Saturday, December 20, 2008

Jason Webley in Asheville, 12/29, Flood Gallery

If you like the Avett Brothers and what they do for bluegrass,
you will also like Jason Webley and what he does for the accordian.

I experienced them both the same summer and saw many similarities.

Wait a minute! Stop presses! He IS appearing with the Avett Brothers.
And I was THE FIRST to note the similarity!

And do I get credit?
No. As usual.
I can't find the emails, but I noted to the Avetts that they were like Jason Webley,
and one of them replied something like "Thanks. Never heard of him-- I'll have to check that out."
Trust me. I thought I might have said the same thing to Jason.

Here's what one fan said of them together in Seattle:
QUOTE: (anne @ Nov 12 2008, 8:38 AM)
"I believe Jason Webley played before the Avetts at Pickathon in 2007. He was f-ing awesome!! He had the whole crowd pointing in the air and spinning in circles. My son and I had a blast during his set.
he did and it *was* awesome!"

he also opened for them the first night in Seattle this past April and i don't think that show would have been as good without his stellar, energetic performance. he brought something special to that evening.

Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, December 13, 2008

New York times has an article on Ecotopia

Back in 1977, there were a few sci fi utopias and dystopias that had been recently published:
- Woman on the Edge of Time, by Marge Piercy
- Wanderground, by Sally Gearhart

but my favorite, which I read as part of a study group with the MOvement for a New Society, was ecotopia, by Ernest Callenbach.

Today the NYT has an article on it. Perhaps there might be a market for a booklength study of MNS after all. I'm headed to the official archives of the group, the Swarthmore College Peace Collection next week. It's my second visit-- I went there in October 1979 to research the 1948 anti-draft movement, in which Bob Swann was quite influential.

No one else seems to writing on MNS yet, nor to have written on them. The three scholars I've contacted think it's high time for someone to do it.

The Novel That Predicted Portland
Published: December 12, 2008
SOMETIMES a book, or an idea, can be obscure and widely influential at the same time. That’s the case with “Ecotopia,” a 1970s cult novel, originally self-published by its author, Ernest Callenbach, that has seeped into the American groundwater without becoming well known.

The novel, now being rediscovered, speaks to our ecological present: in the flush of a financial crisis, the Pacific Northwest secedes from the United States, and its citizens establish a sustainable economy, a cross between Scandinavian socialism and Northern California back-to-the-landism, with the custom — years before the environmental writer Michael Pollan began his campaign — to eat local.

Click Here to Read More..

Bumpersticker Visions

I was driving (yes, a rented car) along Haywood Road, wondering how many of my fellow citizens got it about peak oil and the need for a new lifestyle.

I saw a new health club at Haywood and Patton, with a name like a corporate radio brand: "The Rush". Apparently the complex is 40,000 square feet. All well and good, but in a month where
• hunting licenses are on the rise because budgets are tight
• electricity use is down by 7% for the same reason
• gas purchases have been going down, and transit use up-- even though gas is half the price it was just a few months ago......

do these folks really think that folks will an unspecified amount of money
(never a good sign when the price is available only by talking to a push sales person)
to exercise when they could bike or walk up these plentiful hills?

I don't think they get it, and imagine they are going under.
In contrast....

a minute after that, I saw a woman with two bumperstickers--
one that has been around for quite a while on simple living, and the other apparently homemade, which said something like "This petroleum bonanza is a one time deal."

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, December 5, 2008

An Open Letter to Obama on the next Secretary of Agriculture

The following letter is signed by
Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry, Alice Waters, Marion Nestle and Bill McKibben,
among others.

They suggest some people they think would be good for the next Secretary of Agriculture:

# Gus Schumacher, former Under Secretary of Agriculture for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services and former Massachusetts Commissioner of Agriculture.
# Chuck Hassebrook, executive director, Center for Rural Affairs, Lyons, Neb.
# Sarah Vogel, former Commissioner of Agriculture for North Dakota, lawyer, Bismarck, N.D.
# Fred Kirschenmann, organic farmer, distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Ames, Iowa, and president of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, NY.
# Mark Ritchie, Minnesota Secretary of State, former policy analyst in Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture under Governor Rudy Perpich, co-founder of the Institute for
Agriculture and Trade Policy.
# Neil Hamilton, Dwight D. Opperman Chair of Law and director of the Agricultural Law Center, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa.

