Walking away…


From JOHN MICHAEL GREER
The Archdruid Report

Last week’s Archdruid Report post, despite its wry comparison of industrial civilization’s current predicament with the plots and settings of pulp fantasy fiction, had a serious point. Say what you will about the failings of cheap fantasy novels—and there’s plenty to be said on that subject, no question—they consistently have something that most of the allegedly more serious attempts to make sense of our world usually lack: the capacity to envision truly profound change.

That may seem like an odd claim, given the extent to which contemporary industrial society preens itself on its openness to change and novelty. Still, it’s one of the most curious and least discussed features of that very openness that the only kinds of change and novelty to which it applies amount to, basically, more of the same thing we’ve already got. A consumer in a modern industrial society is free to choose any of a dizzying range of variations on a suffocatingly narrow range of basic options—and that’s equally true whether we are talking about products, politics, or lifestyles.

I suppose the automobile is the most obvious example, but it has dimensions not always recognized and these bear a closer look. To begin with, the vast majority of cars for sale these days are simply ringing changes on a suite of technologies that was introduced in the late 19th century and hit maturity close to fifty years ago. That’s as true of electric and hybrid cars, by the way, as it is of the usual kind—the hype surrounding the so-called “hybrid revolution” conveniently fails to mention that the same system has been used for more than sixty years in diesel-electric locomotives, and cars powered by electricity were common on American roads before the Big Three auto firms succeeded in getting a stranglehold on the industry during the last Great Depression. Steam-powered cars were also to be had back then—the Stanley Steamer was a famous brand; try finding one now.

What variations can be found nowadays are almost entirely a matter of style rather than substance, and this becomes even more evident when it’s recognized that the auto is simply one way

When the people rise up…


From MARY BOTTARI
OurFuture.org

1 Million Petition for the Recall of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

The petition drive to recall and remove Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has surpassed all expectations, collecting one million signatures in just 60 days. The signatures represent the largest recall effort in the history of the United States.

Petitioners were only required to collect 540,000 by law. They far exceeded this number, making a successful legal challenge of the recall highly unlikely. Volunteers also gathered 845,000 signatures to recall Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and additional signatures to recall four of the state senators who voted for Walker’s collective bargaining bill in March 2011, creating a mountain of paper estimated to weigh over one ton.

As for Walker, he attended a New York fundraiser hosted by no less than Hank Greenberg, the former CEO of American International Group, according to Mother Jones.

Wisconsin Recall Will Make History

The numbers coming out of Wisconsin are stunning. Of the 19 states that permit the recall of governors, Wisconsin has one of the highest thresholds. For governors (and legislators), recall organizers must gather signatures equaling 25 percent of the turnout in the previous election for the office. That means organizers faced the daunting task of collecting 540,000. To avoid losing the election through signature challenges, signature collectors wanted a “cushion” of additional signatures, so they set a goal of 720,000 signatures. They surpassed even that goal.

When California governor Gray Davis was recalled in 2003, residents collected 1.6 million signatures out of 21.1 million eligible voters or approximately 7.6 percent. In Wisconsin, 25,000 trained volunteers had 60 days to collect approximately 1 million signatures from 4.37 million eligible voters… Original article here
~~

Can a Godless Farmer be a Good Steward of the Soil?


From GENE LOGSDON

There is a growing realization in organized religion that something is awry in our industrial food delivery system. Churches are actively urging their members to become more involved directly in local and family gardening and farming. This is great news for those of us who have been fighting this battle for a long time. Organized religion can be a very powerful force in getting society’s feet back on the ground (literally) and we welcome all the help we can get.

But I am not sure how this is going to turn out. Hardly a week goes by now that someone doesn’t send me a book about church involvement in food production or I am not invited by a member of the clergy or a professor at a Christian college to give a talk, which pleases me deeply. But it also causes me a problem. I hardly qualify as a Christian anymore. I don’t know what I am. Sometimes I lean toward Buddhism but then I read a little more in that direction and don’t much agree with that either. I sort of envy Christians and Muslims because they believe in something so fantastically wonderful as an eternal life of utter bliss. I’ve tried to believe. Just can’t. Sorry.  So anyway when I am asked to give a talk about farming at a private religious college or, horrors, in a church, I get nervous. If the inviters knew that I was a godless contrarian, would they really want me to speak? America is a place where “godless” suggests “sinner” or certainly not saint. So I retreat into hypocrisy, giving my talk while cagily hedging my words so that I do not sound too heretical or hypocritical.

Last week when a professor of religion at a private college wanted me to give a talk, I decided it was time to be honest. I told him he might not like what I would say especially about how religious institutions so often glorify rich industrial farmers who practice destructive farming but who give generously to the churches. I told him I was sort of a godless heathen. Did that bother him?

Here was his reply, verbatim: “I am not offended one bit by the approach you are outlining in your email. I am more offended by the vast majority of religious folk who are gleefully ignorant of how their behavior affects the environment and the others around them

New tool reveals country’s most polluted places: How close do you live?


From ALTERNET

Thanks to a new tool from the EPA, you can see how close you live to the country’s biggest polluters.

Looking for some awkward synergy? The Environmental Protection Agency recently released a comprehensive database of America’s greatest greenhouse gas creators. It interactively indexes the 6,700 power plants and other facilities responsible for 80 percent of U.S. emissions, in an accessible online resource that gives interested citizens the ability not only to monitor their local and national pollution, but also to reproduce data-specific graphs and charts to fire off to colleagues and friends on social networks.

The tool debuted the day after President Obama made his first-ever visit to the EPA, a much less impressive debut. Fueled by billions of tons of the greenhouse gases the EPA’s GHG Reporting Program data publication tool dutifully tracks, global warming has recently unleashed an unseasonal hellscape on the U.S., with temperatures scorching some regions 40 degrees above normal. But at least Obama came with his environmental game-face on.

