Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama's half hour commercial

I watched Obama's half hour commercial. The comment below reflects my thoughts:

What I found most interesting about the half hour was that Obama never mentioned McCain or Palin, and only once alluded to the current administration. He devoted the entire half hour to spotlighting the nation's most pressing problems by showing how they have affected real families, and then describing, point by point, what he planned to do about them. How different is this campaign than McCain's! I doubt that this will change many voters' minds, but it was a remarkably principled, high-minded, and conscientious presentation of Obama's political philosophy. I will vote for this man and his vision for America.

You can read this comment, others, and watch the half-our at
Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sarah Palin Rallies the Troops in Asheville

I was reading How the Irish Saved Civilization tonight.
The book opens with a summary how the Roman Empire was growing hollow and empty-headed at the end of empire.

What a fitting book to be reading in the arena of the Thomas Wolfe Civic Center, a few minutes before Sarah Palin came on.

It started out OK. People were polite in line, though not talking much to each other, and not having too much of a spirit. No non-stop nastiness, vicious patriotism, etc.

After waiting in line forever, it seems (others had worse), I got in and the auditorium was almost full (I think I was one of the last 800 in).

One thing that struck was the lack of organizing. No one asked me to sign for anything, gave me info about early voting, asked me to help or buy a yard sign.
Did everyone give up, or do they not know how to organize?

But, whatever. I read about the fall of the empire and waited for the rally to begin.
Nathan Ramsey gave an oily speech. Someone, I think Mumpower gave one-- probably the best of the evening.

When Palin came out, she got out a sentence before a part of the crowd started shouting over her "USA! USA!" I wondered if they were trying to drown out a heckler. Sure enough, Sara said "Why don't we let security take care of that, and in the meantime, let's hear another song!". Sort of like the film Bob Roberts.

Her speech depressed me. Not so much because I disagreed with what she said (of course I would, given where I came from), but because she said so little. Her main agenda, after heading into the most severe recession in 70 years, with an unprecedented credit meltdown, and a global panic cuts.
(No wonder the British conservative paper Financial Times endorsed Obama today. Even they think she's clueless.)

What amazed me, was instead of applause lines, she had boo lines-- lines calculated to have the audience boo ("The media went after Joe the Plumber!" Crowd- angry boos and hisses). At first I was thinking there were a lot, then I thought it might be a 1:1 ration between boo and applause lines. In the end, it felt more like 1:2. 66% of what she had to say was anger about how she and her audience were victimized. This is after 20 out of the last 28 years being GOP presidents! You'd think they might look in the mirror.

I knew I'd disagree with her, but I expected better. There is no there there.
No wonder Alaska's largest newspaper endorsed Obama/Biden today.

For all of that, I think the crowd could be won by Obama after he takes office. They didn't seem all that truly enthusiastic for the GOP. They just need to have one last rally before they face up to reality. Not just of overwhelming electoral defeat, but economic collapse due to the policies they asked for and received.

A headline in the Asheville Citizen-Times:
Zombies pose no threat at Palin event
Um, you can read it for the explanation.
Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Convergence of Commodities

As a commodities trader, he said, he wasn't concerned with who was producing something, or why. He was interested in demand, and there are, in his world, only four demands:
  1. the creation of transportation,
  2. the generation of heating and power,
  3. the manufacture of materials and
  4. the provision of sustenance through food and water.

“Historically, these four demands never used to talk to one another – they were silent,” he said. That is, they lived in different worlds of pricing, depending on the amount of energy they could produce per dollar spent.

"[Now] ....We don't care what commodity you buy. We called it a bushels-to-barrels-to-BTUs convergence. Take corn:
• It can now create heating and transportation; it's actually very good for burning to generate electricity.
• It can create plastic or cardboard, so it's a source of materials.
• And finally, you can eat it if you want. It can meet any of these demands. And you can use petroleum to create plastics, or to create fertilizer to grow food – suddenly, we are indifferent to what commodity we are buying to meet our demands.”
Click Here to Read More..

Friday, October 24, 2008

116 million people have heard of the MDG

Though I'm not sure how many of them live in Asheville.
The MDG are the Millenium Development Goals, a UN-coordinated set of goals and
targets to improve the life of the poorest on this planet. More info on MDG at

And to hear about the 116 million people campaigning for the MDG, read more below

Now Sit Up and Listen
Analysis by Sanjay Suri
Inter Press Service News Agency

LONDON, Oct 23 (IPS) - For every one in 50 people around the world to make a point of standing up somewhere on the planet to say the same kind of thing adds up to a lot of people. More than any mass mobilisation on any issue ever before.
And now that they have, it should follow for leaders, if only for their own sake, to sit up and listen.