Jim Barton


Dear President-Elect Obama,

We congratulate you on your historic victory and welcome the change that your election
promises to usher in for our nation. As leaders in the sustainable agriculture and rural
advocacy community we supported you in record numbers during the caucus, primary
and general election because of the family farm-friendly p olicies that you advocated
during your campaign.

As our nation's future president, we hope that you will take our concerns under
advisement when nominating our next Secretary of Agriculture because of the crucial
role this Secretary will play in revitalizing our rural economies, protecting our nation's
food supply and our environment, improving human health and well-being, rescuing the
independent family farmer, and creating a sustainable renewable energy future.

We believe that our nation is at a critical juncture in regard to agriculture and its impact
on the environment and that our next Secretary of Agriculture must have a broad vision
for our collective future that is greater than what past appointments have called for.

Presently, farmers face serious challenges in terms of the high costs of energy, inputs and
land, as well as continually having to fight an economic system and legislative policies
that undermine their ability to compete in the open market. The current system
unnaturally favors economies of scale, consolidation and market concentration and the
allocation of massive subsidies for commodities, all of which benefit the interests of
corporate agribusiness over the livelihoods of farm families.

In addition, America must come to understand the environmental and human health
implications of industrialized agriculture. From rising childhood and adult obesity to
issues of fo od safety, global warming and air and water pollution, we believe our next
Secretary of Agriculture must have a vision that calls for:
• recreating regional food systems,
• supporting the growth of humane, natural and organic farms, and
• protecting the environment, biodiversity and the health of our children while implementing policies that place conservation, soil health, animal welfare and worker's rights as well as sustainable renewable energy near the top of their agenda.

Today we have a nutritional and environmental deficit that is as real and as great as that
of our national debt and must be addressed with forward thinking and bold, decisive
action. To deal with this crisis, our next Secretary of Agriculture must work to advance a
new era of sustainability in agriculture, humane husbandry, food and renewable energy
production that revitalizes our nation's soil, air and water while stimulating opportunities
for new farmers to return to the land.

We believe that a new administration should address our nation's growing health
problems by promoting a children's school lunch program that incorporates more healthy
food choices, including the creation of opportunities for schools to purchase food from
local sources that place a high emphasis on nutrition and sustainable farming practices.
We recognize that our children's health is our nation's future and that currently schools
are unable to meet these needs because they do not have the financial resources to inve st
in better food choices. We believe this reflects and is in line with your emphasis on
childhood education as a child's health and nutrition are fundamental to their academic

We understand that this is a tall order, but one that is consistent with the values and
policies that you advocated for in your bid for the White House. We realize that more
conventional candidates are likely under consideration; however, we feel strongly that the
next head of the USDA should have a significant grassroots background in promoting
sustainable agriculture to create a prosperous future for rural America and a healthy
future for all of America's citizens.

With this in mind, we are offering a list of leaders who have demonstrated a commitment
to the goals that you articulated during your campaign and we encourage you to consider
them for the role of Secretary of Agriculture.


