A DEEP GREEN PERSPECTIVE ON BERNIE SANDERS

11 07 2015
sanderswoodcut
Not since the halcyon days when Rev. Martin Luther King broadened his perspective from civil rights for African-Americans to human rights for everybody, and called for an end to poverty, oppression, and warfare, has there been such thunder on the left.  Bernie Sanders has come out swinging, not just as a populist, but as a socialist, and he has tapped into a vein of enthusiasm that just might propel him into the Democratic Party nomination for President, and from there into the White House.
Bernie Sanders’ career has, over the years, built a solid foundation for such an attempt.  As a college student he worked with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee in Mississippi, and he spent time on a kibbutz in Israel before moving to Vermont and getting into politics with the Liberty Union Party. He was a frequent losing candidate throughout the 70’s, and ultimately left the LUP.  Then, in 1981, friends urged him to run for mayor of Burlington, his home and the largest city in Vermont. Sanders ran as an independent and a socialist, won by ten votes, and went on to serve four terms, beating Republicans, Democrats, and Republican-Democratic fusion candidates.  Sanders’ tenure as mayor, according to Peter Dreier and Pierre Clavel, writing in The Nation, produced the following results:
… the city’s largest housing development is now resident-owned, its largest supermarket is a consumer-owned cooperative, one of its largest private employers is worker-owned, and most of its people-oriented waterfront is publicly owned. Its publicly owned utility, the Burlington Electric Department, recently announced that Burlington is the first American city of any decent size to run entirely on renewable electricity.
 
The city has largely continued in the direction Sanders set it in, with protégés of his winning election most of the time since his retirement as mayor in 1989.  The changes that Sanders made in Burlington have remained because they are so popular with so many people, independents, Democrats, Republicans, and socialists alike.  In 1990, again running as an independent, he won Vermont’s seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  One of his first acts as a Congressman was to establish the “Progressive Caucus.” However, his role since arriving on the national scene has more as a conscience than as a get-it-done legislator.  He has introduced what would be landmark legislation if it went anywhere, but, between hostile Republicans and indifferent Democrats, only one bill, and some floor amendments, have Sanders’ name on them. The bill was a largely procedural one allowing Vermont and New Hampshire to co-operate on taking care of the Connecticut River.

Read the rest of this entry »





REALITY

11 07 2015

This part of the radio broadcast is a reading of the chapter “Reality,” from Charles Eisenstein’s book, The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible. I urge you to buy this book and support its author, and I note with some amusement that, although I make no attempt to co-ordinate my original writing with the readings from this book, they do seem to play into each other pretty well, and this month is certainly no exception.

Eisenstein starts the chapter by referring to ended the end of the previous chapter, which he concluded with ” If we could somehow master the technology of being in the right place at the right time, if we could learn to ride the flow of synchronicity, then we would have accessed a power greater than anything the world of force is capable of.”

How do we do that? This world of miracles, the things we cannot make happen, is a world of the gift. To live in it we must let go of the old ways of controlling, keeping, and holding back. We must learn to see the world through the eyes of the gift. Today most of us live simultaneously in both worlds, the old and the new; therefore our experience of miracles is haphazard. They seem to violate the laws of the physical or social universe, which is to be expected, as those laws are formed from the perceptions of the separate self.

Despite my call for naiveté, I also want to insert a note of caution here, because there is such a thing in this world as pursuing an impossible fantasy. There is such a thing as a delusion distracting one from the work at hand. How can we tell when we are in service to a real possibility, and when we are deluding ourselves, pursuing not a vision but a mirage? I’m not advocating a credulous confidence in whatever fantasy happens to be comforting……

 

…..The deeper our service to that which wants to be born, the more it is able to arrange the synchronistic encounters and fortuitous events that allow us to accomplish that which lies beyond our understanding of cause and effect. We might say that the primary “technology” of the Age of Reunion is service. We offer our time, energy, skills, and lives as gifts, stepping into trust, letting go of the habit of looking first and foremost after one’s self. Only then can we fully align with the vision. From that alignment, a tremendous force is born. Our expanded selves are far more powerful and less fearful than the discrete, separate individual who, separate from the world, can only manipulate it by force, and looks with wariness and wonder at the amazing coincidences that line up as it lets go and plunges into service. Obviously, since these are not things that we know how to “make” happen, they happen as gifts, confirming the universal principle of the gift: that giving and receiving always come into balance in the end.