The official figure for the campaign to 'Stand Up and Take Action against Poverty and for the Millennium Development Goals' Oct. 17-19 has been declared at 116,993,629. The call came from the Global Call for Action Against Poverty (GCAP), an alliance of about 100 social movements, non-government organisations and community and faith groups.

This was considerably more than the 43 million recorded last year.

But the actual number is almost certainly higher than this official figure, says Salil Shetty, director of the U.N. Millennium Campaign. The official total was announced while results, after due verification, were still coming in, he said, adding that the number that actually stood up would be about twice the 67 million estimated before the weekend event. Organisers say two percent of the world population physically stood up to make a point against poverty.

Actions ranged from standing up to deliver petitions to presidents or at local events where city mayors and other officials were invited to listen, to protest marches and meetings where everyone stood up to make a point. The protest gave quite vivid truth to the old cliché about local actions, carried out globally -- this time about similar matters, simultaneously.

The added support for the campaign against poverty might just have been provoked by the global financial crisis, that has seen thousands of billions of dollars go into financial institutions brought down by dubious dabblers, after the leaders who sanctioned this money denied a fraction of that to feed the world's hungry.

"If the rich countries kept their promise of 0.7 percent of their GNP for aid, that would generate more than 200 billion dollars, more than enough to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and is still much, much less than we've seen available for the banking bailout," Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former U.N. high commissioner for human rights declared as the results came in Wednesday.

"The money is there. But it's the political will. Leaders must listen to more than 116 million people," she said. "We have shattered all previous records for mass mobilisation. People really want to stand up against poverty, and say we need change."

The highest number of people who stood up, 73 million, was recorded in Asia, with 13 million reported in Bangladesh alone. Africa recorded about 24.5 million, and less expectedly, what was declared the 'Arab region' recorded close to 18 million.

Europe recorded close to a million, but Latin America only about 211,000. North America seems not to have drawn a significant response at all -- though the movement was led and coordinated from New York.

The initiative is not just about numbers, but a way to make protest possible. "We've created an opportunity for ordinary people to have a voice and to participate and to feel that they are not just objects of change but really the drivers of change," said Kumi Naidoo, co-chair of GCAP and honorary president of CIVICUS, a leading global NGO campaigning for rights and development.

"We've created a global event which is fundamentally local in nature," he said at a press conference after the attendance count. "My sense of why there was such an overwhelming turnout is that there is deep concern that the global economic crisis must not detract from meeting the MDGs, and exceeding them."

The attention to the money market crisis rather than to the MDGs clearly spurred a good deal of the protest action.

For the food crisis the leaders struggled to pledge eight billion dollars, for the financial crisis they found 3,000 billion dollars, said Sylvia Borren, former head of Oxfam Novib and co-chair of Worldconnectors, an NGO building links among people. "There is an ethical question here. If we had used that money at the bottom of the pyramid we would have achieved the MDGs by now." In this protest, "the urgency is the message."

The participation in the protest, she said, is "a democratic challenge for local governments, for national governments, but particularly also for the global governance we have, that says we the people do not understand that this kind of money can be spent on the Wall Street problem when children are dying every three seconds and women are dying at childbirth unnecessarily every minute."

The message coming across, Borren said, was that money was being spent "on financial institutions, on wars, it's being spent on all sorts of things we don't want; we want it spent on education, on water, on health, on food."

But between the delivery of a message and its receipt there still lies a wide gap. World leaders are meeting soon, not to end poverty or to find ways of providing everyone affordable food, but to make sure that the rich continue to buy, and that their market continues to flourish. (END/2008)

Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Imelda Marcos Shoe Pile

From an article in the New York Times:
In “Schooled,” Anisha Lakhani’s acidic narrative about an Upper East Side private school, swarms of seventh graders at a party kick off their high heels before descending on the dance floor. The narrator, who is their English teacher, regards the pile of footwear with a mixture of censure and awe: “Hard to believe, but there they lay, Jimmy Choos, Manolo Blahniks, Giuseppe Zanottis and Christian Louboutins — the abandoned shoes of 12-year-old girls.”

This reminds me of a visit to Manhattan I had a few weeks ago.


