OccupySF Storms Wells Fargo Shareholders Meeting…



From OccupySF

On 24 April 2012, a broad coalition of clergy and labor groups joined with Occupy SF to cut short the Wells Fargo Bank annual shareholders meeting. While Wells executives illegally barred many shareholders from the meeting, several protesters made their way into the building’s lobby and helped block the way to the meeting.

Wells Fargo was forced to cut their meeting short and for the first time, took no questions.
~
Occupy, Unions, 99% Power Converge On GE Shareholders Meeting in Detroit

View from inside the GE shareholders meeting

Thousands of protesters have descended on the General Electric shareholders meeting in Detroit for the second day, including members of Occupy Detroit, unions, and activists from 99% Power, a new coalition of labor, immigrant, and community groups. On Tuesday, protestors successfully disrupted GE CEO Jeff Immelt’s speech to demand GE pay the over $26 billion in back taxes they owed. Today, as protesters massed outside, large numbers of shareholders sympathetic to Occupy chanted ¨pay your fair share¨ inside the meeting itself.  This upswing in action can mean only one thing: May Day is coming.
~~

How to Power an Entire Neighborhood with Solar Energy…


From JOHN ROBB
Resilient Communities

How do you help a community transition from passive consumers of energy into active producers?

One way to accomplish this is to start a neighborhood solar co-op.

That’s just what the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of Washington DC did. How did they do it?

  • A neighborhood couple did the all of the work required to successfully install solar panels on their home. Naturally, they wanted to share the benefits of that research with the community.  So, they formed a co-op and rallied the neighborhood (signs, fliers, etc.)
  • They then interacted with people in the neighborhood to understand what their objectives were and whether solar could help them. One good tip: they did a survey that got people to look at the kWh they use and think about potential savings.
  • The group grew to 350 families, the installs began, and the group was able to lobby the local government for an increase in incentives.  The success of this group spawned solar co-ops in eight other neighborhoods across the DC area.

So, why is a co-op necessary?

It’s simple.  The biggest stumbling block to purchasing a solar system is navigating the government incentives that make it affordable.  Here’s an example from the Washington DC area (incentives are all over the map):

  • A 3 kW solar panel system costs ~ $20,628 installed.
  • The DC incentive is – $6,426
  • The Federal Tax Credit is roughly – $6,188
  • The final step is forward sell your renewable energy credits for five years – $5,552

Gene Logsdon: It Pays To Stay Home


From GENE LOGSDON
The Contrary Farmer

One of the unsung advantages of being in love with a garden or a farm is that the lover doesn’t mind staying home and by doing so, saving gobs of money. In fact most of us land lovers much prefer to stay home. A back forty even as small as an acre can be an exciting, fascinating adventure into the farthest reaches of the earth. The great entomologist, Jean Henri Fabre, spent much of his life making amazing discoveries about bugs on the few brushy acres behind his house and writing about them. With 30 acres, I never want for a changing world to travel through, a journey not far in miles but almost infinite in terms of material wonders and splendors deep down into the earth and high up into the ever-changing beauty of the sky.

Staying home has to be one of the most unpopular ideas in America where the whole culture embraces faraway travel as essential to happiness. Many of us don’t really have homes that can provide as much enjoyment as travel promises. Rather than spending our money to acquire such a property, we are taught to buy such enjoyment with far away travel. Perhaps what we need is proper publicity. To advertise traveling at home, a documentary could open with unbelievable close-ups of ants herding and milking aphids on an apple tree, a raccoon destroying a bluebird house, a hawk dive-bombing a mouse, a flint arrowhead sticking out of a creek-side cliff. Then a roll of drums and a voice sonorously introduces the docudrama:  “Today we are going where no explorer has gone before— YOUR BACK FORTY.”

Also, in earlier times, a home could not electronically provide all the connections with the outer world that now make travel almost obsolete. You can visit just about everything now in your living room.

