Transition and Walmart: Some thoughts from England about Big Box expansion and Being Local

Transition Culture

“Another world is not only possible… she’s opening a bakery round the corner”. Reflections on the Portas Review.. “Local people”, she argues need to be seen “as co-creators not simply consumers”…

We have very little time to make this stuff happen, it needs to happen now…

[“High Street” in England means “Main Street” here… -DS]

I spent a fascinating afternoon on Monday at an ‘Economic Summit’ (nowhere near as glamorous as it sounds) for Members of South Hams District Council and West Devon Borough Council.  The meeting was called to update councillors on the strategic thinking within the councils in terms of the economic development of the area and to hear their views on it.  Three communities were invited to present to the councillors the work they were doing to regenerate their economies, and Totnes was one of them.  What I want to do in this post is two things simultaneously.  I want to give some reflections from that meeting, but also give a review of ‘The Portas Review’ (“an independent review into the future of our high streets”) which was published yesterday.  Together they give a sense of the two deeply different narratives that were on show at the Summit, the dangers that their incompatibility presents, as well as the opportunities that emerge.

Six ideas for a low impact holiday

Transition Voice

Artist StudioMomelissa hand stamped these gift tags from recycled boxes using her own hand carved stamps. Strung with organic cotton strings. So DIY! Photo: StudioMomelissa via Flickr.

For many of us, the first snow is on the ground, night skies are star-studded and a holiday spirit is in the air.

Holidays, as much fun as they are, tend to bring out some of our most entrenched bad habits. The holidays shouldn’t be a burden on the environment, but they are. Most Americans, for example, produce about 25 percent more trash during the holidays (from Thanksgiving to New Year’s) resulting in around 25 million extra tons of waste.

There has to be a better way to celebrate.

Re-users unite, fight the good fight!

Here are some simple ideas for reducing holiday trash that, if adopted by enough of us, could create more earth-friendly, sustainable holidays. With a little effort and imagination, perhaps we can reduce the environmental impact of the holiday season:

Parties: Party hosts can set an example of sustainability by refusing to serve food and drinks on disposable plates and cups. If you don’t have enough reusable plates, have everyone bring their own. This is actually becoming quite vogue in many cosmopolitan areas. People show up with their own little picnic basket or trimmed box, complete with plates, cups, utensils and linen napkins. Europeans have been doing this for decades.

Don Sanderson: Harvest Time


The year’s harvest is all in and put away for the winter, except for the sauerkraut that is in the making. There were many pluses and a few negatives, but all in all a good year here in our little slice of paradise, much to be thankful for. We celebrated with friends and family around one of Adam’s and Paula’s turkey with all the trimmings. In the following, it may seem I’m bragging, which sometimes I may be, but primarily I intend this as an example of sharing ideas locally and much look forward to your reports.

Thanks to the rains, about which I will not complain, the gardening season started late and many of the fruit trees –pears, peaches, apricots, plums, and most of the apples – didn’t set fruit. But, the subsequent tomato, pepper, bean, and corn crops were quite remarkable with eggplant and cucumbers thrown in. Because we tended to these first, the squash were planted late and weren’t much; I was distracted and the gophers got many of our potatoes and the sweet potatoes vined nicely, but didn’t set worthwhile roots. Our winter brassica have all been planted and are thriving as are some winter potatoes, so next year’s harvest is hopefully on the way. Our last harvest for this year was the first weekend in December. Out of it, we had our last meal of fresh green beans. But, the big deals were the tomatoes.

In earlier years, at the end of session just before the first frost, we brought tomatoes still attached to the vines into the garage to sort of ripen. Most got tossed. Then, last year, I had an insight that green tomatoes are much like tomatillos and chile verde came to mind. So, we invented green tomato salsa. In this year’s version, after we, actually Marlene, had harvested

Ukiah: Shopping Independent, Locally-Owned Businesses

Top 3 winners from last year’s video contest
Top Ten Reasons To Shop Independent, Locally-Owned Businesses

    For every $100 spent at a locally owned business, $45 stays in the local economy, creating jobs and expanding the city’s tax base. For every $100 spent at a national chain or franchise store, only $14 remains in the community.
    Ukiah is a village. Where we shop, where we eat and hang out—all of it makes our village home. Chain and franchise stores are growing more aggressive and threatening to change the unique character of our town.