I was at a diner at 96th and Columbus Ave. 2-4 thirteen year old girls were at the table next to me (5th grade? 7th? something like that) talking about maids, vacation homes, shopping. It was utterly surreal and obscene. I half expected them to share corrupt hedge fund tricks that they learned from their daddies.

Of course, I am rather out of touch.
Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A new book about "human waste"

Excerpt from the new book
The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters,
by Rose George

I need the bathroom. I assume there is one, though I'm at a spartan restaurant in the Ivory Coast, in a small town filled with refugees from next-door Liberia, where water comes in buckets and you can buy towels second-hand. The waiter, a young Liberian man, only nods when I ask. He takes me off into the darkness to a one-room building, switches on the light, and leaves. There's a white tiled floor, white tiled walls, and that's it. No toilet, no hole, no clue. I go outside to find him again and ask whether he's sent me to the right place. He smiles with sarcasm. Refugees don't have much fun, but he's having some now. "Do it on the floor. What do you expect? This isn't America!" I feel foolish. I say I'm happy to use the bushes; it's not that I'm fussy. But he's already gone, laughing into the darkness.

I need the bathroom. I leave the reading room of the British Library in central London and find a "ladies" a few yards away. If I prefer, there's another one on the far side of the same floor, and more on the other six floors. By 6 p.m., after thousands of people have entered and exited the library and the toilets, the stalls are still clean. The doors still lock. There is warm water in the clean sinks. I do what I have to do, then flush the toilet and forget it immediately, because I can, and because all my life I have done no differently.

This is why the Liberian waiter laughed at me. He thought that I thought a toilet was my right, when he knew it was a privilege.

This is why the Liberian waiter laughed at me. He thought that I thought a toilet was my right, when he knew it was a privilege.

It must be, when 2.6 billion people don't have sanitation. I don't mean that they have no toilet in their house and must use a public one with queues and fees. Or that they have an outhouse or a rickety shack that empties into a filthy drain or pigsty. All that counts as sanitation, though not a safe variety. The people who have those are the fortunate ones. But four in ten people have no access to any latrine, toilet, bucket, or box. Nothing. Instead, they defecate by train tracks and in forests. They do it in plastic bags and fling them through the air in narrow slum alleyways. If they are women, they get up at 4 a.m. to be able to do their business under cover of darkness for reasons of modesty, risking rape and snakebites. Four in ten people live in situations in which they are surrounded by human excrement, because it is in the bushes outside the village or in their city yards, left by children outside the back door. It is tramped back in on their feet, carried on fingers onto clothes and into food and drinking water.

The disease toll of this is stunning. Eighty percent of the world's illness is caused by fecal matter. A gram of feces can contain 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts, and 100 worm eggs. Bacteria can be beneficial: the human body needs bacteria to function, and only 10 percent of cells in our body are actually human. Plenty are not. Small fecal particles can then contaminate water, food, cutlery, and shoes—and be ingested, drunk, or unwittingly eaten. One sanitation specialist has estimated that people who live in areas with inadequate sanitation ingest 10 grams of fecal matter every day.

Diarrhea—usually caused by feces-contaminated food or water—kills a child every fifteen seconds. That means more people dead of diarrhea than all the people killed in conflict since the Second World War. Diarrhea, says the UN children's agency UNICEF, is the largest hurdle a small child in a developing country has to overcome. Larger than AIDS, or TB, or malaria. 2.2 million people—mostly children—die from an affliction that to most westerners is the result of bad takeout. Public health professionals talk about water-related diseases, but that is a euphemism for the truth. These are shit-related diseases.

I'm often asked why I wrote The Big Necessity.

(No more at "Read More")

Click Here to Read More..

Monday, October 20, 2008

In Search of the Fabled Permaculture Chicken/Greenhouse

By Rob Hopkins

For many years I have taught permaculture courses, and like many who do so, I start my courses with the Tale of Two Chickens. This is a very useful way of looking at inputs, outputs, and the science of maximising beneficial relationships, and it concludes with describing one of permaculture’s Holy Grails, The Chicken/Greenhouse. However, now, as I stand on the verge of actually trying to make a chicken greenhouse, I am finding it very difficult to find actual working examples of chicken/greenhouses. Might I have spent years unwittingly promoting a permaculture urban myth?

