In December, the 21st “Council of Parties” to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change took place in Paris. Almost everybody seemed to understand that we are in “no more fooling around” territory, with some notable exceptions, like, f’rinstance, India and Saudi Arabia. Ironically, these are two of the countries with the most to lose from further climate change–like, their inhabitability. Even so, it has become common knowledge that climate change denialism has largely been, um, fuelled by oil companies who did the research in the 70’s and 80’s and, like the tobacco companies before them, realized that their product was lethal, and who nonetheless chose to elevate their short-term bottom line over the long-term survival of not just their customers, as with the tobacco companies, but of the human race, along with most other species on the planet. I could be snide and sneer about the oxymoronic quality of the phrase “corporate ethics,” but it’s not just corporations that prioritize reaping short-term benefits over preventing long-term threats. It’s a fairly common human trait, it turns out, and one that is plaguing our efforts to stop doing things that release more carbon and accelerate climate change, and to start doing things that will capture carbon and reverse our ever more tightly spiralling spin into planetary oblivion. In order to reverse climate change, we must reverse our own conditioned responses. The outer depends on the inner, as always.
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Tags: China, Clarksville Highway, coal, Columbia Pipeline Group, COP 21, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, fracking, Godot, India, Joelton, John Kerry, Karl Dean, Megan Barry, methane, Metro Council, Metro Planning Commission, Middle East, NAFTA, Nashville Next, natural gas, No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure, Paris, President Obama, Saudi Arabia, Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, Transcanada Corporation, United Nations, White's Creek, World Bank, World Trade Organization, Yemen
Categories : climate change, environmental issues, financial, international relations, local politics, local self-sufficiency, peak oil, the war for oil, transition
As many of you probably know, I ran for Metro Council last summer. My candidacy was pretty minimal–I made no attempt to recruit volunteers or raise money, and spent none of my own. I created a blog and a Facebook page to lay out my platform, attended several candidate forums, posted ideas and answers on several internet voter education sites, and was interviewed by the Nashville Scene, which, as it did when Howard Switzer ran for Governor, trivialized my campaign and ignored my issues because they’re Democrats and we’re Greens, and they don’t care for competition on the left. (I was hoping to provide a link to the job the Scene did on my friend Howard, but they have apparently opted to chuck that article down the ol’ memory hole. Probably a good call on their part.)
There were three key pillars in my platform. One was re-localizing Nashville, economically, socially, and politically–creating neighborhoods in which people could attend school, shop, work, and go out and socialize without needing to use an automobile–thus simplifying the city’s traffic problems–and granting these neighborhoods a fair amount of control over their zoning, codes enforcement, new construction, schools, and policing. Another pillar was to identify and foster industries that would serve local needs that are currently being met by goods imported from across the continent or across the ocean. The third pillar was to foster co-operatives as a form of small-d democratic community organization–not just food co-ops and other retail establishments, but worker-owned service and manufacturing co-ops, and housing co-ops, as well. These worker-owned co-ops would include the local-needs industries, and the housing co-ops would be part of a larger context of urban land trusts. All these would serve to increase opportunities and living standards for lower-income Nashvillians, stabilize their neighborhoods, and empower them with an ownership stake in the places where they work, shop, and live. My proposals were largely modelled on the ones that made Bernie Sanders’ reputation as Mayor of Burlington–they were radical and populist but pragmatic and very “doable.” They are also infectious, in the sense that people hear them, like them, and make them their own. Their emphasis on citizen, not government, ownership appeals to people all over the political spectrum.
That was my basic message. About 2,300 Nashville voters heard it and signalled their approval by voting for me. That earned me second-to-last standing in the election, but, for me, the important part of my campaign was that, in the course of attending the candidate forums, I got to speak repeatedly to the candidates who did win the election. Hey, at several of these, there were more candidates on the stage than voters in the audience! Besides, candidates are also voters, and we each had four votes in the election besides the one each of us was likely to cast for ourselves.
And so, I planted my seeds, with no idea which ones would sprout or where, and, once the election was over, happily returned to my wooded hollow and my usual pursuits. Imagine my surprise early last week when I glanced through my email inbox and discovered that the Tennessee Alliance for Progress (TAP), in partnership with Nashville Organized for Action and Hope (NOAH) and the Southern Grassroots Economies Project, (which springs from the venerable Highlander Folk Center) was sponsoring an all-day workshop on….creating co-operatives in Nashville. How could I not go?