Wendell Berry: It All Turns On Affection


From NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE HUMANITIES
Awards & Honors: 2012 Jefferson Lecturer

“Because a thing is going strong now, it need not go strong for ever,” [Margaret] said. “This craze for motion has only set in during the last hundred years. It may be followed by a civilization that won’t be a movement, because it will rest upon the earth.
E. M. Forster, Howards End (1910)1

One night in the winter of 1907, at what we have always called “the home place” in Henry County, Kentucky, my father, then six years old, sat with his older brother and listened as their parents spoke of the uses they would have for the money from their 1906 tobacco crop. The crop was to be sold at auction in Louisville on the next day. They would have been sitting in the light of a kerosene lamp, close to the stove, warming themselves before bedtime. They were not wealthy people. I believe that the debt on their farm was not fully paid, there would have been interest to pay, there would have been other debts. The depression of the 1890s would have left them burdened. Perhaps, after the income from the crop had paid their obligations, there would be some money that they could spend as they chose. At around two o’clock the next morning, my father was wakened by a horse’s shod hooves on the stones of the driveway. His father was leaving to catch the train to see the crop sold.

He came home that evening, as my father later would put it, “without a dime.” After the crop had paid its transportation to market and the commission on its sale, there was nothing left. Thus began my father’s lifelong advocacy, later my brother’s and my own, and now my daughter’s and my son’s, for small farmers and for land-conserving economies.

#

The economic hardship of my family and of many others, a century ago, was caused by

Toxic Cleaners Hall of Shame


From ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP
Thanks to Ron Epstein

“Chemical known to the state of California to cause cancer.”
“Will burn skin and eyes.”
“Will penetrate skin and attack underlying tissues and bone.”
“Suspected of damaging the unborn child.”

You’d expect to see these warnings on a barrel of hazardous waste. In fact, they’re in the fine print of labels of everyday household cleaners or on their websites and obscure technical disclosures.

In a ground-breaking initiative to uncover the truth about toxic chemicals in common household products, the Environmental Working Group has unearthed compelling evidence that hundreds of cleaners, even some of those hyped as “green” or “natural,” can inflict serious harm on unwary users. Many present severe risks to children who may ingest or spill them or breathe their fumes.

Greenwashing

Cleaners labeled “safe,” “non-toxic” and “green” can contain hazardous ingredients. There should be a law against bogus claims, but there isn’t. Some companies are willing to bend the truth – because they can.

Simple Green Concentrated All-Purpose Cleaner

It’s labeled “non-toxic” and “biodegradable.” It contains:

  • 2-butoxyethanol, a solvent absorbed through the skin that damages red blood cells and irritates eyes;
  • A secret blend

Walmart goes down…


From MECA WAWONA

To all of you that worked relentlessly on stopping the expansion — especially Steve, Pinky, Jeffrey, Alan, Mary Anne, Ron, Annie, Peter, Linda S, Linda G, Maria and many others of you — Thank You Thank You Thank You!

[And thanks to the community-supported Ukiah Planning Commission majority vote… and to the community-supported Ukiah City Council, whose obvious majority vote against Walmart if they appealed was the reason they didn’t appeal. When small-town democracy works as it should, it’s a beautiful thing to behold. -DS]

How do they dance on the air like that?
~

From UDJ

By 5 p.m. Monday, neither Walmart nor anyone else filed an appeal of the Ukiah Planning Commission’s denial of a proposed expansion for its store on Airport Park Boulevard. “We have decided not to appeal the Ukiah Planning Commission’s decision to deny the site plan application for expansion of our Ukiah Walmart store,” wrote spokeswoman Delia Garcia via e-mail…. On April 11, the commission voted 4 to 1 to deny a 47,621-square-foot expansion of the store. The members said they did not believe the larger store would bring in a significant enough amount of new revenue, such as increased sales tax dollars, to justify the increased traffic dangers as well as potential store closures, job losses and increased demand on the Ukiah Police Department…
~~

Joel Salatin responds to New York Times’ ‘Myth of Sustainable Meat’


From JOEL SALATIN
Polyface Farms

The recent editorial by James McWilliams, titled “The Myth of Sustainable Meat,” contains enough factual errors and skewed assumptions to fill a book, and normally I would dismiss this out of hand as too much nonsense to merit a response. But since it specifically mentioned Polyface, a rebuttal is appropriate. For a more comprehensive rebuttal, read the book Folks, This Ain’t Normal.

