Monday, October 12, 2015

Elect a Permaculturist to City Council in Syracuse, NY

Elect a Permaculturist to City Council in Syracuse, NY and Change the 'Landscape of Politics'

A campaign by Frank Cetera

If this campaign does not reach 100% of its goal, then it will not be funded.
Contribute Now
Hello Permaculture community, thanks for taking the time to read my appeal and consider a donation.  My goal is to get elected to Syracuse City Council and forever start the trend of 'Changing the landscape of politics' in America and beyond.  I could use your help.
Candidates are still tasked (unfortunately) with spending much of their time raising money to run successful campaigns (unless your wealthy like I'm not, or you take special interest PAC and corporation moneys, which I don't as a Green Party member and candidate).
I am a hardworking person, with a full-time public service job, and involvement in numerous extra-curricular community activities (see below), but I don't have the money to do this myself, I must ask the various communities and groups of people and activists I am involved with for a support.
I am trying to be diverse in my fundraising and not relying on any one population of people, therefore, I am setting the goal of this campaign fairly low at only $300 (our total campaign budget is $12,000).  But don't let that stop you from helping me raise more than the $300 goal form the Pc community (we would love to raise up to $15,000 total to really make a big impact in the week or two leading up to Election Day on November 3rd).
Momentum is building - I have received the endorsement of the CSEA Union (Civil Service Employees Association) and they have contributed $300, I have received the endorsement of the Green Party of NY State and they will be contributing a dollar amount yet to be determined, and I have been recognized by the Green Party of the United States national campaign committee as one of the 6 candidates/campaigns to watch and support across the whole country!  (and we expect a $500 support check form them as well).  I'm hoping the Pc community will be a part of this potentially historic moment of electing a People's candidate to City Council in one of the top 5 big cities in NY state.
Frank Cetera lives on Syracuse’s Westside where he’s known to neighbors and colleagues for his ability to accomplish a lot with a little. Frank has a proven record of economic development through his day job as a New York State Senior Small-Business Advisor. As peer-elected Board President at Cooperative Federal Credit Union, Frank is an active promoter of community finance for families and local businesses. Never afraid to roll up his sleeves and get his hands dirty, Frank has lead the transformation of five unused Syracuse green spaces into productive fruit and vegetable gardens. Whether he’s leading snow-shoveling brigades with Westside Walks, securing funding for the neighborhood Adopt-a-trash-can program, or organizing educational events -- Frank is a tireless advocate for community building and cooperation.
Our campaign will focus on policies to reduce and eliminate poverty, and on civic engagement among residents of the 2nd District so that we can organize to win the changes we need.
My Permaculture resume includes the following:
  • 2-year resident steward at Harmony Homestead / Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems at Slippery Rock University of PA, an 83-acre Permaculture and living lab/classroom at Slippery Rock University.
  • Founder of The Alchemical Nursery in Syracuse, a 501(c)3 non-profit educational organization, which to date has facilitated the transformation of 5 unused lawn green spaces into productive food gardens and landscapes, including the 1/5th acre Rahma Edible Forest Snack Garden, and the DISHES Hellstrip Polyculture of which I wrote and published about in the latest issue of Permaculture Design (Activist) Magazine.
  • Founder and developer of the Bitternut Urban Homestead Collective - a rebuilt and renovated 'rustic/Victorian' home which includes a 1/8th acre Permaculture Kitchen Garden, and edible landscaping.
  • Two-time organizer and (one-time) host of the Upstate NY Permaculture Convergence.
  • Two-time attendee at the NE Permaculture Convergence.
  • Educated in Natural Resources Management, including a M.S. in Sustainable Systems from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania; and a Masters of Forestry degree from State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY.
  • PDC received from the Hancock Permaculture Center in Hancock, NY with Instructors Andrew Leslie Phillips and Maria Grimaldi.
  • Multiple published articles in the Permaculture Activist magazine (now Permaculture Design), including 'Hellstrip Polycultures' in this Fall 2015 issues themed 'Life On The Edge'.
Please view the video for a montage of photos from my some of political and Permaculture activism work in 2015.
If you believe in acting local, then voting local and supporting local candidates is hopefully a given for you. 
Let's start a trend and elect Permaculturists to office across the United States and beyond, and forever, 'change the landscape of politics'.
We don't have much to offer rewards-wise, but we promise if you send a $10 or more donation to send you a campaign button to wear or to add to your button collection!  And of course every donor will get thanked and recognized for your contribution.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Conservative and suffering from commonsensivitis? There's a pill for that.