OWS: An Open Letter from America’s Truck Drivers on Occupy the Ports

From Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports
Thanks to Michael Foley

We are the front-line workers who haul container rigs full of imported and exported goods to and from the docks and warehouses every day.

We have been elected by committees of our co-workers at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, Tacoma, New York and New Jersey to tell our collective story. We have accepted the honor to speak up for our brothers and sisters about our working conditions despite the risk of retaliation we face. One of us is a mother, the rest of us fathers. Between the five of us we have 11children and one more baby on the way. We have a combined 46 years of experience driving cargo from our shores for America’s stores.

We are inspired that a non-violent democratic movement that insists on basic economic fairness is capturing the hearts and minds of so many working people. Thank you “99 Percenters” for hearing our call for justice. We are humbled and overwhelmed by recent attention. Normally we are invisible.

Today’s demonstrations will impact us. While we cannot officially speak for every worker who shares our occupation, we can use this opportunity to reveal what it’s like to walk a day in our shoes for the 110,000 of us in America whose job it is to be a port truck driver. It may be tempting for media to ask questions

Neighboring small town Sebastopol contributes to Occupy movement

Energy Bulletin

Good things can come in small packages. Sebastopol in semi-agrarian Sonoma County, Northern California, has a population under 8000. Occupy Sebastopol (OS) recently has been home to a bee-hive of activity in this town’s square that describes itself as “Peacetown, USA.”

Sonoma County is best known for its fine wines. It has the most lucrative wine industry in the U.S. The first wine billionaire, Jess Jackson, has his wineries and vineyards here, as does the giant Gallo Corporation. Most locals, however, still tend to think of this region as the nature-based Redwood Empire, rather than the commercial Wine Country.

Occupy events in big cities like New York, Oakland, and Los Angeles receive considerable coverage in the corporate media, especially when police react. Yet in small towns and mid-size cities throughout America, peaceful occupations occur that engage people in conversations and education in public spaces and beyond.

On Veteran’s Day, for example, the uniformed police chief Jeff Weaver walked toward OS’s decision-making General Assembly (GA). Occupiers in larger cities might have been nervous. But the Chief carried a plate of brownies and said, “These are from the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).” Praise followed him as he left. Many vets, some of them homeless, have been on the frontlines of Occupy gatherings around the nation.

Sebastopol’s City Council unanimously passed a detailed resolution

Welcome to Amazon’s American Sweatshops


[This is one of the great tragedies of Monopoly Capitalism’s race to the bottom… our fellow citizens reduced to slave labor peons with no one to represent their interests. The giant retailers, banksters, and energy monopolists MUST be broken up to free our futures from slavery, and import tarrifs imposed, to bring back decent jobs. -DS]

One Woman’s Attempt to Unionize Amazon

Inspired by the WTO protests, a demonstrator took a job in an Amazon warehouse to try and unionize the workers there

Occupy demonstrators are shutting down ports along the West Coast. For a movement that needs to show its strength and expand beyond city parks, it is a dramatic step that has many watching the news with bated breath. And yet, it has echoes in the past. In 1999, during the Seattle World Trade Organization protests, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union threatened to shut every port from Hawaii to Alaska if the city of Seattle didn’t let the protesters they had arrested out of jail. It worked. And for people like me, unions suddenly became relevant.

I had been at the WTO protests. I had watched hundreds of UPS Teamsters wearing shirts that said “Kicking Ass for the Working Class” march into the pepper spray and concussion grenades. The people I knew seemed unable to organize in groups larger than twenty-five, so the organization union actions made an impression…

Once, I saw a  25-year-old manager shout across the warehouse at a man in his fifties whose numbers had dropped telling him to “step it up.”

Todd Walton: When Is It Done?

William Everson


(This piece appeared—twice!—in the Anderson Valley Advertiser in 2008-2009. I recently got a request for this article, thought it was on my blog, but could not find it herein. So here it is now. Enjoy.)

