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 »





A NEW VISION FOR NASHVILLE

11 04 2015

future-city-5-webWhat might Nashville be like in twenty-five years? While my friends and I have been seeking to answer that question through the lens of the “transition towns” movement, with what we have called “Transition Nashville,” Metro’s “Nashville Next” program has been the city’s attempt to answer that question, and, to a certain extent, the planners involved in Nashville Next have done a good job.  They have asked at least some of the right questions, and they have solicited, and elicited, a fair amount of citizen involvement in their visioning, but I think there are some unasked questions and misguided assumptions in their process. I think “the next Nashville” will be very different from what they envision, and that proceeding on their basic assumption, that the future will, overall, be a lot like the past, could produce some very unhappy results.  If we recognize these errors and correct our course, Nashville could still be a pretty nice place to live as we approach mid-century. I am going to start by quoting what Nashville Next’s website and then offer my own comments and suggestions. Read the rest of this entry »





WHEN THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD

7 03 2015

A couple of weeks ago, I was commenting in a discussion thread on Facebook that had started with a local, politically active friend bemoaning the abysmally low turnout in the last election.  Here in Tennessee, only 29.1 percent of the electorate bothered to show up at the polls, the second lowest turnout in the country.  This enabled the sixteen percent of Tennessee voters who actually support banning abortion and income taxes, and who approve of the mean-spirited program of the Republican Party, to feel as if they had swept like a mighty tide over the state.

Well, I pointed out, the Democrat Party hasn’t really put up much of a fight.  Their leadership is inextricably tied to the national DP leadership, which is, truth be told, “progressive” only in its rhetoric, and then only when it needs to attempt to motivate “progressives” to vote for Democrats.  The progressive rhetoric, which is never truly radical, certainly not anti-corporate, and absolutely never questions capitalism, is quickly cast aside once the election’s over, and, if they win, the Dems go back to being the same old imperialist, corporatist, center-right party they’ve always been.  So, I said to the folks in the thread, why don’t all you progressives come over to the Green Party?

stein_chanceResponse? He was shocked, absolutely shocked.  “When Greens run, Democrats lose,” wrote my friend.  Another commenter chimed in, “Nader cost Gore the 2000 election.  Look what that got us.”

It was late at night, I was feeling ill, and I was short on temper and brains. “You guys have drunk too much Democrat kool-aid,” I fumed, and quit the group in disgust.  It didn’t take me long to regret my grumpiness and haste, but they declined to let me back in the group. I had had a chance to unmask some of my friends’ illusions, and I had blown it.  What I am telling you today is for my own benefit as well as for the benefit of the many people who would have echoed their words, reminding me to be patient with those who have fallen for the Big Lie about Nader, and the many other big lies that, er, underlie our sociopolitical fabric. Read the rest of this entry »





THE LITTLE GREEN SCHOOLHOUSE

11 01 2015

(This post was adapted from a post in my “Holsinger for House” blog)

music:  Chuck Berry, School Days

Educating young people is the most important thing our society, or any society, does, if only for the selfish reason that some day, our generation will be too old to rake care of ourselves, let alone maintain our culture, and so we need to do the best we can to teach the next generation how to take our place.28784grad-girl

Public schools are the main vehicle for doing this in our society.  At this point in time, I think they are not doing a very good job, despite the good intentions of nearly everyone involved in the process.  There are many reasons for this, and there are also concrete steps that could be taken to create a public school system that is responsive to the needs of the 21st century. Our culture is in the midst of many rapid changes, and our school systems need to change to meet new conditions.

First, I would like to discuss several well-intended reforms that have ultimately changed our schools for the worse, through the unintended consequences they engendered.

Read the rest of this entry »





RELIGIOUS EXTREMISTS TO IMPOSE SHARIA LAW IN TENNESSEE!

8 11 2014

There’s a lot of wind being blown out there about the “Republican resurgence” in the recent election.  Too bad we can’t turn a few turbines with it!