This whole process of cocreating change starts not with faith but with honesty. We must first catch a glimpse of something that we recognize as real. One kind of honesty is to recognize our delusions and see what is in front of our faces. This can be painful. It has been humiliating to admit, “I didn’t really believe what we’ve been working on is possible; all along I was doing it to belong, to appear virtuous to myself and others, and simply to stave off despair.” But there is another application of honesty that is braver still: to believe in a true vision that contradicts the consensus view of what is possible or worthwhile. It takes more courage to believe what we know is true than to disbelieve what we know is false. For the visionary, that knowledge is in the beginning a lonely knowledge, surrounded by a welter of doubt both within and without. To trust a moment of clarity and carry it forward, to translate it into belief and act from it amid all the voices that say it is crazy or impossible, is no trivial matter.

music:  Emmylou Harris, “Deeper Well

Tabla Beat Science “Sacred Channel

Pru Clearwater, “Sacred Places





RE-INDUSTRIALIZING NASHVILLE

6 06 2015

southernbroomI drive through Germantown from time to time, and my route takes me past a small, warehouse-type building that bears the legend, “Southern Broom and Mop Co.”  There is never any sign of activity there when I drive past. It looks as if it must have been in existence for a hundred years or more, a bit of flotsam left over from our city’s industrial heyday in the late nineteenth century, when much of what Nashville needed for its daily functioning was manufactured or grown right here in middle Tennessee.  When I went to research this story, I discovered that, in reality, the company has only been in existence for about twenty years, and is a janitorial service, not a manufacturing enterprise.  What’s more,  the building has recently been sold–for nearly a million dollars–and will be turned into yet another trendy, high-end restaurant in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.  That’s too bad.  Even the wealthy can only eat so much–but everybody needs a mop and a broom.

In a recent post, I proposed that we re-industrialize Nashville, spreading new, preferably worker-owned enterprises throughout the city so that as many people as possible could walk to work, and thus lessen the pressure on our roads, and the pressure on low-income people to spend money on an automobile.  There’s two ways to increase peoples’ disposable income.  One is to pay them more, and the other is to lower their cost of living.  Even “cheap” cars–some would say, especially “cheap” cars–are expensive!

Today, I want to talk about two aspects of my plan.  One thing I want to do is explain the Mondragon Co-operative model, and examine how it could fit Nashville.  Another is to talk about what kind of industries would be suitable for the city, where they should be located, and how to raise the startup capital they will need.  I will outline some general ideas about appropriate manufacturing enterprises, but the amount of detail involved is more than I could cover here. I think that the Davidson County planning commission and the neighborhoods should work this out among themselves.  There are many variables and alternatives. I couldn’t possibly anticipate them all, but citizen involvement and an intelligent, responsive, well-informed oversight agency should be able to figure it all out over the course of a few years.

The first thing I want to say about this plan is that I am not proposing a return to the old industrial model.  The old industrial Nashville was a pit of pollution, its air filled with coal smoke, its earth and waters fouled. Nashville’s new factories should be, in the nonpolitical sense, green.  They should be quiet, nonpolluting, energy-efficient enterprises that will not detract from their neighbors’ quality of life.  Some things we may want to do are going to be loud and/or smelly, and we can find ways to buffer these from their surrounding communities.  Since community members, as employees, will also be owners of these enterprises, they will have the power to change things if they need to be changed.

So, what are the basic principles on which Mondragon factory co-ops are founded?

Read the rest of this entry »





NAIVETE

6 06 2015

This is a chapter from Charles Eisenstein’s book, “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.”  Please consider buying it.

I love those who yearn for the impossible.

—Goethe

We are entering unknown territory, in which we have glimpsed a beautiful destination but don’t know how to get there. It is inaccessible according to what we understand of causality. Things have to happen that we don’t know how to make happen. If you don’t “make” it happen, and it happens, then how does it happen? Obviously, it happens as a gift. You may have noticed that very generous people themselves attract more gifts. Therefore, if we are giving our lives in service, we will experience more of these fortuitous events. These are key to a creative potency beyond the old conception of causality.

Anything worth devoting a life to today requires some of these miracles, these things that we do not and cannot make happen, that come as gifts. Therefore, if you follow your heart’s guidance toward any of these worthwhile goals, your choices will seem to many (and sometimes to yourself) a little bit crazy…..

….

Reader, have you ever been part of something like that, where everything seems to flow, where you find yourself again and again at the right place at the right time to encounter exactly the right person? Where everything needed shows up, sometimes at the last minute, in completely unanticipated ways? Where an invisible outside power seems to be coordinating everything and everyone?