The idea is straightforward and works brilliantly on paper. Patrick Whitefield in ‘Permaculture in a Nutshell’ sets it out very clearly (you can read it here), and you can read the thinking behind the Chicken/Greenhouse here. The picture below is taken from ‘In a Nutshell’, and captures the essential idea, which is that by placing the 2 elements of chickenhouse and greenhouse together with the proper orientation, you enable, via. good design, interactions to take place that otherwise would not take place and would require energy inputs to make happen. For example, the warmth from the chickens keeps the greenhouse free of frost, the carbon dioxide from the hens benefits the plants, and so on.

Visit full article at
Click link to learn more Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Asheville Transit- 3 Steps to Enlightenment

Event: 'ADC Forum - 3 Steps To Transportation Enlightenment.'

Public Events
Public Asheville Design Center Events

Date: Wednesday, October 22, 2008 At 06:00:00 PM
Duration: 1 Hour

The City of Asheville’s Transit Division will make an introduction to how multi-modal approaches can help you become automobile-free. Join us and learn about how to be involved in our evolving transportation programs, such as the upcoming Transit Master Plan, Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and the TDM program.

(Nothing more at Read More) Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Building a Food Pantry- the first steps

I hope you will never have an emergency, but even if you don’t, you will
always feel a more secure with (at least) one month’s food on hand. This is
definitely worth the little bit of work and expense it requires.

I cannot think of any food storage plan (than the one below) that would be cheaper, and yet have
the following features:

1. The food must all be nutritious.
2. It must all keep a long time without refrigeration.
3. You must be able to eat it uncooked if necessary.
4. It must all fit into a normal diet.

If you do this, I absolutely guarantee that you’ll be glad, and that it
will give you a very good feeling of security.

The ANYWAY, Very Cheap, System of Food Storage for
Emergencies and/or Inflation for People Who Think They Cannot Afford Food
Click Here to Read More..

Friday, October 17, 2008

HomeGrown: a film about a 21st century family farm in the middle of the city

A Documentary About Modern Day Urban Homesteaders
For screening venue information visit

HOMEGROWN (2008) follows the Dervaes family who run a small organic farm in
the heart of urban Pasadena, California. While 'living off the grid’, they
harvest over 6,000 pounds of produce on less than a quarter of an acre, make
their own bio diesel, power their computers with the help of solar panels,
and maintain a website that gets 4,000 hits a day. The film is an intimate
human portrait of what it’s like to live like ‘Little House on the Prairie’
in the 21st Century.

Director's Statement

"Many people are becoming aware of the environment. We may have gone to see
‘An Inconvenient Truth’, changed our light bulbs, or started to recycle
more. But how many of us are really walking the walk’ I know I’m not.

When I heard about the Dervaes family, I sensed that there was a human story
behind the headlines about global warming or buying organic produce. I
wanted to find out what it takes to live the life of an environmental
pioneer. I don’t wish to simply glorify or romanticize their way of life,
however. I want to show that along with the positive benefits there are also
sacrifices. Truly living by your ideals can have costs. I believe that
recognizing the hardships the Dervaes have faced makes their work all the
more inspiring.

HOMEGROWN is ultimately a family story. It’s about what lead them to where
they are today, what changed them and what keeps them together. Perhaps by
learning of their journey to a sustainable life style, we might be inspired
to take our own first steps."

About Robert McFalls

Early in his career he was an associate editor on ‘American Dream’, the
Barbara Kopple documentary, which won the Academy Award in 1990. That
experience helped him to see what a broad reach a well-crafted documentary
could have. He recently edited a documentary feature on the Dalai Lama,
which is now screening at festivals around the world.


The beautiful music for this documentary was performed by our great American
homegrown musicians Jay Unger & Molly Mason.

Jay Ungar and Molly Mason are best known for their haunting composition
Ashokan Farewell in Ken Burns’ hit PBS series ‘The Civil War’’. The
soundtrack won a Grammy and Ashokan Farewell was nominated for an Emmy.
They’ve garnered legions of fans through their appearances on ‘Great
Performances’, ‘A Prairie Home Companion’, their own public radio specials,
and work on film soundtracks such as ‘Brother’s Keeper’, ‘Legends of the
Fall’, and a host of Ken Burns documentaries.

About the Family

The Dervaes Family (Jules, Ana’s, Justin & Jordanne)

Since the mid 1980s, Jules Dervaes and his family have steadily worked at
transforming an ordinary residential lot in Pasadena, California into a
verdant oasis in the midst of the city. On their small fifth of an acre they
are striving to be a self-sustaining urban homestead complete with bio
diesel power, solar energy, and wastewater management. These eco-pioneers
grow much of their own food and raise a menagerie of chickens, ducks, goats,
and an occasional cat. They have been the subject of numerous articles in
newspapers around the country, including The New York Times, The Los Angeles
Times and were recently featured on ABC’s Nightline. You can learn more
about them at their website:

Click Here to Read More..