“We don’t have to choose between dirty air and dirty water or a growing economy,” President Obama stumped to a crowd of 800 employees gathered at the EPA’s Washington headquarters. “We can make sure that we are doing right by our environment and in fact putting people back to work all across America. When I hear folks grumbling about environmental policy, you almost want to do a Back to the Future reminder of what happened when we didn’t have a strong EPA. You have a president who is grateful for your work and will stand with you every inch of the way.”

He may joke about time travel, but late last year it was the Sierra Club and many others — likely including some of those EPA employees he addressed for the first time — who wondered aloud whether America had slipstreamed straight back to the Bush regime after President Obama halted EPA regulation of smog and air pollution…Original article here
~~

Contraction…


From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
oftwominds.com

For the past 67 years, Americans have been conditioned to expect expansion and more of everything: more income, more stuff, more opportunity, more benefits, more medical care, more government entitlements, and so on.

As a result, Americans have habituated to permanent expansion. The concept that contraction–less of everything–is the new normal simply doesn’t register; it is rejected, denied, or decried as a great tragedy. The notion that it is simply reality does not compute with a populace habituated to permanent “growth” that is at worst interrupted by brief recessions.

U.S. politicians have learned that Soaring Rhetoric (TM) about “morning in America,” “the New Frontier,” “hope” and other ritualistic appeals to permanent expansion win elections, while accurate descriptions of reality lose elections.

The voting public’s demand for “permanent good news” promising permanent expansion has spawned a feedback loop of officially sanctioned manipulated statistics and media spin (a.k.a. propaganda) that expands with every administration, even as the real economy visibly weakens. Though the Obama Administration has perfected the techniques of presenting “permanent good news,” the divergence of the real economy and the official “story” that “we’ve returned to permanent expansion” is widening.

The real story is the “expansion” has cost the taxpayers trillions of dollars in new debt and trillions of dollars of backstops, shadow purchases and money-printing by the Federal Reserve. Roughly speaking, $6 trillion in additional Federal borrowing has been blown to simply keep the Status Quo from imploding, and around $13 trillion in guarantees, backstops, asset purchases, and losses made good have been issued to keep the Status Quo’s financial sector afloat and in charge.

By any credible, unmanipulated measure, for example, the number of people with fulltime employment

Peak Walmart


From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

To the Editors (AVA, UDJ), Ukiah City Council, Ukiah City Management

For every 2 jobs Walmart creates it destroys 3 (Institute of Local Self-Reliance)… are yours and mine next? Walmart is so desperate to grab every last piece of retail sales it can that, even as it tries to force a huge expansion of its local store on our community, it is downsizing its new stores into “express size” units to kill off even more downtown merchants in urban areas across the US.

A secret behind Wal-Mart’s rapid expansion in the United States has been its extensive use of public money. This includes more than $1.2 billion in tax breaks, free land, infrastructure assistance, low-cost financing and outright grants from state and local governments around the country. In addition, taxpayers indirectly subsidize the company by paying the healthcare costs of Wal-Mart employees who don’t receive coverage on the job and instead turn to public programs such as Medicaid (walmartsubsidywatch.org).

Not only will we lose many jobs and small businesses when Walmart expands its Ukiah store into a gigantic grocery market featuring extremely cheap “organic” produce and meats from China, but even more will be lost as it eventually contracts. Contracts? The Wall Street Journal reports: “Walmart’s U.S. business… has reported declining sales at stores open at least a year for two consecutive years.”

So once Walmart, and the looming Costco store, have killed off their local competition… our supermarkets, our co-op, our family farmers and farmers markets, our downtown family-owned shops… and destroyed our local community networks of economic exchange, it will face its own demise as Peak Oil’s inevitable rising energy costs destroy the big box business model… and the ship loads of containers from China grind to a halt.

What then?
~~

Farmers talk about the books that inspire them…


From CYNTHIA SALAYSAY
Civil Eats

Scores of books depict farms as little slices of heaven on earth, where venison is smoked and butter is churned, and things seem perfect. But today’s farmers are far from unrealistic dreamers, longing for a Little House on the Prairie-esque pastoral ideal. They’re socially conscious doers. And when asked about books that inspire them, they cite writings that are practical, at times poetic, and that beckon them to rescue the land.

Here are some of the books that farmers are reading and getting inspiration from today.

The Unsettling of America by Wendell Berry. “I had spent  seven or so years of my life as a ‘punk’ growing up in the the central NJ suburbs of NYC, disgruntled and disillusioned and looking for real meaning and ways to be in the world, and [Berry] was someone seemingly so disgruntled and disillusioned, yet incredibly intelligent and coherent, with a posited solution of sorts…. Challenges [were] laid forth to take full responsibility for our lives and to truly push against what our culture is feeding us, to move towards a society built around community, equality, a new free culture, and a cooperative economy in which we all work satisfying jobs in support of each other; ideals I cannot imagine any human being would deface. Farming could embrace these challenges and reconnect us with the land and each other like no other, I was convinced.” — Anthony Mecca, Great Song Farm

The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. “I read The Good Earth when I was a child, I think I was ten or eleven. I read it again in my 20s, and again in my 30s…. It’s an inspiring novel about building a dream, perseverance. I think the best line is at the end of the novel when it says, ‘without land, you’re nothing.’ It’s a quote my father and mother used to repeat to us kids all the time. So that book always meant something for many reasons.” — Alexis Koefoed, Soul Food Farm

Silent Spring by Rachel Carson. “I read it as a freshman in college. This was kind of a critical treatise

A Time to Break Silence…


From REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING
4 April 1967

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence

Speech delivered by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., on April 4, 1967, at a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City

[Please put links to this speech on your respective web sites and if possible, place the text itself there. This is the least well known of Dr. King’s speeches among the masses, and it needs to be read by all]

http://www.ssc.msu.edu/~sw/mlk/brkslnc.htm


I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice. I join with you in this meeting because I am in deepest agreement with the aims and work of the organization which has brought us together: Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam. The recent statement of your executive committee are the sentiments of my own heart and I found myself in full accord when I read its opening lines: “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” That time has come for us in relation to Vietnam.

