Mitchell Sprague: MCN Discussion Lists To Be Shut Down

Business Manager
Mendocino Community Network

Following my presentation to the MUSD Board on November 18th and the subsequent announcement to the lists, I received a great deal of correspondence  both privately and on the lists regarding the MCN lists. I’d like to thank everyone for writing and I tried to respond back to as many people as possible.

In my presentation, I presented some statistical evidence regarding list consolidation. But I also presented the issue of “off-list” issues which were making management of the lists increasingly difficult, and stated that these issues would need to cease if we were to continue to host any type of discussion list. It is these off-list issues that I want to focus on as they will be driving the future direction of the lists. Unfortunately, these have increased rather than decreased since the meeting.

We have consistently said that we are not interested in moderating discussion lists, adjudicating conflicts and resolving issues created by an unmoderated discussion list. It is clear now that MCN, rather than list posters themselves, is being and will continue to be held responsible by at least growing number of list members for the contents of the posts on the lists, and there is an expectation that MCN will take on the investigation and resolution of problems caused by list posts. As an entity owned by a school district,  we believe that turning a deaf ear to such complaints is not consistent with the public’s expectation of how we should operate. At the same time, the issues we are being held responsible for are complex, deeply rooted, and are wrapped up in off-list behavior that has nothing to do with us. We do not have the resources to resolve them.

Under these conditions, we can no longer take responsibility for an open, un-moderated listserv system

Listserv Trolls: Where Anonymity Breeds Contempt

From NYT
Thanks to Alan Taeger

[This timely article goes to the heart of democratic community responsibility. The recent campaign for 5th District Supervisor was shamefully marred by cowardly trolls supporting Wendy Roberts’ campaign on Mendo listservs. They were never reprimanded nor repudiated by her campaign, nor asked to cease their continuous illegitimate and nasty comments and attacks. BTW: Comments on this blog are moderated. Although attempts were made to pollute Ukiah blog with anonymous comments, by the same trolls on the listservs, they were disallowed. -DS]

There you are, peacefully reading an article or watching a video on the Internet. You finish, find it thought-provoking, and scroll down to the comments section to see what other people thought. And there, lurking among dozens of well-intentioned opinions, is a troll.

“How much longer is the media going to milk this beyond tired story?” “These guys are frauds.” “Your idiocy is disturbing.” “We’re just trying to make the world a better place one brainwashed, ignorant idiot at a time.” These are the trollish comments, all from anonymous sources, that you could have found after reading a CNN article on the rescue of the Chilean miners.

Trolling, defined as the act of posting inflammatory, derogatory or provocative messages in public forums, is a problem as old as the Internet itself, although its roots go much farther back. Even in the fourth century B.C., Plato touched upon the subject of anonymity and morality in his parable of the ring of Gyges.

Transition: Meaningful Maps


The Context

Maps are very useful with regards to a range of activities your Transition initiative might find itself involved in, such as ENERGY DESCENT ACTION PLANS (5.1), the designing of STRATEGIC LOCAL INFRASTRUCTURE (5.5), AWARENESS RAISING (2.9) and also offer very useful tools to use alongside other COMMUNITY BRAINSTORMING TOOLS (4.6).  They can help with VISIONING work, giving it a relevant and accessible context, and can help people in UNDERSTANDING SCALE (1.3).  In short, maps are a key tool for STRATEGIC THINKING (5.10).

(We are collecting and discussing these Transition ingredients on Transition Network’s website to keep all comments in one place. Please leave feedback and comments, suggestions for alternative pictures, anecdotes, stories and projects for this ingredient here).

The Challenge

The changes necessitated by Transition can be hard for people to visualise, especially in relation to their immediate surroundings.  Presenting suggestions in a way that people don’t find easy to access is, ultimately, self-defeating.