More Neighbors = Less Theft

Breaking down fences makes good neighbors
Towns encourage residents to get to know one another
|Chicago Tribune reporter

Connie Peyer barely knew the family who lived across the street, so she was shocked when her neighbor came over, upset, saying her home had been burglarized in broad daylight and no one bothered to call police.

Neighbors had watched as men loaded a truck with a television and appliances.
"Everyone thought, 'Oh, they're moving out,' " Peyer said.

The burglary taught Peyer a lesson about community isolation. So she was quick to volunteer when she learned that Skokie, where she had since moved, was sponsoring a program to help residents do what used to come naturally: get to know the Joneses next door.

28 years ago, I lived in central Cambridge, MA, when I heard that there was an attempted rape down the street. The woman cried out for help, and neighbors streamed out on the street of two and three story rowhouses. Afterwards, the neighbors held a block party to celbrate the power of community.

But when I moved onto that portion of the street a few months later, that all seemed a distant memory. So my housemates and I held a Neighborhood CrimeWatch meeting, and a police officer came by to talk about safety, and tagging possessions with ID numbers that would make them harder to pawn.

A few months later, our house got a call from the house across the street (we exchanged phone numbers). Did someone just steal one of our bikes?

Indeed they had. Even though we had hardly ever talked socially, the neighbor had a vague sense of who lived and visited our 7 person house.and thought it strange for someone to be removing a bike in the snowy dead of winter. It wasn't my first bike theft, nor my last; and the warning didn't come in time; but it did show the power of neighborhood.

(So I'm glad my neighborhood formed an association last Sunday night.)
Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bio-Intensive Workshop in Virginia

As far as I can decipher, this workshop would cost $400, not including lodging and most meals .

John Jeavons is famous for dropping out of his corporate systems analyst work after Earth Day 1970 to apply the insights to farming, so as to get the most calories out of a patch of land. (Activist Bill Moyer followed a similar path with the American peace movement, and helped to transform it).

If anyone goes to this, I'd be interested in hearing what they learn.
-- Jim Barton

Food and Our Future:
Hope and Solutions through Biointensive Farming
A Workshop with John Jeavons
October 23 through 25, 2008
8:00-5:00 in Dayton, Virginia:
Woodment of the World Hall
3045 John Wayland Hwy

All of life on Earth…depends on six-inches of topsoil and the fact that it rains!
The soil is a living organism that must be fed and nurtured to keep it feeding us. This
basic understanding is not a major focus of most current forms of conventional
agriculture. In this workshop John will share eight essential aspects of GROW
BIOINTENSIVE including: Deep Soil Preparation, Raised Beds, Composting, Intensive
Planting, Companion Planting, Carbon Farming, Calorie Farming, The Use of Open-
Pollinated Seeds, and A Whole-System Farming Method. John will also provide time for
questions and answers concerning northwest small-scale farming, long-term sustainable
soil fertility, and specific crops.

John Jeavons has directed Ecology Action’s Mini-Farming program since 1972.
He is the author of How to Grow More Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, Berries, Grains
and Other Crops…, the textbook of the GROW BIOINTENSIVE (GB) Sustainable
Mini-Farming system, as well as being author, co-author and/or editor of over 30
other Ecology Action publications.

His major responsibilities include directing field
and library research and education in GB food raising. He advises biologically-
intensive projects in Mexico, Kenya, Ecuador, Russia, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan
as well as all corners of the U.S. Jeavons holds a B.A. in Political Science from
Yale University. Before coming to Ecology Action in 1971, he worked as a systems
analyst in business, government and university settings. He has received the Boise
Peace Quilt, Santa Fe Living Treasure, Giraffe, and Steward of Sustainable
Agriculture awards for public service. Click Here to Read More..

Stream Monitoring Training

SMIE* is looking for new Stream Monitoring volunteers!

Sunday, October 26th
UNC-Asheville, Forks of Ivy
$15 suggested donation
($ collected at training, please don't send in advance)

The morning will be spent at UNC-Asheville, learning background information and bug ID skills, using scopes and other equipment. There will be a lunch break from 12:30-1:30pm, and the afternoon will be spent applying the new protocol in the field (doing several types of biological sampling, bug ID, and data collecting). Attendees can earn 7 hours towards Criteria III for NC Enviro. Education Certification Program.