The truth of these words is beyond doubt but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government’s policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one’s own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

Some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well

Fukushima — Pacific Ocean radiation levels up 45 million times…


From ALEX ROSLIN
Montreal Gazette
Thanks to Rosalind Peterson

Evidence has emerged that the impacts of the disaster on the Pacific Ocean are worse than expected

After the world’s worst nuclear accident in 25 years, authorities in Canada said people living here were safe and faced no health risks from the fallout from Fukushima.

They said most of the radiation from the crippled Japanese nuclear power plant would fall into the ocean, where it would be diluted and not pose any danger.

Dr. Dale Dewar wasn’t convinced. Dewar, a family physician in Wynyard, Sask., doesn’t eat a lot of seafood herself, but when her grandchildren come to visit, she carefully checks seafood labels.

She wants to make sure she isn’t serving them anything that might come from the western Pacific Ocean.

Dewar, the executive director of Physicians for Global Survival, a Canadian anti-nuclear group, says the Canadian government has downplayed the radiation risks from Fukushima and is doing little to monitor them.

“We suspect we’re going to see more cancers, decreased fetal viability, decreased fertility, increased metabolic defects – and we expect them to be generational,” she said.

And evidence has emerged that the impacts of the disaster on the Pacific Ocean are worse than expected.

Since a tsunami and earthquake destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant last March, radioactive cesium has consistently been found in 60 to 80 per cent of Japanese fishing catches each month tested by Japan’s Fisheries Agency.

In November, 65 per cent of the catches tested positive for cesium (a radioactive material created by nuclear reactors), according to a Gazette analysis of data on the fisheries agency’s website.

This culture is @†‰Ø the planet…


From DERRICK JENSEN
Orion Magazine

What we don’t say and why we don’t say it

This culture is @†‰Ø the planet. The latest studies show that global warming will be far #+?þ than anyone has imagined, and could easily lead to an increase of #-+^)@ Fahrenheit by 2100, which would effectively spell the ?*#-+@* of life on Earth. Yet our response—including the response by most of the #/?*#-+^)!@* community—is utterly incommensurate with the #216;‰§« posed by #/?*#-+^)!@*. For crying out loud, most @?#/?*#-@ can’t even bring themselves to acknowledge that the @†‰Ø system is inherently unsustainable, much less that ?*??#-+^)!@ itself must be !$#/?*#=-+^)!@*.

I’m #/?*#-+^)!@* of it. I want to talk about what we #/?*#-+^)!@*. But before we can talk about what we #/?*#-+^)!@*, it’s necessary for us to talk about why we don’t talk about it.

One big reason is censorship—from without and within.

The United States government is said to have been founded on free speech and freedom of expression. After all, doesn’t the First Amendment to the Constitution state that “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press”? Pretty clear, no? And haven’t we seen landmark case after landmark case declaring that even such vile material as the most degrading

Occupy: The over-winter diehards…


From ADBUSTERS

Holding the ground till crocuses bloom next Spring.

In Auckland. In London. In Newfoundland. In Austin, Boulder, Delaware, Buffalo and DC, they’re hanging in there against all odds, defending sacred ground for what will surely be the magical soil of Spring. As we indoors continue brainstorming, networking and tactical planning for the actions to come, lets take a moment to celebrate those inspirational die hards hanging in there through Winter. Our hearts go out to you … you are our heroes … we are in awe of your resolve.

Here is a message from Occupy Newfoundland, Canada’s last-standing encampment:

Day 83. We have survived critique from politicians, citizens and media. Been pelted with rain, sleet and snowstorms. Endured the cold, damp and windy conditions that only the turbulent Atlantic Ocean can offer. We have tolerated and embraced the difference of opinion on the major issues we as people and as a society are now facing, for we believe only dialogue and communication without violence is the key to our success. Occupy has more to do with becoming engaged in your community, city, country and own personal ambitions and beliefs than it does with Occupying a park or a tent. It’s the reflection of the desire and hope inside the people of this planet. This is why we remain, this is why we will persevere … Occupy Newfoundland/Everywhere 2012 and beyond.
~~

Occupy the fundamentalist God…


From REV BILLY

Life is dying…

Tropical forests, wetlands and estuaries, and the coral reefs beneath the ocean’s surface are the carriers of most of the life on the Earth. Tropical forests are the home of half of all species, and they are, as of the beginning of 2012, one third gone. Caught in the slash-and-burning and lumbering and fast-food grazing of current economies, the planet will be deforested for our grandchildren.

We are turning out the lights on the stage of the creation of life. Life needs enough life to keep making life. Life-a-lujah! Put it this way: Evolution, to work, needs its genetic pool. No-one knows for sure how many species and in what numbers will survive as the centers of intense life are cut down.

We are witnessing the extinction of hundreds of thousands of species of life. How can this be? And, this is not a decision that has been open to much public discussion. It is an apocalypse of accumulating silence. No public leader would dare state that human beings will be the only life remaining, and yet that seems to be the plan. The idea that people would be the only living thing – with I suppose pets, and parks preserved like museums… Is that where we are heading? People simply don’t realize how extreme this is: the extinction rate has risen to 400 times above the average. Life is dying.

Todd Walton: Close Calls


From TODD WALTON
UnderTheTableBooks.com
Mendocino

“Fate laughs at probabilities.”  E.G. Bulwer-Lytton

For me to be born, my parents had to meet at Beverly Hills High in 1939, which only happened because in 1932, when my mother Avis was eleven, she went on a long walk in Phoenix, Arizona and learned from the announcement on a hotel marquee that Tommy Dorsey and his band were playing there that very night.