Thirty-five years ago, I was hitchhiking from Santa Cruz to San Francisco on Highway One, and I got a ride with the poet William Everson, also known as Brother Antoninus, one of the more esoteric Beats. He sported a wispy white beard and a well-worn cowboy hat, and his old car reeked of tobacco. Recently installed as a poet-in-residence at UC Santa Cruz, he was going to a party in Bonny Dune but had no idea how to get there.

I knew exactly where he wanted to go and offered to be his guide, though it meant traveling many miles out of my way. I was obsessed with poetry and wanted as much of the great man’s time as I could finagle. He accepted my offer to be his Sancho Panza and did me the honor of asking, “So what’s your thing?”

“Guitar. And I write stories and poems, too.”

He nodded. “Who do you read?”

“Philip Whalen. Lew Welch. Faulkner. Kazantzakis.”

He lit a cigarette and seemed disinclined to continue the conversation.

And then, without consciously intending to, I asked, “So…how do you know when a poem is done?”

Is your stuff falling apart? You can thank Walmart

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

My friend Tony’s closet is as good a place as any to begin an investigation of Walmart’s environmental impact. Tony has a pair of Levi’s that date back to high school more than 20 years ago. They still fit him and they’re still in rotation. The fabric has a smooth patina that hints at its age, but, compared to another pair of Levi’s he bought only a couple of years ago, this pair actually looks far less worn. The denim is sturdier, the seams more substantial, the rivets bigger.

Tony’s old pair of Levi’s may well have been made in the U.S, and they likely cost more than his new pair. The new ones were manufactured abroad — Levi’s closed its last U.S. factory in 2003 — and, though Tony didn’t buy them at Walmart, their shoddy construction can be blamed at least in part on the giant retailer and the way it’s reshaping manufacturing around the world.

Since 1994, the consumer price of apparel, in real terms, has fallen by 39 percent. “It is now possible to buy clothing, long a high-priced and valuable commodity, by the pound, for prices comparable to cheap agricultural products,” notes Juliet Schor. Cheapness — and the decline in durability that has accompanied it — has triggered an astonishing increase in the amount of clothing we buy. In the mid-1990s, the average American bought 28 items of clothing a year. Today, we buy 59 items. We also throw away an average of 83 pounds of textiles per person

Walmart has done more than any other company to undermine the American middle class and force an ever-growing share of the population into working poverty

Institute of Local Self-Reliance

The main way the Waltons got their wealth is by squeezing workers at every point along Walmart’s supply chain.

The Waltons currently own 49 percent of Walmart stock. The six Waltons, heirs to Walmart founder Sam Walton, not only have a net worth equal to the combined wealth of the bottom 30 percent of Americans, as we learned last week from University of California economist Sylvia Allegretto, but they also own and control nearly half of Walmart, the world’s largest corporation.

That’s an astounding fact. Last year, Walmart had sales of $422 billion and generated $16 billion in profits. That’s quite a cash stream for a single family to be able to dip into, year after year.

While one could argue that other wealthy corporate founders made their money by producing something that benefited society as whole — the founders of Google, Apple, and Microsoft, for example, introduced products that fueled the creation of many new businesses and jobs — that’s not the case with the Waltons.

How Walmart’s sprawl drives climate change

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Walmart’s biggest climate impact goes ignored

Earlier this year, the New Jersey Sierra Club and the Pinelands Preservation Alliance tried but failed to block a permit for a new Walmart supercenter in the small coastal town of Toms River. The development, now moving forward, will destroy habitat for the threatened northern pine snake. What’s especially frustrating about the project, local environmentalists say, is that Walmart already has a store in Toms River. It’s just a mile down the road and will be shuttered when the new supercenter opens.The Toms River site is one of several environmentally sensitive areas Walmart aims to pave over in the coming months. Many follow a similar pattern. In Copley, Ohio, Walmart wants to develop 40 acres of fields and wetlands, and then close another store a mile away. In Davie, Fla., the chain is seeking permission to destroy 17 acres of wetlands to build in a location that’s just a 15-minute drive from six other Walmart stores.