1. David Murphy, Clear Lake, IA
2. Paul Willis, Thornton, IA
3. Michael Pollan, Berkeley, CA
4. Bill Niman, Bolinas, CA
5. Nicolette Hahn Niman, Bolinas, CA
6. Diane Halverson, Northfield, MN
7. Marlene Halverson, Northfield, MN
8. Aaron Woolf, Elizabethtown, NY
9. Judy Wicks, Philadelphia, PA
10. Wendy Wasserman, Iowa City, IA
11. Anna Lappé, Brooklyn, NY
12. Cornelia Butler Flora, Ames, IA
13. Eleanor Bertino, San Francisco, CA
14. Wes Jackson, Salina, KS
15. Wendell Berry, Port Royal, KY
16. Alice Waters, Berkeley, CA
17. Marion Nestle, New York, NY
18. Bill McKibben, Middlebury, VT
19. Rick Dove, New Bern, NC
20. Ann Cooper, Berkeley, CA
21. Michel Nischan, Fairfield, CT
22. Jerry DeWitt, Ames, IA
23. Michael Dimock, San Francisco, CA
24. Jim Harkness, Minneapolis, MN
25. Frank Reese, Lindsborg, KS
26. Jeff Odefey, Irvington, NY
27. Cathy Liss, Alexandria, VA
28. Eric Schlosser, Monterey, CA
29. Leigh Adcock, Ames, IA
30. Dan Barber, Pocantico Hills, NY
31. Francis Thicke, Fairfield, IA
32. Josh Viertel, Brooklyn, NY
33. Peter Hoffman, New York, NY
34. Tom Philpott, Valle Crucis, NC
35. Hillary Wilson, Valle Crucis, NC
36. Dan Imhoff, Healdsburg, CA
37. Michael Stumo, Sheffield, MA
38. Simran Sethi, Lawrence, KS
39. Lisa Stokke, Clear Lake, IA
40. Sarah Willis, Thornton, IA
41. Peter Kaminsky, Brooklyn, NY
42. Kurt Michael Friese, Iowa City, IA
43. Carl Safina, Stony Brook, NY
44. Anthony Garrett, Washington, DC
45. Eliza Maclean, Snow Camp, NC
46. Odessa Piper, Silver Spring, MD
47. Edward Behr, Barnet, VT
48. Phyllis Willis, Thornton, IA
49. Larry Cleverley, Mingo, IA
50. Jesse Ziff Cool, Menlo Park, CA
51. Curt Ellis, Austin, TX
52. Wenonah Hauter, Washington, D C
53. Patty Lovera, Washington, DC
54. John Ikerd, Columbia, MO
55. Lucia Watson, Minneapolis, MN
56. Deborah Madison, Galisteo, NM
57. George DeVault, Decorah, IA
58. Melanie DeVault, Decorah, IA
59. Andrea King Collier, Lansing, MI
60. Rosiland Creasy, Los Altos, CA
61. John Jeavons, Willits, CA
62. Samuel Fromartz, Washington DC
63. Frances Moore Lappe, Cambridge, MA
64. Denise O'Brien, Atlantic, IA
65. Arnell Hinkle, Berkeley, CA
66. Marjie Bender, Pittsboro, NC
67. Winona LaDuke, Ponsford, MN
68. Diane Hatz, New York, NY
69. Cory Schreiber, Portland, OR
70. Rick Bayless, Chicago, IL
71. Angie Tagtow, Elkhart, IA
72. Ralph Paige, East Point, GA
73. Clara Bingham, New York, NY
74. Arie McFarlen, Dell Rapids, SD
75. Bret Kortie, Dell Rapids, SD
76. Dwight Ault, Austin, MN
77. Amy P. Goldman, Rhinebeck, NY
78. Judith LaBelle, New York, NY
79. Patrick Martins, New York, NY
80. Mary Berry Smith, New Castle, KY
81. John Fisk, East Lansing, MI
82. Tim LaSalle, Kutztown, PA
83. Susan Stokes, St. Paul, MN
84. Jude Becker, Dyersville, IA

Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Some Constructive Approaches to the Mumbai Massacres

This Joint Statement is being released to the press simultaneously in Pakistan and India today, 30th November 2008.

We are deeply shocked and horrified at the bloody mayhem in Mumbai, which has claimed more than a hundred and ninty lives and caused grievous injuries to several hundred people, besides sending a wave of panic and terror across South Asia and beyond. We convey our profound feelings of sorrow and sympathies to the grieving families of the unfortunate victims of this heinous crime and express our solidarity with them.

As usual, all sorts of speculations are circulating about the identity of the perpetrators of this act of barbarism. The truth about who are directly involved in this brutal incident and who could be the culprits behind the scene is yet to come out and we do not wish to indulge in any guesswork or blame game at this point. However, one is intrigued at its timing. Can it be termed a coincidence that it has happened on the day the Home Secretaries of the two countries concluded their talks in Islamabad and announced several concrete steps to move forward in the peace process, such as the opening of several land routes for trade ? Kargil, Wagah-Attari, Khokhropar etc ?, relaxation in the visa regime,? a soft and liberal policy on the issue of release of prisoners and joint efforts to fight terrorism? Again, is it just a coincidence that on this fateful day the Foreign Minister of Pakistan was in the Indian capital holding very useful and productive talks with his Indian counterpart?? One thing looks crystal clear. The enemies of peace and friendship between the two countries, whatever be the label under which they operate, are un-nerved by these healthy developments and are hell bent on torpedoing them.