Avis took that fateful walk because she was tired of being cooped up in a motel room with her seven-year-old brother Howard and her thirty-three-year-old mother Goody, and because she was sad and lonely and didn’t know what else to do. Avis and Goody and Howard were living in that Phoenix motel room, having hurriedly left Los Angeles some weeks before, because Goody was fed up with her husband Casey for failing for the umpteenth time to bring home enough bacon, so to speak, to keep the bill collectors at bay and put sufficient food on the table for two growing kids. Casey was a real estate broker and a gambler, and in the depths of the Great Depression things were not going well for him in either field. Goody and Casey were Jewish, their last name Weinstein, and so their struggles were compounded by the fierce anti-Semitism of those times. They would eventually change their last name to Winton so they could pretend not to be Jewish, a tactic they hoped would increase their options for housing and employment.

Why Phoenix? Family lore has it that Phoenix was as far as they got before Goody ran out of money. Goody’s parents were in Michigan where Goody was born, so perhaps Goody’s plan was to get back to the Jewish ghetto of Detroit where her relatives would not let her starve. But I think Goody chose Phoenix because it was just close enough to Los Angeles (an eight-hour drive) for Casey to visit every weekend to give Goody a little money, if he had any, and to beg her to come back to him. Goody was adamant she would not come back to him until he started making good money and giving most of that money

Transition: What it looks like when food grows everywhere…


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture
Transition Ukiah Valley

Today I’d like to share a map with you (you can download a hi resolution pdf of it here — caution, it’s a big file), and I’m hugely grateful to Geri Smyth for giving me this.  It is a map of the town of Guildford (or Guldeford as it was then) in 1793.  Regular readers will know I love a good map, and I have spent a fair while poring over this one.  There are a couple of things I love about it.  Firstly, it is the most amazing piece of draughtsmanship.  It is a thing of extraordinary beauty in a way that Googlemaps can only dream of.  The way its laid out, the calligraphy, the attention to detail, are beautiful in a way very few people could recreate today.  But what is so extraordinary, upon closer inspection, is how it captures what it looks like when food grows everywhere. Think of it, if you like, as Incredible Edible Guildford, circa. 1739.

This is a Guildford before the car, before before shopping malls, before tarmac.  It is also clearly a Guildford with a much lower population than today, with far far lower living standards, and with a lot more mud on the soles of its shoes.  My reason for posting this beautiful artifact isn’t to romanticise times that were very different, and in many ways much harder, rather it is to marvel at what a really local food culture looks like in reality for those of us who have no living memory of such a thing.

We see, for example, that the hospital has its own vegetable garden. The Free School has its own orchard.  While many of the houses have their own gardens, others appear to have allotments out the back, large pieces of land divided into plots.  In the centre of the map is a cluster of coaching inns, each of which have yards full of vegetable gardens.  Behind every house, on every piece of ground, food is being grown.  It is an extraordinary snapshot of a time when food production was the principal form of urban land use after roads and buildings.

Plan C: Community Solution…


From COMMUNITY SOLUTION
Thanks to Debora McGillivray
Transition Ukiah Valley

Plan A seeks to maintain economic growth by developing unconventional fossil fuels (tar sands), increased use of “clean” coal and more nuclear power plants. Plan B also seeks to maintain the status quo, believing this is possible with “renewable” energy sources – bio-fuels, wind turbines and solar photovoltaics (PVs). Both require technological breakthroughs or very rapid scaling up of existing technologies. Both are expensive with high technical and ecological risks.

Plan C focuses on ways to dramatically reduce, or “curtail,” our per capita energy consumption by reducing the goods and services we consume. This is in contrast to “conservation” which refers to reducing the energy required to produce and use goods and services. Plan C focuses on solutions for the household sector of the economy – homes, auto transportation and food – which account for two-thirds of the total energy consumed and CO2 generated in the United States. These areas of use are under our direct personal control.

Curtailment and Community

The two main components of Plan C Solutions are Curtailment and Community. Curtailment is the action of reducing our consumption of fossil fuels. Community is the context for a culture where consumption is not the primary value. Community also describes a culture or way of living where relationships are more important than material goods. Since World War II our consumption of fossil fuels has risen dramatically while at the same time the values and benefits we obtained from “community” have declined.

We are facing massive challenges and there is no guarantee that they can be solved or solved quickly. Thus the C of Plan C also stands for Contingency as in “a contingency plan.” Even though it is possible that some breakthrough technology will suddenly make all our concerns go away, it is unlikely. If we do not take seriously the possibility that oil depletion or climate change will force change upon us, we might not begin looking for other options until it is too late. A contingency plan

Here’s Mitt Romney — King of the Republican Scumbags…



~~

Occupy Wall Street: What’s next?…


From NAOMI KLEIN
Common Dreams
Excerpt

Personally, I think the greatest possibility lies in bringing together the ecological crisis and the economic crisis. I see climate change as the ultimate expression of the violence of capitalism: this economic model that fetishizes greed above all else is not just making lives miserable in the short term, it is on the road to making the planet uninhabitable in the medium term. And we know, scientifically, that if we continue with business as usual, that is the future we are heading towards. I think climate change is the strongest argument we’ve ever had against corporate capitalism, as well as the strongest argument we’ve ever had for the need for alternatives to it. And the science puts us on a deadline: we need to have begun to radically reduce our emissions by the end of the decade, and that means starting now. I think that this science-based deadline has to be part of every discussion about what we’re going to do next, because we actually don’t have all the time in the world.

We should also be aware that this kind of existential urgency could be a very regressive force if the wrong people harness it. It’s easy to imagine autocrats using the climate emergency to say, “We don’t have time for democracy or participation, we need to impose it all from the top.” Right now, the way the urgency is used within the mainstream environmental movement is to say, “This problem is so urgent that we can only ask for these compromised cap-and-trade deals, since that’s all we can hope to achieve politically.” Talking about the links between economic growth and climate change is pretty much off the table because, supposedly, we don’t have time to make those kinds of deep changes.