Even as Walmart has been hyping its supposed environmental epiphany, it has continued to unroll vast, low-rise supercenters at breakneck speed. Since launching its sustainability campaign in 2005, Walmart has expanded the amount of store space it operates

This is desperation


The global “shadow” banking system is unraveling, with dire consequences for financial assets and failed policies.

 We’re not used to things falling apart, and so our first reaction is disorientation. What we’ve been trained to expect by constant intervention in supposedly “open” markets is that Central States and central banks will “save the day” with a new intervention: an interest rate cut, a new round of money-printing

Action Center! Stop Walmart Expansion Today Saturday 11am 12/17/11

Redwood Valley

Join the “Occupy Walmart” demonstration, Saturday December 17th, 11 am at the grassy knoll area bordering the Walmart parking lot. We will not disturb Walmart customers. We will not block entrances or exits.

• Walmart plans to build a sixth super market in Ukiah in 2012.
• A Walmart expansion will likely drive at least two unionized supermarkets out of business and may force small local stores to close.

If you are opposed to Walmart’s expansion:

• Come to the Ukiah Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday, December 14th, 6:00 pm at City Council Chambers, 300 Seminary Ave., Ukiah.

History of Democracy and Debt


The tendency for debts to grow faster than the population’s ability to pay has been a basic constant throughout all recorded history. Debts mount up exponentially, absorbing the surplus and reducing much of the population to the equivalent of debt peonage. To restore economic balance, antiquity’s cry for debt cancellation sought what the Bronze Age Near East achieved by royal fiat: to cancel the overgrowth of debts.

Book V of Aristotle’s Politics describes the eternal transition of oligarchies making themselves into hereditary aristocracies – which end up being overthrown by tyrants or develop internal rivalries as some families decide to “take the multitude into their camp” and usher in democracy, within which an oligarchy emerges once again, followed by aristocracy, democracy, and so on throughout history.

Debt has been the main dynamic driving these shifts – always with new twists and turns. It polarizes wealth to create a creditor class, whose oligarchic rule

Todd Walton: Falling Behind


“If we weren’t still hiring great people and pushing ahead at full speed, it would be easy to fall behind and become a mediocre company.” Bill Gates

In 1983, as the trajectory of my writing career, commercially speaking, was turning steeply downward, my third-rate Hollywood agent gave me an ultimatum. “Get an answering machine or find another agent.” Thus I became one of the last people in America to discover the joys of screening my calls.

In the early days of owning an answering machine, I especially enjoyed making long rambling outgoing messages; and people seemed to enjoy hearing those messages a few times, after which they would urge me to change the messages because they never wanted to hear them again. So I got in the habit of making

Will Parrish: The Logic Of Occupy Mendo


By casting 99% of the US population as collective victim of a miniscule minority’s monumental greed, the American branch of the Occupy Movement has provided a brilliant framework for bringing together a broad coalition to take on the worst manifestations of what, for the past 35 years or so, has been an almost entirely one-sided class war waged by the ruling elite. Students, their grandparents, heretofore apolitical people, the employed and unemployed, veterans, the housed and the homeless, and people of all ages and colors have partaken in the Occupy Movement (all, of course, to varying degrees).

This framing has profound limitations, however, which are evident in places like Mendocino County, where the vast majority

Edward Abbey Himself


“One final paragraph of advice: do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am – a reluctant enthusiast….a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here. So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this; You will outlive the bastards.”

Why Is Pesticide Used As An Ingredient In Infant Formula?

Thanks to Rosalind Peterson

Why is cupric sulfate — a known herbicide, fungicide and pesticide — being used in infant formula? And why is it displayed proudly on product labels as a presumably nutritious ingredient?

Used to kill fungus, aquatic  plants and roots of plants, parasitic infections in aquarium fish and snails, as well as algae and bacteria such as Escherichia coli, cupric sulfate hardly sounds fit for human consumption, much less for infants.