Core Text

In the Autumn of 2010, Transition Hereford created the ‘Mappa Sustainability’ (see above), modelled on the 13th century Mappa Mundi, one of the oldest remaining medieval maps, which shows Jerusalem as the centre of the Universe.  This modern version, naturally, shows Hereford in pride of place, and has been a centrepiece of many of their activities.  The idea is to create an imaginative way

Rebooting the American Dream – Chapter Three: Stop Them From Eating My Town

Article with footnotes: TruthOut

Unless you become more watchful in your states and check the spirit of monopoly and thirst for exclusive privileges you will in the end find that…the control over your dearest interests has passed into the hands of these corporations. – Andrew Jackson

There is a huge difference between a mall full of chain stores or a big-box retailer, and a downtown area full of small, locally owned businesses. The transition from the latter to the former is what’s destroying local communities on the one hand and creating mind-boggling wealth for a very few very large corporations and multimillionaire CEOs on the other. Here’s how it works.

As I noted in my book Unequal Protection, when I shop in downtown Montpelier, Vermont, and buy a pair of pants, for example, at the Stevens Clothing Store on Main Street, at the end of the day the store’s owner, Jack Callahan, takes his proceeds down to the Northfield Savings Bank and deposits them. From Stevens, I walk next door to Bear Pond Books and buy today’s newspaper, a magazine, and a copy of Thomas Paine’s Rights of Man, a book that is as fascinating today as when it was first written in 1791.

At the end of the day, Bear Pond’s manager, Linda Leehman, will take my money down to the Chittenden Bank and deposit it.

From Bear Pond I go to one of the dozen or so local restaurants and exchange some of my cash for a good meal. At day’s end that cash, too, will end up in one of Montpelier’s local banks.

The next day Montpelier’s banks are richer by my purchases, as are Stevens, Bear Pond, and the restaurant. If my daughter, a Web designer, wanted to start her own design firm

Transition: Survivable Communities and the Black Market (Updated)


[Survival in Russian villages: Is the regional illegal free market (black market), that already thrives here in the Emerald Triangle, resilient enough to convert to survival valuables, i.e. “real goods” like food, energy, alcohol, etc.? Is this not a fundamental question of transition? Talk among yourselves… -DS]

[Update: Lest I be misunderstood… Our main economy here is an underground economy. Part of transition will have to be transitioning pot growing (and wine grape growing) to food growing. -DS]

It’s been hammered into my head that the most important things are food, a roof over your head, security and mobility—the first two especially, and everything else is just there to tempt you. And it seems that the best way to procure food is not to take it away or steal it or buy it, but to grow it and to guard it, because there are always people to guard it from. That is, to be close to food. And when the local industrial agriculture kicks the bucket and the food will stop being delivered to the cities, won’t the residents of backward little villages be the winners? You can imagine gangster raids into rural places, rifling through barns and fields, and forcing people to pay a tribute, as in feudal times—but that’s only if they find enough fuel to get there and back.

I know that no matter what economic or political regime prevails, my Russian village kin will survive, provided they hold on to their land and provided climate change doesn’t kill off all the flora and fauna around them. I believe that the Russian, conditioned by centuries of serfdom, the GULAG and the entire Soviet experience, is a very hardy beast, in spite of alcoholism, drug abuse and moral decay. Also, as a child of the industrial ghetto, I entirely agree that the underclass is better-prepared. Our city is a smelly, dusty port city,

Todd Walton: Attention Deficit Nonsense


“Tell the children the truth.” Bob Marley

1957. Las Lomitas Elementary School. Menlo Park, California

“I invite those people with ants in their pants,” proclaimed Mrs. Davenport, my third grade teacher, “to run to the oak tree and back before we get to work on our projects.”

Those people always included me, so I and several of my cohorts, boys and girls, walked sedately to the classroom door from where we bolted into sunlight and fresh air to run across the playground to the gigantic oak that overshadowed the playing field. Upon our return, Mrs. Davenport would say, “Todd, Jody, Wendy, I invite you to circumnavigate the oak one more time because I can see you’ve still got a little jitterbug in you.”

Mrs. Davenport was from Oklahoma and proudly one-eighth Cherokee. She was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen in all my eight mortal years. She was astute, funny, musical, athletic, and she enjoyed using words somewhat beyond the official Third Grade vocabulary. We loved Mrs. Davenport because she loved us and had great empathy for our collective predicament: being eight-year-olds.

In 1957, may the fates be eternally blessed, there was no such thing as Attention Deficit Disorder, nor were hideous drugs routinely and epidemically administered to children with ants in their pants. Thus I was spared the pharmaceutical suppression of my true nature, which was, as our beloved Mrs. Davenport so aptly put it, “To jitterbug.”