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Tags: AFL-CIO, Argentina, Benny Overton, Bernie Sanders, Burlington VT, capitalism, Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative, co-operatives, co-ops, community radio, Corporatism, Dan Joranko, David Rovics, Democracy at Work, Ed Whitfield, Emilia Romagna, Fabian Bedne, Fifth Season Co-op, Freddie O'Connell, Highlander Folk Center, Hilary Abell, housing co-ops, Howard Switzer, Hugh Lovel, Hunger Mountain Co-op, Jackie Arthur, Jackson Rising, Jeff Poppen, Jim Shulman, John Cooper, Kristen Baker, Liberadio, Local Food Summit, Madison WI, Mary Mancini, Mayor Megan Barry, Metro Council, Mondragon, Nashville Organizing for Action and Hope, Nashville Scene, Nell Levin, New Era Windows, NOAH, paradigm change, Paul Soglin, Phil Amadon, Project Equity, PUSH Buffalo, Rebecca Kemble, Renaissance Community Co-op, retail co-ops, Richard Wolff, Saudi Arabia, socialism, Southern Grassroots Economies Project, TAP, Tefere Gebre, Tennessee Alliance for Progress, Tennessee Democratic Party, Tennessee State University, Three Rivers Co-op, UAW, Union Cab, Wisconsin, workers' co-ops, Workers' Dignity, WRVU
Categories : financial, Green Party, local politics, local self-sufficiency, social issues, the war for oil, transition, US infrastructure
This has been a difficult piece for me to write and share. I suspect it is similar to the internal process I might undergo if I were inquiring as to whether I had been molested as a child, or raped when I was unconscious. It involves overcoming the urge to denial. It involves difficult situations with long-time friends. It involves doing my best to understand if I am recalling buried memories, or merely falling into paranoid fantasies. The truth, as they say, is out there, somewhere, and the only way I know to find it is to keep asking questions.
In that spirit, here’s the latest chapter in my inquiry into whether the demise of “The old Farm” was an “oops!” or a “whodunnit?” This is very much a work in progress. I have learned a lot in the course of my investigation. People handed me “puzzle pieces” that fit in with other sources’ “puzzle pieces” and created a picture that the individual puzzle piece holders could not have seen, and that I could hardly have anticipated. I suspect there may be further surprises awaiting me. For that reason, this chapter is largely couched in “supposes,” “perhapses,” and questions, and I have chosen not to name names. New information is always welcome. (In case you’re wondering, no, this story is not part of the “Green Hour” radio show broadcasts, but it does have some great music links, mostly in the section dealing with the community’s musical outreach.) (on 8-27-15, I added a paragraph to “The Plot Thickens section, making this now v.3.0.1. I have noted in the text that the paragraph is a later addition.) (further additions and corrections made 9-6-15, and enough material added 12-7-15 to rate changing the title number to “3.1.” A small, but significant, further addition was made 12-21-15, to the “Mystery Drums” section, moving the version number to 3.1.1.) (further additions made 1-15-16)
Here are links to my earlier efforts on this topic:
EDWARD SNOWDEN AND THE FARM focusses on how a particular NSA document that Snowden released might relate to what happened on The Farm, recounts the community’s history of involvement with a number of other sociopolitical movements, and points out how those groups and others were demonstrably sabotaged by covert government action.
SNOWDEN AND THE FARM, PART TWO is largely a response to the question, “why does it matter at this late date?”
1.ROBERT SCHEER, A FACEBOOK RANT, AND A PAIR OF RAIDS
In a speech in Seattle last March, Robert Scheer, author, investigative journalist, editor of the “Truthdig” website and former editor of Ramparts Magazine, had this to say:
I know why they were after King, because King was not staying put. King was a moral force. King said, I have to deal with poverty and I have to deal with war. And after Selma, I remember, because I published it in Ramparts, King’s speech at Riverside Church condemning the U.S. as the major purveyor of violence in the world today. He said, How can I condemn violence in the ghetto by young kids, and then you draft them and you send them off on to fight in Vietnam to kill and be killed? So King had become an irritant to people of power, a big irritant. When he died, he was there working with garbage collectors in Memphis who were on strike, dealing with poverty issue. So he wouldn’t stay put in his moral concerns…..