Indeed, infants are all too often looked at as “miniature adults” from the perspective of toxicological risk assessments, rather than what they are: disproportionately (if not exponentially) more susceptible to the adverse effects of environmental exposures. Instead of reducing or altogether eliminating avoidable infant chemical exposures (the precautionary principle), the chemical industry-friendly focus is always on determining “an acceptable level of harm” – as if there were such at thing!

Occupy The Winter: We have killed their most sacred word — Capitalism — and we have them on the run


And now it is winter. Wall Street rejoices, hoping that the change of seasons will mean a change in our spirit, our commitment to stop them.

They couldn’t be more wrong. Have they not heard of Washington and the troops at Valley Forge? The Great Flint Sit-Down Strike in the winter of 1936-37? The Michigan Wolverines crushing Ohio State in the 1950 Blizzard Bowl? When it comes to winter, it is the time historically when the people persevere and the forces of evil make their retreat!

We are not even 12 weeks old, yet Occupy Wall Street has grown so fast, so big, none of us can keep up with the hundreds of towns who have joined the movement, or the thousands of actions

The Global Village Construction Set


We are a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters that for the last two years has been creating the Global Village Construction Set, an open-source, low-cost, high performance technological platform that allows for the easy, DIY fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a sustainable civilization with modern comforts. The GVCS lowers the barriers to entry into farming, building, and manufacturing and can be seen as a life-size lego-like set of modular tools that can create entire economies, whether in rural Missouri, where the project was founded, in urban redevelopment, or in the heart of Africa.

Key Features

  • Open Source – we freely publish our 3D designs, schematics, instructional videos, budgets, and product manuals on our open source wiki, and we harness open collaboration with technical contributors.

Naughty Veggies


We love organic fruits and veggies here at Organic Authority, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a certain fondness for those rejects from the green grocer’s table that look a little… different. Just because an edible piece of earth-grown goodness appears a bit bizarre, doesn’t mean it’s crammed full of chemicals or that it’s genetically modified to the max. In fact, you might think some of these succulent veggies look mouth-wateringly delicious. Vegetables grow into such cheeky forms due to a variety of environmental factors such as unfavorable growing conditions or inadequate pollination. But (speaking of inadequacy) is this an excuse for some of the lewder shapes these errant veggies take? You decide. Just remember: what we see says more about the purity of our minds than the failing of some fruity-looking fruit…

You say potato, we say good golly…

X-rated garden show here

Gene Logsdon: The Ramparts People

Introduction to The Contrary Farmer

I remember clearly the day when I was twelve, hunting morel mushrooms with my father, when I informed him excitedly that I had decided to take my dog and my rifle and go deep into the wilderness to live. I would build a cabin on a mountainside by a clear running stream, and live out my days happily on broiled trout, fried mushrooms, and hickory nut pie. I would achieve advanced degrees in the art of living, bestowed on me by Nature, and I would know many things not even Einstein or my stupid schoolteacher dreamed of.

I thought that he would approve, since he was forever retreating to the solitude of woods and river bank and farm field himself But he almost frowned, suggesting gently in a voice that sounded as if he were saying what he thought he was supposed to say, not what he really felt

Transition: How To Start Participatory Budgeting For Our Towns


Have you noticed all the cuts being made to your city budget? To schools and libraries, fire fighters and social services, and other public spending? Think you could do a better job managing the budget? Soon, you may have that chance.

Through a process called “participatory budgeting”, residents of over 1,000 cities around the world are deciding how to spend taxpayer dollars. In October, four districts in New York City launched the second such process in the US. This article offers some initial tips for how you could start participatory budgeting in your city.

What is Participatory Budgeting?

In 1989, the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre developed a new model of democratic participation, which has become known internationally as

Occupy Movement offers ‘The 99% Declaration’… Sounds like a plan!


The 12-member congressional “Super Committee” failed, as we all knew it would, when Republicans stood firm in their craven, lickspittle fealty to the wealthiest Americans. Everyone knew, everyone paying even the slightest bit of attention to these clowns—and their Democrat “enablers”—that it was going to fail. No one was surprised. No one at all. Failure WAS the expectation from day one (Is there even a single dissenter to that opinion, on the right or left out there? Anyone? I didn’t think so).