Woman: Honey, what's wrong?
Man: I don't know---I'm just not feeling like myself lately. I keep having these weird thoughts.
Woman: Thoughts?
Man: Like, maybe single-payer healthcare is the right way to go. Maybe we should increase taxes on the rich. Maybe we should keep reproductive issues between a woman and her doctor. Maybe gay marriage won’t destroy the foundation of civilization. Maybe government can be a solution for many of our problems. It feels so…
Woman: …so wrong?
Man: Yeah! It's like everything in my head is suddenly rational and clear!
Woman: Honey, you're suffering from commonsensivitis.
Man:  Commonsensiwhatis???

Bottle of pills overturned
Use only as directed by Fox News: chug the
the whole thing and then say 25 Hail Reagans.
[Cut to] Doctor in white lab coat: Commonsensivitis is a rare but serious condition that occurs when neural pathways in the conservative brain figure out how to connect to each other, producing high levels of rationality, reason and, yes, common sense. Junk food and Fox News can help destroy those connections naturally, but for really stubborn cases you need new Screwusall. Just take two Screwusall tablets and you'll be feeling like your usual paranoid, angry, loud, gun-crazy self again! Man: Defund Planned Parenthood! Kill your Medicare but not mine! Stomp unions into the dirt! Drill here, drill now! Social Security is a Ponzi scheme but don't you dare cut my benefits! Libtard voter fraud is an epidemic and I can't prove it! Obama equals Hitler! Sarah Palin speaks for me! More tax cuts for the rich! Kirk Cameron movies are instant classics! Science is for sissies! Jesus rode a dinosaur!
Woman: Welcome back to the bubble, honey! No more commonsensivitis for you!
Man: Thanks, Screwusall
Announcer: Screwusall---available at fine tea party meetings, Republican campaign rallies and bait-and-switch GOP governor's offices everywhere. Side effects include embarrassing spelling errors on protest signs, voting against your self-interest and thinking like a modern-day Republican.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The latest from Dmitry Orlov...
Tuesday, February 17, 2015

by Dmitry Orlov

David Herbert
This blog is dedicated to the idea of presenting the big picture—the biggest possible—of what is going on in the world. The abiding areas of interest that make up the big picture have included the following:

1. The terminal decay and eventual collapse of industrial civilization as the fossil fuels that power it become more and more expensive to produce in the needed quantities, of lower and lower resource quality and net energy and, eventually, in ever-shorter supply.

The first guess by Hubbert that the all-time peak of oil production in the US would be back in the 1970s was accurate, but later prediction of a global peak, followed by a swift collapse, around the year 2000 was rather off, because here we are 15 years later and global oil production has never been higher. Oil prices, which were high for a time, have temporarily moderated. However, zooming in on the oil picture just a little bit, we see that conventional oil production peaked in 2005—just 5 years late—and has been declining ever since, and the shortfall has been made up by oil that is difficult and expensive to get at (deep offshore, fracking) and by things that aren't exactly oil (tar sands).

The current low prices are not high enough to sustain this new, expensive production for much longer, and the current glut is starting to look like a feast to be followed by famine. The direct cause of this famine will not be energy but debt, but it can still be traced back to energy: a successful, growing industrial economy requires cheap energy; expensive energy causes it to stop growing and to become mired in debt that can never be repaid. Once the debt bubble pops, there isn't enough capital to invest in another round of expensive energy production, and terminal decay sets in.

2. The very interesting process of the USA becoming its own nemesis: the USSR 2.0, or, as some are calling, the USSA.

The USA is best characterized as a decomposing corpse of a nation lorded over by a tiny clique of oligarchs who control the herd by wielding Orwellian methods of mind control. So far gone is the populace that most of them think that things are just peachy—there is an economic recovery, don't you know—but a few of them do realize that they all have lots of personal issues with things like violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and gluttony. But don't call them a nation of violent, drug-abusing gluttons, because that would be insulting. In any case, you can't call them anything, because they aren't listening, for they are too busy fiddling with their electronic life support units to which they have become addicted. Thanks to Facebook and the like they are now so far inside Plato's cave that even the shadows they see aren't real: they are computer simulations of shadows of other computer simulations.