How and why does this happen? If we could somehow master the technology of being in the right place at the right time, if we could learn to ride the flow of synchronicity, then we would have accessed a power greater than anything the world of force is capable of.

music: Mike Kirkland, “Hang On In There”





WORKING ON A BUILDING

9 05 2015

citylimits2-1The Nashville Scene recently published the map above, along with a short article about the persistence, and spread, of poverty in Nashville. The map comes from the 114-page “executive summary” of Metro’s Social Services Department’s annual report, and has a lot of very revealing information about “the it city.”  Forget the hipster/country music glamour stereotypes–“it’s” about poverty.  While about a quarter of our city’s residents have incomes of $100,000 a year or more, another quarter are living at or below the poverty line, with incomes of less than $25,000 a year, including yours truly.  The maps show how poverty has spread in Nashville, moving into the suburbs.  They are also a good springboard for a discussion of housing policy and zoning.

Gentrification is a major issue in Nashville, often coupled with increased population density, as developers purchase small, older houses on large lots and replace them with structures, frequently duplexes or apartment buildings, that more nearly fill the lot.  Although I think greater urban density is a good idea, I don’t think this is the way to go about it, for a variety of reasons.  Some of these reasons are ecological, others are social, others are psychological.

Read the rest of this entry »





MORPHOGENESIS

9 05 2015

This is the 11th Chapter of Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.  You can read the whole chapter here.  Please consider buying this book, which you can do here.

Sometimes when I encounter pioneers in a certain domain of alternative culture, I get the feeling that even if they are doing their work on a small scale, perhaps within a small ecovillage, an isolated prison, a single community in a war zone or gang zone, that they are doing that work on behalf of us all, and that the changes they make in themselves create a kind of template that the rest of us can follow, and do in a short time what took them decades of effort and learning. When I see, for example, how my friend R. has, in the face of near-impossible odds, so profoundly healed from being abused as a child, I think, “If she can heal, it means that millions like her can too; and her healing smooths the path for them.”

Sometimes I take it even a step further. One time at a men’s retreat one of the participants showed us burn scars on his penis, the result of cigarette burns administered by a foster parent when he was five years old to punish him. The man was going through a powerful process of release and forgiveness. In a flash, I perceived that his reason for being here on Earth was to receive and heal from this wound, as an act of world-changing service to us all. I said to him, “J., if you accomplish nothing else this lifetime but to heal from this, you will have done the world a great service.” The truth of that was palpable to all present……

musical interlude: Sweet Honey In the Rock, “On Children

So, whatever your reasons for choosing to do great things or small, do not let them be the urgent, fearful belief that only the big, public things have any chance of influencing the masses and saving the world. As I will describe later in the book, part of the revolution in which we are participating is a revolution in how we make our choices. To do the possible, the old way works fine. When we have a map from A to B, we can just follow the directions. Now is not that time. The calculable results are not enough. We need miracles. We have caught a glimpse of our destination, the destination that hope foretells, but we have no idea how to get there. We walk an invisible path with no map and cannot see where any turning will lead.

I wish I could say that the new story provides a map, but it does not. It can, however, remove the disorienting fog of habits and beliefs, leftovers of the old paradigms, that obscure our internal guidance system. The principles of interbeing do not, on their own, offer a formula for decision making. Even if you accept that “I and the world are one,” you will not be able to distinguish whether it will benefit all sentient beings more to stay home and reduce your carbon emissions, or to drive to the rally to protest fracking. To attempt such a calculation draws from the old story, which seeks to quantify everything, to add up the effects of any action, and to make choices accordingly. That way of making choices is useful only in certain, narrow circumstances—in particular, those in which cause and effect are more or less linear. It is appropriate for many engineering problems and financial decisions. It is the mindset of the actuary, weighing risks and payoffs. The new story is a much bigger change than to revalue the risks and seek new payoffs. It is not going to help you make choices from the calculating mind. But it will provide a logical framework within which our heart-based choices make a lot more sense.

music:  Pru Clearwater, “God Flow Through Me”

 

 





GREEN PARTY ANNUAL MEETING!

11 04 2015

field-of-sunflowers-gptn

Are you looking for an alternative to corporate “Earth Day celebrations” and corporate political parties?  Then come to The Green Party of Tennessee’s annual meeting this coming Saturday, April 18th, from 11AM to 3PM at Long Hunter State Park near Nashville, and help create a new vision for Tennessee politics!  Details at greenpartyoftennessee.org








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 801 other followers

%d bloggers like this: