On The Commons is a “commons movement strategy center.” It provides a great deal of useful information via its website, newsletter and magazine. A recent post describes Legal Structures for Protecting the Commons. You can read it here.
Archive for the ‘Sustainability’ Category
In light of the tragic shootings of last weekend, my friend and fellow Tucsonan Dave Ewoldt has some words of wisdom to offer. This statement was taken from Dave’s blog.
Press Conference Statement by Dave Ewoldt
I was invited to speak today at a press conference organized by the peace, justice, and sustainability community to examine the tragic events of this past Saturday in Tucson that left six people dead and 14 more wounded. Representatives from 14 groups delivered prepared statements. Following is mine.
My name is Dave Ewoldt, and I’m the executive director of Natural Systems Solutions. Our work emerges from the field of ecopsychology, and one focus is the use of natural systems principles to facilitate the transition into a sustainable future. It is in that context that I prepared my remarks.
We are exhibiting many symptoms of a very sick society. Foremost today, of course, is that we’re destroying our one and only life support system to continue an entirely irrational system of infinite economic growth on a finite planet. But, there’s another symptom of our cultural pathology that I want to address today.
The rhetoric of hate and fear is propagated and enticed by the only interests that it truly serves–elite power and control hierarchies. These special interests maintain their control by keeping us divided against ourselves. Whether you are a member of the Tea Party or the Progressive Movement, the problem is not big government, but bad government–a government that has been bought by corporate and financial interests that put profit and power before and above people and planet.
Today’s so-called conservative movement, which it should be apparent has nothing whatsoever to do with traditional values that seek a better future for all–that has both Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt turning in their graves–has adopted the language of war and retribution; a language that seeks to settle differences by “targeting” and “taking out” your opponents; a language that normalizes violence, aggression, and exploitation for personal benefit; a language that divides and pits us against each other in order to keep us too distracted from where the problem really lies.
We are a culture that sanctions death. We illegally invade and occupy sovereign nations that don’t play along with our business interests, and use unmanned drones to drop bombs on civilian populations. We are the arms dealer to the world. Our death… I mean defense… industry and prisons are the only growth sectors left that we don’t outsource and off-shore in our economy.
But what is most important to realize in a culture that has lost its way is that there is an alternative to all this that we could consciously choose. While it may sound strange to ears long accustomed to the story of scientific reductionism, materialism, and separation that has emerged from Enlightenment thinking, the alternative follows known patterns of mutually supportive ecological relationships that have been working quite well for billions of years to keep the project of life itself progressing. This alternative starts by no longer allowing those who act against our best interests–against the best interests of life itself–to dictate the terms of the debate.
We could decide to focus on those aspects of being truly and fully human that work with the creative life force such as nurturance, compassion, cooperation and use our intelligence to focus our innovative spirit on creating a sustainable future. A future based on the principles of ecological wisdom, social justice, economic equity, and participatory democracy. We can no longer afford to continue denying that true justice cannot exist without sustainability, and without justice there will be no peace.
Otherwise, our days will continue to be filled with too many that resemble this past weekend. The choice is up to us, and change begins by making new choices.
Here is another TED video in which Hans Rosling “explains why ending poverty – over the coming decades – is crucial to stop population growth. Only by raising the living standards of the poorest, in an environmentally-friendly way, will population growth stop at 9 billion people in 2050.”
I don’t like to think about it either, but in conditions of instability and disintegration, it is only prudent to give some thought to possible scenarios and acquire some basic knowledge that you may need.
Here’s a description from the website:
We are going to look at a bit of a darker subject today. We are going to discuss security and not security on a day to day basis against say robbers, thugs and general low life. We are going to discuss secruity and security planning for large scale and long term break downs. Today’s show was prompted by Episodes 1 and 2 of season two of Discovery Channel’s show “The Colony”. I have watch thus far in disbelief at how little attention the people on that show have paid to security and how little they understand the threat and honestly survival as a whole.
Today’s show won’t be totally based on The Colony, it will simply use it as a jumping off point so even if you haven’t or don’t plan on watching it today’s show should be a good one for you. Security is one of the five primary components of survival and the one that is most overlooked, often not an issue but the one that when needed can get you killed in a milisecond.
Join me today as we discuss…
- The five primary components of survival
- Understanding the threat to your safety
- Consideration about where you “make your stand”
- Six methods of attack mitigation
- Identifying the weak spots
- The lesson of 300 – Funnel an enemy to counter large numbers
- How and why guns change the entire equation on both sides
- The importance and difference between security “protocols” and “procedures”
- Splitting up resources – no central storage points
- Developing and deploying decoy resources
- Developing timberlines and evac plans
I highly recommend it. A little bit of forethought can make a big difference in the quality of your life, in any situation. — t.h.g.
The embargo has had profound effects upon Cuba, not all of them bad. Watch this for a hint.