The signs of this advanced state of decomposition are now unmistakable everywhere you look, be it education, medicine, culture or the general state of American society, where now fully half the working-age men is impaired in their ability to earn a decent living. But it is now particularly obvious in the endless compounding of errors that is the essence of American foreign policy. Some have started calling it “the empire of chaos,” neglecting to mention the fact that an empire of chaos is by definition ungovernable.

A particularly compelling example o failure is the Islamic Caliphate, which now rules large parts of Syria and Iraq. It was initially organized with American help topple the Syrian government, but which now threatens the stability of Saudi Arabia instead. This problem was made much worse by alienating Russia, which, with its long Central Asian border, is the one major nation that is interested in fighting Islamic extremism. The best the Americans have been able to do against the Caliphate is an expensive and ineffectual bombing campaign. Previous ineffectual and expensive bombing campaigns, such as the one in Cambodia, have produced unintended consequences such as the genocidal regime of Pol Pot, but why bother learning from mistakes when you can endlessly compound them?

Another example is the militarized mayhem and full-blown economic collapse that has engulfed the Ukraine in the wake of American-organized violent overthrow of its last-ever constitutional government a year ago. The destruction of the Ukraine was motivated by Zbigniew Brzezinski's simplistic calculus that turning the Ukraine into an anti-Russian NATO-occupied zone would effectively thwart Russian imperial ambitions. A major problem with this calculus is that Russia has no imperial ambitions: Russia has all the territory it could ever want, but to develop it it needs peace and free trade. Another slight problem with Zbiggy's “chessboard” is that Russia does have an overriding concern with protecting the interests of Russians wherever they may live and, for internal political reasons, will always act to protect them, even if such actions are illegal and carry the risk of a larger military conflict. Thus, the American destabilization of the Ukraine has accomplished nothing positive, but did increase the odds of nuclear self-annihilation. But if the USA manages to disappear from the world's political map without triggering a nuclear holocaust, we will still have a problem, which is that...

3. The climate of Earth, our home planet, is, to put it as politely as possible, completely fucked. Now, there are quite a few people who think that radically altering the planet's atmospheric and ocean chemistry and physics by burning just over half the fossilized hydrocarbons that could possibly be dug up using industrial means nothing, and that what we are observing is just natural climate variability. These people are morons. I will delete every single one of the comments they submit in response to this post, but in spite of my promise to do so, I assure you that they will still submit them... because they are morons.

What we are looking at is a human-triggered extinction episode that will certainly be beyond anything in human experience, and which may rival the great Permian-Triassic extinction event of 252 million years ago. There is even the possibility of Earth becoming completely sterilized, with an atmosphere as overheated and toxic as that of Venus. That these changes are happening does not require prediction, just observation. The only parameters that remain to be determined are these:

1. How far will this process run? Will there still be a habitat where humans can survive? Humans cannot survive without plenty of fresh water and sources of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, all of which require functioning ecosystems. Humans can survive on almost any kind of diet—even tree bark and insects—but if all vegetation is dead, then so are we. Also, we cannot survive in an environment where the wet bulb temperature (which takes into account our ability to cool ourselves by sweating) exceeds our body temperature: whenever that happens, we die of heat stroke. Lastly, we need air that we can actually breathe: if the atmosphere becomes too low in oxygen (because the vegetation has died out) and too high in carbon dioxide and methane (because the dead vegetation has burned off, the permafrost has melted, and the methane currently trapped in oceanic clathrates has been released) then we all die.

We already know that the increase in average global temperature has exceeded 1C since pre-industrial times, and, based on the altered atmospheric chemistry, is predicted to eventually exceed 2C. We also know that industrial activity, thanks to the aerosols it puts into the atmosphere, produces an effect known as global dimming. Once it's gone, the average temperature will jump by at least another 1.1C. This would put us within striking range of 3.5C, and no humans have ever been alive with Earth more than 3.5C above baseline. But, you know, there is a first time for everything. Maybe we can invent some gizmo... Maybe if we all put on air-conditioned sombreros or something... (Design contest, anyone?)