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” Nelson Mandela

Transition: Neither apocalypse nor paradise

Transition Voice

I’m pleased that my little article on the high volume of collapse talk coming  from peak oil writers recently generated some attention. And I’m grateful that as someone so obviously committed to Transition as Dave Ewolt judged my musings worth an intelligent response. I’d like to address some of his excellent points here.

For me, there are three issues in talking about any kind of post-peak collapse: what I know, what I don’t know, and how I talk to people who don’t care. We should be careful not to confuse these issues.

What I know

I publish a magazine on the nexus of peak oil, climate change and the economy because I think that resource depletion and global warming are grave threats to human civilization.

I know that industrial economies have already overshot their supply of resources, from oil to water to fish in the seas. I also know that we’re quickly filling up all the places to put our pollution, particularly greenhouse gas emissions. And I know that the Earth cannot long sustain a population of seven billion humans and growing.

I know that our societies cannot make peak oil or climate change go away with technology. I know that clean energy won’t replace all the fossil fuels we use now. But I also know that unless we want to shiver in the dark, we’ll need some source of power.

Most of all, I know that the post-carbon future is more likely to be a better future the more people are aware and start to prepare soon. And I know that it won’t be enough for a small in-group of families and communities to be ready if their neighbors are not ready. I know that we need our states, provinces and nations to be prepared too.

Please Don’t ‘Buy Local’

(Click Here to Enlarge)



If you buy from local branches of absentee-owned Big Boxes and other chain stores or franchise businesses, you may be “buying local” but you’re lining the pockets of distant rich and super-rich investors who don’t pay their fair share of taxes; who are responsible for our boom-and-bust economy; and who most-likely never heard of Ukiah or Little River, and surely can’t spell Caspar or Boonville correctly.

Many “Buy Local First” campaigns are supported by Big Boxes, Chambers of Commerce and local newspapers who receive dues and advertising from Big Corporate Chains. Chain stores suck out our local dollars every night and send them electronically to Bentonville and points east. I’m sick and tired of hearing “but they are good corporate citizens. They give to local charities blah blah.” That’s bullshit. They only give when they can get their smily-faces with some poor kids in the local paper with an oversized check for a puny amount. That’s not “giving.” That’s advertising.

According to latest study commissioned by Michigan’s Local First, “when West Michigan consumers choose a locally-owned business over a non-local alternative, $73 of every $100 spent stays in the community. By contrast, only $43 of every $100 spent at a non-locally owned business remains in the community.”

Don’t be suckered by false propaganda that steals a good idea and turns it into just another cynical, misleading corporate advertising campaign. Buying Local means buying from LOCALLY-OWNED businesses so most of your dollars stay in our communities. Know your store owners. Buy from “Mom and Pop” and other family and single proprietor businesses. Run the chain dinosaurs out of town on their slick hineys.

10 things you can do to starve the Wall Street beast

Lake County

[I personally am doing everything I can to starve the beast, and always on the look-out for new ways.  As someone says in the below article, you can either have enormous quantities of wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or you can have democracy, but you cannot have both.

Wall Street serves no productive purpose for the vast majority of Americans.  It does not “produce” anything real.  It does not create anything real.  It is merely a rigged system by which wealth generated by the productivity of hundreds of millions of hard-working people is funnelled into the pockets of a tiny, tiny percentage of the Super Wealthy.   We the People have been robbed (see the numbers below, comparing distribution of income in the 1980’s to today).  Can that be turned around?  Maybe.  But meanwhile, there ARE things that you and I can be doing every day to reduce the amount of blood the beast is sucking from us.

Yes, the problems going on in this nation right now are huge, and seem overwhelming.  But that does not change the fact that each and every day, you and I make choices with how we spend our money, and those choices CAN make a difference.  See how many of the 10 tips below are ones you already subscribe to, or which you can switch to.

Many of these ideas you’ve probably heard before, but #10 is new.  And thought-provoking.  Has domestic surveillance become the new cash cow for the corporatocracy?  Think about it.  As the famous line from the movie WATERGATE said, if you want to understand the why’s and wherefore’s, “follow the money.” -DB]

10 Things You Can Do to Starve the Wall St. Beast and Grab Yourself a Piece of the Pie