But that was a pre-OWS political calculation. And as you pointed out, OWS is in the business of changing what is possible. So what I’ve been saying when I speak to environmental groups is:

Small farms adding value…


From BLAINDESIGN
Etsy

...AllStar Organics, a small specialty farm owned by the husband-and-wife team of Marty Jacobson and Janet Brown. “When we started about 20 years ago,” says Janet (who I should add is my big sister), “we wanted what a lot of people want — to work where we live. We had no business plan, and limited resources.”

Starting with a difficult backyard that was almost too steep to mow, the couple dug some terraces and planted tomatoes, herbs, and heirloom roses, three things that already grew in their home garden.

“For us, value-added production emerged entirely from our mistakes and failures,” says Janet. “It was all an attempt to salvage something out of what had gone wrong.”

What today is a successful line of dried herbs and herbal products resulted from another “mistake.” “One day we picked 22 pounds of Thai basil to fill an order that turned out to be for only two pounds,” said Janet. “Rather than composting 20 pounds of ‘leftover’ organic herbs, I tried drying them by hand on sheets of newspaper with a house fan. Over time, we expanded the drying operation step by step until we built what we have today — a drying facility, a line of herbs, and an organic certification as a ‘simple on-farm post-harvest handler.’”

As AllStar grew, Janet joined with other farmers to form the region’s first organic marketing association, Marin Organic, a very select group of growers who met with sustainable agriculture advocate Prince Charles on his most recent trip to the U.S.

Allstar’s growth eventually required that it expand beyond a backyard operation…

Here are few of Janet’s ideas for anyone thinking of launching a value-added operation:

The joy of books…


Thanks to Janet Rosen
~~

Occupy the land with peasant agriculture to resolve the food crisis and the climate crisis…


From CLIMATE CONNECTIONS

La Via Campesina always goes to all the places where the UN, the G8, or the WTO, or anyone else are making decisions about our lives. Because it is a question about our lives, and it’s a question of the destruction of the planet. We are very concerned because small farmers represent about three billion people, producing about seventy percent of the food for all of the world’s seven billion people. The United Nations process is not about the climate crisis, it is about big business, because the rich countries with their big corporations want to put all the world’s resources into the market. This is why it is very important for La Via Campesinato be spokespeople for the peasant sector – to be the peasant voice.

So we are here to say NO to the false solutions: industrial agriculture, land-grabbing, carbon markets, REDD, REDD+. We are here to say we don’t want agriculture on the table of the negotiations because agriculture is too important for life for it to be a business. We can’t put agriculture on the table where the big corporations are discussing how they can continue to pollute the planet and get more money. We are here to say agro-ecology can cool down the planet, to say that food sovereignty is the way to resolve the climate crisis. The biggest problem for the climate is industrial agriculture. With agro-ecology we can produce food for the world, develop local markets, and cut off the industrial process. The studies are very clear: industrial agriculture and the industrial food system are responsible for 57 percent of greenhouse gas emissions…

When we see the situation in the world we could say it’s impossible to do anything. But here in Durban I saw a lot of people coming, from the US, from the EU, from all over the world, to say, the planet is not for sale. Nature is not for sale. A lot of organizations from around the world give me hope

As centralized systems devolve, the solution is Localism…


From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
oftwominds.com

Depending on Central State/central bank borrowing and spending to prop up the Status Quo is a doomed strategy.

I think the thread between these three seemingly disparate stories is clearly visible. I am indebted to longtime correspondent Joel M. for sending me these articles:

A Dimly Flickering Light in a Darkened Downtown. An Ohio mill town’s once-bustling main street is now a ghost town; people are desperate to sell their family heirlooms to one of the downtown’s few remaining businesses, a vintage shop, to raise cash.

A Fight for Post Offices and Towns’ Souls. Even as the number of family farms rises for the first time in decades in the U.S., long-standing services to rural communities such as post offices and schools are being slashed.

With Work Scarce in Athens, Greeks Go Back to the Land. As Greece’s economy plunges and unemployment rises, many Greeks are fleeing to the countryside and looking to the nation’s rich agricultural past as a guide to the future.

The thread that connects these stories is the devolution of centralized concentrations of control and the power of localism to fill the void. As I have often noted here, the expansive Central State is on an S-curve of decline, and this is most apparent in places such as Greece that cannot print a couple trillion dollars a year to fund a bloated Status Quo like the U.S. can (at least for now).

But the Central State is on an S-curve even in nations such as the U.S. and “socialist” France, where rural post offices are also being closed or their hours drastically slashed for budgetary reasons.

Hail, the mighty pocketknife…


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

Time was, a farmer would feel naked without a pocketknife in his bibs. Even today, it is the handiest tool of all. There is always a bale twine to cut, a splinter in the skin to remove, a fingernail to trim,  a scion to be grafted, a hoof to be cleaned, a pig testicle to be removed, a marshmallow stick to be sharpened, spark plugs to be scraped clean of carbon, an apple to peel, a hide to skin, a seed potato to cut, a lid to pry open, a beer bottle cap to pop off, string holding a sack closed to sever, a hole to be poked in fabric or rubber. It would be fun to hold a contest to see who can come up with the most uses for a pocketknife on the farm.

As boys, we used our knives mainly to play a game we called “mumblety-peg.”  (I have a hard time believing this, but Merriam-Webster says the first known use of that word, mumblety-peg, was in 1647, and that it first referred to what the loser in the game had to do— pull a peg out of the ground with his or her teeth.) The essence of the game was to stand the open knife vertically on arm, head, knee, whatever, and flip it so that the blade stuck in the ground. That’s how I learned that any knife will fall, end over end, and stick into the ground every time if allowed to fall from the right height using only gravity without any extra push or flip. Experienced mumblety-peg players knew that and had rules about how the knife was to be flipped or not flipped. Often it had to be flipped from between two fingers, going consecutively from one pair of fingers to the next. Off an arm, the player might have to execute a double flip before the knife stuck in the ground for the maneuver to be legitimate. We also spent a lot of time throwing our knives at trees so that they would stick like in Tarzan movies. This was a good way to ruin a pocketknife in a hurry.