2. How fast will this process happen?

The thermal mass of the planet is such that there is a 40-year lag between when atmospheric chemistry is changed and its effects on average temperature are felt. So far we have been shielded from some of the effects by two things: the melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice and permafrost, and the ocean's ability to absorb heat. Your iced drink remains pleasant until the last ice cube is gone, but then it becomes tepid and distasteful rather quickly. Some scientists say that, on the outside, it will take 5000 years for us to run out of ice cubes, causing the party to end, but then the dynamics of the huge glaciers that supply the ice cubes are not understood all that well, and there have been constant surprises in terms of how quickly they can slough off icebergs, which then drift into warmer waters and melt quickly.

But the biggest surprise of the last few years has been the rate of arctic methane release. Perhaps you haven't, but I've found it impossible to ignore all the scientists who have been ringing alarm bells on Arctic methane release. What they are calling the clathrate gun—which can release some 50 gigatons of methane in as little as a couple of decades—appears to have been fired in 2007 and now, just a few years later, the trend line in Arctic methane concentrations has become alarming. But we will need to wait for at least another two years to get an authoritative answer. Overall, the methane held in the clathrates is enough to exceed the global warming potential of all fossil fuels burned to date by a factor of between 4 and 40. The upper end of that range does seem to put us quite far towards a Venus-type atmosphere, and the surviving species may be limited to exotic thermophilic bacteria, if that, and certainly will not include any of the species we like to eat, nor any of us.

Looking at such numbers has caused quite a few researchers to propose the possibility of near-term human extinction. Estimates vary, but, in general, if the clathrate gun has indeed gone off, then most of us shouldn't be planning to be around beyond mid-century. But the funny thing is (humor is never in poor taste, no matter how dire the situation) that most of us shouldn't be planning on sticking around beyond mid-century in any case. The current oversized human population is a product of fossil fuel-burning, and once that's over, human population will crash. This is called a die-off, and it's something that happens all the time: a population (say, of yeast in a vat of sugary liquid) consumes its food, and then dies off. A few hardy individuals linger on, and if you throw in a lump of sugar, they spring to life, start reproducing and the process takes off again.

Read the rest here...

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Authoritarianism, Class Warfare and the Advance of Neoliberal Austerity Policies

Some might question what this has to do with permaculture, however it well-describes conditions amidst which we are living and that will affect ALL our designs and plans. I doubt the author's "solution" will be sufficient but this article CLEARLY identifies the increasingly obvious social patterns we see unfolding all around us. A real lesson in "invisible" structures and pattern recognition. 

Riot police shadow a protest march against recent austerity measures in Montreal, November 29, 2014.Riot police shadow a protest march against recent austerity measures in Montreal, November 29, 2014. (Photo: Gerry Lauzon)

Henry A. Giroux | Authoritarianism, Class Warfare and the Advance of Neoliberal Austerity Policies

Monday, 05 January 2015 10:54 By Henry A. Giroux, Truthout | News Analysis
Right-wing calls for austerity suggest more than a market-driven desire to punish the poor, working class and middle class by distributing wealth upwards to the 1%. They also point to a politics of disposability in which the social provisions, public spheres and institutions that nourish democratic values and social relations are being dismantled, including public and higher education. Neoliberal austerity policies embody an ideology that produces both zones of abandonment and forms of social and civil death while also infusing society with a culture of increasing hardship. It also makes clear that the weapons of class warfare do not reside only in oppressive modes of state terrorism such as the militarization of the police, but also in policies that inflict misery, immiseration and suffering on the vast majority of the population.