In my view, it comes down to this:  the Democrats paid the price for the Grand Canyon-sized gap between their populist rhetoric and their corporatist reality.   People didn’t turn out to vote for Democrats because the Democrats haven’t delivered on their promises. The reason they beat the “we’re pro-choice” drum so hard is that, when you come right down to it, that’s one of the few real differences between the two wings of the American Corporate Party, but grabbing people by the short hairs didn’t motivate enough voters to come out and participate in the charade this time.  The average voter turnout in the U.S. was 33.9%.  More than 50% of the voters showed up in only 3 states, and the highest rate rates of participation were in Wisconsin and Maine, where a whopping 56% of the voters cast ballots.  In other words, the GOP’s “mandate” comes from less than a quarter of the electorate.  Just as in the Middle East, a small, radical, committed minority is ramming its agenda down the throats, to be polite, of the rest of us.

This was especially evident here in Tennessee, where voter turnout was only 28.5%, meaning that Governor Haslam’s “landslide” reflected the wishes of about 20% of the potential voters in the state.  The number of voters who chose Lamar Alexander and banned a state income tax was lower, down in the upper teens, and our legislature now has the permission of about 15% of the electorate to regulate abortion out of the realm of possibility in Tennessee, which I am quite sure they will do to the best of their ability, as has happened in several other states.

I want to talk more about the abortion issue, because I think the level of deceit employed around the passage of Issue One was truly appalling.  It was billed as a way to “make abortion safer,” but you couldn’t help but notice that its backers were all the churches who think abortion is as sinful as non-marital sex and that the government should enforce their views on this subject.  For these people, Christianity is more about controlling women’s bodies and behavior than it is about being honest and truthful, even though their ostensible guidebook, The Bible, has a lot of bad things to say about “people who love a lie.”

Well, lies or no lies, we can now expect that our legislature will be emboldened to subject all Tennesseans to the “Christian” version of Shari’a.  I wonder what other precepts of Dominionism they will enact,  Perhaps slavery will be reintroduced?  Will the death penalty be inflicted on those who work on Sundays? No, that’s highly unlikely–it would be bad for business! Read the rest of this entry »





I’M BAAACK!

4 06 2014

MBW_fullThis coming Sunday, June 8, I will return to a monthly slot on The Green Hour on WRFN, Radio Free Nashville,  starting with a “performance,” as it were, of my “Edward Snowden and the Farm.”  I’m not sure if I’ll do both parts or just one.  It depends on how long the reading and music take.  I am also planning to do a “books on the air” presentation of Charles Eisenstein’s “The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible,” which I think expresses the long-range Green vision with exceptional clarity.  (That will also save me from having to do as much writing as I used to do for the show!).  Eisenstein will not be my sole stock in trade, of course.  I’m too much of an egotist not to have something to say to the public once a month!  There will also be music, of course.  All words and no music makes for a dull radio show.  The station will soon be expanding its signal strength so that it is audible all over town, and I had intended to wait for that to happen, but one of our programmers has been doing two slots a month and was ready for a break, so, as if I don’t have enough to do already, I’m adding “radio host” to my juggling act.

Another development worth mentioning here is that I am running for the Tennessee House of Representatives, 54th district, as a Green.  To that end, I have started another blog, “Holsinger for House,” where I am concentrating on how the Green paradigm expresses itself on local issues and our current political reality.





DIGGING IN FOR WINTER

14 10 2013

this post was written by Martin with some input from Cindy

For quite a while over the Spring and Summer, we experienced an outpouring of help from friends and neighbors as we coped with our house fire.  After a couple of mammoth work days that saw the removal of almost all the burned-out structure and the erection of new walls for new rooms in the remaining portion of the house, things quieted down.  These days, when we encounter people we haven’t seen for a while, we are often asked, “are you in your new house yet?”

The answer is, “no,” and, depending on how much time and attention our friends have available at the moment, we fill them in on more or less of the details.  In an effort to bring everybody (or at least everybody who reads this blog) up to date at once,  here is, as my Jewish grandparents would say, “the whole megillah.”  This post is long on wonkish details and a bit short in the “philosophy” department, but then, our true philosophy expresses itself in the details of our lives, so this is, in its own way, a “deep green perspective.”  “All politics is local,” as they say, Green politics especially, and it doesn’t get any more local than building your own home in accordance with your ideals. Read the rest of this entry »








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