You can get a more complete picture by watching the documentary, The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
In his newsletter of July 13, Ian Crane reports on the effects of the toxic chemicals being used to disperse the Gulf of Mexico oil leak. He says:
The dispersants causing greatest concern are COREXIT 9500 and the even more toxic COREXIT 9527A. Corexit 9527 is stated by its manufacturer to be potentially harmful to red blood cells, the kidneys and the liver. The chemical 2-butoxyethanol, found in Corexit 9527, was identified as having caused lasting health problems in workers involved in the cleanup of the Exxon Valdez oil spill. According to the Alaska Community Action on Toxics, the use of Corexit during the Exxon Valdez oil spill caused people “respiratory, nervous system, liver, kidney and blood disorders”. Like 9527, 9500 can cause hemolysis (rupture of blood cells) and may also cause internal bleeding.
He also reports on the attempted cover-up, saying:
Despite researchers, reporters and news crews being threatened with felony charges if they should persist in taking photographs or filming the oil-soaked wildlife and shoreline, and being threatened with immediate arrest and jail if they report on clean-up workers being hospitalised with respiratory difficulties; word is filtering out. The vast majority of US-based vacationers are already cancelling any plans to head towards the affected states of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida in the coming months. BP has already paid out almost $40 million in compensation to small businesses in these states and is expecting to receive further claims in the coming months.
So, what can we do about it?
About the spill itself, the options of individuals and communities are very limited, but we CAN do something about our need and demand for gasoline and petroleum-based products like plastics, pesticides, herbicides, etc. Last night we hosted in Tucson a presentation by David Blume, author of the book, Alcohol Can Be a Gas!, who described the many benefits of small-scale local alcohol fuel production. This approach has the potential to solve virtually all the problems associated with our petroleum addiction. That’s a bold statement, but David is able to back it up with hard facts and an amazing knowledge of permaculture, history and the politics of technology. -t.h.g.
The Yike Bike is one of the most ingenious inventions I’ve ever seen. Watch this short demonstration.
Michael Brownlee’s presentation on The Local Food and Farming Revolution is a “must read.” In it, he clearly outlines the things we must do to assure our future food security and sustainability (along with the reasons why). Here below I have excerpted his conclusions.–t.h.g.
Clearly, the food and agricultural revolution is already getting underway. Fundamentally, it’s not about simply about lifestyle choices or mere differences in values. It’s arising in response to a growing predicament that is at the heart of our industrial agriculture system and the heart of our globalized economy.
This transition is coming whether we like it or not, whether we’re ready or not.
I know there’s a lot of controversy around all this, and a lot of emotions. I suspect a lot of dust is going to get kicked up along the way.
Much of the debate seems to hinge around the goals of sustainability seemingly interfering with farmers’ and industry’s goals of profitability. But sustainable agriculture must of course include economic viability. And that doesn’t necessarily mean “big.”
We sometimes hear “small farming” used as a pejorative term. Small organic farmers often get pigeonholed and tossed aside as a probable relic of the past.
But at the 19th annual Farming for the Future conference in Pennsylvania earlier this month, Bryan Snyder, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture said something very significant, and I want to close with his words. He said:
“People like to hear about lots of acres or large numbers of animals and bushels of corn per acre measured in the hundreds. But models of farming that can gross $50,000 to $100,000 on a single acre—or CSA programs that, in some cases and on relatively small acreage, are able to count their customers in the thousands and bank $1 million or more in the spring before even planting a seed—are anything but small!”
Snyder’s conclusion is exactly what we have come to at Transition Colorado:
“We must encourage everyone, wherever they are and as a priority, to eat food produced as near to their own homes as possible. Secondly, feed thy neighbor as thyself. From this perspective, local food not only can feed the world, it may be the only way to ever feed the world in a healthy and just manner.”
The situation that has been unfolding in Haiti following the recent earthquake is a sobering reminder of just how vulnerable our modern way of living is, especially for those of us who live in urban areas. Having spent some time in big cities, I marvel that they work at all. People have grown to depend upon the intricate interrelationships of very complex systems that provide us with the essentials of life–food, water, shelter, transportation, medical care, and SECURITY.
I like to think that in an emergency situation, people will pull together to help one another, but we’ve seen plenty of evidence that when people are in desperate straits, some of them can get very nasty and behave badly toward one another. The breakdown of order is probably the greatest worry.
Besides the limited and damaged port facilities, security concerns seem to account for the long delay in the arrival of rescue teams and the delivery of emergency relief from outside. A report in the UK Telegraph titled, Haiti earthquake: gunshots and panic as locals fight back against looters, describes what is happening in Haiti. I have heard that in such situations it takes about 72 hours for order to break down if relief supplies and peace-keeping forces do not arrive within that time.
It is true that Haiti is underdeveloped and lacking in resources, but that should not cause us to think the same cannot happen here in the US or other “developed” countries, it has– in New Orleans, just a few years ago.
Sustainability groups everywhere would do well to include emergency preparedness and disaster planning in their studies and action plans.
One useful source of information on this comes from James Wesley Rawles, an experienced military planner. See his The Daily Web Log for Prepared Individuals Living in Uncertain Times.