Capitalism has learned to create host organisms and in the current historical conjuncture one of those organisms is young people, who are forced to live under the burden of crushing debt. Moreover in the midst of a widening inequality in wealth, income and power, workers, single mothers, youth, immigrants and poor people of color are being plunged into either low-paying jobs or a future without decent employment.  For the sick and elderly, it means choosing between food and medicine. Austerity now drives an exchange relationship in which the only value that matters is exchange value and for students that means paying increased tuition that generates profits for credit companies while allowing the state to lower taxes on the rich and mega corporations.
Under this regime of widening inequality that imposes enormous constraints on the choices that people can make, austerity measures function as a set of hyper-punitive policies and practices that produce massive amounts of suffering, rob people of their dignity and then humiliate them by suggesting that they bear sole responsibility for their plight. This is more than the scandal of a perverted form of neoliberal rationality; it is the precondition for an emerging authoritarian state with its proliferating extremist ideologies and its growing militarization and criminalization of all aspects of everyday life and social behavior. Richard D. Wolff has argued that "Austerity is yet another extreme burden imposed on the global economy by the capitalist crisis (in addition to the millions suffering unemployment, reduced global trade, etc.)." He is certainly right, but it is more than a burden imposed on the 99%; it is the latest stage of market warfare, class consolidation and a ruthless grab for power waged on the part of the neoliberal, global, financial elite who are both heartless and indifferent to the mad violence and unchecked misery they impose on much of humanity.

Read the rest at

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

You Say You Want A Revolution, Well, You know..........

The Five Stages of Collapse by Dmitry Orlov:
An excerpt from Chapter 3 on Political Collapse

Suppose you wanted to achieve some significant political effect: say prevent or stop and unjust war. You could organize demonstrations, with hundreds of thousands of people marching in the streets, shouting slogans and waving anti-war banners. You could write angry editorials in newspapers and on blogs denouncing the falseness of the casus beli. You could write and phone and email your elected representatives, asking them to put a stop to it, and the would respond that they will of course try, and by the way could you please make a campaign contribution? You could also seethe and steam and lose sleep and appetite over the disgusting thing your country is about to do or is already doing. Would that stop the war? Alas, no. How many people protested the war in Iraq? And what did that achieve? Precisely nothing.

You see, the slogan "speak truth to power" has certain limitations. The trouble with it is that it ignores the fact that power will not listen and the fact the the people already know the truth and even make jokes about it. Those in power may appear to be persuaded or dissuaded but only if it is to their advantage to do so. They will also sometimes choose to co-opt, and then quietly subvert, popular movements, in order to legitimize themselves in the eyes of those who would otherwise oppose them. But, in general, they cannot be shifted from pursuing a course they see as advantageous by mere rhetoric from those outside their ranks. Some weaker regimes may be sensitive to embarrassment provided the criticisms are voiced by high-profile individuals in internationally recognized positions of authority, but these same criticisms backfire when aimed at the stronger regimes, because they make those who voice them appear ridiculous, engaged in something futile. 

In confronting the powerful, the need for secrecy is strengthened by the fact that, unlike chess, which is an overt game, the game of shifting those in power from their positions is best played covertly; it is advantageous to make game-changing events appear as accidents or coincidences, spontaneous rather than organized, and difficult to pin on anyone. Since a scapegoat is always found anyway, it is also advantageous if there isn't any identifiable organization with which it can be associated. Where an organization is required, it is best if it is transitory, fluid and anarchic in nature, and appears to be ineffectually engaged in some trivial, innocuous pursuit. In CIA parlance, it should at all times maintain plausible deniability.

Such a strategy just might be conceivable, provided the whole thing stays off the Internet. In previous, less networked eras, the work of the secret police was challenging and labor-intensive, but the Internet has changed all that. Anything you say on the Internet, whether in a private email, an unpublished document or posted to a blog, can now be used against you, or anyone else.

Compare that to the situation in the US today, where CIA/FBI/NSA/Homeland Security is quite far along in forming one giant security apparatus that dwarfs the quaint old KGB in both intrusiveness and scope, though probably not in effectiveness, even though modern technology makes their job trivial to the point where much of it can be automated. There used to be privacy protections written in to US law, but they are in the process of disappearing as a result of new legislation. But whether or not a sweeping abolition of privacy rights make it into law, your online privacy is already gone. Since the government can detain you indefinitely without ever charging, trying or sentencing you, and has full access to your digital data, legal niceties make little difference. Nor does it matter any longer whether or not your are a US citizen: the firewall between CIA (which was supposed to only spy on foreigners) and FBI disappeared after 9/11, and although this practice violates several acts of Congress, you would be foolish to wait for anyone to do anything about it.