….if there is a King alive today, he will be destroyed and you won’t even know it. I’m not talking about the creepy stuff like you control his car and smash into a cliff or do all the other things that can be done with modern technology. I mean, all of us are vulnerable to people who want to smear us, whether they use true stuff or false stuff, whether they make it or they manufacture it. Scott Ritter, who was the most effective critic of the whole phony weapons of mass destruction, he gets entrapped by a police agent in some kind of Internet sex thing and serves time in jail. Elliott Spitzer, the most effective critic of the banks when he was attorney general in New York and then governor, suddenly it’s a big deal that he went to a house of prostitution or something, and he’s destroyed. So the ability to destroy people, like a Martin Luther King or anyone else, is out there. It’s in the hands of all these government agencies, all these police forces. Trust me, it’s going to be rampant.
I share Robert Scheer’s strong suspicion that King was not killed by a random nut with a gun, but by a concerted government effort, and I share his assessment that the government decided that it would be better to nip any possible King successors in the bud, without going to the extreme of murdering them, and thus turning them into martyrs. Assassinating someone’s character or sabotaging their organization is a lot less messy, and leaves no martyrs. Stephen Gaskin, too, was “not staying put.” He was a major figure in a movement that was bringing together the back-to-the-land counterculture, Native Americans from the US and Central America, inner-city African-Americans, anti-nuclear power activists, and peace activists, among others, to challenge the dominant paradigm. Why wouldn’t the government want him out of the way? Read the rest of this entry »
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Tags: 501c3, Appalachian Voices, Barricini Chocolates, Coca-Cola, drum circle, ethnic cleansing, FDIC, Ft. Campbell, helicopters, Henry Goodman, heroin, Jerry Yokley, John H. Candler, Lakota Sioux, LSD, marijuana, Naomi Klein, NSA, old-growth forest, paper companies, Ragweed Day, Stephen Gaskin, sweat lodge, Tassajara Zen Center, The Farm, The Farm Band, The New Farm, The Nuclear Regulatory Comssion (band), The Second Foundation, the shock doctrine, U.S. Army, USAID, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Voices From The Farm
Categories : friends and family, local politics, social issues
I am simply appalled at the level of racial violence in this country, so much of it expressed through police violence on innocent, unsuspecting, unarmed African-Americans. Sandra Bland and Samuel DuBose are just two of the most recent victims of this plague.
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Tags: African-Americans, bankers, community policing, conflict resolution, externalities, Ferguson Missouri, Freddie Gray, Henry Louis Gates, jail, job creators, peace officers, policing for profit, probation, racial violence, restorative justice, Samuel DuBose, Sandra Bland, three strikes, Victim-Offender Reconciliation Project, war on drugs
Categories : local politics, local self-sufficiency, social issues
The 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.
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Tags: affordable housing, gentrification, Metro Nashville Social Services Department, Metro Planning Comission, Nashville, poverty, sidewalks, urban forest, zoning
Categories : local politics, local self-sufficiency, social issues, transition, US infrastructure
What 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 »
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Tags: big box stores, China, community land trust, externalities, food co-ops, gentrification, horses, Mondragon, Nashville Next, Transition Nashville, transition towns, Walton family
Categories : climate change, environmental issues, financial, local politics, local self-sufficiency, peak oil, politics, social issues, transition, US infrastructure
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?
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 »
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Tags: abortion, Al Gore, An Unreasonable Man, Angela Merkel, Bill Clinton, Carl Levin, Chicago, Christian Democrats, Congressional Black Caucus Monitor, Democrat Party, Eugene McCarthy, Europe, George McGovern, Greece, Hubert Humphrey, Income Tax, Jerry Brown, Jesse Jackson, John Edwards, John Kerry, Max Cleland, Mississippi Freedom Democrats, Patrick Leahy, Paul Wellstone, Radical Left, Ralph Nader, Republican Party, Robinson Jeffers, Russian Jews, Shine Perishing Republic, Social Democrats, Syriza, Ted Kennedy, Tennessee elections, voter turnout
Categories : election reform, Green Party, local politics