Volunteer expectations:
· Attend the training (lunch provided, carpooling encouraged).
· Sample a minimum of 2 sites (it only takes 2-3 hours for a group to sample one site), 2 times per year.

All volunteer groups will have a group leader, who has additional training in bug identification, and a paid technician will provide oversight for quality assurance purposes. This valuable training opportunity is open to anyone interested (ages 17 and up), so please help spread the word, and take advantage of this excellent opportunity!

To RSVP, or for more information, please contact Gracia O’Neill at Clean Water for NC (828) 251-1291, or

We hope to hear from you soon!

~Gracia O'Neill

*SMIE is a collaboration of several area non-profits and government agencies, coordinated by CWFNC, which has been working to develop a new volunteer stream monitoring protocol. This method is more advanced than common biological citizen monitoring methods (such as Izaak Walton League), but is still easy to follow for volunteers with no prior experience in stream monitoring. All of the data collected by volunteer groups will be shared with NC DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) to be used as a "red flag" for identifying waterways in need of additional protection. Volunteer monitoring groups will be a focal point or community interaction, promote a sense of stewardship of local waterways and empower residents to protect the quality of our mountain rivers and streams! Donations larger than the requested $15 will be gratefully accepted.

Gracia O'Neill
Assistant Director
Clean Water for North Carolina
29 1/2 Page Ave.
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 251-1291
><((((º>`·.¸¸.·´¯`·.¸.·´¯`·...¸><((((º> Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

22 years later

While unpacking, I found some outlet insulation. It turned out that all these years, the outlets on the outside walls hadn't been insulated.

Here's the during picture:

And a close-up of the insulation outlet thingie:

And after:

This all seems pretty simple, but it reminds me that I spent the summer of 1986 doing this in Santa Cruz. Funded by Pacific Gas and Electric, a team of 20 students and recent graduates earned $12/hour visiting EVERY house in the City of Santa Cruz that had an electric or gas meter. If the resident (homeowner or renter) wanted, we did a quick energy audit, installed some outlet covers, covered their hot water heater, gave tips, left materials, and let them know how they could get further work done.

(and according to
that's $24 in 2008

(We did this for about four months, which means the labor cost would have been
40 hours*12 $/hour*20 people * 13 weeks = $125,000 in 1986 dollars for paid labor,
and a quarter million dollars in today's money (figure one to two million dollars total for admin support, materials & labor).

I wish I could tell you what the cost per watt saved ($/negawatt) was, but I've called the city of Santa Cruz and PGE and the report seems to have been lost. More than one person has said that getting info out of PGE is like pulling teeth.

And what does this have to do with the coming wave of unemployment, high heating bills, and the need to retrofit US housing stock to work towards reduced carbon emissions so that we can get our atmosphere to 350 parts per million of carbon?

I'll let you make that connection.
But here's a link or two to look at in the meantime.

If you want to buy some of these, they cost 33 cents each.

They might also have them at Click Here to Read More..

What Happens to a Common Life Destroyed?

Does it fester, or just shrivel up like a raisin in the sun?

In response to a blog entry on the credit/financial meltdown by David Houlihan at
I wrote this response:

Great column! In all the many words I’ve read the last two weeks, I haven’t heard anyone talk about how this affects the three different generations you mentioned.

I’m noticing that young people seem to like Derrick Jensen’s eco-doomsterism. One thing I was thinking about yesterday was how our failure to confront global warming affects our collective mood.

During the 80’s I could sense people shrinking into their cocoons as talk of nuclear winter increased. Christopher Lasch pointed out that a downside of anti-nuclear organizing was a psychic numbing in the general populace as we collectively said no (in Australia, New Zealand, Europe and North America) to omnicide.

There was a brief opportunity to breathe easier in 1988 as the cold war rapidly and unexpectedly wound down. Then the announcement of global warming we started a twenty year game that was a combination of Chicken and “Who Wants to Bell the Cat?”.

I can’t help but think that this common evasion of a problem is affecting our global family. It isn’t the case that a family ignoring an alcholic parent doesn’t know about it– to the contrary, a tremendous amount of energy is spent in the labor of Active Denial.

What happens when all the tens of millions of people in the industrial world who DID mobilize to reduce the risk of nuclear war pretend that global warming isn’t a problem, even thought they were concerned and civic enough to create a successful anti-nuclear movement?