People now tend to communicate via cell phone voice calls, text messages, emails, posts to Facebook and tweets, all of which are digital data and all of which are saved. Relationships between people can be determined by looking at their Facebook profile, their email contacts and their cell phone contacts. If your phone is GPS-enabled, your position can be tracked fairly accurately and tracked once your phone connects to a few different cell towers. All of this information can be continually monitored and analyzed without human intervention, raising red flags whenever some ominous pattern begins to emerge We are not quite there yet, but at some point somebody might accidentally get blasted to bits by a drone strike while texting when a wrong T9 predictive text autocompletion triggers a particularly deadly keyword match.
Thanks to vastly increased computational power, the emphasis is now shifting from enforcing the law by identifying transgressions to flagging as aberrant any sort of behavior that the system does not quite understand. That is, it is not looking for violations of specific laws, but for unusual patterns. One such pattern might be an attempt by you and others to go electronically dark for a time. Suppose you are walking to a park, and before getting there, you switch off your cell phone. And suppose several other people walk to that same park at the same time, an also switch off their cell phones before getting there. And suppose none of you called or texted each other beforehand. Well, that's an obvious red flag for conspiracy! Video from surveillance cameras installed in that park will be downloaded, fed through facial recognition software, and all the faces matched up with the cell phones that were switched off. Now you are all connected and flagged as attempting to evade surveillance. If this aberrant behavior is observed during some future time of national emergency (as opposed to the usual permanent "War on Terror"), drone aircraft might be dispatched to take you out. All of this might happen without any human intervention, under the control of a fully automated security threat neutralization system. It's a Catch 22: stay off the Internet and you are sure to be too socially isolated to organize anything; gent on the Internet and you are immediately exposed: do a little of each, and you suddenly start looking very suspicious and invite additional scrutiny. 

If you are a little bit savvier, you might be able to come up with ways to use the Internet anonymously. You buy a laptop with cash and don't register it, so that the MAC address can't be traced to you. You use Internet cafes that have open Internet access or private open WiFi connection from somewhere. You connect to web sites outside of the US jurisdiction via SSL (HTTPS protocol) or use encrypted services such as Skype. You further attempt to anonymize your access using TOR. You think you are safe. But wait! Are you running a commercial operating system, like Windows or Mac OS X? If so, it has a back door, added by the manufacturer base on a secret request from the US government. The back door allows someone (not necessarily the government, but anybody who knows about it) to install a keystroke logger that captures all your keystrokes and periodically uploads them to some server for analysis. Now a third party knows all of your communications and username / password combinations.

Suppose you know about back doors in commercial operating systems, and so you compile your own OS (some flavor of Linux or BSD Unix) from source code. You run it in ultra-secure mode, and nervously monitor all incoming and outgoing network connection for anything that shouldn't be there. You encrypt your hard drive. You do not store any contact information, passwords or, for that matter, anything else on your laptop. You run the browser in "private" mode so that it doesn't maintain a browsing history. You look quite fetching in your tin foil hat. Your are not just a member of Anonymous, you are Anonymous! But do you realize how suspicious that makes you look? The haggard look from having to memorize all those URLs and passwords, the darting eye movements....Somebody is going to haul you in for questioning just for the hell of it. At that point, you represent a challenge to the surveillance team: a hard target, somebody they can use to hone their skills. This is not a good position to be in.
But even if you could remain anonymous, are you still rebellious enough to challenge the status quo through risky but effective covert action? My guess is that you are by now quite docile, thanks, again, to the Internet. You don't want to do anything that might jeopardize your access to it. You have your favorite music and books in the cloud, your online games, your Facebook friends, and you can't imagine life without them.....
Does the idea of achieving some significant political effect still seem interesting? What if I told you that you could achieve the same effect with just a bit of patience, sitting Buddha-like with your arms folded, a beatific smile on your face? The idea is not too far-fetched. You see, the Internet is a very resilient system, designed to let packets flow around any obstruction. It is, to some extent, self-regulating and self-healing. But it depends on another system, which is not resilient at all: the electric grid. In the US, the grid is a creaking, aging system that now exhibits an exponentially increasing rate of failure. It is susceptible to the phenomenon of cascaded failure, where small faults are magnified throughout the system. Since the money needed to upgrade the system no longer exists, blackouts will continue to proliferate. As the grid goes down, Internet access will be lost. Cell phone access is more likely to remain, but without the grid most people will lose the ability to recharge their mobile devices. Information technology may look shiny and new, but the fact remains that the Internet is around 40% coal-fired and 20% nuclear-powered.
As the electric grid goes down, there will be a great deal of economic disruption. But in terms of the surveillance system, two effects are virtually guaranteed. First people will once again become very expensive to track and monitor, as in the olden days of the KGB. Second, people will cease to be docile. What keeps people docile is access to the magic shiny world of television and the Internet. Their own lives might be dull, grey, hopeless and filled with drudgery, but as long as they can be periodically catch a glimpse of heaven inhabited by smooth-skinned celebrities with toned muscles sporting the latest fashions, listen to their favorite noise, watch a football game and distract themselves with video games, blogs or cute animals on Reddit's / r / aww, they can at least dream. Once they wake up from that dream they will look around, then look around some more, and then they will become seriously angry. This is why the many countries and regions that at one time or another ran short of energy, be it former Soviet Georgia or Bulgaria or the Russian far east, always tried to provide at least a few hours of electricity every day, usually in the evenings during "prime time", so that the populace could get its daily dose of fiction, because this was cheaper than containing a seriously angry populace by imposing curfews and maintaining around-the-clock military patrols and checkpoints.