Any of you readers ever play mumblety-peg? I asked my grandson and he never heard of it.

Today, everyone, country or city, needs a pocketknife handy. Anyone who has to open packages (and that’s everyone) encased in the latest impenetrable

The very real danger of genetically modified foods…


From ARI LeVAUX
The Atlantic
Thanks to Gail Johnson and Janie Sheppard

New research shows that when we eat we’re consuming more than just vitamins and protein. Our bodies are absorbing information, or microRNA. The Chinese RNA study threatens to blast a major hole in Monsanto’s claim. It means that DNA can code for microRNA, which can, in fact, be hazardous.

Chinese researchers have found small pieces of ribonucleic acid (RNA) in the blood and organs of humans who eat rice. The Nanjing University-based team showed that this genetic material will bind to proteins in human liver cells and influence the uptake of cholesterol from the blood.

The type of RNA in question is called microRNA, due to its small size. MicroRNAs have been studied extensively since their discovery ten years ago, and have been linked to human diseases including cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. The Chinese research provides the first example of ingested plant microRNA surviving digestion and influencing human cell function.

Should the research survive scientific scrutiny, it could prove a game changer in many fields. It would mean that we’re eating not just vitamins, protein, and fuel, but information as well.The Chinese RNA study threatens to blast a major hole in Monsanto’s claim. It means that DNA can code for microRNA, which can, in fact, be hazardous.

That knowledge could deepen our understanding of cross-species communication, co-evolution, and predator-prey relationships. It could illuminate new mechanisms for some metabolic disorders and perhaps explain how some herbal medicines function. And it reveals a pathway by which genetically modified (GM) foods might influence human health.

Complete article here
~~

Four sleezy ways Big Pharma pushes drugs…


From ALTERNET

Big Pharma uses ads that sow hypochondria, raise health fears and sell diseases to adults and their children.

It’s no secret that advertising works. Big Pharma wouldn’t spend over $4 billion a year on direct-to-consumer advertising if it didn’t mean massive profits.

What is more unknown is why drug ads that sow hypochondria, raise health fears and “sell” diseases are often the most common–and effective–even when the drugs themselves are of questionable safety.

The nation’s fourth most frequent drug ads in 2009 for were Cymbalta, making Eli Lilly $3.1 billion in one year, despite the antidepressant’s links to liver problems and suicide. Pfizer spent $157 million advertising Lyrica for fibromyalgia in 2009, despite the seizure pill’s links to life-threatening allergic reactions. The same year, it spent $107 million advertising the antidepressant Pristiq, even though it also had links to liver problems.

So, how does Pharma dupe us into using unsafe drugs? Today’s drug ads, targeted directly to consumers since 1999, seem like they sell diseases and often cast women, children, the elderly and mentally ill in a bad light. But a quick look at ads before direct-to-consumer advertising (DTC) in medical journals shows that drug ads have always done so. It’s just that patients didn’t used to see them.

Here are some of Pharma’s most offensive ad campaigns, then and now.

1. You’re Sicker Than You Think

When psychiatric drugs first became popular for use in the general population, in the late 1960s

Hey Occupy England: It’s okay to protest as long as you’re ineffective…


From GEORGE MONBIOT
The Guardian

Making Democracy Safe for Business

The government is ensuring that we can mount no effective protest against the banks and corporations.

When governments seek to protect the rich from the poor, they act swiftly and decisively. When they undertake to protect the poor from the rich, they fanny about for years until the moment has passed.

This afternoon the House of Lords will consider a bill containing a cruel and unnecessary clause, whose purpose is to protect landlords who keep their houses empty. Under current law, if squatters move into your home (or a home you are soon to occupy) and fail to leave the moment you ask, the police can immediately remove them.

The only houses with weaker protections are those which remain empty. There are 700,000 such homes in England alone, almost half of which have been empty for a long time(1). They have long been a refuge for street sleepers and other homeless people. Landlords already possess civil powers to remove them, and the police can step in if squatters ignore the court orders(2).

Last year the government launched a consultation on criminalising all squatting in residential buildings. Ninety-six per cent of the respondents argued that no change in the law was necessary(3). But on November 1st, just five days after the consultation ended, the government jemmied an amendment into the legal aid bill, which was already halfway towards approval(4,5). This meant that the House of Commons had no chance to scrutinise it properly, and objectors had no chance to explain the issues to their MPs.

James Cone’s Gospel of the penniless, jobless, marginalized and despised…


From CHRIS HEDGES
Truthdig

James Cone’s Jesus by Felicia Follum

“The Cross and the Lynching Tree are separated by nearly two thousand years,” James Cone writes in his new book, “The Cross and the Lynching Tree.” “One is the universal symbol of the Christian faith; the other is the quintessential symbol of black oppression in America. Though both are symbols of death, one represents a message of hope and salvation, while the other signifies the negation of that message by white supremacy. Despite the obvious similarities between Jesus’ death on the cross and the death of thousands of black men and women strung up to die on a lamppost or tree, relatively few people, apart from the black poets, novelists, and other reality-seeing artists, have explored the symbolic connections. Yet, I believe this is the challenge we must face. What is at stake is the credibility and the promise of the Christian gospel and the hope that we may heal the wounds of racial violence that continue to divide our churches and our society.”

So begins James Cone, perhaps the most important contemporary theologian in America, who has spent a lifetime pointing out the hypocrisy and mendacity of the white church and white-dominated society while lifting up and exalting the voices of the oppressed. He writes out of his experience as an African-American growing up in segregated Arkansas and his close association with the Black Power movement. But what is more important is that he writes out of a deep religious conviction, one I share, that the true power of the Christian gospel is its unambiguous call for liberation from forces of oppression and for a fierce and uncompromising condemnation of all who oppress.