We are of the considered opinion that the continued absence of peace in South Asia - peace between and within states - particularly in relation to India and Pakistan , is one of the root causes of most of the miseries the people of the region are made to endure. It is the major reason why our abundantly resource-rich subcontinent is wallowing in poverty, unemployment, disease, and ignorance and why militarism, religious and sectarian violence and political, economic and social injustice are eating into the very vitals of our societies, even after more than six decades of independence from colonial rule.

At this moment of unmitigated tragedy, the first thing we call upon the Governments of India and Pakistan to do is to acknowledge the fact that the overwhelming majority of the people of India and Pakistan ardently desire peace and, therefore, the peace process must be pursued with redoubled speed and determination on both sides. The sooner the ruling establishments of India and Pakistan acknowledge this fact and push ahead with concrete steps towards lasting peace and harmony in the subcontinent, the better it will be not only for the people of our two countries but also for the whole of South Asia and the world. While the immediate responsibility for unmasking the culprits of Mumbai and taking them to task surely rests with the Government of India, all of us in South Asia have an obligation to join hands and go into the root causes of why and how such forces of evil are motivated and emboldened to resort to such acts of anti-people terror.?

It is extremely important to remind the leaderships of Pakistan and India that?? issuing statements and signing agreements and declarations will have meaning only when they are translated into action and implemented honestly, in letter and spirit and without any further loss of time. It assumes added urgency in the prevailing conditions in South Asia , with the possibility that so many different forces prone to religious, sectarian and other forms of intolerance and violence may be looking for ways to arm themselves with more and more sophisticated weapons of mass murder and destruction. The bloodbath in Mumbai must open the eyes of our governments, if it has not already happened.???

We urge upon the governments of India and Pakistan to immediately take the following steps:

1. Cessation of all hostile propaganda against each other;
2. Joint action to curb religious extremism of all shades in both countries;?
3. Continue and intensify normalization of relations and peaceful resolution of all conflicts between the two countries;
4. Facilitation of trade and cooperation between the two countries and in all of South Asia . We welcome the fact that the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad and Poonch-Rawlakot borders have been opened for trade and that the opening of the road between Kargil and Skardu is in the pipeline.
5. Immediate abolition of the current practice of issuing city-specific and police reporting visa and issue country-valid visa without restrictions at arrival point, simultaneously initiating necessary steps to introduce as early as possible a visa-free travel regime, to encourage friendship between the peoples of both countries;
6. Declaration by India and Pakistan of No First Use of atomic weapons;
7. Concrete measures towards making South Asia nuclear-free;
8. Radical reduction in military spending and end to militarisation.


1. Mr. Iqbal Haider, Co-Chairman, Human Rights Commission Pakistan and former federal Minister of Pakistan
2. Dr. Tipu Sultan, President, Pakistan Doctors for Peace & Development, Karachi
3. Dr. Tariq Sohail, Dean, Jinnah Medical & Dental University , Karachi
4. Dr. A. H.. Nayyar, President, Pakistan Peace Coalition, Islamabad
5. Justice (Retd) Rasheed A. Razvi, President, Sindh High Court Bar Association
6. Mr. B.M.Kutty, Secretary General , Pakistan Peace Coalition, Karachi
7. Mr. Karamat Ali, Director, PILER, Karachi , Founding member, PIPFPD
8. Mr. Fareed Awan, General Secretary , Pakistan Workers Confederation, Sindh
9. Mr. Muhammad Ali Shah, Chairman , Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Karachi
10. Mr. Zulfiqar Halepoto, Secretary, Sindh Democratic Front, Hyderabad
11. Professor Dr. Sarfraz Khan, Area Studies Centre ( Central Asia), Peshawar University
12. Syed Khadim Ali Shah, Former Member National Assembly, Mirpur Khas
13. Mr. Muhammad Tahseen, Director, South Asia Partnership (PAK), Lahore
14. Mrs. Saleha Athar, Network for Women's Rights, Karachi
15. Ms. Sheema Kermani, Tehreek-e-Niswan, Karachi
16. Ms. Saeeda Diep, President, Institute of Secular Studies, Lahore
17. Dr. Aly Ercelan, Pakistan Labour Trust, Karachi
18. Mr. Suleiman G. Abro, Director, Sindh Agricultural & Forestry Workers Organisation, Hyderabad
19. Mr. Sharafat Ali, PILER, Karachi
20. Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Shah, PILER, Karachi
21. Mr. Ayub Qureshi, Information Secretary , Pakistan Trade Union Federation
22. Ms. Sheen Farrukh, Director, Interpress Communication Pakistan , Karachi
23. Mr. Zafar Malik, PIPFPD, Lahore
24. Mr. Adam Malik, Action-Aid Pakistan , Karachi
25. Mr. Qamarul Hasan, International Union of Food Workers (IUF), Karachi
26. Prof. Muhammad Nauman, NED University , Karachi
27. Mr. Mirza Maqsood, General Secretary, Mazdoor Mahaz-e-Amal
28. Ms. Shaista Bukhari, Women Rights Association, Multan