I think there might be some interplay between your excellent post and my comments. I’d love to hear thoughts on this

Click Here to Read More..

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Global Green Jobs

From the website:

Green Jobs: Toward Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World

Ronnie Goldberg, IOE; Achim Steiner, UNEP; Juan Somavia; ILO, Guy Ryder, ITUC; Nick Nuttall, UNEPIn partnership with the Worldwatch Institute, the Cornell Global Labor Institute co-authored a groundbreaking study on green jobs. Commissioned by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) under the joint 'Green Jobs Initiative' with the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Trade Union Confereration (ITUC) and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), the report is the first comprehensive report to analyze the current level and projected growth of green jobs on a global scale.

The report highlights the positive connections between stabilizing the climate and job growth. While a transition to cleaner, most sustainable forms of energy will cause a reduction in employment for carbon intensive industries, overall this transition will likely result in a net gain of employment. Moreover, the cost of not acting or being slow to act will have even greater negative consequences on the economy and jobs.

Some key findings of the report are:

  • Renewable energy jobs- now at over 2.3 million- are rapidly expanding
  • By 2030, wind and solar could reach upwards of 8 million jobs by 2030
  • During the next two decades, public and private investment for retrofitting or weatherizing buildings could add 3.5 million jobs in the European Union and United States.
  • "Clean tech" investment reached $148 billion in 2007, up 60 percent from 2006

The report emphasizes that green jobs will need to be scaled up dramatically in order to address the two most pressing issues facing humanity- climate change and the employment crisis- and highlights policies across the globe that have stimulated investment in the green economy and created new jobs.For the full report, click Green Jobs: Towards Decent Work in a Sustainable, Low-Carbon World.

Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Two more economic indicators

Cancelled classes and seasonal hiring

A friend tells me that a class she's teaching that always fills up only has one student signed up, and will likely be cancelled.

A clerk at Barnes and Noble tells me that they aren't interviewing or hiring for the Christmas season. "We have a stack of applications this thick", she gestures with her fingers an inch apart.

This is going to be a cold winter. Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A short talk and film on nuclear power, 1977

I'll be talking at this event about how this event shaped my life and jumpstarted the antinuclear movements against power plants AND weapons.


CALLING ALL CLAMS -- and anyone interested in non-violent direct
action...and energy issues... this 90 minute film is original footage,
remastered for the 30th anniversary -- of 1414 people taking over a
nuclear power plant construction site -- in 1977, in New Hampshire. They
did not cooperate with arrest -- and did not give their names, doing
massive "jail solidarity" for more than a week, while held in armories
and other large warehouse type settings. This is an amazing story -- and
now that that the nuclear industry is BACK and asking our region to take
the new nukes (15 new reactors are already in some phase of licensing in
the Southeast)...

"CLAMS" -- or those who were part of the Clamshell Alliance that did
this mobilization -- are coming to share their stories -- if you are a
Clam, come too!
Likely NIRS will screen this film again later in the season, since
several Clams that live locally already have sent "regrets" !

WHAT: Seabrook 1977 film -- "remastered"
WHERE: Firestorm Cafe and Books -- on Commerce St --just around the
corner from the light at Patton and Coxe -- diagonally across the street
(towards Patton) from the Coxe Post Office
WHEN: Monday October 13 at 7:30 pm -- discussion after
WHY: In part to support FIRESTORM -- nice menu of vegan wraps,
sandwiches and salads... coffee bar, baked goodies -- this is a worker
(activist) owned business -- come eat dinner!
*...and to revive the previous generations of anti-nuclear activists
while welcoming and CELEBRATING the 4th generation as they rise!

*More info:

Mary Olson
NIRS Southeast Regional Coordinator
Nuclear Information & Resource Service
PO Box 7586 Asheville, NC 28802
new cell -- 828-242-5621 (no signal at my office)

Nuclear Information & Resource Service
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 340,
Takoma Park, MD 20912
tel: 301-270-NIRS (301-270-6477);
fax: 301-270-4291
e-mail Click Here to Read More..

Building a Sustainable Local Food Economy in North Carolina

This came across my email:
Building a Sustainable Local Food Economy in North Carolina:
From Farm-to-Fork
March 2 and 3, 2009 Statewide Summit

We are pleased to announce that over the next year, the Center for Environmental Farming Systems ( has been funded to reach out across the state and together with our partners ask: What will it take to build a sustainable local food economy in North Carolina?