Occupy San Francisco: Seniors in walkers shut down local Bank of America…


From SFWeekly

What some healthy and spry Occupy Movements across the nation couldn’t quite accomplish, San Francisco geriatrics have!

KCBS reports that a small group of senior citizens between the ages of 69 and 82 successfully shut down a Bank of America in Bernal Heights on Thursday with nothing more than walkers and oxygen tanks. That’s right: No shouting, chanting, tear gas, or window-smashing.

The group, which dubbed itself “Wild Old Women” set up camp right outside the BofA, holding signs in what they were calling “a run on the bank.”

While the protesters said they had no intention (or oxygen) of storming the bank, as occupiers in other communities have done, officials at Bank of America shut the doors and locked them as they spotted the slow-moving group make its way to the front of the bank.

So the seniors took a seat outside the bank where they explained their demands, which were no different than every other occupiers: They want lower fees, and they want the bank to pay higher taxes and stop the foreclosures.

“We’re upset about what the banks are doing, particularly in our neighborhood and neighboring areas, in evicting people and foreclosing on their homes,” 80-year-old Tita Caldwell told KCBS reporters. “We’re upset because the banks are raising their rates, because it really affects seniors who are on a fixed income.”

And that’s just no way to spend your Golden Years.
~~

Vandana Shiva: We learn from the seed…


…the first thing we do here on the farm is save seeds… more than 1,500 varieties, and we grow them out for the future. It is also a place where farmers come to get seeds.

In addition, it is an organic farm, an ecological farm. It was a desert when we started. As we have practiced organic farming the soil is alive, the pollinators have come back… it has bacome a biodiversity sanctuary…

Our research shows that ecological systems can produce 2 to 5 times more food per acre than the industrial monocultures… the the lie of industrial farming, the lie of genetic engineering has been put to rest by the loving practices of this farm…

We learn from the seed, renewal… we learn from the seed, generosity… we learn from the seed multiplicity… we learn from the seed diversity…

The emergency of saving seeds is because seed has now been appropriated and colonized. Corporations have declared it is their intellectual property. And the only way they can get intellectual property is by modifying and mutilating through genetic engineering… we have to defend life, we have to defend freedom,  and that’s why we save seeds…

I have hope, because I have deep trust in the earth… she is more resilient than all actions. I have deep trust in people and the irrepressible urge for freedom and happiness…
~~

‘Locally Adapted’ Organic Garden Seeds available soon here in the Ukiah Valley…


· Underground Seeds ·

Certified Organic · Locally Adapted

Coming soon to Mulligan Books & Seeds

From DAVE SMITH
Ukiah

We need a zillion new family farms and gardens in this country, and we need to fill the Ukiah Valley with them to come through the challenging times ahead. It all starts with seeds…

Sadly, one of the dirty little secrets of the organic seed trade, and the seed trade in general, is that many of the “organic seeds” now being offered to gardeners are grown by giant transnational corporations in China and India.

Mulligan Books & Seeds is partnering with Sustainable Seed Company in Covelo to localize seed breeding, growing, saving, and trading in Mendocino County with seeds adapted to our particular soils and climate… providing a more secure local food system.

Certified Organic, Locally Adapted, heirloom, untreated, open-pollinated, garden seeds, grown by local and regional organic and biodynamic family farmers, will be offered beginning this month, at Mulligan Books & Seeds in Ukiah. The seeds offered this year will be California-grown, including our local region. We are recruiting local organic and biodynamic farmers to begin growing a portion of their plants for seed so we can gradually localize the seed trade closer to home. Seeds adapted to our local soils and climate produce more abundantly and cost far less than those being shipped around the world and across the country by who knows who, who knows where.

See our Seed Pledge here and below…

We encourage local

Seed Pledge from Mendocino County’s Own: Sustainable Seed Company and Underground Seed Company…


GMOs: World’s Greatest Scam

Fear Not Fine Folks! Our Seeds Are Safe!

shovel Sustainably Grown Means…

  • We do not knowingly grow OR buy seed that is surrounded by GM crops.
  • We do not buy seed from foreign seed companies. We support local seed houses, farmers and their families. When you buy seed from us you are supporting American farm families and companies.
  • We don’t chemically treat our seeds and since we don’t buy from out of country the USDA does not treat our seed like many seed companies. Don’t assume that if a company uses the word “heirloom” that it is grown here in the US. In fact we get hundreds of emails from companies in China and India trying to sell us cheap “heirloom” seed. Where does you seed company get it’s seed from?
  • We farm in a sustainable, water conscious and environmentally responsible manner.

One of the major purposes of this heirloom organic seed company is genetic preservation of heritage open pollinated seeds. We believe it is every person’s right to control and grow their own food. We pledge that we do not knowingly buy or sell genetically engineered seeds or plants. Unlike other seed companies (click & discover who…it might surprise you), we will not buy ANY seed from Seminis, a Monsanto owned subsidiary (Click here to learn more about Monsanto).

Heirloom seeds belong in the hands of people, not nameless, faceless corporations that we feel don’t have our best interests at heart. Corporations that lobby our government so that GM food goes unlabeled in stores for example. We may not know what is in a box of cereal, but you can trust we will not be buying their seed. With this you have the ability to grow your own clean food for your family.

Doug Mosel: ‘Farmageddon — The Unseen War on American Family Farms’ Screening and Panel at Anderson Valley Grange TODAY Sunday 1/8/11 2pm. Please…


From DOUG MOSEL
Anderson Valley

“Farmageddon, The Unseen War on American Family Farms” will be shown at the Anderson Valley Grange on January 8, 2 p.m. The 90-minute film will be followed by a panel discussion with Sara Grusky or Michael Foley of Green Uprising Farm, Paige Polous of John Woolley Ranch, and Doug Mosel of the Mendocino Grain Project.

Produced by Kristin Canty, mother of four children, Farmageddon tells the story of small, family farms that were providing safe, healthy foods to their communities and were forced to stop, sometimes through violent action, by agents of misguided government bureaucracies, and seeks to figure out why.