1. Kuldip Nayar, journalist, former Indian High Commissioner, UK., Delhi
2. S P Shukla, retired Finance Secretary, former Member, Planning Commission, Delhi
3. PEACE MUMBAI network of 15 organisations, Mumbai
4. Seema Mustafa, Journalist, Delhi
5. Manisha Gupte, MASUM, Pune
6. ?Dr. Ramesh Awasthi, PUCL, Maharashtra
7. Jatin Desai, journalist, Mumbai
8. Prof. Ritu Dewan, University of Mumbai
9. Prabir Purkayashta, DSF, Delhi
10. Prof. Pushpa Bhave , Mumbai
11. Paromita Vohra, filmmaker, Mumbai
12. Achin Vanaik, CNDP, Delhi
13. Meena Menon, Focus on the Global South, Mumbai
14. Romar Correa Professor of Economics, University of Mumbai
15. Anjum Rajabally, film writer, Mumbai
16. Anand Patwardhan, filmmaker, Mumbai
17. Kamla Bhasin, SANGAT, Delhi
18. Dr. Padmini Swaminathan, MIDS, Chennai
19. Sumit Bali, CEO, Kotak Mahindra Prime Limited
20. Dr Walter Fernandes, Director, North Eastern Social Research Centre , Assam ,
21. Rabia, Lahore Chitrkar
22. Rakesh Sharma, filmmaker, Mumbai
23. Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU, Delhi
24. Prof. Anuradha Chenoy, JNU, Delhi
25. P K Das, architect, Mumbai
26. Neera Adarkar, architect, Mumbai
27. Datta Iswalkar, Secretary, Textile Workers Action Committee, Mumbai
28. Madhusree Dutta, filmmaker, Majlis, Mumbai
29. Amrita Chhachhi, Founding member, PIPFPD
30. Mazher Hussain, COVA, Hyderabad
31. Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty, Delhi
32. Prof. M C Arunan, Mumbai
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Bená Burda on Sustainable & Ethical Entrepreneurship

What: Bená Burda on Sustainable & Ethical Entrepreneurship
When: Friday, December 5, 2008, at 2:00 p.m.
Where: Mountain BizWorks, 153 South Lexington Avenue, Asheville NC 28801
Why: Learning opportunity for entrepreneurs and sustainability activists.

Bená Burda, founder of Maggie’s Functional Organics will share her
experience in building a nationally prominent brand upon a model of
sustainable and ethical business at Mountain BizWorks. Burda will
describe the growth of the company a line of corn chips into one of the
country’s best-known makers of organic cotton clothing. Entrepreneurs
and others will learn of the challenges and surprises that Burda
encountered while developing fair trade imports, organic cotton fabrics,
and competing in the global textile market.

Burda hopes to foster a revival of textile manufacturing in North
Carolina through her involvement with Opportunity Threads, a startup
cut-and-sew operation in Morganton. The Maggie’s Organics product team
worked with this new employee-owned business to create a line of sock
monkeys and other whimsical animals using irregular socks that would
otherwise have gone to waste processes. Says Burda, “So far we are
selling every piece that they are able to produce. Our plan is to keep
'scaling up' this and other projects like it, while we design high
quality, unique products and offer them to a widening consumer base."

Burda’s presentation was organized for local entrepreneurs by
MountainBizWorks, the regional microenterprise development organization,
and FastTrac WNC, which offers entrepreneurial training for high-impact
enterprise. Burda is visiting Western North Carolina to attend a
community open house at the Opportunity Threads facility in Morganton on
Saturday, December 6.
Click Here to Read More..

Monday, December 1, 2008

A great American passed away today.

A great American passed away today.

Tanta, an anonymous blogger who wrote so insightfully
of the irresponsibility of the American economy, passed away today.
She was three years younger than I.
Click Here to Read More..