And so, if you want to achieve a serious political effect, my suggestion is that you sit back Buddha-like, fold your arms, and do some deep breathing exercises. Then you should work on developing some interpersonal skills that don;t need to be mediated by electronics. Chances are, you will get plenty of opportunities to practice them when the time comes, giving seriously angry people something useful to do. By then nobody will be keeping tabs on you, because those doing the watching will have grown tired of looking at their persistently blank monitor screens and gone home. They they too will become seriously angry - but not at you.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Why Winona LaDuke is fighting for food sovereignty

Winona LaDuke wears a lot of hats. The 53-year-old member of the Mississippi Band of Anishinaabe in Minnesota is an activist, a mother and an occasional political candidate. (You may recognize her as Ralph Nader's vice presidential candidate on the Green Party ticket in 1996 and 2000.) The author of six books, she is also the executive director of two nonprofits: Honor the Earth, which supports indigenous environmental justice, and theWhite Earth Land Recovery Project, which aims to recover the land and the culture of the Anishinabe people at the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota.
Justice, land, culture — all concepts that have a connection with food, which makes sense. A focal point of LaDuke's recent efforts is food sovereignty, or as she put it in a recent essay, "the ability to feed your people." She says colonialism has robbed native communities like hers of much of their historic foods, not to mention their culture and autonomy. "As Shawnee scholar Steven Newcomb once pointed out to me, the word colonialism has at its root the same word as ' colon.' In other words, it means to digest — colonialism is the digestion of one people by another — in military, social, political, economic and food system terms."
A recent study at the White Earth reservation revealed the depth of the problem. The community spends about $8 million a year on food, but $7 million of that is spent off the reservation. What little is still spent on the reservation is for foods with little nutritional value. "The money we spent on-reservation was largely sucked up by convenience stories, where we purchased really cool stuff like pop, chips, pizzas to heat up, and baked goods," she wrote. Not only does this create a drain on the community's economy, it also reduces its ability to be self-reliant and creates soaring rates of diabetes, which plagues the reservation's residents.
To reverse the trends, LaDuke advocates restoring systems that have long been considered sacred. "Food for us comes from our relatives, whether they have wings or fins or roots," said the Harvard graduate at a recent TEDx Twin Cities talk. "That is how we consider food. Food has a culture. It has a history. It has a story. It has relationships."

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Cybernetic Garden Farm: Information in; information out.

This unprepared, extemporaneous speech was delivered in the Fall of 2010 in Grand Rapids at the International Conference on Sustainability: Energy, Economy, Environment. It followed Nicole Foss's talk (embedded below) on how she prepared her family for peak oil and economic uncertainty.

"As a system of design, Permaculture provides a new vocabulary and pattern language for observation and action, attention and listening, that empowers people to co-design homes, neighborhoods, and communities full of truly abundant food, energy, habitat, water, income, and yields enough to share." - Keith Johnson

Educator Peter Bane is preparing for the local future, beyond the global economy and post peak oil. Bane's talk is the story of the history of permaculture, and how he has used permaculture methods to move towards a self-sustaining homestead using free or low-cost techniques.