The film highlights the urgency of food freedom, encouraging farmers and consumers alike to take action to preserve individuals’ rights to access food of their choice and farmers’ rights to produce these foods safely and free from unreasonably burdensome regulations.

The film and panel discussion are sponsored by the Anderson Valley Foodshed, the Anderson Valley Grange, and the Mendocino Organic Network.

Further information at farmageddonmovie.com
~~

Occupy your community legally with a local Bill of Rights…


From YES!

When communities try to keep corporations from engaging in activities they don’t want, they often find they don’t have the legal power to say “no.” Why? Because our current legal structure too often protects the “rights” of corporations over the rights of actual human beings.

If we are to elevate our rights and the rights of our communities above those of a corporate few, we, too, need to transform the way laws work.

As we wrote in Turning Occupation into Lasting Change, mainstream progressive groups have failed by constraining their activities within legal and regulatory systems purposefully structured to subordinate communities to corporate power. Truly effective movements don’t operate that way. Abolitionists never sought to regulate the slave trade; they sought to transform the legal structure that supported it by treating slaves as property rather than people under the law. Suffragists did the same with the legal status of women.This style of organizing moves away from traditional activism—mired in letter writing campaigns and lowest common denominator federal and state legislation—toward a new activism in which communities claim the right to make their own decisions, directly.

To help them do so, we’re offering the model Community Bill of Rights template below, a legislative template for communities that want to protect their own rights. It’s based on real laws already passed from the municipal to the national level—from Pittsburgh stripping drilling corporations of Constitutional “rights” to Ecuador including legal rights for nature in its Constitution. Think of the template as a menu to pick and choose what’s important in your community. It’s meant to provide a framework and a starting point, not necessarily to be used in its entirety.

Passing a new bill of rights is a way for activists to “occupy” their cities with new legal structures that empower community majorities over corporate minorities, rather than the other way around.

Follow Iceland where the people are sovereign…


From SACSIS

An Italian radio program’s story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. Americans may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt.  The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here’s why:

Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors.  But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt.  In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 times its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent.  The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro.  At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.

Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution.  But only after much pain.

Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister of a Social Democratic coalition government, negotiated a two million one hundred thousand dollar loan, to which the Nordic countries added another two and a half million. But the foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose drastic measures.  The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse

Occupy the global financial system: The first historic trades have taken place…


From eClinik

 The first historic trades within the new financial system have taken place!

The many global, independent trading networks all over the planet are rapidly connecting with each other, forming an infinitely expanding web of local and international commerce, exchange and trade.

People have woken up to the fact: for most of what we spend WE DO NOT NEED GOVERNMENT ISSUED MONEY.  In fact, so many different groups have been abusing the money system, it can no longer fulfil its original purposes, which were:

a)    as a medium of exchange

b)    as a unit of account, and

c)     as a store of value

It is the last of these that has led to systemic abuse and criminality, along with usury – the charging of interest.  Money stopped merely facilitating things (a job it can do supremely well) and started to be seen as value in itself – which is one reason why so much is out of circulation! The ‘value’ is being hoarded, availability manipulated, markets distorted.  No wonder the older religions all forbade usury – for they knew that the usurer and his schemes means that he always ends up owning everything, and tends to manipulate ruthlessly to that end.

There have been some interesting clues as to how this controlling and enslaving global finance system might be broken up.  In the 1980’s, in Canada, a man called Michael Linton named the first Local Exchange Trading systems (LETS), from which a number were established.  They then spread around the planet, but were largely ignored by anyone even remotely mainstream.  The system, in brief, means that you have a local, non-interest bearing currency, and members of the system trade together for all sorts of goods and services: up to 70% of everything you need can be acquired this way in a properly run system with enough members. See definition at:

Occupy Facebook with democratic alternatives…


From SHAREABLE

The dominance of Facebook is a democratic problem. Our only hope is to use the same tactic the internet used to win against the networks of the time: Open up for collaboration between networks. This is done through federation. Here is how and why it will work, and how you can help.

At a recent conference in Norway, Clay Shirky was asked what he thinks of the domination of Facebook. His answer is discouraging. You can see it below, but in short he says that Facebook might now be so big that it’s impossible to challenge its dominance.

Facebook has 800 million active users around the world. In some countries its grasp on the population is staggering. In the US, 41.6% of the population has an account. In Norway, 73% of the population uses Facebook every month, and young people spend 40% of their online time there. You can see why Clay has a negative outlook.

So, is the fight lost? Will Facebook rule for all foreseeable future?

Yes. It might do just that, if we don’t have a radical shift in our thinking. We need to start thinking like the internet. We can not follow the old pattern of one company replacing another (6 degrees -> Friendster -> Myspace -> Facebook) any more. Here I think Clay might be right.

What can replace Facebook then is not another social network, where all your friends have to agree to join the same new place, but something more akin to the internet itself: A network of social networks.

HOW IS THIS DONE?

Through decentralization with federation. Federation means that two people with profiles on two different social networks can do all the things together that they would normally need to be on the same network to do: Follow, @reply/comment, self organize trough hashtags/groups, etc. Social networks using federation is called distributed social networks.

Take a look at this fantastic walk-through explaining what distributed/federated social networks are, how they work, and more, presented as an old school point-and-click game.

Pandering to the rich, now in handy chart form…


From KEVIN DRUM
Mother Jones

As a public service, I’ve collected charts showing all the Republican tax plans to date in one convenient place. (The Tax Policy Center hasn’t yet tried to score plans from Santorum, Huntsman, or Paul.) It’s really pretty spectacular seeing them all together like this. It’s not just the amount of pandering to the super-rich that’s so breathtaking, it’s the lockstep unanimity. At all costs, every single Republican candidate knows that he has to promise the ultra-wealthy a huge tax break as the price of staying in the race. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the modern Republican Party in a nutshell.





~~