The Occupy Movement has been criticized by small-minded types for “having no plans” etc, but what did they expect after merely a few weeks, anyway?

Today a full page ad appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle that led readers to this text online with the Occupy Movement’s plan for reducing spending, creating jobs and mitigating the wealth divide.

And then there is this extraordinary document (below) in which the Occupy Washington, DC peeps throw down the gauntlet in style. Reproduced here in full. I encourage you to read them both carefully and then share these documents with everyone you know, on FB, on Twitter and everywhere else.

WHEREAS THE FIRST AMENDMENT TO THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION PROVIDES THAT: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


WE, THE NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in order to form a more perfect Union, by, for and of the PEOPLE, shall elect and convene

The brutal logic of climate change

Girl with rock.


The consensus in American politics today is that there’s nothing to be gained from talking about climate change. It’s divisive, the electorate has more pressing concerns, and very little can be accomplished anyway. In response to this evolving consensus, lots of folks in the climate hawk coalition (broadly speaking) have counseled a new approach that backgrounds climate change and refocuses the discussion on innovation, energy security, and economic competitiveness.

This cannot work. At least it cannot work if we hope to avoid terrible consequences. Why not? It’s simple: If there is to be any hope of avoiding civilization-threatening climate disruption, the U.S. and other nations must act immediately and aggressively on an unprecedented scale. That means moving to emergency footing. War footing. “Hitler is on the march and our survival is at stake” footing. That simply won’t be possible unless a critical mass of people are on board. It’s not the kind of thing you can sneak in incrementally.It is unpleasant to talk like this. People don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to believe it. They bring to bear an enormous range of psychological and behavioral defense mechanismsto avoid it. It sounds “extreme” and our instinctive heuristics conflate “extreme” with “wrong.” People display the same kind of avoidance when they find out that they or a loved one are seriously ill. But no doctor would counsel withholding a diagnosis from a patient because it might upset them. If we’re in this much trouble, surely we must begin by telling the truth about it.So let’s have some real talk on climate change.

For today’s inconvenient truths (ahem), we turn to Kevin Anderson, a professor of energy and climate change who was, until recently, director of the U.K.’s leading climate research institution, the Tyndall Energy Program. Anderson is a publishing researcher himself and, in his capacity as Tyndall director, was responsible for weaving together multiple lines of research

iPhone App Could Be Used To Fight Against Megaphone Ban In Occupy Wall Street Protests


Occupy Wall Street protestors are not allowed to “amplify sound” outdoors while protesting in New York City (NYC), but a new iPhone app could be used to get around the ‘megaphone’ ban that NYC has in place.

Since physical microphones are not allowed, people typically chant in unison to create the same effect. The Inhuman Microphone app for the iPhone has the potential to bring the art of protesting into the 21st century.

The Nation explains how an Occupy Wall Street chant typically works:

“Mic check?” someone implores.

“MIC CHECK!” the crowd shouts back, more or less in unison.

with every few words / WITH EVERY FEW WORDS!

repeated and amplified out loud / REPEATED AND AMPLIFIED OUT LOUD!

by what has been dubbed / BY WHAT HAS BEEN DUBBED!

the human microphone / THE HUMAN MICROPHONE!!! (jazz hands here).

While many protestors have taken to social networks like Facebook and Twitter to help organize protests, the core of these protests are still very non-digital.

An app by the name of Inhuman Microphone uses cellular networking to link a group of iPhones together and send the same phrases through each device’s speaker simultaneously. The end result: a very loud iPhone army of protestors.

Created by David VellaHenrik PetterssonTom Leitch, and Tom Hannen, the app was demonstrated at the London Music Hack Day:

A group of Occupy Wall Street protestors could use the Inhuman Microphone app to create the same effect as a physical microphone

OWS Today 12/6/11: National Day of Action to Occupy Our Homes


Banks took such high risks that they placed our entire economy in serious jeopardy. In return, they received trillions of dollars from the Fed and billions of dollars from hard working tax payers to get back on their feet. Homeowners take risks when buying homes; however, when they lose their jobs or are unable to afford their medical attention they don’t get bailouts, they lose everything.