From the mountains to the coast, various organizations are promoting and implementing exciting initiatives to support our state and communities through sustainable local agriculture. Examples include new farmer’s markets, local food policy councils, comprehensive county- or region-based food initiatives, farm incubator programs, farm and/or garden youth education programs, health and nutrition projects focused on local sustainable foods, procurement initiatives by large retail and institutional buyers and schools, and much more.

If each North Carolinian spent 25 cents/day on local food (just 2.5 percent of the $3600.00 that we spend on average on food consumption per year), it would mean $792 million for the state’s economy. That money circulates here in the state so has a multiplier effect, rather than going to a corporate headquarters in another state.

Other benefits of a sustainable local food economy in North Carolina include economic development, job creation within farming and food sectors, preservation of open space, decreased use of fossil fuel and associated carbon emissions, preservation and protection of the natural environment, increased consumer access to fresh and nutritious foods, and greater food security for all North Carolinians.

Over the next year, CEFS and its partners will be gathering information from across food system sectors: conducting regional meetings, targeted issues discussions, interviews, and hosting a statewide summit on March 2 and 3, 2009. Our desired result is a Statewide Action Plan for Building the Local Food Economy with specific steps (short- and long-term) that policy makers, Universities, government agencies, environmental organizations, businesses, funding agencies, social activists, NGOs and citizens can take to make this happen.

The first three regional meetings have been set and are to be held in:

Raleigh, North Carolina: October 14, 8:30-11:30 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at 3313 Wade Avenue.

Burgaw, North Carolina: October 21, 1:30-4:30, Pender County Cooperative Extension office, 801 South Walker Street

Ashville, North Carolina: November 12, 1:30-4:30 at the NC Arboretum, 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way.

The purpose of the regional meetings is to bring together those engaged in all aspects of the food system, to collect information and ideas that will be the building blocks of discussion at the summit and eventually the core components of the State Action Plan. We want to identify specific regional and local sustainable food systems models that are working and also regional challenges that can be addressed through policies, programs, and funding. We seek to engage the broad group of those involved with the food system including farmers, suppliers, processors, economic development organizations, distributors, farm and food industry workers, extension and other educators, marketers, financial institutions, Universities and community colleges, elected officials, government agencies, county and city planners, farm organizations, anti-poverty organizers, social justice workers, consumers and consumer groups, granting agencies, health and wellness organizations, environmental groups, food banks, and more. These regional meetings will be facilitated listening sessions and provide important input into this process, so we are encouraging broad participation.

The end product–the State Action Plan–will articulate a shared vision and set of common goals for building a local, sustainable food system and economy in North Carolina. It will:

1) describe key elements of our current food system and define key terms;
2) identify the diversity of people, businesses, and organizations involved in and impacted by North Carolina’s food system;
3) highlight specific efforts and partnerships underway across our state and within different sectors of the food system to achieve greater “localness” in our food system; and
4) identify opportunities for action, and propose priorities, both in the short and long term, that will enable us to make progress toward shared goals.

Finally, another key goal of this process is the formation of an ongoing working committee or task force, with broad representation across food system sectors that will focus on facilitating and carrying out action items, provide ongoing networking opportunities, and revise the action plan as needs and priorities change.

A “Road to the State Action Plan” listserv has been established, please respond to: to be added to the listserv and receive more information about the project, regional meeting dates, policy forums, summit, etc. If you or your organization is engaged in a food systems project, please take a minute to fill out the attached contact information sheet describing the nature of the work you or your organization does and email to This information will be included in a data base for all participants, and may also result in further interviews by the project team.

Please feel free to share this information with others who may be interested in becoming involved with this project. Please RSVP to if possible if you are attending a regional meeting as it will help us in our planning, and check the CEFS website ( for updates. Click Here to Read More..

Monday, October 6, 2008

Inheriting the Future

Over at her column in Mountain Xpress,
Edgy Mama has a good column on parenting in nervous times,
which echoes what I feel as an uncle:

These are crazy times—renowned financial firms are going belly-up,
real-estate values are plunging, a conservative woman from nowhere is
poised to become vice president, and here in Asheville, we’re in the
middle of the great gas panic of 2008.

I realize that panic creates panic, and I’m not buying into the
gasoline panic. Yet. But I have found myself feeling generally unnerved
and upset by all this crazy stuff going on in the world. And I’m
worried, mostly for my kids.

Keep reading

Click Here to Read More..