to laugh at things if I brought someone.

I took the 7 train to Flushing, the last stop on the line. I curiously noted that I was pretty much the only white guy in the whole crowd at the station. Once topside I noticed that, much like Chinatown on the Lower East Side

Todd Walton: Occupy Christmas


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

Two mornings before Christmas on a brilliantly sunny day in Sacramento, Max wakes to his phone ringing and smiles in honor of his wife Celia who was always the one to answer the phone when she was alive.

“Ahlo,” he says, enjoying how deliciously warm he feels under his pile of blankets.

“Daddy?” says Carla, 54, Max’s only child. “Did I wake you?”

“A lucky thing,” he says, sighing contentedly. “Today’s the day we go cut the tree.”

“Why not wait for us?” she asks with little enthusiasm. “Save your back.”

“I’m going with the Riveras,” he says, happy to think of Juan riding up front with him while Rosa and Hermedia and the kids enjoy the spacious backseat. “Placerville, here we come.”

“Listen, Daddy, about tomorrow. We’ll just get a cab from the airport. Save you a trip in that horrible traffic.”

“But I like picking you up,” he says, disappointed. “The weather is gorgeous, and we can take the river road. Dylan loves riding in the Rolls with the top down.”

“Well, but … Daddy, I don’t think that would be such a good idea. Not this year.”

Max frowns. “Why not this year? Could be raining next year.”

“Well …” she sighs. “Dylan is quite caught up in the whole Occupy Wall Street thing, and …”

“So now he doesn’t want to ride in his grandfather’s Rolls Royce?” Max chuckles. “I hope you assured him I am not among the evil 1 percent, but well-entrenched among the blessed 99.”

“Daddy, it’s … he’s 18 and he’s in college now, and …”

“What about my mansion in the Fab Forties?” asks Max, gazing out his window at the bright blue sky. “Are you two gonna stay in a motel and meet me for meals at Denny’s?”

“Daddy, don’t. Dylan knows you and Mommy bought the house long before the bankers took over the country. And the Rolls … it’s just what that represents now.”

“Whatever you say, sweetie,” says Max, closing his eyes. “I’ll see you when you get here.”

Max is proud of his old car, a mahogany brown 1958 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud he rescued from the wrecking yard in 1997, the year he retired from the U.S. Postal Service. Max is 78, a widower

The Homeless Garden Project — Santa Cruz


[Homeless people die 30 years younger than the national average… -DS]

The Homeless Garden Project provides job training and transitional employment to people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. The programs offer trainees an opportunity to rebuild and develop basic life skills and a sense of worth as human beings.

Our Mission:

  • Bring Together people from throughout the community in the beauty and security of our certified organic garden.
  • Practice and Teach principles of economic and ecological sustainability through classes and hands-on experience.
  • Provide homeless men and women job training and transitional employment.

Trainees in the program:

  • Take advantage of transitional employment in the safety of a structured environment
  • Learn basic life skills required for employment
  • Learn a variety of other marketable skills
  • Share four hot meals a week with staff, other trainees and volunteers
  • Give to the community by growing food for other programs that serve homeless and needy populations
  • Grow organic fruit, vegetables and flowers for the SC community through the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program
  • Educate students and other groups who use the garden
  • Create value-added products from farm grown materials which are sold at the Women’s Organic Flower Enterprise Store

Who we serve

The program serves and depends on a community volunteers, interns, customers, and trainees who form strong bonds through the work. This “strengthened” community breaks down the profound sense of isolation experienced by many homeless people. Together, the extended work towards common goals that impact individuals as well as other local agencies and services.

Meet the people who benefit from the Homeless Garden Project …

Why We Do It

Homelessness and joblessness go hand in hand. Lack of job skills, recent work history, social support network and low self esteem all make the transition out of homelessness more difficult. The integrated approach of the Homeless Garden Project’s programs addresses all of these needs. More…

History

In May of 1990, the Citizens Committee for the Homeless, a Santa Cruz County non-profit, began a new project by opening the gates of an organic garden on Pelton Avenue. The Homeless Garden Project would provide job-training and meaningful work in a therapeutic environment. The Project began as a place to provide sanctuary, refuge and meaningful work within the healing environment of the organic farm. More…
~~

Jim Houle: Something’s Rotten in the White House


From JIM HOULE
Obama-Watch.com
Redwood Valley

Oh how easily we are all deceived:

Iraqi Smoking Guns and Mushroom Clouds; The Libyan rebels are all Freedom Fighters;

The Lands of Judea and Samaria (commonly called Palestine) belong to the Jewish people forever;

Iran is well advanced in building a nuclear bomb to wipe out Israel;

Good King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia sends a thousand tanks across the causeway to help little Bahraini King Hamid al Khalifa suppress democracy on a small island where the 70% Shi’ites are ruled by Sunnis royals who control most of the wealth; (Hillary Clinton wrings her hand noiselessly but makes no protest).

Pfc. Bradley Manning goes on trial for releasing confidential (not Top Secret) State Department cables that the government initially dismissed as well-known and not news.

Something is Rotten in Libya: Forty-eight hours after Hillary Clinton lands in Tripoli and calls for “Gadhafi to be captured or killed as soon as possible”, he is captured, and brutally assassinated by the TNC. (Ruppee News 11-13-11). TNC is the Transitional National Council we stacked with ex-CIA operatives, a few al-Qaeda types, MI 5s from Whitehall, and assorted bag men. NATO was authorized by the UN (Resolution 1973, 3-17-11) to impose a “No Fly Zone” so as to protect civilians being threatened by Gadhafi in Benghazi and to immobilize Gadhafi’s air defenses. The US and its allies subsequently hit 5900 targets in 9700 sorties and left much of the country in ruins.(NYTimes survey 12-18-11). NATO and the UN admit scores of unarmed casualties but won’t come up with a death toll. This demolition derby took a mere 240 days. By comparison, Qadhafi had worked for 40 years to increase oil revenues to far better than other countries enjoyed and to share this wealth with the people. Individual income rose from $34 per year to $34,000 and the people have the best medical care and lowest infant mortality rates in all of Africa. The UN Human Rights Council commended Libya in its 2010 report for its remarkable progress. When confronted with grisly videos of Myomar Gadhafi’s death, our own Hillary Rodham Clinton giggled “We came, we saw, he died.”(Christian Amanpour, ABC and Franklin Lamb of RT). The TNC ‘democratic rebels’ as we like to call them, after having assured Gadhafi’s convoy of safe passage, then called in

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