Peter Bane has published the Permaculture Activist Magazine since 1990. He is a garden farmer with Keith Johnson in Bloomington, Indiana, where they teach permaculture design at Indiana University and elsewhere.. Peter has a bachelors from University in Illinois in political design and a diploma in permaculture design from the British Academy of Permculture design. He served on the peak oil task force for the City of Bloomington, Indiana, which was adopted in 2009 December and has recently finished working on The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country.

In this talk, Bane describes, in his own words, how he is moving beyond the money economy, to providing his essential needs from his homestead, and how he is utilizing the principles of permaculture.

Recorded at the International Conference on Sustainability: Energy, Economy, Environment 2010 hosted by Local Future and directed by Aaron Wissner.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Too-Bright Future of Too-Big-To-Not-Fail Finance by Dmitri Orlov

Practical Post Scarcity by Open Source Ecology

This trio of video treats is re-evolutionary.
Open Source Ecology is a network of farmers, engineers, and supporters that for the last two years has been creating the Global Village Construction Set, an open source, low-cost, high performance technological platform that allows for the easy, DIY fabrication of the 50 different Industrial Machines that it takes to build a sustainable civilization with modern comforts. The GVCS lowers the barriers to entry into farmingbuilding, and manufacturing and can be seen as a life-size lego-like set of modular tools that can create entireeconomies, whether in rural Missouri, where the project was founded, in urban redevelopment, or in the developing world.

Practical Post Scarcity from Open Source Ecology on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Move to Amend - Get Corporate $$ OUT of Politics.

The movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to get corporate money out of elections is picking up some serious steam.

Tens of thousands of activists across the country have already signed PFAW's petition calling for an amendment ... in November and December, thousands of Americans attended hundreds house parties nationwide -- organized by PFAW, Public Citizen, Move To Amend and other allies, and joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Jim Hightower -- to mobilize and plan for a day of action on the upcoming January 21st second anniversary of Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court decision that unleashed unlimited corporate spending in our elections. Organizing meetings are taking place now and our movement was just this week featured on TV on both The Dylan Ratigan Show and The Young Turks.

It's high time YOU got on board!

Please take a moment to add your name to the petition now and help restore Government By the PEOPLE!

TEN bills proposing a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United decision have been introduced in the current Congress -- including one by Rep. Ted Deutch to expressly exclude for-profit corporations from the rights given to natural persons by the Constitution, prohibit corporate spending in all elections, and affirm the authority of Congress and the States to regulate corporations and to regulate and set limits on all election contributions and expenditures.

Here's just a glimpse of the growing national movement!
  • In Colorado, the Jamestown Board of Trustees unanimously passed a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment establishing that only human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights and that the First Amendment does not protect unlimited political spending as free speech. And voters in Boulder City passed a ballot measure calling for an amendment to the US Constitution that would state that corporations are not people and reject the legal status of money as free speech.
  • In California, the city councils of Fort Bragg, Richmond, Marina, Point Arena and Aracata, Oakland and Los Angeles passed resolutions last year supporting an amendment to make sure corporations don't have the same free speech rights as people in elections.
  • Missoula, Montana voters approved a local ballot referendum urging Congress to propose a constitutional amendment that clearly states that corporations are not people and do not have the same rights as citizens by a three to one margin.
  • Residents of Monroe, Maine passed a Local Self-Governance Ordinance stating that "no corporation doing business within the Town of Monroe shall be recognized as a ‘natural person’ under the United States or Maine Constitutions or laws of the United States or Maine."
And the councils of Chapel Hill, NC, Duluth, MN, Pueblo County, CO and New York City just recently passed resolutions supporting a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United.

It's time to add your name to PFAW's petition to Congress calling for constitutional amendment now and help us get from our current number of signers -- 75,000 -- to 100K!

Generations of Americans have come together to force much-needed change by amending the U.S. Constitution to expand democracy and protect fundamental rights. With the voice of the voter being increasingly drowned out by unlimited corporate spending in elections, the need has arisen again. Now, it's our generation's turn.

Please speak out now.

Thank you for standing up against corporate power run amok and for Government By the People