With our current environment of corporate irresponsibility and greed, political impotence and corruption, all it takes is for you to lose your job or get dropped from your health insurance to lose it all. Just because it hasn’t happened to you, your loved ones or your neighbors yet, doesn’t mean the threat isn’t real.

This Tuesday, thousands will be standing up for their neighbors in a struggle against a system that places financial gain above the human need of shelter. Banks would rather let houses deteriorate than renegotiate loans with those who make them homes and build our communities.

Occupy Minnesota had taken this issue head-on shortly after their formation when a fellow Occupier called out for help in keeping her home.

This Tuesday, Occupy Minnesota will organize in neighborhoods to defend families facing foreclosures in the communities most affected by the financial crisis. They’ll expand their occupation to a second foreclosed home in South Minneapolis.


Transition: Made By Hand Since 1879

Lindsay’s List

I’ve had a long time love of old school printing presses. I love the quality and the raw nature of the medium. I also love that it’s done by hand.

As a writer and graphic designer, I’ve long harbored the fantasy that when the world hits the skids after peak oil really delivers its coming wallop, that I would shift to printing on a local scale. Maybe I’d run a local newspaper. Or maybe, like Hatch Show Print, I’d do everything from cards to posters, art for display to whatever printed pieces my customers needed.

Of course, this depends on my getting all the equipment in advance, and learning to use it, so that when the economy does crash, and resources are scarce, I’m in place to do my local printing superhero thing.

Yet, here I am, typing away online. I’ve got an iPad but no printing press. That’s why it’s still a fantasy for me. Hey, a girl can dream.

But in Nashville, Tennessee, where Hatch Show Print lives, the hand-made print world is completely real. In continuous operation since 1879, Hatch Show Print still makes all their work by hand, from cutting plates to setting type to applying ink to cranking the rollers that print the job right there right then.

40 Inspiring Quotes About Reading

Mark Twain


December is one of our favorite months to curl up and read. If you need a little extra inspiration in this most hectic of months, however, never fear. To spur you on, we’ve collected a few inspiring quotes about reading by some people who read quite a lot — the authors themselves. Click through to read forty of our favorite quotes from writers about books and reading, and let us know if we’ve missed any of your own favorite inspirational declarations in the comments!

“When I get a little money, I buy books. If any is left, I buy food and clothes.” — Erasmus

“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.” — Philip Pullman

“If one reads enough books one has a fighting chance. Or better, one’s chances of survival increase with each book one reads.” — Sherman Alexie

“Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often helplessly, into another’s skin, another’s voice, another’s soul.”

Transition: There’s No Place Like Liberty Tool


Located in the middle of the state of Maine, Liberty is not far from the capital, Augusta. The town is small (the most recent estimate is a population of 932) but charming. My parents bought a house there when I was seven years old, and I’ve visited in the summer for a week or two ever since. There are a grand total of two shops open on a daily basis: a store that sells T-shirts and the Liberty Tool Company.

As a child I couldn’t appreciate the unique nature of a place like Liberty Tool, which was started by H.G. “Skip” Brack in 1976 as an addition to his other stores operating under the Jonesport Wood Company umbrella. With its ageless tools, trinkets, and other bric-a-brac, what kid really can? I thought it was boring. I wanted to spend the summer hanging with my friends at the beach, devouring fast food, and eating candy. I put little stock in the quality of things and more so in the quantity. But, as I’ve grown older and more mature, I’ve found it necessary to ornament my life with items of real worth and value. The importance of this has become especially clear to me in the last decade or so, as the continued erosion of those things I once held dear — books and music records immediately come to mind — turns the world I inhabit digital. And that’s why Liberty Tool carved out such a special place in my life.

What Is to Be Done about the Oligarchy?


We can’t afford this miserable oligarchy any more; so what should we do? There are two basic approaches. One is to cut down on the material inequality between the oligarchs and the rest of us. Another is to hem in the behaviors of Oligarchs so that their ability to damage the rest of us is significantly reduced. We can try both at the same time. However, I hardly need point out how difficult it will be to accomplish anything in a country as fractured as ours.