Let’s go point by point. First, that grass-grazing cows emit more methane than grain-fed ones. This is factually false. Actually, the amount of methane emitted by fermentation is the same whether it occurs in the cow or outside. Whether the feed is eaten by an herbivore or left to rot on its own, the methane generated is identical. Wetlands emit some 95 percent of all methane in the world; herbivores are insignificant enough to not even merit consideration. Anyone who really wants to stop methane needs to start draining wetlands. Quick, or we’ll all perish. I assume he’s figuring that since it takes longer to grow a beef on grass than on grain, the difference in time adds days to the emissions. But grain production carries a host of maladies far worse than methane. This is simply cherry-picking one negative out of many positives to smear the foundation of how soil builds: herbivore pruning, perennial disturbance-rest cycles, solar-grown biomass, and decomposition. This is like demonizing marriage because a good one will include some arguments.

As for his notion that it takes too much land to grass-finish, his figures of 10 acres per animal are assuming the current normal mismanagement of pastures.

Some Optimistic Visions of the World After the Oil Runs Out…


Optimistic Visions of the World After the Oil Runs Out

From IO9
Excerpts.

[…] But what are the optimistic scenarios for a post-peak oil future? We went looking, and here’s what we found.

For starters, let’s get one thing out of the way. This article doesn’t include any science fiction stories where somebody discovers a miraculous new energy source (called Unobtanium, perhaps) that solves all our problems. That’s a huge genre, and a list of stories about a fictional energy source could be its own complete genre. We’re also not including any stories, like Star Trek or much of Doctor Who, in which the future is shown to be awesome but no mention is made of what happened after the oil ran out. (Plus on Star Trek, the near-term future is not awesome at all.)


Fictional Stories:

Futurama:
In the episode “Bendin’ in the Wind,” it’s mentioned that all the petroleum reserves ran out by 2038. Says Leela, “Gas was an environmental disaster, anyway. Now we use alternative fuels. [Like] whale oil.” So Fry has to run his Volkswagen Bus on a can of whale oil instead…

Optimistic Visions of the World After the Oil Runs Out

Retrieved from the Future by John Seymour
This book is set in the early decades of the 21st century. Although the world’s oil supply is in decline, the final straw comes when a jihad destroys all the Middle Eastern oil wells. The story focuses on a community in the United Kingdom that refuses to stay shut up in their homes while waiting for the military to bring them food. They farm, develop a new political system, fight off the army, and create a feudal society. The main body of the book is the story of how the world got to the epilogue, which is where the real hope for the future seems to be. The main characters describe how everyone is better off than before

The Future Is Unknown, But We Know the Unsustainable Will Implode…


From CHARLES HUGH SMITH
oftwominds

[Smith advocates a non-violent revolution… DS]

There are no apolitical “personal choice” acts; there are only profoundly political acts of resistance or complicity.

I don’t how the future will unfold, not just because I’m an idiot but because it’s unknowable. Though we cannot know the future, we do know two very important things: 1) that which is unsustainable will implode, and 2) the present Status Quo is unsustainable.

That ultimately leaves us with a single question: what are we going to do about it? In my view, it’s not important that we agree on solutions–agreement would in fact be a catastrophe, for dissent and decentralization are the essential characteristics of any sustainable “solution.” What is important is that we realize the future boils down to a simple choice: do we passively comply with the Status Quo feudalism or do we resist? In my book Resistance, Revolution, Liberation I summarize this thusly: There are no apolitical “personal choice” acts; there are only profoundly political acts of resistance or complicity.

The roots of this line of thinking go back to 1969 when at the age of 16 I discovered Jean-Paul Sartre’s What is Literature? (print). This book inspired my goal of becoming a writer, and it’s easy to understand why: Sartre’s central argument is that among the arts only prose has the power to change our lives. Amazon.com reviewer Riccardo Pelizzo summarized this concept brilliantly: “The function of a committed writer is to reveal the world so that every reader loses her innocence and assumes all her responsibilities in front of it.”

These excerpts give you a flavor of What Is Literature?:

“The function of a writer is to call a spade a spade. If words are sick