Oligarchy is based on material power. The richest among us have power just because of that wealth. It enables them to make massive campaign contributions to people who will vote their interests at the expense of the rest of the public. It enables them to spend wildly to change public perceptions of issues important to the very rich. And wealth gives them ability to hire tools like lawyers and accountants to undo and weaken regulation and avoid taxation.

But material wealth

Don Sanderson: Depression? What Depression?


After growing at an annual rate of 1 percent two quarters ago, the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) reportedly grew at a 2 percent rate last quarter. This is projected to continue and increase throughout the next two years. All our problems will be solved by a growing economy. Well, maybe not.

This week, beginning November 27, 2011, has seen a number of bombshell explosions. To begin the week, Bloomberg (the business news organization) announced, as a result of a two year investigation and the winning of a hard-fought court case, that the Federal Reserves System (the Fed), beginning in 2008 and continuing through March 2009, parceled out $7.77 trillion to many dozens of American banks to save them from failure. “Fed officials say that almost all of the loans were repaid and there have been no losses,” so we shouldn’t be troubled. Apparently the Fed was concerned as to how this would be viewed, since “The Federal Reserve and the big banks fought for more than two years to keep details of the largest bailout in U.S. history a secret.”

‘Oh Happy Day’ goosebumps…

[As a long-time “backslidden” preacher’s kid, the purity, innocence, and joy of this still brings me to tears… -DS]

Rosalind Peterson: Protest mail delivery delay in Mendocino County

Redwood Valley

[More unacceptable, union-busting, privatizing tricks from the dark side… -DS]

December 2, 2011
The Honorable Congressman Mike Thompson
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.

RE:  U.S. Postal Service – Mendocino County, CA – Mail Delivery Delay – Public Comment Deadline:  December 5, 2011 – See Public Comment Address + Telephone number below.

Dear Congressman Thompson:

The U.S. Postal Service wants to close our North Bay Processing and Distribution Mail Facility and send all of our mail to Oakland to be processed.  Those that have a ZIP CODE that starts with 954 or 940 will be negatively impacted by this decision.

If this closure is allowed to happen all of our mail will be delayed by at least one day.  It should be noted that our Ukiah Post Office is in danger of closing and that this North Bay Processing and Distributing Closure will further degrade

The Many Ways of Kale


Packed full of antioxidants and fiber, kale is a staple of the autumn and winter kitchen

If discovering a love of kale is the home cook’s version of finding religion, consider me one of the converted.  I was introduced to the sturdy, leafy green during my last year of college, right around the same time that I first sampled kale’s fellows in the dark-and-leafy category, Swiss chard and collard greens. Within a few bites, I was hooked: I loved its sweet-spicy flavor and robust raw texture, which grew silky and tender after a slow sauté in garlic and soy sauce.

After college, my obsession only grew. I made weekly trips to the farmers market and stocked my vegetable crisper with leafy bunches of pine needle-green Lacinato kale (also called Tuscan kale, Cavolo nero and, curiously, Dinosaur kale). Two, three, sometimes even four nights a week I ate steamed kale topped with crispy slivers of garlic and a soupy fried egg – my rendition of the starving college grad’s ramen noodle diet. A few years on, during my first date with my now-husband, I snapped off a stem of kale at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden that had been planted as decoration and ate it raw

Todd Walton: Complexity

Under The Table Books

“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” Pudd’nhead Wilson’s Calendar

Are most humans inherently incapable of understanding complex arrangements of interrelated things and actions, or can almost anyone develop such a capability?

Yesterday I heard live coverage of the eviction of campers at Zuccotti Park in Manhattan, an occupation that began as a protest against rich people being further enriched by a corrupt financial system. After several weeks of camping in the park, the protestors morphed into an ongoing settlement of people who, judging from interviews I heard with a number of evicted campers, wanted to continue living in Zuccotti Park indefinitely because: “Where else am I supposed to go?” “The one per cent got rich ripping everyone else off.” “There are no good jobs left in America because the rich people sent all the jobs to China.” “It is my constitutional right to camp here as long as I want.” “Private property is a conspiracy